Wyrd & Wonder 2019 – Wrap-up

I loved participating in Wyrd & Wonder! Thank you for organizing it, Imryl, Lisa and Jorie. I enjoyed reading all the fantasy-themed blog posts. Some of my favourites were this love letter to maps in books on Realms of my Mind, this post about Victorian era fantasy on Jessticulates and ten books featuring dragons on Zezee with books. I managed to read five fantasy books this May. Here are the books and my thoughts about them.

The Girl at MidnightThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – 3 stars
This book was a reread to decide if I want to continue the trilogy. Four years after I first read it, I didn’t remember much. I do know I gave the book 4 stars. The second time I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time. I loved the fact that Echo lives in a library and loves books. The regular references to other books were so nice! The world as well as the characters were okay, but nothing was especially noteworthy. Since there are so many other books to read, and never enough time, I won’t continue this trilogy.

The Dollmaker of KrakowThe Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero – 5 stars
My favourite book of this month! The story is just as beautiful as the cover. I think it’s a great book to learn children about the Second World War. Adults will enjoy it too, though.  It’s about a living doll whose name is Karolina. A magical wind brought her from the Land of Dolls in the hands of a dollmaker in Krakow. The dollmaker is a kind-hearted, but shy man. He is a wonderful character and I immediately loved him. Karolina helps him to make friends. But everything changes when the Nazis invade Poland. The friends of Karolina and the Dollmaker are Jewish and their lives are in danger.

The Crimson Skew (Mapmakers Trilogy, #3) by S.E. Grove – 4 stars
A good conclusion to a great trilogy! I can’t tell anything about the plot without spoiling the other books. But all the characters from the previous books play a (small) roll. I also liked how we keep learning new things about the world.

Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb 4 stars
Assassin's ApprenticeTypical for Robin Hobb’s books are amazing characters and a slow pacing. This was also true for Assassin’s Apprentice. Because the book takes its time,  you really get to know the characters. The story is told from the perspective of Fitz. Because he is a royal bastard, his life at the royal household is harsh and lonely.  Some people hate him for what he is. But for the royal family Fitz is in the perfect position to become their personal assassin.

Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2) by Robin Hobb – 4 stars
This book is twice as big as the first part, and that isn’t a bad thing. It means there’s a lot of space for character development. Not only Fitz, but also most of the side characters change throughout the story. Tensions in Buckkeep slowly keep rising too. It’s was interesting to read how small things that happen add up until everything explodes…

Wyrd & Wonder – Top five unusual fantasy creatures

Inspired by these Fantasy Top Tens, this Wyrd & Wonder post is about unusual magical creatures. You could argue that every fantasy creature is unusual… But dragons can be found in a lot of books and movies. So they are clearly more common. In this post I will talk about the rarer creatures.

1. Thestrals in Harry Potter
Classification: XXX (competent wizard could cope)*

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

When writing this post, the first book series I thought of was Harry Potter. There are many amazing fantasy creatures in the series. One of my favourites is the thestral (but I also really like nifflers). These creatures are a type of black horses with bat wings. Thestrals are only visible for people who are “truly touched by death”. They may look frightening, but they are harmless and even gentle creatures. This contradiction and their connection with death make them fascinating creatures.

*the Ministry of Magic has classified them as dangerous, but I don’t agree

2. Mr. Kindly from Nevernight
Classification: XXXX (Dangerous / requires specialist knowledge / skilled wizard may handle)

Nevernight

Mr. Kindly is one of the few of its kind. He can be described as a shadow shaped like a cat. What this creature exactly is or where it came from is yet unknown. Mr. Kindly became Mia’s companion after her father was executed. He saved her life as a child and drinks away her fear when she is afraid.

3. The Panserbjørne in His Dark Materials
Classification: XXXX (Dangerous / requires specialist knowledge / skilled wizard may handle)

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1)

These creatures are a species of polar bears that are able to speak and have human intelligence. Their name is Norwegian and Danish for ‘armoured bears’. Every panserbjørn makes their own armour from sky-metal. They see this armour as their soul. The panserbjørne live together on Svalbard governed by a king.

4. Liveships in The Liveship Traders trilogy
Classification: Depends on the ship

Ship op Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)

Liveships are, as the name indicates, living ships. After three generations from the family who owns the ship have died, the ship quickens. From that moment on a liveship can navigate by itself and talk through its figurehead. They are unique creatures that make an interesting story!

5. Alebrijes from Coco
Classification: n/a

Alebrijes - Pepita

These animals are not from a book, but appear in one of my favourite Disney movies. In reality, alebrijes are a type of Mexican folk art. Pedro Linares first made them from paper after he dreamed about these colourful animals. Later people started to make them from wood. In Coco, alebrijes are spirit animals in the World of Death. The most well-known is Pepita, a jaguar with eagle feet and wings, ram horns and a lizard tale. Read more about alebrijes in this article.

Wyrd & Wonder – MapMonday

We’re almost halfway through Wyrd & Wonder. The fourth book I am reading this month is Assassin’s Apprentice, the first part of The Farseer Trilogy. At the beginning of the book you can find a nice map of the Six Duchies. I have used it a few times to look up some places mentioned in the story. I also love to just look at these kinds of fantasy maps!

For #MapMonday I present my four favourite fantasy maps. My pet dragon is usually content with just marking the page, but today he insisted on being in the pictures!

