Oh yes, you’ve all heard of Gandalf, and I’m sure all of you fantasy writers dream of someone of his magical prowess in your own books (be warned, such ambiguous wizardry is a difficult beast to tame), but what is it about him that captivates readers of the Lord of the Rings? His seemingly boundless powers? His vociferous nature? His exquisite fireworks? Or is it something altogether more subtle? J. R. R. Tolkien’s spontaneously regenerating, sardonically witty wizard is worth a wonder over.
It has come. The final novel of the Shattered Sea trilogy is here. A tale of oaths, lies, war and love has reached its explosive end. We have been through Yarvi’s toils in Half a King, seen war brew and love blossom with Thorn and Brand in Half the World, and now we see Half a War through the eyes of a young, anxious, but fiery queen; a truculent warmonger whose starting to feel the weight of his regrets; and an aspiring minister with a torturous dilemma. But how did they do narrating the end of the Shattered Sea trilogy?
Also known as the serial comma, the Oxford comma can be a tricky subject, as well as a disputed one. It is commonly known as the Oxford comma because its use is advocated by the Oxford University Press (and the Harvard University Press too). Essentially, it is a comma that is placed before the ‘and’ that comes before the last element in a list.
Here is an example of such a list where the Oxford comma is absent:
Talking in the group was John, Martin’s father and a trained helicopter pilot.
Without the Oxford comma, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on. Are there three people – John and Martin’s father and a trained helicopter pilot? Or two – John (Martin’s father) and a helicopter pilot? Or is just a very busy John, who is Martin’s father and a helicopter pilot?
This article will briefly introduce five of the must read fantasy novels out this year that we at Sentient Ink are particularly excited about. The five we have chosen are not in any particular order, and this isn’t an exhaustive list, but we think you’ll agree they’re all going to be awesome.
The Shepherd’s Crown, by Terry Pratchett (Out August 27, 2015 in the UK, September 1 in the USA)
So far we have reviewed the Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett’s first novel in the Discworld series, and Night Watch, the first in The City Watch sequence. With Terry Pratchett’s sad passing, The Shepherd’s Crown will bring an end to the epic, thirty two year old fantasy series.
The Shepherd’s Crown is the fifth Discworld novel to follow Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training who has grown up throughout the four novels in which she has starred, being just nine years old in The Wee Free Men, up to almost nineteen in I Shall Wear Midnight. Not much has been revealed about The Shepherd’s Crown, but with Tiffany’s fiery character and Pratchett’s famous literary bombardment of adventure, magic and humour, it is sure to be a wonderful, and very emotional, farewell to the Discworld and its creator.
Just to put your minds at ease, I have been very careful to avoid all spoilers for fans of both the books and television series.
Tyrion Lannister is most people’s favourite character (and in everyone’s top three) in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as in the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones. But what is it about him that lures readers and watchers? What magic is his wonderfully crafted character emanating to captivate us so?
Not many things can successfully intervene my current binge on fantasy novels. One author that can, and always will, is Stephen King. Before reading anything that doesn’t contain a sprinkle of fantasy or a touch of the paranormal, I often get a shudder of scepticism, trying to convince myself last minute that I can always grab something else. But no – a varied reading list is as important as a varied diet. Picking up Mr Mercedes however, this shudder was notably absent, as I have learned to trust King unconditionally to delivering me a thrilling story. And Mr Mercedes is no exception.
This is a short story by the author of the masterful, sensational, beautiful A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, made even more popular by the very much worthy A Game of Thrones television series on HBO and Sky Atlantic. Following the dramatic conclusion of Season 5 with the episode Mother’s Mercy, I have decided to review the short and delightful story Martin wrote for younger viewers (though oddly there’s still people burnt to cinders and with limbs hewn off). Though I must stress this is not a companion to A Song of Ice and Fire (though set in ‘Westeros’ it is in fact a different fantasy world).
The story is very short and simple, but also very elegant and sweet. In it, we follow a girl called Adara through the early years of her life.
By D. C. Ward
She snatched it greedily from his bony fingers. A trifurcated key of white gold, encrusted with smooth black letters and a glass window on its bow. Within the window, gently flowing clouds of both white and grey rotated. Jagged cuts ran down each of the three shafts; so many sharp protrusions it may have made a fine weapon. It was a beautiful key.
All of her most joyful memories, and all of her most torturous nightmares, now lay flat in her palm. She felt a power in it, like that of an approaching storm; hairs she didn’t know existed on the back of her hands stiffened and shivered her skin. Ani stared at the key, and then up at the iron door. Should it not be guarded by more than those spiders?
“I do not understand?” she said.
“My lady,” began Ralk, gazing up and down Ani’s body with his usual look of amorous hunger, “the Thaumaturge have been restless, but have finally found a way for you to forget what happened that night. That is what you want, is it not? You will find on the other side the scene as you remember, of your father as you found him after his murder.”
“How do I use it?”
“It is a key, my lady. It works as all keys do.”
You have your characters, your plot and your world. You have at least a rough plan of your story’s contents – perhaps an event, good or bad (usually bad), has an effect on one or several characters. Or perhaps it even affects your world as a whole (some provocation of war; apocalyptic catastrophe etc.), but still you’ll tell stories of individuals and how they cope with this change you have constructed. You will likely have some sort of ending in mind, a resolution of sorts.
Excellent. Congratulations. So, you’ve sat down after days, weeks, maybe even months of planning, but how the hell do you start?
A short opening chapter describes only the silence of a room – Boring, right? (And only seventeen million words to go) It’s quite the opposite, actually. I have never read a book that is so long that is never boring, and this opening chapter, less than a page long, is my favourite ever beginning to a novel. It is gripping, poetic and mysterious, and that is how I would describe The Name of the Wind as a whole.
The opening of the book sees Kvothe, our, somewhat rumour-distorted, hero, who has set up retirement in hiding as an innkeeper. What lures the reader this early is the smooth and flawless writing style of Rothfuss, who can seemingly write about anything, adding flare, wit, poetry and meaning to the otherwise latent, bland and passive.