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High Fantasy Priority TBR for 2019

High fantasy is my favorite genre, yet I feel like I don’t read enough of it to justify that. Out of 92 books I read in 2018, only 13 were high fantasy – that’s 14%! Now, in 2018, I made a concerted effort to read outside of my preferred genres, and I definitely succeeded in that, but for 2019 one of my goals was to read more high fantasy. I’ve read 8 so far this year, out of a total of 32 books, which isn’t bad, but still isn’t as much as I hope for.

I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy roll since the FemmeFanTale readathon in March, and with the conclusion of Game of Thrones, I’m left feeling vaguely unsatisfied and desirous of fantasy series with satisfying conclusions. I’ve narrowed down a group of fantasy books I’m determined to read by the end of this year. 12 books may not seem like much for the rest of the year, but keep in mind that these are fantasy, which means they are lengthy. Plus they’ll be interspersed with other books I still intend to read (like a few classics and neo-Victorian historical fiction novels I have in mind).

Anyway, that’s all a lot of rambling just to say: here’s 12 high fantasy books I want to read before the end of 2019. Continue reading “High Fantasy Priority TBR for 2019”

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Maps

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

AUGUST 28TH – Top 5 Bookish Maps

Yo. YO. Have I ever mentioned my obsessive love for maps of all kinds? I have so many maps hanging in my room, I’m always looking to buy more, and I spend way more time than I need to on Google Maps. I JUST LOVE MAPS. There is noting that annoys me more than when a fantasy book does not contain a map. I’m a visual person; I need that map to help me make sense of a story. Plus there are some maps that are illustrated so brilliantly that they’re just great to look at, you know? And as an aspiring writer of fantasy, I’m always crafting my own maps, clumsy though they may be!

I am SO excited for this topic, so excited that I  couldn’t pick only five and had to whittle it down to eight, which are ranked in order of preference, with my absolute favorite coming in at the end of the post, at #1. Click on the maps to enlarge, y’all, I spent so long hunting down high-quality maps lmao!

Oh, also: SHOUT OUT to two maps that didn’t make it onto this list not because I don’t love them, but because they’re so popular and well-known and I wanted to spotlight something else: the Grishaverse map and the map of the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Both fantastic maps, especially the latter, which is hyper-realistic.

And now onto the maps!

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Number Eight (#8)

Say what you will about the Throne of Glass series, but the map is solid! Granted, it’s not super detailed and not terribly pretty, but there’s something soothing about its simplicity nonetheless! I also just like the shape of it.


Number Seven (#7)

I actually read an ARC of Children of Blood and Bone, so I did not get to experience this lovely map as I read! I didn’t end up enjoying this book, but I think the map is so cool. I love the detailed frame (I LOVE framed maps) and the way the structures are illustrated. There’s so many wonderful little details! And I also love that this world appears to be a set of islands strung together; it’s so unique.


Number Six (#6)

This map is deceptively simple. You have to really look at it twice to get a sense of all the details. There’s something very elegant about it, though, and I love the shading around the map! Sadly I didn’t love the book, so I won’t be continuing the series, but I still enjoy the map!


Number Five (#5)

I really love maps that span huge worlds. Even if the story only takes place in a single country, I love having a map that shows me the width and breadth of the entire world the characters are living in. I haven’t actually read Furyborn, so I don’t know if the story takes place across several countries, but I don’t even care – I love having all these nations there for context. And I like how elegant and simple this map is!


Number Four (#4)

This map barely came into play throughout the course of this lackluster book, but it’s still a really cool map. Even though the story only took place in one of these countries, the book referenced other places, and it was great to have this map as a point of reference. It also just looks really cool? Like, something about the way the continents are cut up just looks so visually appealing to me.


Number Three (#3)

This map is really simple, but I just adore it. Perhaps it’s because this is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, or perhaps because it’s one of the first fantasy maps I truly fell in love with, but there’s just something about it that keeps drawing me back.


Number Two (#2)

God, I love this map so much! First, there’s a frame, and it’s so old-world and so elegant. Second, Susan Dennard said it’s based off off Croatia and the Adriatic, which you can definitely see, and I think that’s super cool. And look at those little sea monsters swimming!


Number One (#1)

And we come to the creme of the crop, what is probably the best fantasy map I have ever and will ever see in my entire freaking life. This is my favorite map of all time, y’all. OF ALL TIME. I’ve uploaded a full size version so you can click on it to enlarge and see all the wondrous, gorgeous details. This map ain’t playing around. This map is serious shit. First, there’s the frame, with busts of Aa’s four daughters as well as Niah and Aa himself. Gorgeous and a neat bit of worldbuilding to incorporate onto the map. Then here’s the incredibly detailed structures which hint at the cultures and architectural styles of each country. This map is SO BEAUTIFUL I think I literally almost cried the first time I saw it. Oh, and the map of the city of Godsgrave is nothing to sneeze at either. If anything, it’s actually more detailed than the map of Itreya. I love that we have a map of the whole world and then another, even more detailed map of the major city. LOVE IT. Like, it’s not just a map, it’s a visual representation of the world; it truly helps you picture the city. INCREDIBLE.

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This Is My Genre Book Tag

I saw both Rachel and Callum do this and it looked like fun so why not!


➽ What is your favorite genre?

High fantasy! I’m talking specifically about secondary world fantasy compromising detailed worldbuilding that takes you out of our own world completely. So even though I do enjoy things like urban fantasy or paranormal, high fantasy is where it’s at for me. Also, in the spirit of high fantasy, this post is looooong (it’s only fitting).


➽ Who is your favorite author from that genre?

