One of the great new trends in fantasy books the last few years has been the inclination to write smart witty fantasy that really hits the funny bone. Yes, we still love those paranormal romances with the dark brooding vampires and plucky heroines, but I have come to love the funny fantasy books even more.
It is a little odd when you consider that a lot of fantasy grew out of either the adventure/epic fantasy tales, such as the ones that Tolkien so famously wrote, or of course – horror. After all, horror is what all those vampires and werewolves and beasties that go bump in the night came from. But when you add a dash of humor to a fantasy book, somehow it just feels right. That is, if it is handled correctly. Nothing is worse than a funny fantasy book that isn’t funny!
My Vote for Funny Fantasy Books
So – just to help those of you who like me enjoy these tongue in cheek looks at the world of fantasy stories, here are some I think have really staked out their own territory (every pun intended!). I would love to hear of other great funny fantasy books, especially if it is a series that I haven’t mentioned here, that we can share. Here are my nominations:
This is the Ghostbusters of the vampire set. Just because you are a geek during your life doesn’t mean you are off the hook when a super-hot chick turns out to be a vampire and turns you. That is what Bill finds out when he gets turned and discovers that being at the bottom of the chow line doesn’t change much for an undead nerd.
Luckily for him he has a couple of roomies who are as clueless as him, and couldn’t care less what Bill has become as long as his share of the rent gets paid. Bill the Vampire is hilarious, witty and filled with characters that you will find yourself recognizing from your own life. A great commentary on nerd life as well as all those “glittery” vamps we have come to know. If you are ready for a good laugh, you can grab a Kindle or paperback version at the link and dig in today.
While owning a strip-club and driving a classic old car seem to be almost a requirement for any self-respecting vampire, Eric is not your average vamp. For one thing, he has this problem with short-term memory loss because of a little problem with the embalmer. For another- the moment he turns his girlfriend he somehow loses interest in her, though not in her very much alive sister.
But when he can’t quite remember not only how he was turned but why he killed a local werewolf pack member things get more than a bit rough. These born-again weres want their retribution, old school style. The tongue-in-cheek delivery of fantastic little dialogue bits along with some fast-paced deadpan humor makes this book one that can sit on the shelf alongside The Dresden Files with ease. Lewis combines just enough mystery and mayhem with humor to make this the perfect introduction to a new favorite funny fantasy series. We have the kindle edition and the paperback version available for you at the links.
This one almost exists outside of most boundaries of what might be considered fantasy, but it is a great tale. Elson is an engineer, for the forces of nature, or the sides of good and evil, or the direction of evolution. You take your pick. When he enlists the help of Death to help him with a little problem by murdering one of the minions of one of the Lords of Law things get a bit out of control.
But then, it seems that this is a common problem for Elson, who just doesn’t see things in terms of right and wrong so much as making the best of a bad situation. A tale that exists both outside of our reality and squarely within it and in fact directing it, Eden’s Jester is a myth of good and bad told from the sidelines, with a lot of attitude. If you are ready for a really unique experience in fantasy books, you can get yours in either the Kindle version here.
To my mind Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is the definitive crime fantasy series with the snide attitude. Harry Dresden is a wizard in a world where this does not mean he does card tricks. It usually means he is fighting monsters that come from other dimensions. The only problem is, he isn’t all that great at it and as a result it is always an uphill battle to drum up enough business for his private wizard investigations gigs. Luckily he is also brought in by Chicago’s Finest to help with the cases that have that supernatural stench to them. For a complete look at the series, be sure to check out my review of it here.
You can’t help but find yourself shouting at Harry from time to time when you read the stories and I find myself shaking my head and muttering “no Harry, that won’t work. Don’t you remember what happens when you try that?” more than once. Still, he has his heart in the right place and the colorful characters that populate the series will stick with you. For those who might be interested, there was a great TV series back in the 2007 based on the book. You can check it out and either order the DVD or watch it now from our friends at Amazon. I have to admit that I still think of Harry as looking somewhat like a blend of the covers and actor Paul Blackthorne in this show.
