The tension is so real and gripping, and typical Sanderson-style, the surprises just keep coming. The Deed of Paksenarrion.
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Paks is one of the earlier examples of a strong, realistic female heroine who appeals to men and women. She becomes a badass paladin in her world of dwarves, elves, and gods when an arranged marriage gives her a nudge out of her farmhouse door to join a mercenary band. She is passionate and willing to do whatever it takes to fight for what's right, discovering her talent as a paladin along the way.
She never comes off as pompous or self-righteous, she's just out there fighting for her cause; though she does seem to be a bit of a lightning rod for incredible circumstances. She has her flaws, and doesn't always know what's going on as just a pawn in a larger strategy. Moon writes so vividly and clearly that the world is nearly tangible. If you're not into the trappings of high fantasy good vs. If you enjoy a heroic ride, realistic combat, magic and harrowing adventures, you probably will. The Empire. This collaboration proves that you don't have to wade neck-deep in magic to make a great fantasy.
This series showcases the other side of Feist's Riftwar Saga , which is a great read, but pretty standard as far as fantasy lore goes with the typical magician, orphan, dragon, elf, combo. Empire is something entirely different. Set in Asian-inspired Kelewan, we ditch the medieval European landscape for once, and enter a world where Akoma Honor drives the politicking of the ruling class. Mara is the new empress after her father and brother are killed, and learns to navigate these deadly waters with alacrity driven by need.
She is one of the most multidimensional and fearless characters I've read, rising from precariously clinging to her title to a truly powerful contender. The synergy between these two masterful authors yields up something richer than either alone. Even seemingly small characters have big ambitions and impact the story in surprising ways. Intrigue, murder, fantastic creatures, fervent love, and battle; Empire is everything that makes fantasy worth reading. The original "strong heroine" fantasy author, McKinley broke new ground with her work in the 80's.
Harry Crewe feels restless, insignificant, invisible. Until kelar, a kind of magical force handed down through the royal bloodline, drives the local Hill King to kidnap her and carry her off to the desert to become Damalur-sol, lady-hero of the Hillfolk.
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She meets her challenges head-on and with a positive attitude. One of the things I love about this heroine is that for all her unfeminine habits, she is still wonderfully feminine in the ways she responds to her world. She is bold and courageous, and really knows how to use that sword. The world of Damar is so richly developed, and The Blue Sword really showcases the different cultures by throwing a foreigner from the very British-feeling Outlands into it to experience the disparity. Yes, it's high fantasy with legends to live up to, and destiny to fulfill, and Harry is the ultimate wish fulfillment vessel, but the writing is so engaging, the world is so real, it's just transformative.
Aerin is shy, clumsy, ugly, and mistrusted by the people she is supposed to rule. She is ridiculed for being the daughter of a witch with none of her witchy powers, and even when she eventually becomes a Dragon-Killer, it is because it is a task that needs doing; the dragons are small and numerous like rats. It isn't exactly a heroic compliment. Yet her inner strength, her determination and willingness to learn that which does not come easily make her the hero she needs to be.
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She is tough and proves her worth again, again, and again no matter the obstacles or jeering from the sidelines she endures. While there is romance, it is most definitely on our heroine's terms, and not because she intends to snag him as a way out of her miserable life. It is organic and complex and believable, which is so very lacking in many fantasy novels. Hero and the Crown is still one of the best fantasy novels on the shelves today.
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Sabriel is one of the best dark fantasy books out there, YA or not. It features necromancy at its finest. Dark Charter mages who bind spirits they've brought back from the grave to their service. Abhorsens, who go about trying to lay the dead back to rest, or bind those who won't. And Sabriel.
Brave, stoic, altruistic Sabriel. Nix combines the best of clever, creepy, and complex and gives us a fantastic read.
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The unusual juxtaposition of a 20th Century civilization with the Old Kingdom of magic away to the North is just brilliantly done. Its subtlety and mellow pacing is sometimes off-putting for certain readers, but this understated approach to me magnifies the feeling of being in a quiet graveyard long after dark.
The tone continues in Lirael and Abhorsen , the remaining books in the Old Kingdom series, where we find Lirael -- a more introverted heroine than we typically find in fantasy. Her strength is in no way diminished by the fact that she tends to prefer her own company. Yeah, not fear. While it's titled after Howl, the book is really about and from the perspective of Sophie, a mousey hat-maker who is bewitched into an old woman by the notorious Witch of the Waste.
The transformation is so freeing for her, and the cantankerous, take-no-crap attitude that ensues is hilarious. How Diana Wynne Jones managed to take a pampered, selfish, pretty boy and match him up with an indomitable year-old woman, and let them fall believably in love, is beyond me; but the result is just awesome. She is such an imaginative author and the prose is so clear and fluid and just gets out of the way so you can enjoy the originality of the story. I love that our heroine isn't beautiful or even physically strong she's an old lady!
Yet she is able to overcome so much with her grit, positive attitude, and determination. As with any book adapted to film, there is so much more complexity and detail in the book to enjoy; I highly recommend it! I'm 'me'! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese.
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I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am! She's level-headed and practical, basing her conclusions only on evidence, not convention. She wants to be a witch because she wants to know things. That's my kinda girl. The family relationships here are believable and relatable. The pacing and oddball expedition are loads of fun. Pratchet's comical fantasy has charmed generations of readers, and of all his Discworld storytelling , he's been quoted as saying that the Tiffany Aching books are the ones he wants to be remembered for.
There are four in the sequence, and in it was confirmed that his daughter's film adaptation of the book will be developed in association with the Jim Henson company. The books' matures along with our heroine, but even the final volume is firmly in YA territory.
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