Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab

Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

2014 Fantasy Reading Challenge - SUMMATION


I read... (Completed Books):


Dream London - Tom Ballantyne ***
Urban (and/or) Slipstream Fantasy
Fantasy Food For Thought: (1) the boundary between science and magic and (2) fantasy societies

Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay ***
Epic (and equally/or) High Fantasy
Fantasy Food For Thought: (1) bringing fantasy cultures to life and (2) cause and effect

A Natural History Of Dragons - Marie Brennan *****
Historical/Science Fantasy

Among Others - Jo Walton ***
Magical Realism
Fantasy Food For Thought: the mechanics of magic


The Ocean At The End Of The Lane - Neil Gaiman ****
Urban Fantasy
Fantasy Food For Thought: (1) how magic creates new hierarchies of power and (2) child-narrators in fantasy

The City ***
Epic Fantasy
Fantasy Food For Thought: (1) sewers and labyrinths and (2) red hair/redheads in fantasy

Anarchy - James Treadwell **
Dark Fantasy [ Not completed and thus technically disqualified. ]


Half A King - Joe Abercrombie *****
Young Adult Fantasy [ disqualified. ]
Fantasy Food For Thought: (1) dieties and (2) death (personified?)

The Name Of The Wind - Patrick Rothfuss *****
Epic Fantasy

The Painted Man - Peter V. Brett *****
Dark/High Fantasy


Empire In Black And Gold - Adrian Tchaikovsky ****
Steampunk Fantasy

Prince Of Thorns - Mark Lawrence **** (unfinished)
Epic (and possibly) Dark Fantasy

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North *****
Time Travel Science-Fiction [ disqualified. ]

Five Star Books

A Natural History Of Dragons, Marie Brennan
Historical/Science Fantasy
Verdict: 'I loved the way it was written, I love how realistically and seamlessly fantasy creatures were woven into the fabric of this reality, and I was just so taken with this astoundingly organic idea. Yes, yes, I know dragons have Been Done. But not quite like this... I assure you.'
Click Here to read the review

Half A King, Joe Abercrombie
Young-Adult Fantasy
Verdict: 'Sometimes, the decision to write YA fantasy as opposed to adult fantasy removes the depth required to make fantasy telling come to life, with all its intricacy and wonder. Not so with this book. Half A King told a fresh and exciting story and did so without the fluff and falafel of extra embroidery. [...] I loved this story to pieces.'
Click Here to read the review

The Name Of The Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Epic Fantasy
Click Here to read the review

The Painted Man, Peter V. Brett
Dark/High Fantasy
Click Here to read the review

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North
Time Travel Science-Fiction
(Review To Be Posted)

The F.R.C. Awards
Best Plot
The Name Of The Wind - Patrick Rothfuss. The story was weaved together so skillfully and kept you hanging! It becomes clear the first book is only one third of the tale, and it's hard to say what this third satisfied as there are still a lot of questions to be answered. But it was such a fun and engaging story with a main character you couldn't help but root for; I laughed out loud, a lot; I felt like my heart was wrenched out; I was intrigued and surprised in equal measures. It's inevitable that this novel stayed in my mind after so many of the others faded.

Best Protagonist
Aaaand again, The Name Of The Wind - Patrick Rothfuss. The adult Kvothe was 'meh' to me, but Kid Kvothe, I absolutely adored. Despite being already talented at so many things, he continued to learn a wealth of skills throughout the story and then put it to use in other situations. The way he navigated the pitfalls of his life was just brilliant.

Best Fantasy World
A tie. I wanna say The City by Stella Gemmell but... I can't get Empire Of (I mean 'In' - why do I keep doing that?) Black And Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky out of my head either. Both books are named after a place, so no surprise there I guess - the setting was definitely one of the best aspects in both tales and better than all of the other books I read during this challenge. The 'City' was wonderfully crafted, and although it spawned a pretty boring title I hope it doesn't stop people wanting to read it! I especially loved how it sits on top of dozens of other buried cities; failed civilisations. The Empire was genius. So many places were excellently described like Helleron or the Collegium and really gave a sense of journey - and for the characters, a feeling of belonging... or not.

Best Fantasy Creature
Another tie. I'm not a fan of reptiles but I can't say no to dragons. Just can't. Especially when they are brought to life the way Marie Brennan does it in A Natural History Of DragonsI loved the various sub-species, and it seems the sequel will introduce more breeds we never got to meet in the first book. The other creature I just could NOT get out of my head was the enchanting concept of the riselka, from Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana. The superstition surrounding them was fascinating.

Best Cover
A Natural History Of Dragons, because it was the cover alone that provoked a snap-judgement decision to buy the book. I can't easily forget the moment I lifted hat book off the shelf and gave a long, lung-wrenching gasp of pure awe.

Achievement Score
(based on my challenge, starting May and ending Sunday 31th August)

5+ books: Novice Status
10+ books: Master Status
15+ books: Sorcerer Status
20+ books: Sovereign Status
25+ books: Deity Status
Ashana = 10 books, Master Status!! (Dammit! Why did I read so many disqualified books?!?!?!)

Click to read the FRC Rules again

Click to see other Books I've read
Click to see more Fantasy Food For Thought :3

Image: This is another perfect image for
my sortakindanovellettaria The Cats And The Keys. Working title.

*sigh* Well for now, it's back to my novel, Fiction Fridays, and reading for university.
Join me next year! It'll be FUN!

Ashana Lian .


  1. Well done, you've done really great with the challenge. 10 fantasy books is impressive, especially when you consider just how long they can be. I really want to read The Name of the Wind, I have seen some amazing reviews and my manager keeps telling me to read it.

    1. Thanks very much :3 Ah yeah, I guess that's true. There were so many books that I enjoyed that it often felt like they weren't long enough! I know your TBR is enormous, but I found The Name Of The Wind absolutely amazing. I'd recommend bumping it up the list!


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