the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘mythology

the-broken-kingdoms-by-nk-jemisinThe Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance trilogy, book 2) by N.K. Jemisin

published 2010

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

..

.

..

.

.

.

 

.

A quick warning: this review contains unavoidable spoilers for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first book in the series.

 

It’s been about a week since I finished reading The Broken Kingdoms, and it’s taken me this long to put into words what I experienced. Put shortly, I loved every word of it, and I know no review I write will come close to doing this book justice.  As I neared the halfway point of the book, I began avoiding picking it up, because I didn’t want to face that moment where I’d have to turn the final page and have it be over forever.  I knew the end was going to be heavy, and I wasn’t wrong.

 

The Broken Kingdoms picks up about ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  Sky is now colloquially referred to as Shadow, due to the shadows caused by the huge tree that now dominates the city.  When once only three enslaved gods roamed the palace, now the city is full of godlings who have returned from the realm of the gods, some of them living rather normal lives, while others still aren’t used to be being around mortals.

 

At the beginning of this second installment, we meet Oree, who moved to the city ten years ago, after her father died. At first blush, this sounds a little familiar – country girl moves to the city, gets very surprised by what she finds there.  And that’s where the similarity ends. Oree isn’t interested in learning about the royal family, and she could care less about the differences between the gods and the mortals for the most part. Her first priority is selling her artwork and paying her rent.

 

Oree is an artist, and she’s blind. Well, mostly blind. She can’t see me, or you, or her mother, or the house she grew up in.What she can see, is magic, and Shadow is lush with godlings, so she can get around halfway decently most of the time. One night, she finds a dead guy outside her house. It’s a little more complicated than that, and he’s not quite dead. She takes him in, cleans him up, and lets the strange, silent man crash at her place until she figures out what to do with him.  At sunrise he glows with a godling hue, and he seems to be invulnerable to pain and injury. No one knows his name or where he came from, and in an attempt to elicit a reaction from him, she starts calling him Shiny. To his face.

 

If you’ve read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, you know who Shiny is, and that he’s probably not all that offended by the nickname. But Oree has absolutely no idea who he is, and in all honestly she just wishes he’d stop being such a pain in the ass.

Read the rest of this entry »

King David Spiders from MarsKing David and the Spiders From Mars, edited by Tim Lieder

published March 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the editor (thanks Tim!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.
.

.

.

I don’t know about you, but I love mythology. I especially love it when authors take liberties with unexplored details. What was the backstory of that minor character? That other person must have had a good reason to do something strange/wonderful/awful/unexpected, right?  When I think “mythology”, I often think Greek, Roman, or Norse mythos.  But there is a mythology that’s even closer to me. One that I grew up with. One that’s rarely referred to as mythology, but that’s what it is. The Bible: history, literature, mythology, and faith, all rolled into one,  mythology in the most revered definition of the word: stories of the days that created a culture.  It’s books like King David and the Spiders From Mars that make me want to open up my big fat Myths and Legends of Ancient Israel book, or go to the library and find some dusty tome that will tell me the ending of the story they only told the beginning of in Sunday school.

King David and the Spiders From Mars is the second anthology in editor Tim Lieder’s series of Biblical Horror stories. I enjoyed the hell out of the first one, She Nailed A Stake Through His Head, (read my review) and I’ve been looking forward to more of the same ever since.  Same as with Nailed a Stake, you don’t need any kind of Biblical or Judeo-Christian education to enjoy these short stories. In fact, you’d be better served by being familiar with Chthulhu mythos.

Starting at the literal beginning, the first story is nicely tragic, but not end-of-the-world destructive. And then everything slowly ramps up, with the last two stories having the potential to really fuck you up.

here are my thoughts on a few of my favorites:

Moving Nameless, by Sonya Taaffe – How many wives did Adam have? According to myth, God made a woman right in front of Adam, built her from organs and bone and muscle and sinew, and Adam was so disgusted (you might be too, seeing a person built from the inside out!) that he never again looked up her.  And she’s been wandering the Earth ever since, looking for an Adam who might be able to love her.  Her name isn’t Eva, but that’s what her current boyfriend, Adam Loukides, calls her.  He’s a book collector, has a fondness for out of print books, can’t wait to show her around his apartment, he never questions the fact that she doesn’t talk about her family.  It doesn’t matter that this latest Adam doesn’t believe in God, or doesn’t believe her story, that doesn’t make her story any less true or the curse any less painful. He will come to be disgusted by her, no matter if he believes in her story or not. Shunned forever, for something that was outside of her control, it makes me wish the nameless woman got another opportunity to interact with the original Adam.