If you haven’t checked out the series, start with the first book, Storm Front. We have it available in both Kindle and paperback formats. There is even an audio version that is read by James Marsters (Spike of Buffy the Vampire TV). You can listen to a snippet on Amazon, he is really quite good! There are at least a dozen in the series at this point so if you are already a Jim Butcher fan you may want to grab his latest in the series Cold Days or his collection of short stories Side Jobs.
This long running series centers on Rachel Morgan, a witch who lives in a world where supernatural beings have revealed themselves to humans. It is all tied to a virus introduced by a genetically modified tomato, giving most humans in the series a very severe aversion to anything with tomatoes in it such as pizza sauce or ketchup. You can get even more of a feel for the sense of humor of the series through the book titles, all riffs on old Clint Eastwood films. They include The Good, the Bad and the Undead; Every Which Way but Dead and A Fistful of Charms. You can get a great look at the entire run in our overview of the series that we did last year.
Rachel runs her bounty hunter service with the aid of two partners. Ivy is a living vampire (meaning she has gotten the infection but is not dead) and Jenks the resident pixy who guards them from her tree stump home in the garden. Together they solve problems, find lost beings and get into a wide assortment of trouble. You can start with the first book of the series Dead Witch Walking, available in either Kindle or paperback.
I sometimes think that if Alex Verus and Harry Dresden got together for dinner I would so want to be a fly on that wall. Alex, like Harry, is a mage. They might even kinda exist in the same world, since reference is made to his existence in this first book of the new series. But Alex is a very different kind of wizard or mage than Harry. He may be on the outs with The Council in the same way that Harry is, but Alex has a different kind of gift. Alex sees the future. Your future, my future, the future of everyone who walks in his door is there to read like an open book for someone like Alex. It can be both a handy thing to know, and a curse.
All in all, although there are certain similarities to Dresden Files, it is the way Alex handles the problems that come his way that make this one different. Imagine fighting someone and being able to predict where that next blow will come from. Defusing a bomb is much easier if you can predict what would happen if you snipped this wire versus that one. It gives the whole series a very different approach. The only complaint I have is that it is missing the dry wit that I love in the Dresden Files. But the world is well conceived, his apprentice Luna is a treasure and the stories just seem to weave their own little magic. With the fourth book in the series scheduled to come out this August, you may want to grab either the Kindle version or the paperback edition of the first book, Fated now.
This husband and wife team turn a mean phrase when it comes to nasty creatures and mercenaries like Kate Daniels. This series is set in an Atlanta where magic has a tendency to fluctuate, like a ripple in the fabric of reality. When that happens, and the cops find they can’t quite handle whatever has been unleashed, they contact mercenaries like Kate to take care of the messy business. Magic Bites is the introductory book for this long-standing and very popular series. For those who have been following the Kate Daniels series, you might want to check out our review of the latest entry to the series, Gunmetal Magic.
With packs of were-creatures that tend to watch out for their own and vampires that owe their appearance far more to Nosferatu then True Blood, the series never has any shortage of creatures. But it is the magic itself, which in this world is more a force of unnatural nature than a power belonging to a being that calls the shots. Can technology stand up to such a force? In Magic Bites, Kate discovers that her Master has been murdered. You can bet she is on the hunt to find out why and who. She is a chick with a sword and an attitude, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a sense of the absurd. Great action, wonderful dialogue and there is more where this one came from. You can order your Kindle version here or even get the paperback.
Well there were plenty of things moving forward in this episode, including The Hound’s plans for Arya, Tyrion’s plans for his wedding night and Danys plans for gaining the army of The Second Sons. Although we didn’t see Jon Snow at all this time, we did go north of The Wall to catch up on Samwell Tarly and his rescue that seems to be going very slowly. Even Melisandre’s plans for Gendry were clarified through a rather gross little scene that went in a very different direction than I had thought it would. Let’s take a closer look at it all.
The Hound and the Maid
I have begun to look forward to any scenes that put The Hound and Arya together. Her feistiness and his cool confidence have begun to create a grudging but growing respect between them. There is far more to The Hound then first appears. When he reveals he has taken her so he can get the reward from her mother and brother Robb, not the dreaded King Joffrey, he shows that mere crowns do not command his loyalty. As he says “F*#k Joffrey, f*#k the queen”, and that indeed seems to be his attitude these days.
