Fans of the Red Queen series should devour this short story collection. Even if they have already read the two previously released short stories, it is still worth the read. Broken Throne is gives more insight into the world building that author Victoria Aveyard did to create her series. Historical notes by Julian is the perfect way to go deep into how Norta, Montefort, Lakelands, Piedmont and neighboring countries came to be and gives perspective on where they are now. In between the history lessons are short stories, new and old, set in this world that focuses on supporting characters or backstory. The story that fans will probably be the most interested in reading is Fire Light. Fans who were left a little disappointed on how Mare left thing with Cal at the end of War Storm will get some closure in this story. Mare and Cal have been through a lot. They have both done things to others and to each other that they can’t take back. They both needed time to heal from everything that has happened and accessed who they are now and not who they were before they meant. Can they forgive each other? Can they forgive themselves? It was a sweet story that wraps up their story nicely. While I think this was a wrap of the series but I think there is a lot here for more book set in this universe. The Nortan states push towards a representative government is rocky and the epilogue mentions further drama that could easily be turned into a series. There are a few countries that were mentioned but we haven’t been that could be explored. Not to mention, as more and more Reds turn out to be New bloods, there could be so many more stories about them and how that plays out in the world. So what I’m saying, I don’t think we have seen the last of Norta or the Lakelands or Montefort or the last of Mare, Cal, Evageline, Iris, Farley and the other characters either. Whenever Victoria is ready to come back she should know I’ll be waiting.
So, I’ve taken to strolling through that section of the library where they put new books and books that they want to highlight and picking something up if it catches my eye. Since I’m already reading a bunch of horror this summer, when I saw this book, I thought, “What the heck? Why not?” It’s got a creepy tentacled skull on the cover and nightmare in the title. Let’s do this thing.
This collection wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a little more…horrory? I guess I was expecting more gore or at least to be kept up a little at night. But, of my two favorite stories in the collection, one of them wasn’t really horror at all. “Jake and Willy at the End of the World” is a story about Jake and Willy, sitting and waiting for a mob that’s looting through town during the apocalypse to make it to where they are so they can defend it. It was…funny. But, I didn’t think it was suspenseful or scary and it certainly wasn’t gory. And, “Hell Creek” is a zombie story with a twist. I really, really liked “Hell Creek”. It was great. (the twist is apparent in the first two pages, but I still don’t want to spoil it because I really enjoyed discovering it for myself.)
Anyway, some of the other stories that were more of what I was expecting were good and there were a few that were related to other pieces (for example, one was set in a Clive Barker world and had originally been published in an authorized collection. There are notes that made it clear when something was part of a wider universe.) that were fine, even if if I didn’t have the context for them. So, in all, this was a pretty good collection and I’m glad I picked it up.
So, if you are looking for a little scare and you like short stories. Give this a whirl.
Sarah Rees Brennan is an author I adore. So it saddens me to hear that she has cancer. She has Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is treatable but still cancer. Yesterday, she made a diagnosis known in a very touching and funny post on Tumblr. I do recommend you read it. In attempt to send positive healing vibes out there for Sarah, here a links to some of my past blog posts about her books. I hope she sees the love and that you dear readers, give her books a chance.
After I finished reading Empire of Storms, I decided to go back and read the prequel novellas as many of the characters we meet in these stories make appearance and play a role in the final book to come out next year. It’s very common for authors to publish novellas or short stories in connection with successful series. Most of the time they have little consequence to the actual narrative of the series themselves. They are just a fun story about the time before, or another character’s perspective. The further I got into Empire of Storms and the big reveals starting to come out, I realized that I these novellas were more important then I originally thought. The end was blending of Aelin’s present with Celaena’s past. If Aelin is going to defeat Erawan and reclaim her crown in Terrasan she is going to have call in all of Celaena’s favors. And so I went back and bought all the novellas. The five novella’s The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire tell the story of the months that lead her to be arrested and sent to Endovier where we meet her in the Throne of Glass that starts everything in motion. All five novellas were collected together and later published under the named The Assassin’s Blade.
