A Wizard of Earthsea

Cover of A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin. Cover of a falcon stooping at the viewer by Dominic Harman.
Art by Dominic Harman. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: A Wizard of Earthsea

Author: Ursula K. LeGuin

Nutshell: Even as a lad, Duny, who would become the great wizard Ged, was powerful. His wizardry protected his village of farmers from the raiding army of the Kargs, though he was nearly dead by the end of it. Ogion, the silent mage, came then and took him as apprentice, but Duny’s heart yearned for quick power, for admiration and fame. In Ogion’s quiet abode, alone in the mountains, was none of that. So Ogion sent him to Roke, to the great school of wizards, and there Duny began indeed to win fame and power. Yet the desire for power, untempered by wisdom, can be a danger, and so it was with Duny. He allowed his power to be governed by his black temper, and woke something which had no name, something over which there could be no mastery.

Readalikes: Patricia McKillip’s books, especially Od Magic and The Riddle-Master of Hed. Diana Wynne Jone’s The Islands of Chaldea, The Name of the Wind, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are also very similar, rooted in the same traditions.Read More »

Spirit’s End

Cover of Spirit's End. Art of a man fighting a man made of cloud by Sam Weber.
Art by Sam Weber. Click to read an excerpt!


Title:
Spirit’s End

Author: Rachel Aaron

Series: The Spirit’s World **This is book five. Spoilers for the previous books abound.**

Nutshell: Eli Monpress gave up his freedom to save the people he loved, but Benehime isn’t about to be satisfied with that sacrifice. She requires everything from him, and she shows him the plan she has designed for the two of them. Pushed to the breaking point, Eli finally pushes back, and Benehime flings him onto the mercies of the Council of Thrones. Eli is locked summarily into Sara’s very best wizard-proof cell. With his father. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Alber Whitefall is using him as leverage against Josef.

But that’s trivial compared to what Miranda is facing. Something is causing massive panic among the spirits across the world, and with Banage in prison, it falls to her to fix things. She knows where to find answers, but she might not get them quickly enough to do anything but watch the world end.

Eli Monpress isn’t trying to be a hero. So why do people keep expecting him to save the world?Read More »

The Spirit War

Cover of the Spirit War by Rachel Aaron. Picture of a man standing on the side of a mountain by Sam Weber.
Art by Sam Weber. Click through to read a preview on Amazon!

Title: The Spirit War

Series: The… Chronicles of Eli Monpress? 1

Author: Rachel Aaron

Nutshell: Eli Monpress is looking for his next big score, and checking on his slowly burgeoning bounty, when he gets a shock. The most ordinary member of his crew is now the most wanted. The island nation, Osera, is offering the entire worth of their country for Josef. What’s more, Josef is turning himself in.

Meanwhile, Miranda Lyonette is finally getting some answers from the shapers. Answers that point to a dark conspiracy surrounding the very nature of reality. If only people would stop having their regular old wars, she could get some serious progress made on saving the world.

Readalikes: I’ve still only got Stormlight and the Codex Alera for you.Read More »

The Legend of Eli Monpress

Cover of The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron. Art by Sam Weber.
Art by Sam Weber. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Legend of Eli Monpress

Author: Rachel Aaron

Nutshell: Eli Monpress is the world’s greatest thief, and today he has stolen a king. It might be the king of the smallest country in the Council of Thrones, but it’s still the most important person in the country. He and his companions — a swordsman with the greatest magical sword ever and a scrawny shadow child — have big plans for the king. Big plans.

Miranda Lyonette is a wizard from the Spirit Court. Her job is to rein in rogue wizards, such as Eli Monpress. She seems to have arrived in the middle of a bit of a crisis, however.

Add to the mix the King’s long-since-banished brother, and a wizard of the most despicable kind. He wasn’t expecting his brother to be stolen, but you can bet he’ll make the most of it.

Rachel Aaron sets up her characters like a chemist, and then ever so carefully and precisely spills them all together and lets them blow each other up.

Readalikes: I think of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera when I read this, and Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. The coverquotes on the book itself suggest Scott Lynch, but Lynch’s books are a lot darker than Monpress.Read More »

Top Ten: The Name of the Wind

Cover of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Nutshell: Kote is just a quiet innkeeper. That’s all. His apprentice is just a young man from the village. That’s all. The village is a quiet, ordinary village where nothing happens. Ever.

The village is not being attacked by mysterious spidery creatures that the priest calls demons and Kote calls something else. The apprentice does not have goat’s legs and eyes with no whites. The innkeeper is not the famous Kvothe, called Kingslayer and a hundred other things in a hundred and more tales. He does not have a cloak of no particular color, or a thrice-locked chest of unburning wood.

He does not know the name of the wind.

Of course not.

But he will tell you a story.

Read-alikes: This is both very like almost all epic fantasy, and very unlike.

Read More »