Though it is obvious he is not above taking the reward. Even more telling is his obvious pride in having saved Arya’s sister Sansa from possible rape last season when the mob turned on her. He may be an ugly man who has lived through some terrible times, but he has his own sense of honor. That, in the end, may be what makes this character so meaningful.
The Second Sons
Danys has proven that she knows how to deal with the likes of the leaders of the sell-swords from her comment:
A man who fights for gold can’t afford to lose to a girl.
She knows very well what their priorities are. When Danys first spoke to the three captains of the swords for hire that protect the city of Yunkai, it was obvious to me that Daario Naharis was going to be the one to betray the others and bring her the army she needs. I suppose simply because the others are such brutes (didn’t you cheer to see those two heads roll out of that bag? I did) but also because Daario seemed to be the only one of the three that was quietly watching everything. I can see that this is going to be an important relationship for Danys, though it is going to cause some jealousy along the way. How the leaders in Yunkai react to losing their “powerful friends” that she was warned about, remains to be seen. But somehow, I think this city will be hers as well.
The One True God Demands Sacrifice
I was really glad to see that in the end the blood sacrifice that Melisandre insisted her god needed was not in as bloody a form as we had anticipated. This doesn’t mean that Gendry is off the hook yet, but for now his punishment seems to be sex with Melisandre followed by a round of leeches.
The bit we saw where Davos is learning to read in his cell was great, and gives us just one more look at one of my favorite characters in GoT. True, I think that Stannis turns to Davos when he wants some smart sound advice, because he knows that in the end Davos is true to what is right in his world.
But unfortunately though Stannis may have come to his senses enough to have finally freed Davos, he still is in the thrall of Melisandre. Even Davos knows better than to try and deny that. Melisandre has proven that she will always need her “slaughtered lambs” to appease her god.
A Royal Wedding at King’s Landing
Of course, this is just the first of several weddings that will be taking place. I particularly love the scene where Margaery tries to spin her charm on Cersei by calling her “sister” and has it fall flat. As Cersei points out, in the song “Rains of Castamere” (which we hear often in the show) when the House Reyne rebelled against the throne they were utterly destroyed. Fair warning indeed, along with admonition that if Margaery ever calls Cersei sister again she will have her killed in her sleep. You just can’t out-bitch Cersei.
But it is poor Sansa I truly felt sorry for in this episode. As she tells Tyrion on their wedding night, she is only 14 and yet here she is married off and on top of that threatened with rape on her wedding night by the King himself. It doesn’t help that Tyrion gets roaring drunk, but I think that was overplayed on purpose to get them both out of the wedding dinner and away from the twisted view of Joffrey.
Even with all of this, in the end Tyrion cannot make himself go through with the consummation, even though his father demands it of him. Shae looks quite pleased the next morning to find Tyrion passed out on a couch, and the sheets very obviously not spoiled by signs of blood or sexual acts in the least. The question is can they count on her to keep their secret?
The White Walkers are Coming
But the scariest part of the whole episode had to be the closing scene with Samwell and Gilly. It starts easily enough with them taking refuge in an old abandoned house that is sheltered by an enormous tree. When they first enter it for warmth and protection for the night, there are a few crows on the roof. Samwell even stops and looks at them, a forewarning of what is to come. The scene of them making a fire and talking about baby names is almost sweet. We are reminded that for both of them, fathers are simply brutes. It is also a reminder that like many in this episode, Samwell is a second son, though in his case he was demoted to one by his father.
But when the crows begin to gather, and the noise becomes overwhelming, you know it is not going to go well. Samwell proves he has grown from the scared runaway when he takes his sword and a torch to find out what is happening outside. That it is a white walker, come for the child, is soon apparent. When it destroys his sword by simply grabbing it and turning it to shattered ice, Samwell stabs it in desperation with only weapon he has left to him, the obsidian knife he had shown Gilly last episode.
She had asked what use it was and now we know; for as he stabs the white walker, it turns to ice and shatters. It makes me wonder if others beyond the wall knew that this is the one weapon that can stop a white walker. Why else would he have found it out there? And how can he use this information to help others when the white walkers cross the wall, as you know they inevitably will?
