Archives For Fantasy

 

Art-of-LOTR

Today marks the anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s death.

In honor of his life and work, we offer this reading guide to his works that flesh out the history and culture of Middle Earth, beyond the familiar Lord of the Rings Series.

How deeply have you read about Middle Earth beyond The Lord of the Rings? 

 

1) The Silmarillion

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Today marks the anniversary of the death of George Macdonald.

Although I was familiar with Macdonald’s name through the work of C.S. Lewis before I went to college, it was as a student of David Neuhouser at Taylor University that I was immersed into Macdonald’s work. I was particular captivated by his fantasy stories, and his non-fiction.  I was much less enthralled by his general fiction, which although it explored many rich themes, often veered into Scottish dialects and like other Victorian novels of his day, was abundantly wordy.  (There are editions that have been edited into contemporary English by Michael Phillips, but the editing renders them sounding too much like Christian romance novels by Michael Phillips for my tastes!)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with George Macdonald’s work — you should be — so, here is a brief guide to lead you into the thick of his work.

Which books have you read? Which have impacted you most?

 

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George MacDonald: An Anthology 365 Readings

by C.S. Lewis

Lewis’s anthology serves as a perfect portal into reading Macdonald’s work, offering samples of a wide variety of his writings.  It also helps that with Lewis as curator, there is a strong emphasis in this collection on themes of Christian faith in Macdonald’s work.

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Today is the birthday of E. Nesbit, writer of delightful children’s stories, born 1858.

Nesbit is one of the lesser-known influences on C.S. Lewis’s Narnia:
“Lewis was deeply indebted to E. Nesbit, not only in matters of plot, character and image, but even in small details of phrasing. When he set out to write his Chronicles of Narnia, he though of them as being Nesbit books: as belonging to a type or genre practised by E. Nesbit. In many respects the Narnia books begin where the Nesbit books leave off: The Magician’s Nephew, the first of the series, begins with an allusion to Nesbit.”
– Mervyn Nicholson, “What C.S. Lewis took from E. Nesbit

 

For your reading pleasure, we have picked FIVE of E. Nesbit’s best books that are available as FREE ebooks…

Enjoy!!!

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Five Children and It

 

FREE ebook download in a variety of formats including NOOK
from Project Gutenberg…

Like Nesbit’s Railway Children, the story begins when a group of children move from London to the countryside of Kent. While playing in a gravel pit, the five children—Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane, and their baby brother, the Lamb—uncover a rather grumpy, ugly and occasionally malevolent sand-fairy known as the Psammead, who has the ability to grant wishes. However, the Psammead has been buried for so long, he is no longer able to grant individual wishes. Instead, he persuades the children to take one wish per day, to share amongst the lot of them, with the caveat that the wishes will turn to stone at sundown.(Wikipedia)

 

E. NesbitYesterday was the birthday of E. Nesbit, writer of children’s stories, born 1858.

Nesbit is one of the lesser-known influences on C.S. Lewis’s Narnia.  Mervyn Nicholson wrote in a paper entitled “What C.S. Lewis took from E. Nesbit” :

For anyone who knows the Narnia books of C. S. Lewis, there is a story by E. Nesbit in her collection The Magic World that immediately stands out. It is called “The Aunt and Amabel”; it tells of a girl who damages a special flower-bed without meaning to. Her aunt punishes her by confining her to a “bedroom, the one with the wardrobe with a looking-glass in it” (228). The only furnishings described are a bed and a wardrobe. Then Amabel finds a railway timetable that lists a peculiar destination: “the extraordinary name ‘Whereyouwantogoto’.” Its nearest “station was ‘Bigwardrobeinspareroom'” (224). Intrigued, she opens the wardrobe door and steps inside, like Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And like Lucy, Amabel discovers something in it besides coats, in her case a crystal cave. Lucy finds snowy woods, not a cave, but the faun Lucy meets immediately takes her to a cave. In Nesbit, Amabel finds a sumptuous place where she is lovingly welcomed by “The People Who Understand” (231). With their help she and her aunt are reconciled, exchanging forgiveness in a manner characteristic of Nesbit. The motif of human reconciliation is crucial. But the obvious point is that the motifs found in “The Aunt and Amabel” are also found in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis was deeply indebted to E. Nesbit, not only in matters of plot, character and image, but even in small details of phrasing. When he set out to write his Chronicles of Narnia, he though of them as being Nesbit books: as belonging to a type or genre practised by E. Nesbit. In many respects the Narnia books begin where the Nesbit books leave off: The Magician’s Nephew, the first of the series, begins with an allusion to Nesbit.

[ Download a FREE ebook of The Magic World ]

A variety of formats available via Project Gutenberg: Kindle, Nook, PDF, more…

We intend to make the “Freebie of the Week” a regular column…  So stay tuned in coming weeks for other free ebooks, downloads, etc.!

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Just received this book in the mail today, and despite the apparent plot similarities to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I’m looking forward to it.

Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame. (Enchanted Attic Series)

L.L. Samson

Paperback: Zonderkids, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [  Kindle ]

Watch for our review in the near future…





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“On Leaping Over the Moon”
Thomas Traherne

I saw new Worlds beneath the Water lie,
New People; yea, another Sky
And sun, which seen by Day
Might things more clear display.
Just such another
Of late my Brother
Did in his Travel see, and saw by Night,
A much more strange and wondrous Sight:
Nor could the World exhibit such another,
So great a Sight, but in a Brother.