Read the rest of this entry »

clarkesworld4Curious about the original fiction published by Clarkesworld?  This series of posts, reviewing every story published in Year Four should give you an idea of their flavor of speculative fiction. these stories are strange, unexpected, sometimes humorous, sometimes melancholy. Every single one of them will get some kind of reaction out of you.   Check out the Clarkesworld website to get more. Like what you see? Become a citizen of Clarkesworld, get a subscription, spread the world. Speculative Fiction ‘zines like this are a rare beast.

I’m going through Year Four in no particular order. Click to read the first, second, and third posts in this series.  In the stories in today’s post, we have virtual reality gone wrong (or maybe very, very right), reincarnations who kill their originals with the best intentions, the downside of discovering a new intelligent species, and Cat Valente has fun with creation myths.

ready? let’s go!

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Spacetime by Catherynne M. Valente – I recently had the pleasure of reading this in Valente’s latest collection, The Melancholy of Mechagirl. In that review, I didn’t go into much detail of Thirteen Ways, so I’m thrilled to have received another chance to talk about this wonderfully odd tale.

Read the rest of this entry »

SAM_2634Wolfhound Century, by Peter Higgins

Published March 2013

where I got it: received review copy from Publisher (Thanks Orbit books!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Musicians, think about the 7th for a moment, a minor 7th, if it makes you feel better. To oversimplify for everyone else, the 7th is the musical cue to move on. A 7th can certainly take you right back to the beginning of the chord progression, or the key could completely change in the next moment. That’s the thing about the 7th, it’s all potential, all possibility. For a split second, you’re not sure where the song will go. For a split second, the song is free of it’s predetermined chords. But all that potential has to go somewhere, because a 7th is unresolved. You can’t end a song on a 7th.

I’ll be back to this metaphor in a bit.

In the alternate Russia of Wolfhound Century, angels have been falling from the sky for generations.  Along with control of the angel flesh, the totalitarian government controls everything, reports everything, defines everything. Mothers still tell the cultural myths to their children, but only in hushed voices.  The ancient words are not to be used, the Pollandore is not to be spoken of  or even thought of, because the Pollandore doesn’t exist. Lock something away for long enough, and people will forget it as quickly as they forget the events that birthed their own myths.

Higgins doesn’t just write, he doesn’t just put words on a page to get the reader somewhere, this man is an artist when it comes to prose. I’d quote passages to show you what I mean, but really, just open the book and choose a paragraph and random, and read it out loud. You’ll  be transported. This really  is some damn beautiful prose.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jagganath-ebook-coverJagannath, by Karin Tidbeck

published in 2012

where I got it: the library

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

This has been a tough review to write. I finished reading Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath last week, and instead of jotting down notes for a review, or trying to come up with some witty blurbable phrase, all I’ve done is pick the book up again and again, reread a few of the short stories, and whisper “Wow”, over and over again.

Just, wow.

I am floored, I am awed, my faith in anything, in everything, has been restored.

Make sure you read Jagannath.

Jagannath is a skinny unassuming little thing. It’s the wallflower of the new shelf at the library, no fancy cosmetics or political slants or controversial stories. It doesn’t scream “read me with alluring or sexy cover art.  And it doesn’t scream “read me” after you open it, either. Sometimes you don’t want a book to scream at you, because it’s better when the book caresses you instead,  rewards you for finding it, for choosing the wallflower.  With a quiet, confident voice, the stories in Jagannath whisper your name, drawing you in closer and nearer, because it has a secret to tell you, and only you.

Using simple language, Tidbeck takes you to other worlds, places that are beautiful and frightening and cold.  These aren’t horror stories, but they are tilted at just enough of an angle that it’s easy to lose your footing. Reading them felt like a one way mirror –  I was on the  mirror side, but someone else, someone in the story, was watching me from the other side.

You don’t even need to read the rest of this rambling review, just go get the book. You will be far more satisfied with reading Jagannath than with reading my review of its contents.

Read the rest of this entry »

Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom

published November 2012

where I got it: Borrowed ARC from a friend

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.



In rural West Virginia lives 20-something Jesse Walker, and his life pretty much sucks.  His wife Linda has left him for another man, his musical career is a disaster, and his only job leads are running drugs for the local thugs.  It’s Christmas time, Jesse wishes he could afford gifts for his daughter, wishes he could make thing right with his estranged wife.  And then, he sees Santa. On a sleigh, with reindeer, complete with bottomless bag of gifts, Santa gets attacked by demons, and in the shuffle, Jesse ends up with Santa’s bottomless sack.