More Action Around the Bend
As you can see, there was lots of action this week. I think that the next few episodes will play still further into showing the hands of all the powers that control these land’s fates. Beyond the struggle for the throne, there is the battle between the old gods and the new. If the old gods were who defeated the white walkers the last time they came south, is it wise to leave them for this new god that Melisandre is calling on? She sees it as being the one that will save the land from the icy death in her visions. It remains to be seen how many battlefields we will watch beyond the one for the throne.
Do you think that the gods are moving the chess pieces here as much as the various players for the crown? Who in the end truly control these gods or are people like Stannis and Melisandre merely pawns? There are only a few more episodes left this season, it will be interesting to see how far it takes us.
The final Sookie Stackhouse story; and I must say it left me feeling with a bit of nostalgia for the early days of the book. When all we had to deal with was Bill and the strangeness of dating a vampire. Life has gotten so much more complicated for Sookie, and with this final farewell story we see that with those complications came a lot of changes in Sookie as well. But we also in the end see Sookie get the kind of life I think she really wanted, and deserved. It gave her a chance for some true happiness.
I don’t want to go into the kinds of choices she makes in the end. I am going on the assumption that you haven’t read it yet and are considering it. Let me just say that if you loved the early books, you will get lost in this one just as easily. The old Sookie, who baked southern food, cared about her friends and yearned for a normal life while attracted to “the supes”, is still there.
Dead Ever After is All About Choices
While it was a safe bet that the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series was going to involve her making choices about who she loves, in the end this book looked at far more than that. Sookie has been pushed around, threatened and almost killed more times than anyone would care to be. Through it all she has not only proven to be a survivor, she has learned how to make up her mind and stick to it. Of course, Eric has proven to be her weakness, as she is his, all along. For me the question was never who she would choose, I felt I knew. It was how she would handle the choosing.
I know there are some who will feel that in the end Sookie hasn’t grown in this series, but I disagree. This book shows so well not only how much she has grown but all her friend’s lives she has touched. She has chosen to be a kind caring woman, much like her grandmother. Those choices come back to reward her. We see it here when all her friends come to show her support when she needs it. We see that in the end, Sookie has this wonderful circle of friends, supes and humans alike, who will do what needs to be done when the chips are down and it is Sookie who needs them.
Betrayal Most Deep
There were a few shocks in store though. While Sookie is battling the affairs of the heart, she is of course engaged in a do-or-die battle that takes all her courage to succeed at. In the midst of it, she is betrayed and that was one shock I wasn’t ready for her to face. It wasn’t like the betrayal came from someone too good to hurt her, but the depth of the betrayal and the reasons for it were what shocked me in the end.
A Fitting Ending to Sookie Stackhouse’s Adventures
One of the things I really loved about this series was how we got to see the little things that made up Sookie’s life. The book continues with that, and in fact it is the small gestures that make the book so satisfying. The little gestures like her joy in things like drying her hair in the sun or cleaning her house. She loves that house, sometimes simply because it keeps her close to her grams. But also because in her heart she is that small-town southern girl who loves her home, and caring for those she loves.
She worries often in Dead Ever After if all her interactions with the vampires and other supernaturals have changed her; make her too hard and uncaring. But if anything, this final book shows us that Sookie is still at heart that girl that likes to do a good job at Merlotte’s, keep a good home and be there for her friends.
She may have learned a bit better to care for herself, and others around her like her brother Jason. She may have come to understand that there are some people you can love, and though they love you back you will never be first with them. And she has come to accept that this doesn’t mean she is any less for their decision.
A Coming of Age Ending
In the end, this is the book where all the chickens come home to roost for Sookie. Stuff that has been simmering for a while comes to a boil, to Sookie’s detriment. But at the same time, many of the thoughts and feelings she has had, the questions she has considered about her life have also come to some conclusions. Hearing Sam’s heart stop made her really look at all the important people in her life.
Whether this is the ending you are happy with will be up to you to decide. I know that there is quite a bit of controversy about how Charlaine chose to end this, but I couldn’t agree with her choices more. I actually re-read the whole series before starting on this one (no small chore!) and am glad I did. If you have them on your kindle or bookshelf, I would really recommend it.
