This is a fantastic collection of short stories, a little bit of a mix of mostly fantasy and urban fantasy and fairytale. And each of them contain a gThis is a fantastic collection of short stories, a little bit of a mix of mostly fantasy and urban fantasy and fairytale. And each of them contain a gay or lesbian relationship, but all are done to varying degrees. No two stories are similar.
There were so many really good stories packed into this anthology, and it would be really hard to comment on them all, so I shall restrain myself to mentioning just a few favourites.
"The Coat of Stars" by Holly Black Rafael is a costume designer for stage productions, when he goes home to visit family he is remembering a long lost love from his boyhood: Lyle, who believed in fairies, and died tragically young. Then Rafael wonders if Lyle might never have died at all, but been taken by the fairy. This story blended modern day into fairytale so wonderfully, I loved everything about it. I will be looking for more novels by Holly Black in the future.
"Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland" by Sarah Monette Violet is a young woman who catches the attention of the fairy Queen Nix, and becomes her lover. The story is broken up by a look at three letters that Nix wrote to her human lover. I'm extremely in love with Sarah Monettes writing, and I was so thrilled to find that she'd written lesbian characters, as in fantasy thats a rarity. And Sarah Monette writes so uniquely and beautifully, no review does it justice. I really hope she writes a full length fantasy with lesbian characters in the future!
"How the Ocean loved Magie" by Laurie J Marks Another beautiful UF/fairytale in which a young woman pregnant by donor finds herself inexplicably drawn to the seashore and a far away island, and there becomes the lover of a beautiful mysterious woman with deep black eyes and a love for the ocean. To say more would spoil the mystery.. This was a very moving tale, beautiful and romantic and quite heartbreaking. This is another Author I have to investigate now.
Those were my favourite three of the entire book. But honourable mentions go to "The Price of Glamour" by Steve Berman and "Ever so much more than Twenty" by Joshua Luis.
The only one I found I didn't quite like was "Mr Grimm's fairy tale" by Eric Andrews, and in part because I wasn't sure at all what was supposed to be Queer about it (used the homosexual sense), I couldn't for the life of me spot a hint of gay relationship.. perhaps I'm missing something..? It seemed a little bit out of place tacked onto the end of anotherwise amazing collection of stories.
All in all VERY highly recommended for lovers of Fantasy and fairytales with lgbt themes. And I'm very pleased I found a whole bunch of new authors to check out!...more
Noticed this has been shelved several times as 'Romance' and even as 'erotica', but I think its important to note that there is a difference between bNoticed this has been shelved several times as 'Romance' and even as 'erotica', but I think its important to note that there is a difference between books which are actually Romance, but contain fantasy elements; and books which are Fantasy but contain some romance. I'd say this book definately falls into the latter category. Certainly some parts are somewhat graphic on the bdsm parts, but thats where it's important for plot and character, a lot of 'encounters' were suprisingly of the tasteful fade-to-black sort.
Phedre is a girl, born and raised among courtesans. Unfortunately Phedre is considered flawed, a single red mote in one eye spoils her appearance, and leaves her unwanted. This is until Anafiel Delaunay sees her and recognises the mote for what it is - Kushiel's dart - a rare mark bestowed by one of their patron angels, both a blessing and a curse. Delaunay takes Phedre into his household, and gives her an education beyond that of any other courtesan. At first it's confusing to Phedre, who doesn't understand what need she'd have of languages and history etc, but Delaunay insist she also learn the more useful skills of observation and deduction.. skills more appropriate for a spy than a courtesan. Delaunay can do his best to keep Phedre safe, but ultimately they must use all resources as the political plots go ever deeper.. murder, treason, war..
The story takes a fair while to get truly started; the novel follows Phedre's story from birth and through her childhood. But despite the long set up, it was never boring, in fact, it's a good method for world building. As Phedre speaks about the various night courts, and learns the myths and histories of her home country, we learn too, and the world has quite a fascinating background.
The Author has chosen to base her mythology on jewish and christian beliefs, the brief story is that at the crucifiction of J-sus, His blood mixed with the magdalenes tears, and out of the earth sprang Elua, who was a sort of mortal deity. He had a minor disagreement with the jewish/christian G-d and departed amicably taking several angels with him. They then founded a civilisation in a place called Terre D'Ange (geographically it seems to be france!). From a christian point of view, I actually found it an interestinc concept, to see a fantasy mythology based on something which I consider to be fact.. this made me think more seriously about all the times I've read fantasy stories based on norse or greek mythology! I have no criticism of the way it was done, there seems no disrespect in it from the author's point of view, and it makes for a new and innovative fantasy setting.
One of the most unusual things about the setting is the fact that their culture respects and revere prostitutes, in fact to be a courtesan is this society is an act of devotion to one of their patron angels. Theres also a high amount of acceptance for gay relationships, and their one tenet of faith is the phrase 'love as thou wilt'.
Overall I thought the book was absolutely brilliant, it's been a long time since I came across a fantasy series to rival my all time favourites but I could happily shelve this alongside my beloved George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan and Elizabeth Haydon. The background was epic, the description was inspiring, and the characterisation was practically flawless. Just the right amount of sympathy for the heros/heroines and just the right amount of love and hate for the 'villains'. I really hope the rest of the series live up to the same standard!
I'd probably recommend it for anyone who like most kinds of fantasy, although.. it's hard to compare to other types of fantasy, but I'd say out of my own limited experience it's closer to Elizabeth Haydon than anything else.
Jhereg is a fantasy with a sort of reverse murder-mystery twist; where the protagonist's dilemma is not 'Whodunnit?' but 'How do I do it?'.
Vlad TaltoJhereg is a fantasy with a sort of reverse murder-mystery twist; where the protagonist's dilemma is not 'Whodunnit?' but 'How do I do it?'.
Vlad Taltos is a skilled assassin, but his latest target is a little tricky to tackle and a little hard to find. But luckily Vlad has a small cadre of friends of varied talents to call upon, including his assassin wife, and his psychically bonded pet jhereg (a sort of miniature dragon).
Vlad is also living proof that not all assassin characters have to be darkly brooding, friendless loners. And the banter with his pet jhereg shows how lighthearted a character he can be. Not that he doesn't ever have questions about what he does, but the overall tone is quite light. I suppose in a world where death is not generally a permanent state, this certainly makes some sense. Most assassinations, (if not done with a morganti weapon) can be easily remedied by a sorceror, and the assassination serves more as a threat or a public humiliation than anything else.
Brust has built an interesting world for his series. The incredibly long-lived race of dragaerans, with their occasionally pointed ears, and love of sorcery are reminiscent slightly of elves. But their infighting and their tendency to be not always good guys certainly makes them different. Normal humans do live quite comfortably in this tumultous empire, but are often looked down upon by the 'superior' dragaerans. Vlad himself is a human, but has set himself up quite well, and made some good allies. One major reason why I'm likely to read more of this series is to find out just how Vlad is such an ally of questionable dragaerans like the character Morollan. Hopefully later books in the series will explore Vlad's past in greater detail.
In summation, this is a lighthearted yet detailed fantasy romp, with some good worldbuilding and a troop of interesting characters. If a little tiny bit deus ex machina in places. Recommended to fantasy lovers, especially if you like antihero types....more