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Lady of Gems #4.5

Magic Banquet

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Dragon steaks, ambrosia, and chimera stew. In the Magic Banquet, one guest always dies of joy. Or so they say. The street waif, Aja, just wants a few mouthfuls of the first course, but this is a party not easily left.

The dishes lavished upon Aja do more than entice. They enchant. They endanger. They change her. When she learns that a dragonfruit will make her mature, she eats it all. She is tired of being seen as a child, of being excluded and overlooked by respectable families and that other girl at the banquet, who is the empress in disguise. But Aja ages too fast, too much, and too soon. She is dying. She must replenish her lifeforce by eating a phoenix before she can even think of escaping the mortal banquet.

Guest List:
Aja, a thirteen-year-old girl who stole into the banquet before anyone could tell her she's too young.
Janny, an old woman hungry for eternal youth.
The Empress Nephrynthian. But she'll insist on you calling her Ryn.
Her guard, Fos Chandur.
Solin, graceful on his crutches and deadly with his magic.
And a dark lord.

320 pages, Paperback

Published January 29, 2016

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About the author

A.E. Marling

11 books297 followers
A.E. Marling writes on pages, cards, and buildings. A member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, A.E. has published several fantasy novels and written names and flavor text for Magic: the Gathering. The author also shines words in light on buildings as a projection activist (@AEMarling).

Pronouns: he/them

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5 stars
20 (54%)
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10 (27%)
3 stars
7 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for ✶Rachelle✶ .
266 reviews123 followers
April 13, 2017
4 stars

Cute read! This is a fun little book if you are looking for something easy and enjoyable.

Our MC, an orphan named Aja, doesn't have much going for her. She has some education, but no home or family to speak of. She decides to join the mysterious magical banquet in the hopes that she will gain something worthwhile. The catch? One guest perishes each night. The goal? To stay alive, and keep her new companions alive as well!

This story reminded me a bit of Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder version please). Anddddd that's really all I'm gonna say. Anything else will be a spoiler. Pick it up for yourself and find out what the Magic Banquet is all about *winkwink*

This is my word-of-the-month book as decided by the incomparable Frankie and randomwordgenerator.com
Profile Image for Eric.
599 reviews37 followers
April 27, 2016
I've read all the Lands of Loam books, so far, except for the newest. Marling continues to evolve and improve as an author, and this book is no exception.

We see a lot of familiar themes for Marling in this work. A protagonist that is out of her element, and is apparently at a severe disadvantage. Complex characters who refuse to settle down comfortably into even broad categories like "villain" or "hero." And a wild, surreal form of magic that bends reality around it without missing a beat.

The "fairy tale" feeling of this book is the highest it's been. The elaborate banquet, the exotic magical foods, and the company all evoke the same sort of feeling as stories of people who get lost under-hill. The language is well used, too. It has a flowery, tale-telling sort of quality without become purple or overwrought.

Perhaps most impressively, he manages to portray growth for almost all the characters. Despite the story taking place in a single night, it doesn't feel manufactured or rushed.

An extremely satisfying read.
Profile Image for Virginia.
Author 13 books157 followers
February 9, 2016
Magic Banquet is an enchanting tale of a young woman and her struggle to survive a feast that's to die for. As an orphan with no home, Aja doesn't have much going for her aside from her curiosity and education before heading to the Magic Banquet. She hopes that in attending the perilous feast she'll gain something that will change her life. Instead she spends most of the night fighting to save her life and the lives of her new companions.

Sadly that's all the description I can give you without dropping any spoilers.

Between my delight at getting a chance to spend time with some of my favorite characters from the Lands of Loam and the page turning magical adventures brought about by this singular but deadly feast I found Magic Banquet to be an all around entertaining and enjoyable read.

I didn't find the story as well rounded as some of Marling's other tales, but part of that is probably due to the younger target audience for this book.

