The Boy Who Walked Too Far, Dom Watson

Note – This review originally appeared at Fantasy Book Critic as part of the SPFBO contest of 2018.  Defining fantasy, as a genre of literature, is one of the trickiest things in this industry. There are so many sub-genres now, as well as decriers of genre who insist that everything should simply be called literature,…

Blackwing, Ed MacDonald

Blackwing feels like the love-child of The Black Company and Dark Souls, but potentially grimmer than either (an impressive feat). On paper, this is my dream combination. The Black Company is one of the best anti-hero fantasies ever written, and Dark Souls is likely the best fantasy video game series ever made. This should make…

Kingdom Come Deliverance

In college, I minored in Medieval Studies. This is not a common area of coursework in many colleges, but Western Michigan University has an entire department devoted to ye olde ages of yore. The program is fairly well-known, and they host a medieval congress every year for all the academic nerds of the world to…

Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

I have lost count of how many coming-of-age books I’ve read in my life. It seems like every author, at some point in their career, writes about someone growing up. Growing up is a universal commonality, and so the success of this type of narrative should be no surprise. I happily admit that when well-written,…

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…

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…

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 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,…