Top Ten Tuesday: September 9
First of all: *squeal!* A Witch With No Name (The Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison comes out today 😀
*Ahem* But on to more serious matters …
I’ve decided to give the Top Ten Tuesday meme a try. This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, with a different “top ten list” every week. This week’s theme is “Top Ten Underrated Books in ____ Genre.” It should come as no surprise that I’m discussing fantasy books. I’m only going to do 5 books because I’m tired and typing this past my bedtime Monday night. However, I promise there is more than enough commentary coming to make up for the shortish list. So without further ado …
(… And the rest of the series too!)
I absolutely adore these books. They are clever, well thought-out, have an excellent plot (both overall and individually), and have even better characters. I fell in love with them where there were only 2 or 3 out, and I’ve read them religiously after each publication since. The series is 7 books long and follows around a Source and a Shield. The idea of these types of people is so unique that I’m amazed these books haven’t been scooped up by more people itching for something just a little bit different.
Basically, a Source is a person able to tame natural disasters, but because they, more or less, meld their energy with the storm/earthquake/insert anything you can think of here, they usually die in the process unless they are appropriately shielded. Hence, the Shield. Shields are able to form a—psychic isn’t really the best word for it, but close enough—link with the Sources and keep them from being overstimulated by the natural disaster they’re working with. A pair is generally bonded, though a Shield can support a Source he or she isn’t paired with. The particular pair that this book follows are Shield Dunleavy Mallorough and Source Shintaro Karish (by the way, I haven’t read these books in quite some time, and I even spelled those right! Yes!), who initially couldn’t be a worse match. The series begins when they are paired together and sent off to their post city.
I won’t say much more because I don’t want to spoil any surprises. Just know that these come with my highest recommendation.
Heroics for Beginners by John Moore (I don’t think he and Moira are related)
If you’re ever in the mood for nice quick romp down whimsical-fantasy-cliche-gone-comically-wrong lane, this is an excellent place to start. I read this book in just a few hours, which was only partially due to its relatively small size (~250 pages). It was just such a quick read, and I was laughing the entire time. (I may have gotten a few strange looks from other people at the airport—I swear I tried to keep the laugh to myself!)
There’s not much I can say about it that the description doesn’t tell you all on its own:
Prince Kevin Timberline must retrieve Ancient Artifact Model Seven from the clutches of the evil Lord Voltmeter–He Who Must Be Named–before said evil Lord unleashes his Diabolical Plan.
Luckily, Kevin wields a secret weapon that will cause the forces of Darkness to tremble: “The Handbook of Practical Heroics.”
And the puns throughout never cease. Seriously, just give it a go. You won’t regret it.
And now we begin on the surprising names to make this kind of list. Many of you probably know K. A. Applegate from reading (or at least having friends who read) Animorphs growing up. I never jumped on that bandwagon. But I did fall in love with another series of hers, and I actually owe a lot of my interests in the genre to these books.
Search for Senna isn’t by any means my favorite book in the series, but I felt the need to pick one to get you started, so you might as well start at the beginning.
In this series, a handful of teens get sucked into an alternate world filled with gods and other mythical creatures from just about every major culture imaginable (ok, largely Western culture: there’s definitely some extra emphasis on European and Central American gods; I don’t recall much else, but I honestly wouldn’t have known it if I’d read it back then).
If I remember correctly, Loki is one of the first gods this pesky group encounters. Here is a point of reference for you: when I first read these books, I had no idea who Loki was. My idea of knowing any mythology was having a vague recognition of the Greek and Roman gods/goddesses and watching Disney’s Hercules growing up. These books not only exposed me to other cultures, but to some of the darker aspects of them. It was after this series that I became absolutely obsessed with all things Norse, but specifically Niflheim, Hel, and Loki. And the mythology obsession just kind of grew from there.
I credit these books with the burden of being one of the biggest reasons I read (and more importantly write) fantasy the way I do. Applegate introduced me to the idea of ancient cultures and fantasy books all in one fell swoop, and I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve thought about re-reading this series, but I honestly can’t bring myself to. I’m afraid that I will start nit-picking the mythology references now that I know better, just because I know that I always find something. Regardless, if you haven’t read this series yet, I do encourage giving it a try—they’d be pretty quick skims if you can manage to find them. They were already out of print by the time I started reading them (my Mom scoured the internet to find the complete series for them, and I absolutely will not part with them). There are still a few floating around, though.
This one’s definitely a surprising author to see here, but come on people, I just have to point this out:
Notice a difference? Raven’s Shadow has less than 1/20th of the number of rating on Goodreads of Moon Called. And their ratings aren’t really all that far apart.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Mercy. The Mercy Thompson series is why I decided I loved Briggs. And as soon as I realized she had other books, I went out and read them all. I’ve officially read more of her older, high fantasy works than I have of her urban fantasy books (as a percentage at least).
The Raven Duology presents another one of those fairly unique magical worlds. In this series, there are Travelers who all have a different type of magical skill. There are 6 types, and they’re all represented by a bird. The Raven is the Mage. There are also wizards, who use a different type of magic altogether. The Travelers are basically gypsies or roma, and are generally treated badly; they therefore are largely diminishing in numbers, and their magic is disappearing. I can’t do it justice in words here, but trust me when I say the books will draw you in and intrigue you in a way you might not have experienced in a while. And there are only 2 books, so it’s not like you’ll be sucked into a series you don’t have time to finish! 😉
And while you’re at it, take a look at these books by Briggs as well:
- Dragon Bones (Hurog #1)
- Masques (Aralorn #1)
- Steal the Dragon (Sianim; can be read independently)
- When Demon’s Walk (Sianim; can be read independently)
- The Hob’s Bargain
Are you sensing a theme yet? 😉
I was obsessed (obsessed) with Laurell K. Hamilton’s … well, her everything. I inhaled the Anita Blake books and was very nearly equally enthralled by Merry Gentry (which, incidentally, inspired a good deal of my love for fae books, but that’s an altogether different topic). It took although until Danse Macabre came out to lose that infatuation (in fact, I specifically remember the release day for that book coming around and my dad refusing to take me to the bookstore because I had reached the point of having an outright addiction. I was so mad, but I think he was right). Anyway, back to the point.
Anita Blake lost her glamour with me, but I still every now and then curl up with Nightseer just to think back on the good old days. If I remember correctly, this was Hamilton’s first published novel, hitting the shelves, what, a good decade or so before Guilty Pleasures first came out? She was clearly a less mature writer than she was now (and certainly wasn’t quite so attached to the steamy sex scenes every chapter or two).
Keleios was an interesting character. She’s a half-elf, she’s a magician, she’s a profit of sorts. And she has a dark past as a result of a demon named Harque intervening when she was just a child. It’s a good read; fairly serious, but well worth the time. If you’ve never read this book before, I highly encourage it (even if you’re not really a fan of Hamilton based on her other books; I assure you this one is different enough).
So, lovely readers, what about you? What do you have on your Top Ten Tuesday list (share your link in the comments if you have a post!)? Have you read any of these books already, or are you interested in any potential new ones?