Tag: historical fantasy

First Lines Friday – 26/08/2022

Happy Friday and welcome to another First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, am interested in and/or are on my TBR. Sometimes I like to experiment with something new!

I was inspired to share the opening lines of today’s feature, as I recently received my Illumicrate exclusive edition. The book sounds amazing, and the edition I received is absolutely stunning! I shared a reel last Friday on Instagram of my unboxing, so if you haven’t checked that out, please go and check out my Instagram page.

Without further preamble, shall we dive into today’s First Lines Friday introduction?

 

By the time Professor Richard Lovell found his way through Canton’s narrow alleys to the faded address in his diary, the boy was the only one in the house left alive.

The air was rank, the floor slippery. A jug of water sat full, untouched by the bed. At first the boy had been too scared of retching to drink; now he was too weak to lift the jug. He was still conscious, though he’d sunk into a drowsy, half-dreaming haze. Soon, he knew, he’d fall into a deep sleep and fail to wake up. That was what happened to his grandparents a week ago, then his aunts the day after, and then Miss Betty, the Englishwoman, a day after that.

 

 

Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

Genre: Historical Fantasy / Dark Academia

Pages: 560

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 23 Aug 2022

 

 

Goodreads – Babel

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

 

My Thoughts…

I’m excited I have received my copy of this book! When I initially signed up for Illumicrate’s book-only subscription, I didn’t know this was going to be the first book I received. However, I’m really excited it is! Fellow bloggers who have read advanced copies of this book have absolutely raved about it. As soon as I heard their thoughts, I knew I had to pick up a copy for myself. That I’ve got my hands on an exclusive edition only makes me happier! I had to feature it in this week’s First Lines Friday post. 

I’m most excited about exploring how the fantasy elements of the book entwine with the element of language and translation. It doesn’t seem to be a superficial element of the plot; if the content of the book has some academic element in itself, then this will appeal to me no end.

I had a place to attend university, but ultimately I made the decision several years ago not to attend. It wouldn’t have been for me in any case, (and in terms of career, I don’t think I could be more opposite in what I do now compared to what I intended to do, but I’m very happy with my decision). I get to explore the attendance of a university through this narrative and it is something that I’m looking forward to.

For readers who enjoy diverse character representation, then this book is right up your street! Written by American-Chinese author R.F. Kuang, this book is mainly told from the perspective of an Asian character. The author herself attended the University of Oxford, and in her exclusive letter included in this copy, she talks about her complex relationship with the institution. Described as both the university of her dreams, and yet also elitist and classist (to name just a couple of its less favourable traits), I hope to see the author’s own experience play out through Robin Swift‘s narrative.

If I go on to enjoy Babel as much as I suspect I will, then I have a number of books that R.F. Kuang has already published but I will be going back and reading. The Poppy War especially appeals to me!

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s First Lines Friday feature! Have you added Babel to your reading list? Does today’s introduction compel you to do so?

 

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First Lines Friday – 04/03/2022

Hello and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

For today’s post I set myself the challenge to feature a book I’ve added to my TBR within the last three months. There have been quite a few books added so I had plenty to choose from! Today’s choice was one I picked up on a whim.

Here is today’s intro: –

 

He had not allowed for the weight. The cold he anticipated, the water’s sluggish buoyancy, this to he considered. The darkness? The lantern does well enough, and his memory allows for shortfalls in sight.

But the weight… This is something else altogether.

The lantern itself is manageable. It is bound to his wrist with thick twine, affording movement in both hands, but it pulls down uncomfortably on his arm and the salt water stings where the twine has already rubbed the skin. The ropes are looped under each armpit – one for the salvage, one to raise him again – cumbersome, but they help balance is body as he descends.

The sinking weights, two, although bulky, can be endured.

The problem is the harness.

 

 

 

Pandora – Susan Stokes-Chapman

Goodreads – Pandora

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.