Reading the whole series that way made me truly appreciate just how great a writer Charlaine Harris is. She has taken this almost simple concept, and woven a very complex but human plot with some very inhuman characters. Throughout it all, she has never really wavered from the central point. In the end, we all choose or at least need to choose, the life that makes us happy. I only can hope for the same choices for all of us when the time comes. Charlaine, you can come script my ending any time!
For those who are ready to jump into reading the last Sookie Stackhouse novel Dead Ever After, we have it ready for you in the Kindle format and the paperback, as well as a gorgeous hardcover version to show off on that bookshelf.
Ghostfinders is the latest series from the very prolific pen of British Sci-fi and Fantasy author Simon R Green. One of the things I really like about Green’s work is that his stories all take place in the same universe. In fact, there are several series that take place in different sections of the same city, and I have heard that sometimes characters from one series will be in backgrounds of other stories. So this makes Green introducing a new series all the more interesting.
If you have followed his Deathstalker or Nightside fantasy book series, then you are probably already familiar with his style and world. That will make it all the easier for you to jump into this series with both feet. You’ll find that the London in this series feels a bit closer to our own above-ground version”, but don’t think Green’s evil creatures are any less nasty. If you’re a fan of witty quick-paced fantasy with just enough CSI thrown in to give it that horror gore quota, these books will deliver.
When things go bump in the night, it is always good to know that the Queen, as in of England, has someone she can call. No- it isn’t Ghostbusters, it’s Carnacki Institute’s ghostfinder team. This team is the Queen’s own, and when she calls them to find and take care of a ghost, they do it. Now, our team is just the “B Team”, the one they send when the top-notch guys aren’t available. But team leader JC Chance along with his technogeek Melody and telepath Happy Jack will do all they can to get the job done right. Because these guys are her to Do Something About those things that go bump in the night.
It starts with a feeling of dread in a supermarket parking lot. Sounds almost benign but when JC, Melody and Happy force a confrontation they find a being older than humanity itself. And this isn’t the only problem they face. Something old and evil is haunting a train station in London. When JC and his team face operatives sent to stop them, they come to realize that they will need to join forces with the enemy if they hope to stop this creature from destroying everything. Fantasy book lovers will find that this trio of distinctive and interesting new characters are a great introduction to the world of Ghostfinders a fast witty read. Get you’re here in either Kindle or paperback today.
Our heroes have added a new member to the team since the last book. Kim is a ghost who doesn’t quite have a handle on her abilities and has inspired a bit of romance in our fearless leader JC. This time to team is more secure in their abilities and when things get hectic at an abandoned warehouse they are ready for it. When the old caretaker of the building arrives to “lay these ghosts down” it is soon obvious that this old place has more than just a haunting or two.
Happy continues to pop pills to deal with the ghostly voices while Melody gets more tech toys to play with. I will admit Happy is quickly becoming my favorite in the bunch! No sooner do they get things wrapped up at the warehouse then they are sent to investigate a pharmaceutical lab where every security squad sent in has disappeared. Can they find out what is happening before they become part of the problem? You get lots of snappy patter, snide remarks and of course great ghost fighting along the way. You can get yours in either a Kindle edition or order the paperback at the links.
Once again our intrepid team has two mysteries to solve. In the first one, they come out to the community of Bradley Halt to find out why doors open and close and other strange events keep happening around the renovations of an old train station. It all appears to be connected to the disappearance of a train during Victorian times. It seems that a train went into a tunnel and just never emerged. Luckily there are ways and technical toys to get to the bottom of this mystery and our team does just that. I won’t tell you how, that would ruin the fun.
But having solved this problem, they are off in first class comfort to find out about a haunting at another renovation project. This one, the Haybarn Theatre seems to be haunted. All the workers that are renovating the theatre have walked off the job and someone thinks it has to do with the mysterious disappearance years ago of one of the principle actors of a play, during the performance. It seems to be no coincidence that the same play is being rehearsed for the grand reopening of the theatre. Was he killed and is haunting the theatre? Is there something more here than just an ordinary haunt? With this third book the characters and concept have really hit their stride. Dialogue bounces across the page, Happy is making the usual cryptic dark mutterings and we get to see even more of JC’s belief in the power of positive thinking. Grab your own Kindle version or paperback copy today. Cause where there are ghosts, there is someone there to Do Something About Them.
