Among Others by Jo Walton
I picked up Among Others on a whim at the library. I’d heard of it vaguely—the Tor blog, naturally, talked about it in the lead-up to its publication, I’d seen it reviewed here and there, and Walton posted a bibliography of every book mentioned in Among Others on her LiveJournal. But despite all that, the synopsis turned me off; I wasn’t quite sure how to reconcile the focus on books and community with the epic battles it promised. But I picked it up at the library nonetheless, and I’m quite glad—the front flap is very misleading.
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
There’s nothing new under the sun, a fact I feel the universe has confirmed ever since I watched a girl pester a handful of authors at a Q & A about a book she was pondering writing until she finally asked, “What if you’re scared someone else will write it first?” If you accept that fact, I think, any creative input is going to be better; thinking about the end product, especially in terms of capital gain and rewards, will only trip you up, in my opinion. Originality in fiction comes from the new combinations we can create from the unchanging fundamentals. Speaking thus, Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw is wildly original, populating a nicely slim Victorian novel a la Anthony Trollope with fire-breathing, flying, ritualistic cannibal dragons.
As I tend to mention a great deal, I was reared on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. If asked to choose one genre to read for the rest of my life, I’d happily answer fantasy. My reading resolutions were drawn up mostly to keep me from just gorging myself on fantasy and the occasional piece of science fiction and historical fiction. But I’m so happy swimming in the deep end that I rarely notice people at the edge tentatively dipping their toes in the pool. (It is, of course, a mana pool.) I know for people who haven’t read much fantasy that the genre can look intimidating, so today I’m going to recommend fantasy novels based on what other genres you enjoy. So take a deep breath and relax. This won’t hurt a bit.
Good Show, Sir, the blog that encourages readers to photograph terrible speculative fiction covers and send them in, is a constant source of delight and nostalgia for me. It’s just good clean fun with lots of weirdly muscular cat people involved. However, there are these covers that I’m itching to send into Good Show, Sir, that I can’t, because I can’t produce pictures of it in the wild (although I have run across the fourth and most hilarious cover in the wild, and neglected to take a picture). While I’ve discovered the first of them, you really need the other three to appreciate the entire picture. So, in tribute to Good Show, Sir, I give you the… interesting covers to the fifth Ballantine Books edition of The Lord of the Rings.