Posts Tagged With: zombies

“The Black Fire Concerto” by Mike Allen

After seeing glowing reviews at The Little Red Reviewer, Lynn’s Book Blog, and Just Book Reading, I knew I had to read The Black Fire Concerto.  I’m on a book-buying hiatus until the government shutdown ends and I have a regular paycheck again, but lucky for me, it is available through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It’s the first time I’ve used that particular feature of Amazon Prime.  Mike Allen, you have taken my Kindle-book-borrowing virginity.  Yay!

Every evening, twelve-year-old Erzelle is called to play her harp aboard a riverboat named the Red Empress.  Like Scheherazade, this means that she can live another day.  You see, the boat is kept by the Family, who lure unsuspecting diners aboard their ship to feast on ghoul meat, which is said to grant extended life.  Once aboard, the poor unfortunates are bitten by ghouls, turned, and served up as dinner themselves.  When they decide that Erzelle isn’t worth her keep, then she too will become dinner.

That all changes when Olyssa, a kickass woman with a magic pipe, shows up one night for dinner.  She springs Erzelle from her predicament, and the two embark on a voyage to find Olyssa’s long-lost sister.  While doing so, Erzelle learns about the origins of the magical apocalypse that caused the Storms, the ghouls, and the end of normal life.

The magical apocalypse envisioned in The Black Fire Concerto is unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Magic is real, but humans only learned to tap the darkness a few decades ago.  The results were catastrophic, and led to the dystopian society that presently exists.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the way that the author was able to depict the way that magic affects its users.  This was especially evident as Erzelle learns how to use it and is gripped by the rage and the temptation to unleash too much power.  Heroes and villains alike are shaped by the magic that they use, and every action has a consequence, regardless of intention.

Mike Allen’s imagery is incredible.  He creates great machines fueled by rotting corpses, the friendly fox-like Vulpines, and villains that will give you nightmares and make you feel sympathetic at the same time.  A blend of fantasy and horror, The Black Fire Concerto will leave you begging for more.

Verdict:  Buy this.  Immediately.

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Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror/Gothic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

“Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson

I finished this book about a week ago, but I’ve been pretty busy and hadn’t gotten around to writing a review for it yet.  I decided it’s time to take a few minutes to procrastinate, because this book was awesome and I want to talk about it.

“Elantris” is a standalone fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson.  I started reading it because I love Sanderson’s writing and to distract myself from the urge to read ahead with Mistborn.

The city of Elantris was once a pinnacle of greatness.  Random individuals from the kingdom of Arelon would wake up to find themselves transformed into Elantrians, white-haired god-like beings who could harness the power of the Aons and achieve near-immortality.  However, ten years before the book takes place place, Elantris was cursed.  Now the people of Arelon sometimes wake up turned into leprous zombie-creatures and are cast into the decaying remnants of Elantris to rot.

The story focuses on three major characters.  Raoden was the heir to the throne of Arelon, until he woke up one morning as an Elantrian zombie.  He is cast into Elantris and tries to make the most of his situation, uniting the street gangs and trying to instill hope for the first time since Elantris’ fall.  Raoden is determined to figure out the secrets of the Aons and to restore Elantris to its former glory.

Sarene is a princess from a neighboring country who was betrothed to Raoden.  She traveled to her wedding to find that Raoden had died (because nobody would tell her he was a zombie), but the betrothal contract was worded in such a way that she would technically be married to him if he died so that the political union between the two countries would be preserved.  Sarene finds it hard to adjust to life in Arelon, especially because women aren’t taken seriously there, but finds herself playing an increasingly crucial role in preserving Arelon’s future.

The third major character, Hrathen, could technically be considered a villain.  He is a priest/warrior-monk who has been sent to convert Arelon to the Fjordell religion.  If Arelon isn’t converted within three months, his superiors will destroy it.  However, conversion to the Fjordell religion would mean a loss of Arelon’s autonomy, as the religion is based on hierarchy and obedience.  I thought that it was a very interesting choice to use a villain as a major protagonist.  It definitely made the book more interesting, especially as we came to understand Hrathen’s motives and his own misgivings.

As per usual, Brandon Sanderson creates a scientific system of magic that takes its form through natural processes.  I’m not going to get into how the magic works because that would be a major spoiler;  suffice to say that certain rules must be obeyed or it won’t work.  Magic is treated like something that isn’t so much supernatural as a part of the world that isn’t fully understood.

I knew that Sanderson’s works are all interrelated, but I was a bit surprised whenever Hoid turned up!  I had first encountered this particular character while reading “The Way of Kings.”  After browsing around a bit on the internet, I read that Sanderson’s books are all set within the same universe called the Cosmere, but on different planets.  Hoid is one of the characters who is able to travel between worlds, hence the fact that he keeps showing up in different Sanderson novels.  It makes me want to read more, as well as to go back to “Way of Kings” and see if there are any more clues about him.

“Elantris” was a fun and well-written tale of magic, politics, and zombie society.  I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a unique fantasy read, especially as it’s a single book rather than a part of a series.

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“Elantris” won the Romantic Times award for best epic fantasy of 2005, so I’m including it in the Award Winning Books Challenge.  It also counts toward the Once Upon a Time Challenge and the Speculative Fiction Challenge.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 24 Comments

“Moonheart” by Charles de Lint

And, yet again, I return to Charles de Lint.  “Moonheart” is a bit different from his other novels, though, in that it is set in Ottawa rather than Newford.  There’s still a neat blend of Celtic and Native American mythology, but there is oh so much more.

The story starts out when Sara Kendall, who runs a junk shop, finds a medicine pouch in an old box.  The pouch, among other things, contains a gold ring.  Yes, you can see where this is going.  The ring is magic.  Duh.  And of course there’s the inevitable facing-of-an-ancient-evil.  There’s also time travel, and the zombie apocalypse.  Well, not really the zombie apocalypse, but a bunch of main characters do get trapped in a mansion where they have to fend off monsters called the tragg’a, which I interpret as pretty much being a lot like zombies.  In addition to the time travel and zombies, there are shapeshifters, ancient bards, druids, and Mounties.

All in all, it makes an awesome fantasy novel.  Unlike a lot of fantasy authors, de Lint can actually write.  There are a lot of traditional fantasy elements, but they are portrayed in a unique way and reinterpreted to the present day.

Side note on the zombie apocalypse:  For some reason, pretty much every guy friend I have has a plan for the zombie apocalypse.  Some of the plans are quite well thought out.  However, it is sort of amusing that the CDC has a plan for the zombie apocalypse.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is your tax dollars at work.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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