1. Eretz from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
Eretz - Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

Not only is this the world from my favourite fantasy trilogy, the map is also beautiful! I like the logo too. It illustrates that Eretz is the world of the chimaera and the seraphim, and that they are at war.

2. The world of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The Great War 1914 - Leviathan

This map made by Keith Thompson is truly a work of art! Leviathan is about an alternative version of the First World War. This war is between two parties: the Clankers (Austria-Hungary and Germany) and the Darwinists (the United Kingdom, France and Russia). As you can see on the map, the Clankers have steam-powered war machines and the Darwinists use fabricated beasts.

3. Orïsha from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Orïsha - Children of Blood and Bone

The magic in Orïsha disappeared eleven years ago. In her attempt to bring back magic, Zélie travels a big part of this map. The design is beautiful, and really urged me to learn more about this world. The map of Orïsha is made by Keith Thompson, the same person who made the map in Leviathan. That guy is clearly talented!

4. The world of The Mapmakers Trilogy

Map of the New and Unknown World - The Mapmakers Trilogy
As you may expect from a trilogy about maps, multiple maps can be found in the books. Every part has a map of the whole world. Next to that, in each books maps of smaller areas relevant to the story are included. I love that these maps made by Dave A. Stevenson are supposed to be drawn by Shadrack Elli, one of the characters in the book.

Wyrd & Wonder – Three interesting magic systems

The Crimson SkewI already read two fantasy books this month! About those books I will write in another post. I am currently reading The Crimson Skew, the last part of the Mapmakers trilogy. This trilogy is so unique! In the first book, The Glass Sentence, we read that some parts of the world are flung in different time periods. That’s why maps are crucial to navigate. Not only paper maps. Mapmakers can use all kinds of materials to make maps, for example glass. Before a map can be read, it has to be activated. This means that people can hide maps. A glass map that isn’t activated looks like a regular piece of glass. How a map is activated also depends on the material of the map. S.E. Grove did a great job when creating this magic system!

Akata WitchAnother book with an interesting magic system is Akata Witch. The main character is the twelve year-old Sunny who lives in Nigeria. When Sunny discovers that she is one of the Leopard people, she is also introduced to a secret society. Akata Witch is clearly inspired by Harry Potter. But there are differences. Every Leopard has other powers, based on their personality. Interesting enough it is someone’s weakness that becomes their greatest power. So Sunny’s power has something to do with the fact that she is albino. Knowledge is highly valued. Learning new things as a Leopard will grant you magical money. I also loved that Nnedi Okorafor based the vivid magical world on Nigerian myths.

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1)Finally, I want to talk about His Dark Materials. The idea of everyone in Lyra’s world having a daemon is wonderful! This is a manifestation of the soul in the form of an animal. Daemons from children can shapeshift. The form depends on emotion or convenience. At a certain age the daemon will take a permanent form. This animal represents the personality of their human. How Philip Pullman describes daemons is amazing. I would almost believe it. I’m certainly dying to know what mine would be! Another thing I love about this trilogy is that we are introduced to more new worlds in the second and third book.

What is your favourite magic system? Tell me in the comments!

Wyrd & Wonder – Introduction

I just found out about Wyrd & Wonder, a celebration of fantasy books. This challenge is hosted by Imryl from One More, Lisa of Dear Geek Place and Jorie from Jorie Loves A Story. Wyrd & Wonder started yesterday and will continue the whole month of May. Even though I am a bit late, I want to join the party! I am quite an eclectic reader, but fantasy is my favourite genre after all.

Most bloggers that participate made a TBR-list for the month. But I am not very good at sticking to it… That’s why I decided to do something else. Wyrd & Wonder has a list of prompts we can use as inspiration. I have chosen five prompts to tell something about my favourite fantasy books.

The Neverending Story1. Glorious stand-alone
My all-time favourite stand-alone is The Neverending Story. It’s about Bastian, who becomes a part of the story he is reading. As a book worm that is a dream coming true! Bastian needs to save Fantastica. This land can only be saved by a human, who has to give the emperor a new name. On his journey, Bastian meets lots of magical creatures, but most of all learns about himself.

Strange the Dreamer2. Dazzling duology
I loved Strange the Dreamer, but the Muse of Nightmares exceeded every expectation I had! The duology is about Lazlo Strange. This kind-hearted librarian is obsessed with a mythic city. Even the name of the city is lost, that’s why it’s called Weep. Then the Godslayer and a group of warriors appear to seek help for a problem in Weep. This is the only chance Lazlo may have to fulfil his dream.

Phase 9 - Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?3. The best things come in threes
As some followers may know, my favourite fantasy trilogy is also written by Laini Taylor: the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I can’t stop talking about those books on my blog! One reason is that Laini Taylor has a beautiful writing style. Another reason is the amazing characters. Karou is an art student living in Prague. She has to hide a secret life in which she regularly meets monsters, is able to fulfil small wishes with her necklace and goes on mysterious errands.

Tilly and the Bookwanderers4. Stunning debut
Recently I read Tilly and the Bookwanderers. It’s a Middle Grade book, but I am sure book worms of all ages will enjoy it! Tilly lives with her grandparents above their bookstore. One day a book character from one of Tilly’s favourite books appears in the shop. This is the start of an amazing bookish adventure.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance5. Can’t wait to read
I am eager to read Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the sequel to Childeren of Blood and Bone. It was supposed to come out in spring, but the release date changed to the 3th of December. There’s probably a good reason for this, but I don’t want to wait so many months!