Ahh, but Santa isn’t who you think he is, and that bottomless bag never belonged to him in the first place. This is where the story gets interesting, with Brom weaving together Norse and Germanic mythology and the stories of St. Nick and the pagan solstice holidays that Christmas eventually replaced. Jesse may being pulling gifts for his daughter out of the sack, but now he’s got Krampus, the Yule Lord, on his tail.

Imprisoned by Santa and left to die, Krampus  has finally gained the strength to escape his chains. With the help of his supernatural Belsnickel servants, he’s learned the location of the sack. Although he looks the part, Krampus is not a devil. The original winter spirit,  Krampus reinvigorated our freezing ancestors, to give them hope that they could survive the long, harsh winter. Gaining strength and feeding his hatred towards Santa, Krampus now has everything he needs to turn Yule back to its original meaning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Epic: Legends of Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams

published November 2012

where I got it: Received ARC from the publisher

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Epic Fantasy requires the story to be bigger, the dragons be faster, the warriors be stronger, and everything generally be more. And Epic: Legends of Fantasy offers up just that – more mythos,  higher stakes, more of simply everything.

Many of the entries are part of the author’s larger work, taking place in an epic fantasy world that the author has already written hundreds and sometimes thousands of pages about. Randomly, the stories I read first happened to be part of larger works, and at first, the lack of stand alone works bothered me, but I quickly came to appreciate it, and to learn the collection had plenty of stand alone stories as well. An anthology like this is a brilliant method of introducing readers to these larger fantasy worlds created by famous authors such as Robin Hobb, George R R Martin, Michael Moorcock, Melanie Rawn, Tad Williams, and many others, and serves as an excellent introduction to the writings of newer authors  as well.

Some works were fairly new, but others were older than I am. the Moorcock for example was originally written in 1961. A pure classic sword and sorcery, complete with sexualized and helpless female, it might be offensive to today’s readers, but I’m happy Adams included it, as what’s the point of talking about Epic Fantasy if we’re not going to touch on the journey the genre has taken?

Clocking in at over 600 pages, Epic: Legends of Fantasy is itself a bit of a doorstopper.  We eat clunksters like this for breakfast, so I was surprised at how long it took me to plow through it. ahh, but spending 600+ pages in one fantasy world is one thing. Try spending that quantity of pages in over a dozen fantasy worlds. More often than not, my brain needed a little break in between.   This isn’t the kind of anthology to gorge on, this is the kind you savor, over many winter evenings.

Here’s my thoughts a handful of the entries:

Read the rest of this entry »

Tiassa, by Steven Brust

published in 2011

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

.

.

I am among the fans who came to Tiassa with trepidation. The two books that come before it, Jhegaala and Iorich are slower, quieter reads. Not much happens, Vlad pines for his ex-wife, everyone is very sad about a lot of things, the witty snark was toned down. They aren’t bad books by any means (Brust’s writing will break your heart no matter what’s going on in the story) they just aren’t super fun to read. Would Tiassa be more of the same?  I didn’t even care if it moved the timeline forward, I just wanted the feeling of fun, and adventure, and optimism that I’d gotten out of the earlier Vlad  books.

After a handful of “meh” reads these last few weeks, I was desperate for a book that would grab me and insist that it was going to lead this dance.  I needed a comfort read; an author I could trust to transport me to a different world, a book that would swallow me whole so quickly I wouldn’t even feel its teeth.

Steven Brust’s Tiassa to the rescue.

I saw a review on Amazon that said Tiassa was Brust’s love letter to his fans, and after reading it I have to whole heartedly agree.  If you are already a long time reader of the Vlad Taltos series, you will be in heaven with Tiassa. But on the flip-side, if you’re new to the series, this is a terrible place to start (start here. really.).

The book is sharply divided in three portions, with interludes inbetween, and throughout everything a silver tiassa sculpture keeps coming up.  A tiny, seemingly useless sculpture of a winged cat, it may have been forged by the gods or it may be worthless. Regardless, the little tiassa seems to be making its own plans.  Packed with the requisite witty dialog but jumping around in time and touching on Draegaran mythology, Tiassa isn’t so much a Vlad Taltos book as it is a Dragaeran Empire book.