There is a reason that young adult fantasy, or YA Fantasy if you like, is one of the most interesting sub-genres out there today. Tons of great writers are showing their fantastic writing chops every month. They are encouraged when YA fantasy series such as the Harry Potter series and Twilight are made into block-buster movies.
It feels like the race is on for every YA fantasy writer to show off what they know and create some wonderful YA sci-fi or fantasy series that will leave everyone else in the dust. Who knew that Young Adult fantasy writers had it in them to be so competitive?
This Month’s Top Rated YA Fantasy
Although these books are different sub-genres, each of the books in this list are rated at least 4.0 out of a 5-star rating on Amazon. Some are from fairly established writers in the YA fantasy or science fiction genre; others are new to the game. All of them have proven they can spin a story that excites us and holds our attention breathless to the end.
Genre: Epic Fantasy
This is the third book of a wonderful new series with humans, elves, dark magic and plenty of old-time gods. The story was originally conceived by Anderson’s then 8-year old son and they continue to collaborate on it. The Godling Chronicles begin with a young boy discovering he has unknown powers, ones that could make a difference in a world where the old gods have fallen and a captured sword leaves them trapped and betrayed.
In the second book he works to convince the elves that they must enter the battle, on the side of the humans. Now, in the third book in the series the characters have grown, the battle is now in full rage and humans, elves and more must make decisions that will affect generations to come. Great world building, heroics in the mold of Tolkien and a sense of fairness and rightful action that is refreshing in today’s YA fantasy fiction. Amazon has your copy in either paperback or Kindle.
Genre: Science Fiction
When 17 year-old Kaitlyn agreed to donate her body to science someday, that is how she thought of it. As something that would maybe happen someday, after she was dead. Instead, she awakens to find herself part android and part human, with the fragile emotions of her human self but in body that is not hers. She has become part of an experiment, one that was not intended to allow her to keep her human thoughts.
But her memories seem to be fragmented and she knows that she cannot reveal that she has kept her human self alive inside this weird freakish creature. To complicate matters Lucas, the brilliant and handsome scientist that created her, discovers her dilemma. He vows he will find a way to help her. His guilt at creating this nightmare for her, along his growing admiration and love for her give us a story of science, love and a modern tale of how we could all find ourselves suspended somewhere between human and machine. It is available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle formats.
Genre: Science Fiction
What if you are just one of many clones, all created for that single time when you will need to leave your simple safe life and take the place of your “original”? That is Ven’s life. She is one of many clones created in a lab for one purpose, to stand in for her original if their life is ever in danger. When she does get the dreaded letter that sends her out into the real world of Twig City, it is a shock. But nothing can prepare her for the role she is about to play, of the pampered party girl Raven, who is hated by many and threatened with murder.
Ven’s one shining light in this world is Linc, the bodyguard whose job it is to keep Raven safe. He sees changes in Raven/Ven that he cannot understand and in time the chemistry between them surmounts their differences. Together they will work to unravel the secrets that Raven’s father is hiding and why someone wants to see Raven hurt. Imitation is a dystopian tale with a romantic twist that owes as much to BladeRunner as it does to The Hunger and is available from Amazon in either paperback or Kindle versions.
The Falcon Lord series is hopeful, heroic and swashbuckling with just enough steampunk to make it all fun. We begin the series with The Lost Isle of Perpetua as we meet 16 year-old Brighton. He is a smart driven kid with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, for good reason. His father was killed by the very giant falcon he was master of and his mother abandoned him soon after. Though just a second Assistant Game Warden, Brighton takes his responsibilities seriously and enlists in the military when his country is threatened by an army of underground mutants.
