May. 30th, 2017

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We're back to the last couple of November releases that I'm including in this blog series. Rachel Neumeier's The Mountain of Kept Memory takes us to a fantastic secondary world where the gods take seriously their responsibility to protect--or their right to abandon--the realms they watch over.

Long ago the Kieba, last goddess in the world, raised up her mountain in the drylands of Carastind. Gulien Madalin, heir to the throne of Carastind, suspects that his father has offended the Kieba so seriously that she has withdrawn her protection from the kingdom. Worse, he fears that Carastind’s enemies suspect this as well. Then he learns that he is right. And invasion is imminent. Meanwhile Gulien’s sister Oressa has focused on what’s important: avoiding the attention of her royal father while keeping track of all the secrets at court. But when she overhears news about the threatened invasion, she’s shocked to discover what her father plans to give away in order to buy peace. But Carastind’s enemies will not agree to peace at any price. They intend to not only conquer the kingdom, but also cast down the Kieba and steal her power. Now, Gulien and Oressa must decide where their most important loyalties lie, and what price they are willing to pay to protect the Kieba, their home, and the world.


In many fantasy settings, one of the things that transports us away from there here and now is the overt presence of magic and the tangible presence of the divine. I always feel strange putting it that way, because many of my readers will assure me that the "tangible presence of the divine" as portrayed in the Alpennia books reflects their own real-life experiences. That can be a little unsettling for this atheist author! In Mother of Souls Margerit Sovitre finds her understanding of the divine nature of mysteries to be challenged by Luzie Valorin's music--a force with undeniable mystic power that seems to draw on a sources entirely unrelated to God and the saints.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.


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One of the most exciting developments in the speculative fiction field is the growing visibility and recognition of stories rooted deeply in cultures other than the default western European/American ones. I don't say "growing presence" because it is only the wider recognition that is new. Karen Lord has assembled this anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean to showcase some of the excellent SFF being produced in her home region.

Do not be misled by the “speculative” in the title. Although there may be robots and fantastical creatures, these common symbols are tools to frame the familiar from fresh perspectives. Here you will find the recent past and ongoing present of government and society with curfews, crime, and corruption; the universal themes of family, growth and death, love and hate; the struggle to thrive when power is capricious and revenge too bittersweet. Here too is the passage of everything—old ways, places, peoples, and ourselves—leaving nothing behind but memories, histories, and stories. This anthology speaks to the fragility of our Caribbean home, but reminds the reader that although home may be vulnerable, it is also beautifully resilient. The voice of our literature declares that in spite of disasters, this people and this place shall not be wholly destroyed. Read for delight, then read for depth, and you will not be disappointed. Includes brand-new stories by Tammi Browne-Bannister, Summer Edward, Portia Subran, Brandon O’Brien, Kevin Jared Hosein, Richard B. Lynch, Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brian Franklin, Ararimeh Aiyejina, and H.K. Williams.


A solid "sense of place" can be a challenge to develop when creating your own countries or worlds. Even more of a challenge when creating a culture very different from the one I live in. I will make no claims regarding how well I have succeeded. But one of the things that warms my heart in reader comments on the series, is when they say that books like Mother of Souls make them feel like Alpennia is a real location--just one that somehow got left off the maps and out of the history books. If you enjoy that experience, then seek out fiction by writers like Karen Lord that really is about places and cultures that tend to get left off the literary maps and out of the genre history books.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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