Tag Archives: Fantasy

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter


The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Through the discovery of a plan for a “box” device the human race gains the ability to “step” between multiple versions of Earth. The journey causes most people to become sick and disoriented, but that doesn’t stop millions of people from leaving the original Earth, the “Datum”, and colonising the landmasses of neighbouring alternates of the Long Earth.

A few people discover that they are “natural” steppers, such as the novel’s protagonist Joshua, and can travel further out away from the Datum than anyone else. At least as far as they know. Humans seemed to have evolved primarily on the Datum, but there are other inhabitants of the Long Earth that are of great interest to science, and the “Black corporation”. An expedition is mounted with Joshua joining with a companion Lobsang – an artificial intelligence, who claims to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan man. Together they travel to over 2 million Earths to discover how long the Long Earth could possibly be. And to discover it’s secrets.

An engrossing and clever book. The characters are likeable, and engaging. The mystery is endless, and unfathomable. Brilliantly mixing the serious tone of the plot with the levity of humour and character. And it ends on a cliffhanger! So I’m immediately going to have to start the next.

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Dollhouse (Dark Carousel Book 1) by Anya Allyn


Dollhouse (Dark Carousel #1)Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cassie has moved from the US to Australia. She goes out with her new friends for a hike, when Aisha goes missing. Aisha’s boyfriend Ethan is initially treated as a suspect, and when he runs away to the forest trying to find her, Cassie and their other friend Lacey insist on coming with him. Several other girls have gone missing in the past few years in this same forest; and Cassie, Ethan, and Lacey stumble into the same trap.

A curious underground carousel, behind which is some kind of twisted dimension, a “Dollhouse” where life-sized dolls and strange inhabitants treat those who fall into their grasp as their own playthings.

Written in the same type of language as a YA novel, this book contains a bit of a mystery, and some “mild peril”. There was little back-story to many of the characters, beyond their current states of mind, so it was not necessarily easy to get to know the protagonists. The threat posed to the inhabitants of the dollhouse did not feel particularly visceral, until that is, towards the ultimate conclusion of the book. No spoilers here.

This was an entertaining diversion for a few days at least.

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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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