Fantasy Fiction

What’s Your Favourite Fantasy Fiction?

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The fantasy genre – quite literally, a world, or even universe, where there are absolutely no limits, so anything can go: dragons, monsters, sorcerers, fairies, unicorns and magic. Fairy tales for adults really; great for getting in touch with your imagination and part of the reason why it’s one of my all-time favourite genres.

What’s Classed as “Fantasy” Fiction?

Typically, fantasy fiction features some or all of the following:

  • An imaginary world/universe;
  • Elements of the impossible; things that couldn’t happen in “real life”;
  • Mythical/magical creatures;
  • Supernatural abilities;
  • An epic battle of good verses evil.

Sometimes, you might see the fantasy genre being lumped in with science-fiction (“sci-fi”) and/or horror as a broader genre but, as I’m something of a purist, I’m going to keep them separate and save those genres for later posts!

Often, although not always, there’s an Arthurian-type setting and characters with all manner of unusual or exotic sounding names from all over their imaginary world/universe. Most of my favourites include a map somewhere within the book to refer to and get the “lay of the land”, so to speak.

Famous Favourites:

  • Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien;
  • Game of Thrones, George R R Martin;
  • Discworld, Terry Pratchett;
  • Age of the Five, Trudi Canavan;
  • Harry Potter, J K Rowling;
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, C S Lewis

And of course, many more!

Other Mediums

Of course, fantasy fiction spans across a number of mediums, not just books but TV shows, cinema and games. Many times the story will have originally started as a book and later be adapted for another medium. One of my favourite games, The Witcher, was based on the book of the same name by author, Andrzej Sapkowski, and is due to be released as a Netflix original later this year. I’m pretty excited! Trailer here:

https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80189685

The Good

The absolute best thing about the fantasy fiction genre is the fact that anything can happen at any time – even the impossible and improbable. A recent example of this is the Game of Thrones series of books/TV shows. George R R Martin went against the grain of many other authors in the genre at the time in his not being afraid to kill off big characters at any time, creating a fair, few shocks for us along the way. Looking back, it was in fact a stroke of genius really capturing his audience off-guard whether as readers or viewers, so much so that it really influenced a rapid change in trend in fantasy fiction style generally.

Fantasy fiction as a genre is really reminiscent to me of the fairy tales, stories and games of my childhood so some can be comfortingly nostalgic and familiar even if the author is new to me.

There’s also a lot of scope to expand the story in a wide range of directions in a world you make up yourself and that usually means an extended series and/or spin-off stories if done well.

The Bad

It seems slightly ironic that the worst thing for me about the genre is based on its best thing. For me, sometimes the range of stories, given that it literally can be about anything, are relatively limited with quite a few authors sticking too closely to the tried and true Arthurian style stories.

It can also be ages in between books getting released, Game of Thrones, for the obvious example!

That’s my basic take on fantasy fiction anyway. What about you – do you have a fantasy fiction favourite?

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doors choices

Feeling Undecided?

Decisions, Decisions

If you love the story The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis but haven’t yet read the prequel to it, The Magician’s Nephew, then first of all get yourself a copy of it as it really sets up the later stories (7 in total), explaining how it is that the wardrobe leads to a magical world, for example.

In fact, it always surprises me how few people know that there even is a prequel. Maybe this is because the 3 Disney films now available in the series start with the second, but better-known, story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, followed naturally by Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

“The Deeper Magic”

When I was younger and read The Magician’s Nephew, it was just a very good story but, as I’ve said in previous blogs, what makes a story good to me these days is something that stays with you even after you’ve finished reading. In this case, what stayed with me was the following poem from the story:

"Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had."


C S Lewis - The Magician's Nephew

Slightly dark for a kids’ book really! A lot of truth in the message though – how many times have we said something to ourselves like “I’d rather do it and regret it afterwards then spend my whole life wondering what might have come of it if I’d done it”. This poem, read as a child just because I liked fantasy stories, is something that comes back to me, again and again, whenever I’m on the fence about something, because it always helps me make up my mind.

