Tag Archives: Fantasy

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Good Omens

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bit of fun at the end of the world. A collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett sees the antichrist being born into the world, and through an all mighty cock up gets adopted by the wrong family. Intended to be the son of an influential American diplomat, he instead grows up in the village of Tadfield Oxfordshire, England. No one saw that coming, not the Angel Aziraphale, not the Demon Crowley, only a long dead witch by the name of Agnes Nutter who wrote a book of Nice and Accurate Prophecies, which didn’t sell precisely because it got things right.
Pursued by heaven and hell, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the incompetent Witchfinder Army; Aziraphale and Crowley work together to stop, or indeed start the end of the world.

Initially a riveting read, it got very “middle” two-thirds of the way through. When all the disparate characters were each finding their way to the same location, it was no less funny, but a little repetitive. However that’s a small niggles in an otherwise enjoyable read. The irreverent yet satirical humour of Terry Pratchett is offset by the historical fantasy elements of Neil Gaiman.

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman


Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman re-tells the old myths and legends from Norway/Scandinavia.
Odin All-Father is wise, but vengeful. Thor is headstrong and cocky.

Loki Lies. All. The. Time.
And yes, at one point does turn himself into a mare to distract another horse – and gives birth to am eight-legged foal! And has other bizarre children who may be destined to bring about the end of the world.. Ragnarok.

We learn about Asgard, and Midgard, and the world tree Yggdrasil. We learn how Thor gets his hammer Mjollnir, and how other gods gain the items which make them unique.

Neil Gaiman states in the beginning, that the occasional detail in his re-tellings are either his own additions, or an amalgamation of several shorter tales into one. Therefore, not the text-book resource for if you were to study mythology. It does however, give you a great and easy to read insight into the topics and themes of Norse Mythology; the characters of all the players, and ultimately the culture of the Ancient Norse peoples.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Addictive. Loved it. For anyone, like me, who grew up in the 80s/90s and is also a gamer, this is a must read.

The human race barely goes out any more, the real world is poverty-stricken and run down. In most cases all work, school, and leisure takes place in a virtual world – The Oasis. This platform was created by two guys, one of whom – James Halliday – dies, leaving behind an “Easter-Egg Hunt” of epic proportions. The winner of the hunt will win ownership of the entire Oasis system (and billions of dollars). Cue a race to solve all the clues, fight battles, argue over 80s trivia, and the entire life and times of Halliday. Not only are the users in competition with each other, but also against the (typical) evil corporation, who want to win the hunt so that they can gain control of, and monetise, what is currently a free-to-access system.

Wade Watts AKA Parzival is a poor kid who lives with an exploitative aunt, who’s only escape is the school system within the Oasis. When the hunt goes live, he and his online friends both help (and hinder) each other to try and solve the clues. Wade stumbles across an answer to the first clue, putting him top of the “leaderboard”, and subsequently putting a target on his back.

Filled with humour, 80s nostalgia, and references to all those old movies and games that you’ve almost forgotten about, Ready Player One is one hell of a page-turner.

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The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman


The Magician's LandThe Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pure escapism. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy of novels. Lev Grossman fuses all of the things I loved about Narnia, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and many other Fantasy influences into a new narrative that works when aimed at a more mature reader.

Part “macguffin” hunt, part quest to save an entire world. Some characters remain in the magical world of Fillory (High King and Queen, Eliot and Janet), and worlds in-between, whilst others (mainly Quentin) have to work out how to play their part from Earth. The legacy of the original family to find Fillory, the Chatwins, comes into play with both new and old characters. And it goes to show that relying on “Gods” is not all it’s cracked up to be! In order to get things done, you generally have to take charge yourself and make the hard decisions.

Old locations and characters are re-visited, and although the plot occasionally seemed to run on pure coincidence for it to move forwards, it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story.

The SyFy series (it was/is broadcast on one of the Channel 5 iterations in the UK) is pretty decent, but not as emotionally complex as the book. They’ve modified and blended the story lines, and massively changed some characters (not always for the better). But if they were both identical, I would lose interest in one or the other. I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to my TV-escapism!

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The Magician King by Lev Grossman


The Magician King (The Magicians, #2)The Magician King by Lev Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great adventure. And the back story of Julia, who I felt was a bit of a kindred spirit!

Wow, Julia had it really rough! Compared to Quentin, who’s charmed acceptance into Brakebills University set him on a guided path through his magical journey to Fillory and to then become a King, Julia suffered relentless hardship, rejection, depression, and violence. The missing time from the first book, where we only see the re-emergence of Julia for a very brief moment, is completed within this novel. Quentin, goes on a new adventure in Fillory, but through a series of events ends up back on Earth and has to go to Julia for help. Their quest takes them across the globe to track down friends to help them – and a dragon!

I particularly like how the characters in these books are not just “lucky” to be chosen for an adventure, either on Earth, or in Fillory, but are extraordinarily intelligent human beings who earned their acceptance into Brakebills, or their way up through the ranks of the “Hedge Witches” and beyond. There is some serious geekery on display throughout many of the conversations between Julia’s group of online friends. The story takes you across the majority of 2 worlds, yet the reader never feels lost. I devoured this book in only a couple of days. I couldn’t put it down.

The characters all have very distinct voices and personalities, which is a sign of a good writer. Without having to repeat the name of a character over and over again when their dialogue is written, you just know who is saying what, and it flows so much better.
I’m thoroughly enjoying this series.

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