Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reading on a Theme: Princes of Fantasy

This week's Reading on a Theme is a companion post to our Reading on a Theme: Princesses of Fantasy post from a couple of weeks ago. It is full of fabulous fantasies and daring princes.

Never Meant to be King:
Prince Yarvi of Gettland was born with a shriveled hand and was never meant for the throne. His path changes when his father and brother are killed. Suddenly, Yarvi is thrust into the Black Chair where he makes an oath to avenge his father and brother's deaths. Half a King is amazingly good. Unlike most fantasies that I've read, there is very little magic. The world of the Shattered Sea has a neo-Viking feel, with tough warriors, many gods, and lots of watery transportation. I didn't think that I was in the mood to read another fantasy, but I soon found myself carried away by Joe Abercrombie's prose. Plus, there are several twists that I just did not see coming. Half a King is out July 15th, 2014. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Plot:
Sage is taken from his orphanage one day by a wealthy man named Connor. Along with three other boys, Sage is trained to act as the king's long lost son. In The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielsen has created a world on the brink of war, both civil and with neighboring countries. The story is told from Sage's perspective, and he is a rich and interesting character. I listened to the audiobook version and Charlie McWade perfectly captured Sage's character. The book is full of diverse characters. The other boys and Connor's right hand man being particularly interesting. I am eager to read the sequels.
Exceptional Talents:
Kristin Cashore writes some of my favorite fantasies. Graceling involves a land and a time where a few people have developed super-human gifts called Graces. The two main characters of this book are Katsa, whose lethal Grace has made her a pawn of her uncle, the king, for most of her life, and Po, Prince of Lienid, who is Graced with combat skills. Katsa is incredibly unhappy at the beginning of the book, and it's nice to see her become comfortable with herself and others. I also love Po. Cashore's physical descriptions of this intriguing character with gold and silver eyes are superb. What I really admire, is that Po doesn't just aid in Katsa's growth, he also faces challenges that force him to change as well.

Planning an Uprising:
I love a lot of fantasy series, but I think there is something extra special about Sherry Thomas's The Elemental Trilogy. It stars Prince Titus VII,  who seeks to rid the magical world of the Bane and release the people from the shackles of New Atlantis, and elemental mage Iolanthe Seaborne. Book two, The Perilous Sea, is action packed. It alternates between Iolanthe and Prince Titus lost and missing memories in the Sahara desert and their time, weeks prior, at Eton. As the series progresses, I love the characters more and more.Thomas's world-building continues to impress, and she really keeps her readers on their toes with lots of twists and unexpected revelations. I'll definitely be reading the third in the trilogy the moment it is released. The Perilous Sea is out September 16th, 2014. Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Lost Prince:
Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian Sir Topher are exiles. Ten years ago their home Lumatere was cursed and the royal family was slaughtered. Now rumors are circulating that Prince Balthazar is alive. To find him the pair must team up with the mysterious Evanjalin. Finnikin of the Rock is masterfully done and rich with atmosphere. The book started out kind of slow for me, but Melina Marchetta won me over with her excellent writing. The book has a journey element to the story, but it is not the driving force of the book, nor is it one of those fantasy books where the journey comprises of one misfortune after another. Finnikin of the Rock is a dark book with a lot of hardship and sorrow, but there is also much healing.  

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