What about you – is there a favourite book quote you find comes back to you at certain times? Or could the above poem help you make up your mind?

Do something today quote on green wooden background with daisy

Happy Monday!

A ship is always safe at shore but that's not what it's built for quote overlooking statue of liberty
Believing in yourself quote
If you knew how capable you were quote with ladies hand pointing at it on green background
Trusting yourself
Don't think too much, just do what makes you happy quote girl on swing at beach in moonlight
Happiness quote
Set a goal quote on ocean and sky background blue yellow
Goalsetting
The trouble is, you think you have time quote Buddha
Sobering thoughts
Sometimes you win quote overlooking city skyline at dusk/dawn
Life lessons
Walt Disney quote fun to do the impossible
Enjoy the ride!
Venus Williams quote believe in yourself
Self-confidence building
Do something today quote on green wooden background with daisy
Pep talk

A few posts that helped improve my mood on a Sunday evening in preparation for the coming week – Happy Monday!

🌻🌻🌻

woman reading a book

Roll Up: Get Your Free Holiday Reading List

Free Books!!

It’s that time of year when many of us will be setting off on our summer holidays soon if we haven’t already. Whether on planes, trains or automobiles, (as long as I’m not the driver!) a good book or two have helped to pass the time on many a journey.

What I Read on Kindle Unlimited

As a self-confessed bookworm, quite frankly I don’t need an excuse to pick up a good book. So yesterday I found myself browsing my Kindle Unlimited selection and picking out Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (click image below if you want to get a copy yourself).

Wakenhyrst

Genre/Style

I’d recommend it as a pretty engrossing read if you enjoy Gothic horror. It reminded me of a Charles Dickens short story we had to read at school, The Signal-Man, in terms of style and approach, which to be honest is a book I haven’t thought of in around 20 years. Funny what comes back! Kindle gave an average reading time of about 5+ hours so perfect for whiling away time waiting at airports or on planes and trains. I couldn’t put it down so read it all yesterday!

Setting

It’s mainly set in Edwardian England and primarily the story is recounted via journal entries which I do have a certain fondness for so I was pleasantly surprised with this. As a reader, I find it a wonderful way to glimpse inside the minds of the characters to their innermost thoughts.

Characters

The story itself in my view is very much character driven by the main character Maud and her father Edmund Stearne, but that’s not to say there aren’t a fair amount of twists and turns. Those twists however are revealed with a certain amount of class and sophistication rather than with the instant shock-factor of more modern styles. Overall, a very engaging and pleasant read from an author whom I was previously unfamiliar with. I do love discovering a new author for myself!

I got my subscription to Amazon Kindle through a free trial so if you’re looking for a cheap way to get your holiday reads, by clicking the link below, you can get a free 30-day trial. Subscription after the trial period can be cancelled anytime so what are you waiting for?

https://amzn.to/2K4Mv0t

Why not give Wakenhyrst a whirl and let me know in the comments how you find it. Feel free to share this post with your closest bookworm!

London Bus Outside MI6

“All Spies Alight Here”

And Other Secrets!

As someone who doesn’t watch much TV, relatively speaking, the one time I do tend to put on my favourite type of programme, a documentary, is when I’m doing the ironing each week. This week I decided on the PBS show, Secrets of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, part of the Secrets of Britain series, which actually originally aired some years ago but is now showing again on Netflix. I have to say, I found it absolutely captivating!

The Secret World of Espionage

I’ve always found the idea of espionage, usually a government-sanctioned spying, an enthralling concept. Something akin to the pirates and privateers of old, such spies seem to exist in a world that does not play by the normal rules experienced by those outside of its parameters.

History of MI6

The programme begins by taking us through the creation of Military Intelligence Section 6, aka MI6, with some intriguing glimpses into this mysterious yet world-famous organisation.

