I suppose something I am truly a sucker for is a sense of myth in the story. Kushiel’s Legacy is a very good example of this; not only is there a very rich backdrop to the story, filled with different cultures and myths based loosely on ones from Earth, but the story of Phedre and Joscelin has its own mythic quality — these characters are true heroes on the hero’s journey, and their deeds will be talked about in centuries to come.
Other examples of this mythic quality, not limited to books:
True Grit (the recent one)
The Fifth Sacred Thing
Lord of the Rings (though, I will admit, I did not finish reading the books — it’s the films I have a true love for)
Green Grass, Running Water (by Thomas King)
The Tir Alainn Trilogy by Anne Bishop
The Black Jewels Trilogy (same)
The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge
anything by Ursula K. LeGuin, the First Lady of Fantasy
Bellica, by Katje van Loon (why shouldn’t I shamelessly plug my own awesome stories, I ask you)
It’s the sense of myth that truly gets my heart racing, that makes me cry for the characters (yes, including my own), that wraps me up so completely in the story that when it’s over I am bereft for having lost a part of myself.
However, that’s the beauty of myths — once I am done mourning, I can read or watch and experience them again, and allow myself to fall in love many times with the same, heart-rending story.
Bitters, by Kaimana Wolff. “Weeks after Victoria and Elan disappear on a romantic elopement, officers find a small plane at the bottom of Bitterroot Lake—with Victoria in it and no sign of Elan except remnants of the plane’s avionics in a burned-out campfire. Ray Walker, the youngest deputy sheriff in his town’s history, cannot let this case become his only failure–especially after Victoria’s sister pays a call. Meanwhile, the Green Fairy is escorting a new man-about-town to all the best places—and keeping him alive.”
Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacquline Carey. I’ve blogged about the amazing Kushiel’s Legacy series on multiple occasions, but if you want to get into it I recommend starting with this book. It is the first, after all.
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This book is a hilarious send-up of all those ridiculous apocalypse books that hit the markets from time to time. Involving an angel and demon who are millennias-old drinking buddies, a misplaced antichrist, and the completely accurate prophecies of a witch named Nutter, this is one novel you do not want to pass by.
Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. A bit depressing, but worth it.
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A book with a heady sense of myth if there ever was one. Quite good, highly recommended.
Oh my goddess, we have so many contenders for this post. I simply can’t list just one, unless I wanted to be funny. Contrary to my usual nature, I wish to share quotes that actually mean something to me.
So, from the very talented Jacqueline Carey and her quite astounding literary masterpiece, Kushiel‘s Legacy, my favourite quotes from the Phedre Trilogy.
We are all of these things […]. Pride, desire, compassion, cleverness, belligerence, fruitfulness, loyalty…and guilt. But above it all stands love. And if we desire to be more than human, that is the star by which we must set our sights.
We pay for sins we do not remember, and seek to do a will we can scarce fathom. That is what it is, to be a god’s chosen.
It’s the same questions we ask of our existence, and the answer is always the same. The mystery lies not in the question nor the answer, but in the asking and answering themselves, over and over again, and the end is engendered in the beginning.
All knowledge is worth having.
That which yields is not always weak.
See what I mean when I say I can’t just choose one?
This one is harder to answer because I’ve read fewer books in the past year than I usually have. (Yes, you read that right.) Most of the books I’ve read have been non-fiction, which usually means that I haven’t actually finished them yet. And I have trouble picking a non-fiction book as the “best” that I’ve read, because that’s not how I measure their worth — I measure their worth in how USEFUL they are to me (also what KIND of useful — Silver RavenWolf’s books are good as doorstops or toilet paper, so are a lesser kind of useful than ones I’d actually get good knowledge out of…also SRW’s books could probably be classified as fiction, so I guess it’s sort of a moot point).
So. I haven’t read that many fiction books in the past year. That I can remember. I actually don’t really remember much from week to week.
Which means I’m choosing a book I just finished, because it’s fresh in my mind and it’s by one of my favorite authors. Kushiel’s Justice, by Jacqueline Carey.