The story enlists magic, introduces us to the high spirited and wonderful Willowmena along with some amazing steam-driven machines. While there are ecological themes in the series, it never overpowers the story. Taking the classic hero’s journey, artist and film director DA Metrov creates an adventure that will drag you into a wondrous new world of heroics, steampunk and legend being born before our eyes. You can get your own paperback or Kindle version of The Lost Isle of Perpetua right here today.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
A truly magical tale of friendship and overcoming hardships, this is the kind of story kids and adults can read and enjoy together. That alone makes it a welcome addition to the Young Adult fantasy canon. I think boys will particularly like Trail of Bones as it has a kind of coming of age feel to it as well. In a land where nations both human and animal live side by side, there is a border land that is wild and filled with magical creatures.
Over the years a hunter has taken young animals from this wilderness and caged them to fight as gladiators. Into this background comes a young wolf, captured from his pack. He befriends a young panther who has known only the cage and together with a minotaur and a human they learn to forge a bond that will help them win their freedom. You can get your paperback or Kindle version from Amazon here and be reading this soon. It’s a great story to share as well.
This week’s episode of Game of Thrones finally got to the scene everyone was buzzing about during the shooting, the bear. There was talk about the dangers of shooting this riveting scene where Brienne is facing a bear as part of the troop’s entertainment. But if there was, the only hint of it is in the danger that the character is facing, with a wooden sword as Brienne’s only weapon of defense. The pairing of Brienne and Jamie (along with quite a few others, it seemed to be a theme this week) is one that is developing in an interesting direction. And no – I don’t mean romantically.
Perhaps the most interesting thing was the fact that Jamie came back at all. The old Jamie, the one that pushed a small child out of a third story window to stop him from revealing his shenanigans with his sister, seems to have finally grown up. He might even have grown a conscience. That will be a shock to his sister dear when they are finally reunited. Well, along with that missing hand, of course.
Jamie’s comment that Qyburn did a better job at healing his stump then Pycelle is another exploration of both Qyburn and Jamie’s growing awareness that there is more to the world then battles and women. Of course, we will see if he continues on this course when he gets back to King’s Landing.
Marriage Plans in the Game of Thrones
But even when Jamie does return, he will find a lot has changed at King’s Landing. For one, though the mad boy may still be King, Tywin has finally made the move we have been waiting for this season. He has let Joffrey know that he is the one to decide if a certain piece of information is important enough to tell Joffrey about. The kid may be smart in recognizing that Danys and her dragons are more of a threat then Tywin is willing to admit to, but in the end he glowers on the throne but seems willing to accept that it is Tywin making the decisions these days and not him. After all, Joffrey has a wedding to look forward to.
But Sansa is not at all happy with her marriage plans. She shudders at the thought of marrying “the dwarf” but is reassured by Margaery that the rumors of Tyrion’s prowess in bed may prove to be an advantage here. Her comment on how women are complicated creatures that take men some time to figure out how to please is a telling one. Of course, the real chuckle is when Sansa ventures that Margaery learned of this kind of information from her mother.
But my favorite line came from Bronn, when Tyrion is complaining of the upcoming marriage to Sansa. When Bronn comments about the advantage of Sansa’s age in terms of her attractions as a bride, Tyrion seems almost embarrassed by the thought. He chides Bronn for thinking such “evil notions”. Bronn replies:
You pay me to kill people who bother you – the evil notions come free.
The Dragon Mother
Ah – I was quite happy to see Danys again, and her dragons. They are bigger again since the last time we saw them, and looking quite ferocious. Her plans to free the slaves of the Eastern Lands continue as she approaches Yunkai. Nice matte shot of the city, by the way. I wish I could see those kinds of details a bit more closely.
Her dragons continue to be her upper hand, as she accepts the slave trader’s bribe of silver and ships. But she is not willing to leave unless they release all of the slaves. Her army will be formidable and very loyal to her by the time she sets for Kings Landing.
Looking at her “holding court” in the tent for the slave trader, I couldn’t help but think how far she has come since we first met her and her brother. She has taken on the role of Queen and more. She has advisors, fierce warriors who will kill and be killed for her and dragons to secure her power. Even more important, she wears that power like it belongs to her. Like Jamie, she has grown enormously in the last season.
Beyond the Wall
Jon Snow and the Wildings are south of the Wall and moving towards Castle Black. Orell’s declaration of his feelings for Ygritte should not have come as a surprise. He has been resentful of Jon Snow from day one, and now we know why. But I don’t think Ygritte is ready to look at Jon as the traitor Orell paints him to be. Even with that little slip, where Jon told her “they” (not we) will fail at Castle Black, she feels confident of their connection. That he will be loyal to her, if not to the Wildings themselves.
