On Katherine’s bedside table this month…
Young Samurai: Way of the Sword - Chris Bradford
Glitter rating: 5
This is the second book in the Young Samurai series, which began with “Way of the Warrior”. When his father is murdered by the evil ninja Dragon Eye, Jack is rescued and taken to train as a samurai warrior at the School of Two Heavens in 17th Century Japan. His most treasured possession is his father’s “rutter”, a book of secret knowledge Dragon Eye and his ninja will stop at nothing to possess, even if it means killing Jack and his young Japanese friend Akiko. Meanwhile, Jack is preparing for the ancient trial of the Circle of Three, which will test his skills to the limit and end in a duel to the death. Can he – the only western boy at the school – possibly learn the Way of the Sword in time?
The fight scenes in this book are very realistic (maybe because its author is a keen martial arts expert!) and the action grips from page one. But what the Muse really liked about this story is the way you become instantly and totally immersed in Jack’s world as he learns not only how to handle his samurai sword, but also the spiritual side of being a warrior. Other fascinating details include a Japanese tea ceremony and origami paper folding (a secret hobby of Katherine’s). A third book in the series due out soon, and meanwhile you can join the dojo at www.youngsamurai.com.
Saint of Dragons - Jason Hightman
Glitter rating: 3
Simon St George is a lonely orphan at the Lighthouse School for Boys, until one day a mysterious man dressed all in white comes looking for him claiming to be his father. But Simon’s real father is Aldric St George, last of the true knights, who is hunting the man in white, a "dragonman" evolved from the ancient dragons of legend. When Simon joins his father on his quest, it is the start of an exciting dragon hunt that will take him and rescued maiden Alaythia across the world in pursuit of the remaining dragons, who have formed an alliance to destroy all human life on earth.
The dragons are the real stars of this book, from the obsessive White Dragon of New York to the water-dwelling Serpent of Venice, the Red Dragon of Russia, the sly Black Chinese Dragon, and their terrible Serpent Queen... all must be destroyed before the world will be safe. This action-packed read has a comic style that should appeal to those who like Terry Pratchett. There’s also a brave horse called Valsephany and a rather surprising fox, though NO UNICORNS! (just as well, since the Muse wouldn’t like to see them hunted by the St Georges).
Dark Life - Kat Falls
Glitter rating: 4
The Bookette sent a proof copy of this book through the enchanted mists, so I feel like a very lucky unicorn to read it before it is published. It is an action packed science fiction story set on a future version of our earth where the sea level has risen and drowned cities like New York, leaving only small areas of land where topsiders live crammed into high-rise buildings. Others – brave pioneers – have gone underwater and made their homes at the bottom of the ocean, where they farm the sea life and stake out hundred-acre “claims”, rather like the old pioneers of the American Wild West. There are also outlaws raiding the farms and settlements... teenage narrator Ty, whose skin shines mysteriously, and topside girl Gemma must battle the infamous Seablite Gang as well as various underwater monsters on their quest to find Gemma’s missing brother.
The Muse found this book very atmospheric with plenty of interesting details along the way, such as the “liquigen” people must suck into their lungs to survive at great depths, their underwater houses that look like giant jellyfish and are filled with trapped air, and some very cool submarines. Reading this story, it feels as if you are actually swimming with the dolphins and fish through sheets of silver bubbles. Ty and Gemma didn’t see me, of course (unicorns don't like getting water in their ears) but there are plenty of other interesting creatures in the depths of their drowned world, also the humans who live under the sea have developed mysterious Dark Gifts… dare you swim down to join them? If you're tempted, the book should be in the shops next month.
The British Fantasy Society Yearbook
Glitter Rating: X
Ha, thought it would be the Tibetan Art of Serenity again, didn’t you? Katherine has obviously decided she’s serene enough for the time being, so she’s started reading this collection of short stories by members of the British Fantasy Society. So far, the Muse has enjoyed Mark Morris’ story “The Name Game” about a family who moves into a new house, only to find that everyone who lives there has the name of a famous person, and if they want to stay their family must also include someone named after a famous person. Katherine says she enjoyed Steven Volk’s “After the Ape”, a love story written from the point of view of the Hollywood actress snatched by King Kong after the giant ape’s death in New York. These are adult genre stories which might be of interest to older readers, but you won't find this collection in the shops. To get your hands on it you need to join the British Fantasy Society .
Why not tell the Muse what you've been reading this month?