 

I stumbled across N.K. Jemisin way before the publication of The Fifth Season, when I was coming off a Game of Thrones high but looking for more diverse fantasy fiction that wasn’t Anglo-centric. N.K. Jemisin was the name I kept seeing again and again, and when I went into my Goodreads, I realized that I had already added her debut, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, onto my TBR. It seemed like fate, so I started reading, and I absolutely fell in love with her style and her creativity. Her worldbuilding is utterly superb, relying not one whit on Earth cultures and structures but creating something entirely new and original and unique. She likes playing around with narrative structure too, which is awesome. The three books pictured above are my favorites out of all her work.


➽ What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Whenever I read high fantasy – good high fantasy that is – I get these shivers of delight. Good high fantasy is all about potential, possibility, creativity. It’s about larger than life plots; grand, epic situations; gods descending into the mortal world; cataclysms and huge stakes; complex magic systems. It’s a genre where literally anything can happen; it’s a no holds barred arena and a talented, creative author can create something so epic and so spine-tingling that becomes a reality all its own. That feeling? That shiver you get when you read something so magical and epic and escapist? I’m absolutely addicted to that feeling.


➽ What is the book that started your love for the genre?

 

I have three books for this, because I’m extra like that, but also because each of these was formative for me in its own unique way!

Aurian by Maggie Furey is what introduced me to old-school high fantasy. It’s one of those chunky (600 pages!), classic ’90s fantasies. I read it when I was sixteen, and I remember feeling such a sense of pure and absolute wonder while reading it. I don’t even recall much of what it’s about, only that it involves dragons and a power struggle over a magical artifact, so like, when I say classic fantasy, I mean it – but what I remember is being awed by this dense secondary world so different from anything I had ever read, with its own culture and history and strange names.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin might seem like a bit of a cop-out, given its popularity, but I think folks tend to forget that its roots are in classic ’90s fantasy as well! But what makes the series so intriguing is that Martin actually works to subvert so many classic fantasy tropes that had become cliched in the genre. I started the first book when I was seventeen, literally a few weeks before the first season of the show was set to air. I think that’s actually how I discovered the book; I saw a subway ad for the HBO show. It took me some time to get into it, by 2/3 of the way into the book, I was absolutely hooked, and from there I was a goner – I immediately got the next three books in the series and devoured them. A Game of Thrones reminded me what I love about high fantasy – if you wanna talk about dense worldbuilding, Martin is an absolute master at it! I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I think the books definitely inspire the sense of epic wonder and awe that I associate with high fantasy.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in the Mistborn trilogy. Fresh off Martin and looking for more great fantasy, I found this series. Now, I’ll be the first to say that I have some issues with Sanderson’s writing – I find his dialogue stilted, his prose somewhat awkward, and I think he has a very particular way of incorporating female characters that bugs me – but his worldbuilding and plotting are SPECTACULAR. Like. I remember reading the final book in the series and nearly succumbing to tears of awe because Sanderson had managed to incorporate the tiniest, most insignificant details mentioned in book one, into the overall worldbuilding of the trilogy and I just. Damn. That sense of wonder and awe and sheer epicness. I love that feeling.


➽ If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

 

I also have three books for this! The thing about high fantasy is that a lot of people tend to be intimidated by it. I totally get that. It’s a commitment. Most of the books are over four hundred pages long and they’re full of new worlds and magic system and tons of characters and often you’re confused and have to refer to a glossary and there’s maps and there’s so much to navigate and absorb before you can even get into the actual plot! Not to mention there are so many fantasy series that are can be literal year-long commitments for some people. I mean, look at the Malazan series! Twelve books that are all 600+ pages! That’s insane! Plus the author just throws you into everything and leaves you to sink or swim on your own. I definitely wouldn’t recommend starting out with something like that if you’re not a fantasy reader. There is something to be said for starting with A Game of Thrones, since it’s so popular, but I actually don’t think it’s that accessible for fantasy newbies – it’s actually pretty dense and has an astonishing amount of characters thrown at you right off the bat. Instead, my recommendations are:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is a YA high fantasy book. Some people say that YA fantasy is Fantasy Lite, which, fine, that’s fair (sometimes), but I think Truthwitch straddles that line nicely. It’s got really detailed worldbuilding, but not so detailed as to be overwhelming. It’s well-written and well-plotted, relatively fast-paced with great actions scenes. For someone who isn’t ready to commit to a super long and dense fantasy book, I think this is a great start into the genre.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is being touted as a crossover adult and YA book, which I sort of agree with sometimes (and other times I don’t). This book is the opposite of dense, which I think is why folks are tempted to put it into the YA genre. It’s relatively straightforward, there’s not too much worldbuilding thrown at you all at once, and it’s very much focused on the coming of age of a single character. I think this is one of the most accessible adult high fantasy books out there and would be great for someone new to the genre. It’s also just a really good book.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is one I debated including, because it’s just…kind of a weird  book on so many levels. Take the narration style, which includes footnotes! But I think that actually makes it easier to navigate for the fantasy newbie? It means the worldbuilding is just sort of in the background for you to absorb or not absorb or absorb as much as you see fit. It’s not super heavily worked into the plot so there’s not a ton of tiny details and historical tidbits that you have to remember to understand the story, but it’s fascinating for fantasy nerds like me who LOVE that extra worldbuilding. It’s the best of both worlds! Plus, like The Poppy War, its focus is on a single character and her story, so the plot is rather straightforward and not overly convoluted like fantasy books that involve a gazillion different stories across like five continents.


➽ Why do you read?

For the thrill of it. For that spine-tingling shiver. For knowledge. For adventure. For inspiration. So many reasons!


Since I wasn’t tagged I won’t be tagging anyone, but please do pingback to me if you do this tag! This was super fun!