Monday, May 10, 2010

Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland

I felt a compulsive need to finish the Nine Kingdoms trilogy right away after reading book 2 (see my review of The Mage's Daughter). In this book Miach and Morgan race to the finish to stop the well of evil pouring out over the Nine Kingdoms and to defeat the evil black mage before he destroys Miach's kingdom. The King has been king-napped along with the queen, and the kingdom is undefended. Miach and Moragn have to hurry and finish their quest and return home before there isn't a home left to return to.

This is a good end to the series, but it wasn't great. There was a great deal more action than book 2 and the plot moved a lot quicker, which was good, but what left me unsettled was having too many loose ends not tied up at the end. It just didn't seem finished enough for me. If there were a fourth book that would make me feel better. But there isn't. So the book loses points for not finishing up tight and clean.

For information about the author and other books to consider, please see The Mage's Daughter review.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland

I had read the first part of this series a couple years ago (Star of the Morning), and had long wanted to finish off the trilogy. While the first novel of the three is definitely the best, this one has some good things to say about it as well.

The background story for those who haven't read the first book: Morgan is a fierce mercenary and master swordswoman, one of the only women who have such skill with a blade. Her foster father, Nicholas, asks her to deliver a special blade to another kingdom, and even though it is magic, she cannot refuse the person who has given her so much. So she goes and meets adventure in the form of nasty shadow creatures and an archmage in disguise. This archmage is trying to find the one person who can wield a very powerful sword, which may just save his kingdom from an evil black mage bent on destroying him. But he got way more than he bargained for when he meets Morgan, and cannot help himself as he falls for her. Suddenly everything has a new perspective he didn't see coming.

So that is a little taste of book one. This novel is a compelling second part to the Nine Kingdoms trilogy, and it focused a great deal more on the romance between Miach the archmage and Morgan the mercenary. Miach helps her to uncover the past that had been uncovered for so long, but once it began to come to light terrified her to no end. He also offers up a future where he will do whatever it takes to keep her safe. But the peril that is plaguing the Nine Kingdoms is getting worse and Miach must find a way to protect his realm and those he loves. But Morgan will not be left at home while he tries to shoulder this burden on himself. And perhaps she may be the only one who can truly stop the evil that threatens them.

A very quick read (I finished it in a day), and very entertaining. Lots of mushy stuff, but everything entirely innocent. No R rated stuff here. But lots of magic, which I enjoyed. Morgan is a bit too doe-eyed in this volume, which she certainly wasn't hardly at all in book one, but it was still entertaining to read nevertheless.

About the author: Lynn Kurland is a best-selling American author of historical, time travel, and fantasy romance novels. Her novels have appeared on the The New York Times Bestseller List, USAToday Bestseller List, The New York Times Extended Bestseller List, the Amazon Top 100, and the Barnes and Noble, Waldenbooks, and B. Dalton Bestsellers lists. She has won three RITA awards and was a finalist for a fourth. She was born in Hawaii and is a classically trained musician as well. She plays the cello. To date, she has written 31 novels. There are currently 6 books that are set in the Nine Kingdoms.

If you like this, you may also like: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, and The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

Friday, May 7, 2010

At the Hop!

Hello fellow book blog hoppers! Glad you could stop by, and I hope you like what you see. Here is the link to Crazy for Books to keep on a'hopping!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I'll bet you were wondering when I would ever get finished with this book. I'll have to beg your forgiveness because this book was 846 pages long and jam packed with content! The book was really really good though, so it was worth the time spent.

This book is definitely one of my new favorites. It is set in England in the 1800s, but in an England where magic has been prevalent throughout its history, but at present dormant. Enter Gilbert Norrell-a very learned magician who learned his craft from buying up all the available books on magic in the land. He is very content to be the world's only practicing magician. But then Jonathan Strange appears. He is drawn to magic, and then to Mr. Norrell who has become the epicenter of English magic. The two are quite a pair of opposites, but their shared love of learning and magic unite them. They begin to aid England in the Napoleonic wars with their skills and are perceived as England's heroes. But a rather foolish pact That Mr. Norrell made with a Fairy will come back to bite both of them. Despite their differences they will need each other to fix things and fulfill a prophecy to bring English magic back to its former strength.

What a great book. Even though it is over 800 pages it was engaging from start to finish. Some parts read like a book right out of Jane Austen's era, but with a twist of magic thrown in for spice. The footnotes that explain references to ancient magical history are also very engaging. This is a wonderful and unique undertaking, and I count Clarke among some of my favorite novelists. I look forward to reading more from this wonderful author.

About the Author:Susanna Clarke is a British author. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is her debut novel, which is a Hugo Award-winning alternate history. Clarke began Jonathan Strange in 1993 and worked on it during her spare time while editing cookbooks for Simon and Schuster. For the next decade, she published short stories from the Strange universe, but it was not until 2003 that Bloomsbury bought her manuscript and began work on its publication. The novel became a bestseller. Two years later, she published a collection of her short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories (2006). Both Clarke's novel and her short stories are set in a magical England and written in a pastiche of the styles of nineteenth-century writers such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. While Strange focuses on the relationship of two men, Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell, the stories in Ladies focus on the power women gain through magic.

If you find this interesting, also check out:
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Both are excellent novels that really paint the entire history of the magical world around the story.