Read the rest of this entry »

When Tim Powers’ recent novel Hide Me Among The Graves became available, half the speculative fiction fans I know cheered, and the other half said “Tim who?”. Have you enjoyed the recent Burton and Swinburne steampunk trilogy from Mark Hodder? How about Connie Willis’s time travel books? Did you like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or maybe Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon? If you answered Yes to any of those questions, Tim Powers is an author you should be reading. Also, he’s got some major street cred – when you and I were in pre-school, he was chillin’ with Blaylock and Jeter and helping define what many of us now know as steampunk. Tim Powers is truly one of my heroes of literature, one of the authors I go to when I need a comfort read, something I know I’m going to enjoy, something that is guaranteed to knock my socks off. When I first read The Anubis Gates around 10 years ago, I didn’t know who Powers was, but I knew I wanted more.

Powers writes primarily alternate history, but he does it in a way no one else does. He likes to use what I call the “pockets of I-don’t-know” theory, where he finds pockets in history where something odd was reported, where someone was reported acting very unusual, or went missing for a few days and wouldn’t tell anyone where they’d been, or just something strange happened. The fiction of Tim Powers lives in these pockets, he’s writing the secret history of what really happened. or as he puts it:

“I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.”

Intrigued? Here’s a few more reasons you should be reading Tim Powers.

He’s a “gateway” author. Go the bookstore or the library, and Powers will probably be found in fiction, not science fiction. He’s perfect for people who “aren’t really into all that weird scifi stuff”. Do you like spy thrillers? Try Declare, about Kim Philby’s true mission, which might have involved genies, and something horrific living on Mount Ararat. Prefer contemporary dramas with some suspense and maybe a smidgen of mythology? Try Last Call, which takes place in Las Vegas, and touches on some of the mythological opportunities that might have helped the luckiest city in the world, because destiny is the ultimate gamble, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Clockwork Phoenix (anthology) Volume 3, edited by Mike Allen

published in 2010

where I got it: gift from a friend (and she got it autographed for me!!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

This is Mike Allen’s third volume of beautiful and strange short fiction. In previous volumes, he showcased new works by authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, Catherynne M. Valente,  and Tanith Lee. And volume three continues in this vein, offering an intriguing collection of short fiction by well known authors such as John C. Wright, Cat Rambo, Gemma Files and Marie Brennan, along with works by lesser known folks that I am thrilled to have gotten to know a little better.  The theme to these anthologies is “tales of beauty and strangeness”, and Allen has certainly chosen works that match that description.  Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, we can look forward to a fourth volume of beauty and strangeness, the surreal and the fantastic.

Anthologies tend to run hot and cold for me. It’s like buying an album (did I just date myself?). You buy the album for one song, and hope the rest of it doesn’t suck. I’m the same way with anthologies. Out of the fifteen  short stories, maybe 3 of them were just okay for me. And the rest? The rest were pure winners.

In no particular order, here are my thoughts on a handful of my favorite short stories in the collection:

Murder in Metachronopolis, by John C. Wright – one of the longer works, and purposely presented in an unusual way. Jake Frontino has been brought to the city outside of time, Metachronopolis, the city of the Masters of Time, to work for them as a Private Investigator. They’ve sent him through time on missions to stop terrible things before they happen – to kill the mothers of dictators, to foil marriages and stop meetings from taking place. The Masters of Time supposedly have no enemies, but Jake has met those enemies, been party to their plans for a coup. The story is written in numbered portions, so the reader immediately knows we are not getting the story in chronological order, we are not getting “the truth” in the right order. And you know what I did the moment I finished this story? I read it again, flipping the pages back and forth so that with the help of the section numbers I could read it in chronological order, in the order that things happened to Jake. And it was a completely different story. I love it when that happens, when I can experience the same story in a completely new light.
The Gospel of Nachash by Marie Brennan – This is a retelling of the story of the Garden of Eden. I’m a sucker for any kind of old testament mythology, so this tale was right up my alley. Among its other twists, is the story of the Expulsion is told from the serpent’s point of view.  The serpent, Nachash, was also a creation of God, was also in the garden for a specific reason. Nachash and God’s Daughter watch Adam and Chava’s lives after the garden, and they witness the birth of Chava’s two sons. How will this tiny mortal family populate the earth, with no other women? God’s Daughter has a plan, and Nachash is at the center of it. But that’s not the twist, oh no, Brennan’s got an ever better trick up her sleeve.

Read the rest of this entry »


About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

2013 Hugo Awards

Looking for my reviews of the Hugo winners and nominees? Save time. Click here.

Bookstore Bookblogger Connection

You're a book blogger too? Or a Bookseller? Come get involved in a wonderful new project Bookstore Bookblogger Connection!

Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,002 other followers

2013 Sci-Fi Experience

Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along

Vintage SF

Local Friends

Categories

FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.