The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A McKillip

34330548The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
By Patricia A McKillip
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: Tachyon Publications
Pages: 240
Genre: Fantasy

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Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit—and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is one of the true classics of fantasy literature.


My Thoughts

As a fan of the fantasy genre, Patricia A McKillip and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld have both been on my radar for a few years. I cannot honestly say why it has taken me this long to explore them. But better late than never, or as they say, all good things come in time. 

The skinny..

Sybil is an enchantress who lives a life of solitude in the forest among her enchanted beasts. When she is left to care for and raise a male child, she is exposed to the world of men, politics, love, loneliness, and deceit. She finds herself questioning her own power and needs. I am refraining from further explanation here, as I cannot recommend exploring this one enough.

“You can weave your life so long — only so long, and then a thing in the world out of your control will tug at one vital thread and leave you patternless and subdued.”

What I appreciated..

  • An almost dreamlike prose that is beyond comparison to others. McKillip’s writing is sophisticated and immersive.
  • A slow burn examination and study of character and man represented through one woman’s maternal instincts and isolated life.
  • World building that engages the senses and solicits further exploration while refraining from the trivial and frivolous.
  • The author’s refusal to hand everything directly to the reader or rush what is best left to savor at a steady pace.
  • Brilliantly displayed themes of love, grief and personal growth.
  • The beautiful reminder that fantasy can be ever present without the need for heavy elements of action. Sometimes the adventure comes from within.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • Aside from the fact that those who do not appreciate a more leisurely pace may struggle, I really found no flaw in this.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a pristine example of why the genre is so timeless. Powerful themes, elegant narration and stunning storytelling meld beautifully into an experience worthy of more praise than one can give in a simple review.

*I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs wonderfully with a white jasmine tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

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Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 1 – Audiobook Review

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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame (Volume 1, 1929-1964)
Edited by: Robert Silverberg
Includes Stories by: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury and many more.
Narrators: Various
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Unabridged: 28 hours and 9 minutes
Genre: Classic Science Fiction

Synopsis: 

The definitive collection of the best in science fiction stories between 1929-1964.

This book contains twenty-six of the greatest science fiction stories ever written. They represent the considered verdict of the Science Fiction Writers of America, those who have shaped the genre and who know, more intimately than anyone else, what the criteria for excellence in the field should be. The authors chosen for The Science Fiction Hall Fame are the men and women who have shaped the body and heart of modern science fiction; their brilliantly imaginative creations continue to inspire and astound new generations of writers and fans.

Robert Heinlein in “The Roads Must Roll” describes an industrial civilization of the future caught up in the deadly flaws of its own complexity. “Country of the Kind,” by Damon Knight, is a frightening portrayal of biological mutation. “Nightfall,” by Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest stories in the science fiction field, is the story of a planet where the sun sets only once every millennium and is a chilling study in mass psychology.

Originally published in 1970 to honor those writers and their stories that had come before the institution of the Nebula Awards, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, was the book that introduced tens of thousands of young readers to the wonders of science fiction. Too long unavailable, this new edition will treasured by all science fiction fans everywhere.

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thoughts

Clocking in at over 28 hours, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame was an incredibly easy listen that seem to fly by over the course of a few days. Offering a wider range of stories accompanied by varying narrators, I quite enjoyed my time with this collection.

While it is always difficult to review anthologies (particularly of this size) I did want to share a few thoughts on this one, as many have been such a miss for me lately. When I discover a collection that feels well-balanced and overall rewarding, I want to hand it the spotlight for a few.

With that stated, I do feel it is important to mention that Volume 1 is not without flaws. As to be expected, there are times the narration missed the mark or the true age of the material was inevitably felt. Also, I received an MP3 file from the publisher, so there was a lot of information that was not accessible in terms of biographies. Several stories that were multiple files in length, actually downloaded out of order. This was a frustration to work through and I fear I missed some titles. But none of this was enough to take away from the enjoyment of a fantastic collection of sci-fi classics.

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Supplied in easily digestible chunks, this anthology takes the reader on a journey that begins in 1929 and end in 1964. There are the notorious tales of androids and psychic abilities gone bad to space craft stowaways that challenge our moral obligations and stories where protagonists face situations with universal ramifications. Each story feels unique and challenges the reader (listener) on some varying emotional level. And as good science fiction does, there are many subtle and not so subtle messages  contained throughout that explore humanity on a multifaceted spectrum.

A few of my favorites included:

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum
Helen O’Loy by Lester del Rey
The Quest for Saint Aquin by Anthony Boucher
The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby
The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin
Fondly Fahrenheit by Alfred Bester

Even with the obstacles I encountered, I can easily say that this a collection of great value for all fans of science fiction! I will definitely be picking up a physical copy of this anthology for my shelves at first opportunity and look forward to exploring later volumes.

*I would like to thank audiojukebox and the publisher for my copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Enjoyed over several cups of chamomile tea with a hint of lavender.


Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

giant peach(New)TheBook
James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN13: 9780142410363
Pages: 146
Genre: Children’s Fiction

Synopsis:

A little magic can take you a long way.

After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins!


(New) Thoughts

It is not often that I explore children’s fiction and this is my first time attempting a review of one on BVT. But when I picked up this classic by Roald Dahl, I knew I would have to talk about it! I owe my experience to my current reading challenge, as that is how James and the Giant Peach landed in my hands.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A childhood classic you’ve never read

My previous experience with Dahl’s work was limited to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which I personally adore and could spend the day doting on. I knew that his whimsical style would agree with me. My only regret is having waited this long to enjoy this beloved story.

James loses his parents in a horrendous accident involving a rhinoceros, immediately adding that elaborate flair that only Dahl can, and is sent to live with two terrible aunts; Spiker and Sponge. He is mistreated and neglected, spending his days catering to the unrealistic whims of the two women, when one day he encounters a mysterious man. He is given a bag of magical crystals which promise to be his salvation. When he accidentally drops them into the grown by an old peach tree, the very unexpected happens. Suddenly a peach appears and grows at an alarming rate to the size of a house. Inhabited by over-sized creatures including a centipede, lady bug, spider and earth worm, James finds himself on an incredible adventure when the peach’s stem breaks setting them all in motion.

“There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t even started wondering about yet.” 

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James and the Giant Peach is a shining example of why I adore children’s fantasy. It embodies all of the elements I have come to cherish in stories, even as an adult. We are introduced to a lovable yet surely down on his luck protagonist, who is about to find his terrible life flipped upside down for the better! Add a very eccentric cast of characters to the mix and this is a recipe for fun that appeals to readers of all ages.

While the end result is full of whimsy and merriment, it is not without a few defining and more disturbing moments. I am noticing that this seems to be Dahl’s shtick.

“The peach rolled on. And behind it, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker lay ironed out upon the grass as flat and thin and lifeless as a couple of paper dolls cut out of a picture book.”

He has the uncanny ability to introduce readers into elaborately constructed worlds that seem to create a perfect balance between awful and the good. I find this a highly effective approach that really feeds the adventure.

While it can feel peculiar at the best of times and perhaps perplexing, tucked within is a beautiful story that reminds children of all ages, that happiness and love can be found within the most unexpected places and forms. James’ ability to overcome each obstacle reminds us to never lose hope. I cannot wait to explore more of Dahl’s collection and feel slightly disappointed that I missed these books as a child.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice blend of iced, peach tea of course!

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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