Traditions

Most of us will be familiar with the fictional spy, James Bond and the almost equally famous character of M, the commander of the organisation in the book and films. What I didn’t realise until watching this programme was that the idea that the commander of the organisation would sign off using their initial was actually based in fact from a habit of the first commander of MI6, Sir Mansfield Cumming, who would sign off his communications as “C”, something all commanders of the organisation sign off as to this day. Another tradition of writing in green ink was also credited to being instigated at MI6 by Sir Mansfield Cumming who had brought the habit to the organisation from his days serving as an officer of the Navy.

The Most Famous “Secret” Location in the World!

Talking of James Bond, it is an interesting paradox that one of our most secretive organisations here in the UK is also one of the most famous in the world, mainly thanks to the success of the James Bond franchise. One of my favourite stories from the programme was how when MI6 was housed in one of its previous buildings, whilst its location was meant to be a secret, it was such a badly kept secret that when buses passing close by would stop at the nearest bus stop, conductors were known for sarcastically saying:

“All spies alight here”!

Secret Identities & Poisonings

The programme also takes us briefly through disguises and aliases used in modern-espionage, as well as the invaluable service those serving in MI6 provided in World War II in particular, before bringing in the dark days of the Cold War and some of the more recent famous examples of espionage on the streets of London, such as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko amongst others.

Similar Viewing

I’ve added a link to the PBS website page for the series below. So far I’ve managed to get through Secrets of the Tower of London, Secrets of Underground London and Secrets of Scotland Yard, all of which I strongly recommend as a really interesting take on some of the UK’s most well-known places and organisations.

There’s also a Secrets of the Manor House series which include famous homes of the aristocracy including Chatsworth House and Althorp, the latter of which was the childhood home of the late Princess Diana, all chock full of interesting anecdotes and stories of past and present former inhabitants.

If you enjoy historical documentaries and you’re looking to watch an interesting series, why not give these a go on Netflix and let me know which stories you find most intriguing?

Girl reading book in garden with apple

What’s Your Favourite Book?

What’s Your Favourite Book?

Too many to choose! I once saw a Pinterest quote that said something like asking a book-lover to choose their favourite book is like asking a mother to choose their favourite child.

So many books, genres, styles of writing, characters, worlds. Is it possible to narrow it down to one? I consider myself a book-lover and the book I come back to time and again to re-read is without a doubt Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights.  

Surely, this is what defines a favourite – a tale we return to, no matter how many times we’ve read it, to re-live the lives of our favourite characters, to a world and/or a time we have fallen in love with and to be an intimate observer of our hero or heroine’s highs and lows.

But I think what makes us really resonate with a writer or book so deeply is when a particular phrase jumps out at us from one of its pages and stays with you even after you finish reading the book.  It is these timeless phrases that, for me, define a classic.

My favourite quote from the book itself is the popular:

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Brönte

It is that soulmate, twin-flame energy, between the doomed Heathcliffe and Cathy, that is so reminiscent to me of those other tragic lovers, Romeo & Juliet. The reason why Wuthering Heights endures for me over Romeo and Juliet, however, is the longevity of the relationship and depth of emotion between its two main characters.

Following the twists and turns of Cathy and Heathcliffe’s tumultuous relationship with one another as they grow and begin to navigate their lives according to societal norms, rather than following their hearts is something I’ve been guilty of myself too many times in too many situations.  But, at its heart, Wuthering Heights is a tragic, brutally honest love story, set and written in a time when women were themselves expected to live their lives according to societal norms.  The author herself felt the need to release her book under an assumed male name, (as did her also talented sisters) Ellis Bell, as women were simply not supposed to feel or write “like that”.

Sometimes the best books are the ones where the author’s stories are as interesting as the book itself. It adds another layer of meaning to a story you already love, an opportunity to see the world of the book through the eyes of the world of the author.

What’s your favourite book and its quote? How did it make you see the world differently? Comment below.