The Emperor of the Eight Islands, by Lian Hearn

It seems so obvious to merge fantasy with Japanese folklore, and yet so few authors have done so. Fantasy is historically seldom translated, however, so even if there had been a slew of Japanese fantasy books, I likely wouldn’t know of them. That Lian Hearn is a British woman living in Australia is possibly the…

The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

I need to admit something right away – I had a song from Aladdin playing in my head almost the entire time that I read this book. I partly blame myself for watching that movie about a million times as a child, and partly blame author S.A. Chakraborty for creating a character called Prince Ali…

A Girl in Exile, Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known author and poet, and while my goal with this world literature challenge is to read less popular books , the release of Kadare’s newest work, A Girl in Exile, was too timely to ignore. That it deals so intimately with the culture and land of Albania is a major plus…

Fever Dream, Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream is the first book that I am reading for my World of Books project. Samanta Schweblin is an Argentinian-born writer who now lives in Berlin, and this is her first novel. I found this book on Ann Morgan’s blog, and while it doesn’t appear to be set in any particular country, there is…

A World of Books

I was watching the opening to the Winter Olympics in Seoul a few weeks ago, and despite the shame I felt at the aggrandizing of the United States in their ridiculous cowboy gloves, I did manage to open my eyes long enough to notice that there were dozens of countries of which I had very…

Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien de Castell

To my great shame, I have never read The Three Musketeers. I have seen and loved multiple movie versions, despite the poor quality of said adaptations (except for “The Man in the Iron Mask,” which is dope). The myth of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and little baby brother d’Artagnan is one I hold close. I will…

The Thousand Names, Django Wexler

The Thousand Names is something unique in the fantasy genre (at least in this reader’s experience). There is a common piece of advice about writing fantasy that goes something like – look at current the niches within the genre and then see how you can create your own. There are fantasy mysteries and thrillers, mash-ups…

The Black Company, Glen Cook

The Black Company was first published in 1984. This is 12 years before A Game of Thrones is first released and 15 years before Gardens of the Moon. It is six years before The Eye of the World starts The Wheel of Time saga. If you told me that Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, and…

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

The biggest issue I had with The Bear and the Nightingale is that the titular Bear is not identified until halfway through, and the Nightingale does not make an appearance until the final fourth of the book. Does that make this a poorly titled novel? No. The title is inviting and intriguing. My complaint is…

Naomi, Junichiro Tanazaki

“Naomi, Naomi — I don’t know how many times the name was repeated between us. It was the appetizer that accompanied our sake. We relished its smooth sound, licked it with our saliva, and raised it to our lips, as though it were a delicacy even tastier than beef.” It is almost impossible in modern…

Spiderlight, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Back in the 90s – I say, dating myself – there were multiple novel series set in different Dungeons and Dragons campaign worlds; mostly Dragonlance and The Forgotten Realms. These included some gems like Salvatore’s Drizzt series and the Dragonlance narrative itself. These two sagas were fantasy comfort food that one didn’t have to think…

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

The title of a book can be a powerful indicator of its success. I think the title of The Goblin Emperor is apt enough, it is a book about an emperor who is half-goblin, but it is not one that would have caught my eye. When I heard people raving about how good it was,…