This is my first post for this year’s Wyrd & Wonder, an annual event each May with a fantasy theme. This year, each week in May, there will be a Top 5 List prompt called the Fantastic Five. This will give me a chance to give a shoutout to books I didn’t review!
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (read June 2021): I don’t know why I didn’t review this one, but I’ll probably read it again eventually and write a review then. However, I want to read the sequel (Paladin of Souls) first. For now, I’ll just say that I really liked the protagonist in this intrigue-driven fantasy, but the secondary cast was sort of unsatisfying.
The Conference of the Birds by Farid Attar (read July 2021): I intended to read more premodern literature in the last year or so, but I managed to read a little bit, and this is probably the highlight. There is some boring stuff at the beginning, but it becomes more interesting pretty quickly. The birds of the world gather to decide who should be king of the birds, and they decide on the legendary Simorgh, but then they need to find him. I read the Peter David translation.
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (read September 2021): The second Guy Gavriel Kay novel I’ve read. I read Tigana first, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. This one is more recent (2010) and I think I like it better. This book is set in a fantasy version of Tang-era China, with ghosts and assassinations and shapeshifters and quite a bit of interpersonal drama. This is another one I will probably reread once I read the semi-sequel, River of Stars.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (read February 2022): I really have no idea what to say about this book. I thought it was great, but I was sort of stumped. Fortunately lots of people are smarter than I am; here is an excellent review from one such person.
Grim Tales by E. Nesbit (read April 30): This is a collection of seven supernatural tales. I listened to the LibriVox recording, which is excellent. (The book is in the public domain at least in the United States, because it was published before January 1, 1927.) The last two stories (“Man-size in Marble” and “The Mass for the Dead”) are probably my favorites from this collection. This is one of Nesbit’s books for adults, but she was better known as a children’s writer. I don’t think I ever heard of her when I was growing up.