 

My Thoughts…

Most books are added to my TBR after hearing or reading great things about them. Pandora is completely different, however. The honest answer as to how this ended up on my TBR is that I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover in a bookshop. But who wouldn’t be though, don’t you think it’s stunning?!

It was the cover that got me to pick it up in the first place, but after reading the synopsis I ran to the till to pay for this beauty faster than Mo Farah can sprint the 100m! I love the sound of this and the funny thing is, it’s since I’ve picked up a copy of this book that I have heard really good things about it. Bloggers I follow with similar reading tastes have also got themselves copies of this book, and they are just as excited for it as well.

I can’t wait to delve into this one because it’s a different type of read to my usual. I like the idea of it being a Greek mythology re-telling in a kind of historical fantasy setting. It’s an eclectic mix of genres, but you know me, the more the merrier! The last Greek mythology re-telling I read – Circe by Madeline Miller – wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be in my opinion, but I’m not going to let that stop me trying others! 

Have you read Pandora? Is it on your list of books to read? Have you enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post? 

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Shelf Control #21 – 26/06/2020

Today’s Shelf Control features yet another book on my TBR because I think we’ve ascertained I have no s(h)elf control when it comes to books! Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

In today’s post, I am featuring yet another classic novel that I want to read. The author of this classic isn’t new to me, so I’m confident I’ll be able to read and enjoy it. This was just one of the books I added to my list in a classics blitz – I decided one day that I should make an effort to read more and so added a bunch to the TBR all at once.

Shall we check out today’s featured book?

 

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Goodreads – The Grapes of Wrath

The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

 

My Thoughts…

If you’d asked me if I would ever pick up another book by John Steinbeck after I initially read Of Mice and Men, I would have answered no. I hated Of Mice and Men to start with. It was boring, depressing and it was a book I had to study for school. There is something about having to write essays about books… or micro-analyse them that sucks the joy out of reading. That’s why I disliked this first book so much.

I did actually read it again in 2017 and my attitude towards it was completely different. I had struggled to get on with this for my GCSE’s, but I read it within a couple of hours. And I enjoyed it! My newfound appreciation for Of Mice and Men is the driving force behind wanting to try The Grapes of Wrath. It’s also a classic, but I feel it will have the same vibe as Of Mice and Men and cover a period of history that is of interest to me – the Great Depression.

Have you read The Grapes of Wrath? Would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Blog Tour Book Review: Magical Intelligence – M. K. Wiseman

I’m really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M K Wiseman. Today kickstarts the blog tour for Magical Intelligence, which will be running up until its publication next week! As a huge fan of fantasy, magic and the concept of wizard spies, I have been looking forward to reading this book and sharing my thoughts with you about it.

Before I start these posts I always like to take the time to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

Would you like to find out a little about Magical Intelligence before we jump into my thoughts of the book?

 

Magical Intelligence – M K Wiseman

Goodreads – Magical Intelligence

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-LocPwqQiU

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing that caught my attention about the book was the plotline. I love how it revolves around magic and how scientific discovery (electricity) has a negative impact on wizardry. Those of you that read my other reviews may remember that one of my favourite things about fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson is that his magic systems have a physical element or limitation to them. I love when magic interacts with the world we know and love. It lends a sense of realism to what is going on; it has rules and that way it can’t be used to make a plothole problem disappear randomly. For this reason, I really enjoyed the concept behind this story.

Myra is an Empath. She has the ability to experience other’s emotions as well as manipulate them. I really liked this power in our protagonist. I would say I am quite an empathetic person so even though she is a teenage girl, we have common ground and that makes her relatable. As I am sure all women can tell you, handling emotions as a teenage girl is no walk in the park. It’s a confusing, ever-changing mess – just like Myra’s emotions for a good portion of the book. But again, this all adds to her being an overall relatable character.