Adventure strange! No such in Story we,
New or old, true or feigned, see.
On Earth he seem’d to move
Yet Heaven went above;
Up in the Skies
His body flies
In open, visible, yet Magic, sort:
As he along the Way did sport,
Over the Flood he takes his nimble Course
Without the help of feigned Horse.
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“Love of Nature and Love of Language

A review of

The Alpine Tales
By Paul Willis

Review by Joshua Neds-Fox.

Paul Willis - Alpine TalesThe Alpine Tales
Paul Willis.
Paperback: WordFarm, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Remember childhood afternoons spent exploring the creek? Surely I can’t have been the only one to lose myself among waist-high ferns in my childhood, pretending to be the hero of a fairyland. One afternoon in particular, spent in the forest with distant cousins in Northern Michigan, comes to my mind unbidden again and again, growing more dreamlike as the years go by. The light, the ferns, the complete faith I had in the fantasy world I was building: how did those natural worlds become supernatural, those long afternoons years ago?

Paul Willis knows the answer. A professor of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, for over 20 years, he’s written chiefly poetry and essays (his second book of poems, Rosing From The Dead, was reviewed by ERB in June 2010). But the early 90’s saw the publication of the first two of these fantasy novels about three generations of mountaineers in the Pacific Northwest. He’s since made it a quartet, and the four are reissued here together as The Alpine Tales (WordFarm, 2010).

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The Satyr
C.S. Lewis
(Writing as Clive Hamilton,
From Spirits in Bondage,
CSL’s first published book)

When the flowery hands of spring
Forth their woodland riches fling,
Through the meadows, through the valleys
Goes the satyr carolling.

From the mountain and the moor,
Forest green and ocean shore
All the faerie kin he rallies
Making music evermore.

See! the shaggy pelt doth grow
On his twisted shanks below,
And his dreadful feet are cloven
Though his brow be white as snow–

Though his brow be clear and white
And beneath it fancies bright,
Wisdom and high thoughts are woven
And the musics of delight,

Though his temples too be fair
Yet two horns are growing there
Bursting forth to part asunder
All the riches of his hair.

Faerie maidens he may meet
Fly the horns and cloven feet,
But, his sad brown eyes with wonder
Seeing-stay from their retreat.

 

A Brief Review of
THE HAWK AND THE WOLF.
Mark Adderley.

Hardback: WestBank Publishing, 2008.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jonathan Schindler.

    The Hawk and the Wolf is the first in Mark Adderley’s The Matter of Britain series and follows young Emrys (Merlin) as he wanders about Britain searching for the lost sword Excalibur, pining for his forbidden love, Boudicea, and learning how to use his gift of “the Sight.”

    The book, as Adderley describes in his useful introduction, does not seek to recover the “historical Merlin,” as the horrid King Arthur (2004) film did for its namesake, nor does he attempt a rehash of Merlin the mythic character. Adderley’s tale and world is his own. Merlin’s Britain in The Hawk and the Wolf is situated somewhere between the mystical world of legend and the cold world of modern historical imaginings. (Adderley says his “aim is to tell the kind of story that would have been told in the Middle Ages,” xi.) He also chooses a unique setting for the story—the first century AD—which allows him to weave in the story of Boudicea, the doomed warrior princess on a mission to save her homeland. Adderley has certainly done his homework (and, for the reader’s benefit, he suggests some further reading), which infuses the story with rich detail.

    The story of Merlin is, in the popular consciousness, closely tied to Arthurian legend. For this reason, I find Adderley’s choice to place The Hawk and the Wolf in the first century fascinating. Throughout the book references are made to a man who endured “a triple death” (scourging, hanging, and being pierced by a spear; 158) or to warriors who “all wore the same symbol, like a tree but stylized, formalized, and upon it hung a man” (175). I am uncertain where Adderley’s future volumes will go—whether they will transport Arthur back to this historical setting or leave him out completely—but Adderley’s allusions lead to the inescapable comparison of two Messianic figures and make for interesting speculation while reading.

    Adderley chooses a setting when there is certainly a lot that happens, which keeps the story moving at a suitable pace. What didn’t work so well for me was his method of telling it (which hinges on Merlin’s age). The narration is in third-person and follows Merlin wherever he goes. Merlin is cast as an angsty teenager, and his emotions continually draw him this way and that. His abilities allow him to feel what others are feeling, but because his wanderings (and his age) necessitate it, his stay is brief wherever he goes. This makes it difficult for the reader to empathize in the same way. Merlin may have an attachment to characters (as even a brief encounter with other humans is liable to have an impact), but in the written word, attachments are not so easily formed. In this way, I felt left outside the drama at certain points in the story. I’m assuming the reader’s emotional distance from Merlin will lessen in future books as Merlin grows older and more stable.

    Despite this quibble, Adderley has written an entertaining and engaging story, one that is likely to get more interesting and intense as it continues over the forthcoming books. He has a clear enthusiasm for his subject (which is not always the case, but is always refreshing), making The Hawk and the Wolf ripe reading material for Merlin enthusiasts and lovers of fantasy.