Epic Fantasy Recommendations

Originally posted at Geek Girl Authority

If your reading tastes are anything like my own, you enjoy a meaty, epic fantasy. Like me, you might be wondering what the hell you should read next while you wait (possibly in vain) for the next installment from the Song of Ice and Fire series. To help pass the time, I’m here to recommend a few other epic reads (this is by no means a comprehensive list and I could easily recommend many more!) that might slake your thirst.

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Book Review: Clariel

Clariel
By Garth Nix

Not My Edition:
Hardcover, 400 pages
2014, HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780061561559

Clariel is set 600 years prior to Sabriel and follows it’s namesake as she moves to a new city with her parents. When her parents move to the city of Belisaere, her dreams of a simple life living in the forest are destroyed. With relations to both the King and the Abhorsen, Clariel is sought after by those who wish to gain power in the city and finds herself facing off against a powerful Free Magic creature. Clariel soon discovers her own powers as she struggles to gain control over her life amid the ensuing chaos.

I’ve already mentioned I’m a fan of Nix’s Old Kingdom novels and I was excited to find he’d written more in that universe. Clariel is a new and somewhat frustrating character, because she’s incredibly stubborn and at times, stupid. What I found more interesting than our new heroine was the difference in the kingdom in this time period, versus what I was used to in Sabriel – the Abhorsen spends much of his time hunting animals, rather than dealing with the dead, and there seems to be less importance in this role than in Sabriel’s generation. We also get more Mogget (yes!) and his nature is more wild due to the lax attitude of the Abhorsen in that time.

Clariel’s story was a bit dry. I was more interested in the world and the political upheaval than whether she would get to be a forest ranger like she’d always dreamed. Towards the end of the book her story did pick up, but then the book ended and I was left feeling like this was more of a setup to another potential trilogy than a real prequel to the current Old Kingdom books. I would have liked to have seen more development with her magical studies and I’m especially interested in hearing more about her character after reading the author’s note (which I accidentally read before the book and spoiled myself) because there’s a tidbit in there that gives more information about who she is. I’ll certainly read more about Clariel if Nix chooses to write more – my only disappointment is that I was hoping more a bit more detail about the Old Kingdom and its inhabitants and this book felt like more of a tease.

For established Old Kingdom fans, Clariel will probably be a nice treat, just to have more work set in this world. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend sticking to Sabriel as your first book.

Audiobook Review: Abhorsen Trilogy

pic from Scribd

Sabriel (10+ hours)
Lirael (14+ hours)
Abhorsen (11+ hours)
By Garth Nix

Not My Editions:
Audiobooks
Voiced by Tim Curry
Listened via Scribd

Previously when talking about what format I prefer my books to be in, I mentioned that I’m not big on audiobooks and seldom give them a chance. More recently, my friend and booktuber, Chelsea, mentioned her recent subscription to Scribd, and how she’d found that Tim Curry narrates the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Being a huge fan of Tim Curry armed with a free, two-month trial, I signed up for Scribd and downloaded the first book in the series. Unfortunately (there’s a pun there somewhere, right?) that series wasn’t right for me. While I enjoy listening to Tim Curry say literally anything, this book had what’s considered a “full cast.” There were other voice actors to represent the characters, as well as sound effects like footsteps, trains, and the ocean, and for me it was too much going on to really concentrate on anything. I think it’d be an excellent audio series to play for younger children though…or people who don’t mind a lot of effects when listening.

However, in my searches on the site, I found that Curry also narrated the Abhorsen Trilogy – one of my favorite series! I don’t want to go too much into the plots, but the first book, Sabriel, is about a girl who must pick up the mantle of Abhorsen after her father goes missing. As the new Abhorsen she must take up the magical bells and use magic to fight off the spirits of the dead who have traveled back through the gates of death into life. If you’re a fantasy fan, I recommend the series, in any format, because Nix’s writing is fantastic and the world he created is amazing.

Curry did a fantastic job narrating. He did change his voice slightly for different characters, but in mostly subtle ways so it didn’t feel too cheesy. I loved hearing his British accent as well and his inflections were spot on. I could feel the emotion or the action when the scenes called for it and Curry added a lot of life to the series. I was more engrossed than I’d ever been when attempting to listen to an audiobook – though occasionally when driving or working, I did have moments where I’d space out and lose track of what was going on. I think that will always happen to me when listening to audiobooks, but it helped that I was already familiar with this series. My interest in audiobooks is still pretty minimal, but I am willing to give them a chance, especially if my favorite actors are involved.