The King of the North
We saw just a little of Rob, enough to find out that Talisa is pregnant. The war seems to be going slowly if at all, and this little wedding is another bump in the road. Catelyn is right when she points out that Walder Frey wanted his daughter to marry a King, not just some lord. He won’t be appeased and the marriage may not even get them the help they need. Meanwhile, the war seems to have stalled.
Gendry and The Brotherhood
At last, Gendry finds out why everyone seems to be after him. His role as bastard son of old King Rob seems less of a surprise to him, since the old man seems to have left plenty of those around. Though many are now dead and it remains to be seen how the Red Witch will use him. But it doesn’t sound like she is planning to sacrifice him as much as use him as a pawn in her plans.
But the Brotherhood is now on the outs with Arya for having betrayed Gendry. I think Arya has feelings for him, more than just the sisterly kind, too. Funny thing about Arya – I have loved this character from the beginning. She is just a kid but she has that feistiness and guts that make you want to root for her. Apparently I am not alone in this feeling, because I recently read that Arya was one of the most popular names for a girl child in 2012. Perhaps we all long for a feisty kid like her.
But her tendency to act first and think things through later betrays her when she stomps out of the hideout of the Brotherhood in anger. They not only betrayed Gendry by selling him to the Red Witch, they also have decided to have a little side trip to waylay “some Lannisters” instead of proceeding directly to Riverrun as promised. But her stamping out and running away simply put her directly into the hands of The Hound. And that cannot be a good thing.
Game of Thrones and the Women
So in the end we find that once again the women in Game of Thrones are the ones with the real backbone. It is quickly looking like Brienne may be the one knight left with any true nobility. Perhaps some of that may continue to rub off on Jamie, who knows? Arya may be a brat, but she is one that knows what needs to happen and that you don’t betray your friends for gold, no matter how much you need it.
Sansa has perhaps discovered an ally or two in Margaery and Oleanna but that is by no means certain. Those two women have their own agendas. And Danys shows she has the stuff of Queens. Even poor Theon is bested by a pair of women who “rescue” him and get him all excited, only to discover they were setting him up to have his favorite body part removed rather painfully. The women have it yet again on Game of Thrones.
Trickster by Jeff Somers is dark and gritty. Actually you could say bloody and mean it in every sense of the word. For in Trickster, magic is fueled by blood, and blood alone. Without it – there is just the mundane world. Enter Lem – a trickster who decided at a very early age that the blood price for magic would never be anyone’s but his own. It tends to make for a very limited repertoire and lots of bandages. He more or less still feels that the decision was the right one. He just wishes it didn’t tend to leave him homeless and broke.
At his side is Mags. You can’t help but like the slow-witted but intensely loyal personality of Mags. Yes, I know that the character of a gentle giant is more than a little over-used in fantasy, but there is just something so winning about Mags. Lem may be a bit desperate from time to time, but Mags never loses faith that Lem will find a solution. We should all be so lucky to have someone who sees us in this light in our lives.
But their lives get much more complicated when they stumble upon Claire. The runes that cover her body in invisible lines mark her as a pawn of Blood Mages. These are the users of magic who will stop at little, certainly not at the death of ordinary humans, to work their spells. It is their dark evil that trickster Lem was seeking to avoid when he made the decision to only work magic with his own blood. It is why he keeps to the small spells. They might keep him alive one more day but are hardly the kind to protect him and his friends. The trouble is, now protection and more is what he will need to keep them alive.
Trickster by Jeff Somers Explores New Territory
Trickster is unusual in that it leaves behind the usual tale of good versus bad. It gives us a hero who is not exactly heroic. We instead see the story of small victories and a question of the definition of virtue. Lem is not exactly honest – but he is not a danger really to anyone but himself. It is a very different, and I think pretty modern, take on the question of what you would do if given the gift of magic. Maybe you wouldn’t turn aside the spell of true evil so much as trade it in for small tricks, that a trickster can do, in order to slide through life with as little disruption as possible. Or would you?