The novella’s we see Celaena in her full Adarlan’s Assassin glory. She is the most feared assassin in the land and she knows it. As Arobynn Hamel’s protege she is at the top of her game, when she is sent to the Skull’s bay to meet with Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord. When she finds out that her master is going into the Slave business, she defies him for the first time. With the help of fellow assassin Sam Cortlandt she not only saves the slaves Arobynn was trading but all the slaves. All good deeds don’t go unpunished. She is severely punished and sent to the desert to learn from the Mute Master of the Silent Assassins. Here she meets Ansel of Briarcliff, her first real female friendship and new skills. Upon her return Arobynn gives her a mission that she can’t refuse but it ends up in even bigger betrayal that she pays off her and Sam’s debt’s and leaves Arobynn behind. Celaena and Sam have fallen in love and plan to Rithfold behind but not before they do one last job. This leads to tragedy and ultimately what leads to the beginning of the series. Caleana’s exploits are alluded too in the earlier books but didn’t really have much to do with the actual plot until our heroes make their way to Skull’s Bay to try to convince Captain Rolfe to join their cause. Since the last time Aelin was there, she destroyed the docks and ended the very profitable slave trade for the Pirate King. So, not the best impression to leave on the a possible ally. The Pirate Lord and Ansel have been mentioned before but in passing. I used to think it was just a wink to not only Celaena’s past but also to all those readers who read the novellas but both Rolfe and Ansel play a pivotable role in Aelin’s plans to win the war. The stories gives us a sense about who Celaena was before the action of the series and how deep the scars run for her. From the books, we know how complicated her relationship with Arobynn is but since it all happened before the action of the series we didn’t get see how toxic it truly was. We also get to know Sam. His death is major part of Celaena’s story arc in the first two books. It’s what haunts her and motivates her to seek out Arobynn for the truth. These are some of the rare series novellas that actually further the series plot and for that for fans of the Throne of Glass series, it’s worth reading all the novellas.
Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff are three successful authors on their own right but they are also each other critique partners. They call themselves the Merry Sisters of Fates. If you are familiar with our blog, then you already know about Maggie. I love her and obviously, I have read all of Maggie’s work. I have read some the works of Tessa and Brenna and have mix feelings about them. I really liked Brenna’s The Replacement but only so-so about Fiendish. I did enjoy both Tessa’s Blood Magic and Blood Keeper but for some reason have yet to pick up her latest series. Anyway, the three ladies used to post their short stories on their website but I think since all of their writing careers have taken off they haven’t had time to write that many. They all are very different writers with different styles, though they do all seem to stay on the fantasy side of literature. In The Anatomy of Curiosity they each wrote a short story displaying their personal theory on what is important in starting to build a story. Is it Character development, world building or the idea of a story. They all start at different places but still come up with great stories. Before each story, they go through their process and why they started where they did, why they made these choices and so forth. Through out the stories, they each write for asides as to why they used these words or choices, giving the reader a true insight into their thinking and process. After the story is over they other chime in with their notes. You can read all the notes or you can just read the stories and you will still get a great experience. For inspiring writers, this is a good tool to helping them with their decision making or for us readers, a chance to read some good short stories. Either way it’s a win.
On the Canadian radio news show As it Happens last night I heard about something that is really cool. A gentleman in California has started a blog where he writes short stories that are made up entirely of example sentences from dictionaries. My favorite dictionary is the OED (and, thankfully, I have online access to it through my university) so I hadn’t noticed how crazy example sentences are. The OED’s jam is to put a word in its historical context so all of the example sentences come from texts in which the word was used. The sentences can be very dramatic but they can also be very funny as a word’s meaning may change over time. But, some dictionaries include sentences that have been made up to illustrate the definition of the word. These are the sentences that Jez Burrows is using to make his stories. The stories Burrows have come up with are clever and short. They make for a fun read. This one made me laugh this morning:
The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
A retired teacher. A topiary gardener. An army officer of fairly high rank. A brilliant young mathematician. A highly esteemed scholar. President Kennedy. One of the great stars in the American golfing firmament. Detective Sergeant Fox. The Honorable Richard Morris Esquire, chief justice of the supreme court of our state. When you put these men together, you’re bound to get fireworks. Unfortunately, we do not have the time to interview every applicant.