Year of the Dragon indeed. City of Dragons the latest instalment in the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, is the book I am most looking forward to in 2012. I think all of her fans were longing for a return to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds (well actually we’re also all longing for a return to the Six Duchies but I’m sure it’s not going to happen) and what a return it was. They were nothing short of brilliant. Something akin to when you get to the end of an epic fantasy series and everything happens exactly as you want it to happen and fills you with all sorts of rampant glee. Only these were just the first two. It could be because they were originally intended to be just a two volume series (the thought fills me with horror) and the pace is a lot faster than her usual sort. With the world building long established the books plunge straight in, with a disparate host of new characters and a group of Dragons who you fall desperately in love with and almost forget about the humans.
You can read the Prologue and Chapter One here (although I am going to be very patient and wait for the book)
I should call this my Year of the Re-Read. I have been moving house (a fell foe), and will most likely be moving again in a few months and I’m afraid I’m not going to get through as many books as I’d like to. Our temporary quarters are somewhat cramped (a gross understatement), and our bedroom is completely overrun with (only a small portion of) my book collection. I have allocated a rather small bookshelf to Craig, while my seven footer teeters slightly dangerously above my side of the bed (which is of course only fair that I be in the line of immediate peril). While I was in the process of moving I had started reading Lord of the Rings, then I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia, and now I am back on Lord of the Rings. I’ll finish off with the Hobbit before I attempt anything new. It’s been a few years since I have read the LOTR through properly and I am now firmly ensconced in Middle Earth.
I will have to follow Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit with something brilliant of course. Next on my list is most likely Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.
I know nothing about the series except that is supposed to be absolutely amazing, and King of Thorns is to follow later this year. It’s been sitting on my Fishpond Wishlist for a few weeks and Craig suddenly appeared with a copy of it yesterday. He’s just started on it, too.
Rowena Cory Daniells is releasing a new series this year, The Outcast Chronicles.
I only discovered her last year, and absolutely loved the Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin so I am really looking forward to these. I also managed to procure two copies (one for me and one for Mel) of the ridiculously hard-to-find T’en Trilogy omnibus edition (dubbed Shadow Kingdom) so I think Rowena will be keeping me busy this year.
I am rather behind on my Raymond E. Feist reading, four series to be exact. I’ve been collecting the ones I need to read but have discovered (typically) that I’ve managed to get all of the later ones and none of the early ones. Conclave of Shadows is first of the series I need to read. Feist has a Chaos War title coming out later this year too, A Crown Imperilled.
The River, a new anthology with a short story by Mary Victoria in it. Because she is awesome.
And if I get time…
I have started collecting some Fiona MacIntosh and Jennifer Fallon to read, long with the two new(ish) titles from Trudi Canavan that are prequels to the Black Magician Trilogy.
I am in the middle of three history books at the moment. One is The Rise and Fall Anne Boleyn by Retha M. Warnicke (which is actually horribly boring and some of her theories are controversial) Elizabeth by David Starkey (which is very good of course) and I started the long and waffling introduction of The Women of the Cousins’ War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King’s Mother by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin, Michael K. Jones. The introduction put me off, because old Philippa seemed to be spending a lot of time trying to justify her writing an actual non-fiction book. The subject, of course, interests me, but they could have left the 40-odd page introduction out. We know you’re not an actual historian Philippa, you’re not fooling anyone.
I’m still collecting a great deal of them to read but I’ll be putting a lot aside for next year.
Now this is an absolute gem. The History of Court Fools by John Doran, published in 1858.
I picked this up from abe for a good price considering there were only three or four copies of the actual book (and not print-on-demand devilry) available. I’m not sure if it was reprinted at all or if there was just the one print, but nonetheless it is pretty scarce. I’ve become fascinated with the subject of court fools since I’ve been doing some Tudor History reading and discovered both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor had female fools, and Will Somers was around right up until Elizabeth’s reign. This should be a great read.
I’ve also picked up Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth. Follow the link to the fish bowl, it looks really interesting.
And speaking of court fools, Margaret Campbell Barnes has written a fictional book on Will Somers. This author was recommended to me by a few people at a Tudor History forum I joined after I decided I had inadvertently picked the worst Tudor historical fiction books in the world to read. There appears to be many severely trashy romance books disguised as historical fiction, and clearly a conspiracy against me personally. So I have tentatively picked three historical fiction books this year, King’s Fool by Barnes, The Last Queen by C.W Gortner about Juana of Castille, which I picked up second-hand, and I’ve bough a copy of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, about Thomas Cromwell.
In Children’s Books…
My plans for what children’s books I want to read never work out. I end up reading whatever catches my eye while I’m out book hunting. There are not a lot of kid’s books I buy new. Last year I spent collecting more Puffins, and I managed to get quite a lot.
One definite is the Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds which I was going to read last year but didn’t get around to. This one has just recently been reprinted after going out-of-print for a while (and I did email Penguin about half-a-dozen times about it but it’s more likely the result of Cassandra winning a well deserved Victorian Premier’s Literary Award) Cassandra writes proper fairy tales, and a really good fairytale is not easy to find these days. I’m hoping we’ll get a new book this year too.
I have finally, after a very long time, gotten a collection of the Pangur Ban books by Fay Sampson to read. I knew nothing about them other than I liked the covers when I first saw them, they are in fact an epic children’s fantasy, and I need a good epic children’s fantasy this year.
And for more Dragons in the Year of the Dragon I’ll read the Dragon series by Rosemary Manning. That was another I didn’t get around to last year, and another series that took me a while to collect. They look like good fun.
I would like to revisit my Redwall blogs again this year, which I stopped doing after Brian died (which was a terrible wrench for me to be perfectly honest). I might try and re-read them before I do each blog though, if time permits. I have gone completely Redwall-mad again and just bought a bunch of signed copies for my American collection which I should finish off this year.
And no, I still haven’t read the last three. And yes, I am still saving them for later.