All in all, I found it to be a quick and fun read that kept me turning pages. I look forward to the next adventures set in the Lands of Loam!
41 reviews
March 2, 2016
I read this captivating story at a time when I was stuck away from home and forced to eat meal after meal that is stored and cooked in sealed plastic sacks and it was the perfect distraction from the drudgery of my real life. Marling's descriptions made my mouth water and his storytelling once again does not fail to disappoint. Though eating mystery meat from the chow hall became more disappointing after reading the description of deep fried terror bird. Underneath the amazing descriptions of fanciful foods is a plot line woven with as much intricacy as the magic carpet the banquet takes place on. The main character is one of those rare main characters whose motives are not perfect all the time and is fallible, but learns throughout her adventure and becomes a character to admire. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for all ages of people who want to disappear from their mundane life for a bit.
Author 1 book6 followers
February 12, 2016
I honestly don't understand what A.E. Marling has done to me; I have some sort of compulsion now to read all of his work. It' started back with Fox's Bride. Perhaps there's a spell on the pages?
Anyway, Magic Banquet is a another lovely, lush, luxurious, luminous, languishing piece of luminescent literature that satisfies while simultaneously leaving you wanting one....tiny.....more...bite.
It's characters are well honed, it's environs are beautifully articulated, and the story arc is glorious.
Please tell the Lord to stick around a bit longer
Profile Image for Alena.
Author 3 books8 followers
September 6, 2016
Czech review on my blog: http://www.kniznibanket.com/magic-ban...

I love this book. Three reasons: the main character has the same name as me – Aja.

The idea of eating so many weird and mythological things is brilliant.

And I love the author's imagination and the way how he plays with words.

I guess I would enjoy the book more if my English was slightly better than young teenager's. Translator doesn't solve everything ;-) But still it was very pleasant but difficult reading for me.
Profile Image for Elwyn.
Author 2 books4 followers
April 23, 2016
A delicious treat - make sure you have a full stomach while reading this book, or you'll regret it. The descriptions are out of this world, the fantasy setting adds to the mystery, and the almost fairy tale-like story creates a delightful book from start to finish.
Profile Image for Stohelit.
74 reviews6 followers
February 21, 2016
Again, Mr. Marling's language is as magical and bold as his topics. A magic banquet, an unforgettable evening where one guest must die so the others can live. Magical dishes are consumed, horrible dangers overcome, and in truth it's a kind of coming of age story for the heroine. Aja has to learn to trust herself and others against all odds, and not only survive the dangerous meal, but survive it as the person she would like to be: someone who can respect herself. Someone who therefore can be respected and loved by others.
Readers who know Mr. Marling's other novels will recognize the other guests of the feast, and get some more insight into their respective fates. Especially the information we gather about a certain Lord of Shadows and Fear is most interesting, indeed.
Finally, the horror of the dessert chapter is masterfully executed... This is really a worthy nightmare, and I'm sure, 98% of readers will agree. ;-)
Profile Image for W.R. Gingell.
Author 41 books921 followers
February 19, 2016
Actual rating 4.5 stars

I've learned by now with A.E. Marling that the only thing I can expect about his books is that they'll be nothing like what I expected them to be. Oh, and that they'll be VERY good. But mostly that they won't be anything like I expected.

And I LOVE that. I've read so many books that I find very little surprises me. A.E. Marling always has, so far.

This is a gloriously unexpected, fragrantly delightful banquet.
March 21, 2016
Wonderful read. I read this without reading any of the author's other books, and while I plan to go back and read all of them now, reading them is not necessary for the enjoyment of this book. It has wonderful descriptions of both food and magic and is full of excitement and adventure. I wouldn't recommend reading it while hungry, though. :)
Profile Image for Mikey W.
6 reviews
May 3, 2016
What a wonderfully enchanting and unique story. I haven't read the others from the author so some things were confusing with his style, but, I'm definitely going to pick others up now!!

Really impressive!! Well done Marling in bringing something new and fresh into the genre.
Profile Image for Elly.
21 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2016
I love losing myself in the Land of Loam. Wonderful read.
July 26, 2016
Wonderful, as always! I hope we see Aja and perhaps even Starlight on Dunes again. It's always an adventure when the Lord of the Feast is in attendance!!
Profile Image for Jen.
2 reviews
February 21, 2016
I adore the world created by Marling and I was thrilled to return there. It did not disappoint!
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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