The age and circumstance are perfect for allowing Myra to mature and really show off her development as a person and with her powers. Having grown up being misunderstood, Myra finds a sense of belonging amongst a ‘family’ she never knew existed. I’m looking forward to seeing how she grows throughout the rest of the series, as well as find out more about her past. There are a few little hints, but a lot of mystery as to how she ended up on her own. Hopefully, all will be revealed!

The Violectric Dampening also serves to build and differentiate a number of characters within M.I. Some of the wizards within the group are more prone to it than others. As Myra quite literally lands herself in the action from one of her visions, she is chucked in the deep end. We are introduced to a number of different wizards and magical abilities that, up until now, have served them in serving the Crown. Now working in an unofficial capacity to protect their magic from one threatening it, they train Myra to control her abilities as well as teach her about their own to aid them in their difficult mission.

Magical Intelligence is a fun read for fans of fantasy, magic and action-packed adventure! I really enjoyed the unique storyline, the setting and how well this whole package comes together. Thanks again to the author for the opportunity to read and review the book!

 

Author Bio

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: http://mkwisemanauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaublesFables/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FaublesFables

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/faublesfables/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman

Blog Tour Review: Tooth and Blade – Julian Barr

Welcome to today’s blog tour review for Tooth and Blade by Julian Barr. I hope you are having a lovely weekend?

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about this book. When Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources circulated the book and tour details, I was immediately drawn in by the combination of Norse mythology and fantasy. I’ve read a few books with elements of Norse mythology in them, such as Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories (aka The Last Kingdom) series. I really enjoy reading more about it and was curious to see how these elements would come together.

As always, thank you to Rachel and to the author Julian Barr for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

 

Tooth and Blade – Julian Barr

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm—beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Books2Read

 

My Thoughts…

Dóta is a daughter of two worlds. Born to human parents but raised by trolls, she is a unique character. Until she is permitted to go up to the surface and experience the world for herself, Dóta lives a sheltered life. Only her mother and brother’s stories about her past and the world above feed her curiosity, until one day she is sent above to hunt for herself.

Tooth and Blade is a tale of magic, discovery, identity and conflict. As I expected, I really enjoyed the Norse mythology element. I am still a novice when it comes to knowledge of Norse mythology, however, I know the basics. The gods and concepts of destiny and fate were present consistently throughout the book, so it definitely has a significant influence on the narrative.

At 288 pages, these three novellas together are an excellent length to establish an interesting world and allow for plenty of action and character development. I actually read Tooth and Blade in a couple of days. The story and writing style flow so well that it makes for an easy read to pick up and enjoy.

Tooth and Blade has many elements that wouldn’t typically be put together into one narrative, and yet it all gelled perfectly. The narrative has a solid plotline that cleverly brings all the characters and their different backgrounds together. Dóta is my favourite of all though. She is a truly unique character who doesn’t strictly fit in. She’s fierce and a fighter, and after all the turmoil of discovering who she really is, she decides to carve her own path instead of letting others decide what role she should play.

Dóta isn’t the only strong female character. There are other female warriors, trained to protect the King no less. My experience of Norse/Viking novels is that lead characters are very young, alpha-male personalities. Men. Tooth and Blade showed a completely different perspective, which is refreshing!

If you’d like to read more about Tooth and Blade, you can check out some of the other blog tour posts – details below.

 

Author Bio

Julian Barr first fell in love with all things ancient and magical in childhood, when he staged his own version of I, Claudius using sock puppets. After his PhD in Classics, he did a brief stint as a schoolteacher, hated being called ‘sir,’ and dived into storytelling. Although he remains open to the possibilities of sock puppet theatre, historical fantasy is his passion. He has published scholarly research on Roman medicine and the gastronomic habits of Centaurs, but prefers to think of himself as an itinerant bard. He is also the author of the Ashes of Olympus trilogy.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/jbarrauthor

https://www.facebook.com/jbarrauthor/

https://jbarrauthor.com/