Fantasy author and former Ann Arborite Robert Asprin dies at 61


Robert Asprin was reportedly reading a novel by British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett when he died in bed last week at the age of 61. Asprin, author of the Thieves' World and Myth Adventure series, and the 1990 bestseller Phule's Company, is said to have effectively invented the humor fantasy genre back in the 1970s. Local historian Wystan Stevens recalls: "Asprin wrote many of his books in longhand, on legal pads, while nursing cups of coffee at the Brown Jug on South University Avenue."

Read more about Asprin in wikipedia.
Asprin's obituary.

The Tears of Artamon

Set in the snowy wastelands of Azhkendir, Sarah Ash has created a stunning trilogy called The Tears of Artamon. In book 1, The Tears of Artamon, our hero Gavril is kidnapped from his carefree life on an island and taken to Azhkendir. There he learns that he is heir to the kingdom, becoming both a captive and its ruler. The world in which Gavril lives is a mix of technology and magic, where armies fight with muskets, cannons, and magic. You can follow Gavril's story in book 2, The Prisoner of the Iron Tower, and book 3, The Children of the Serpent Gate.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #111

The History of Lucy’s Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters is fun, fluffy and fantastical.

29 year-old commitment-phobic Lucy is staring at the prospect of a perfect life with dishy and nice Anthony (with whom she had 400 plus one-night stands) and chucks it all, wondering if there’s something better on the horizon.

Sacked from her pointless job and bored, an errant time machine sends Lucy on a dating frenzy with bad boy Lord Byron, Leonardo da Vinci, Ovid and Casanova (a sweet guy, really). It’s a thrill ride but there’s also a lesson to be learned. The question is… Is Lucy ready for it?

This British chick lit./fantasy/romantic comedy is the first to be published in the United States by Deborah Wright, a graduate of Oxford University with three best-selling novels in the U.K.

A story for the ages...

The Magic of Recluse is the opening story in The Saga of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. The series is unusual in several ways. First of all, the series is not written chronologically. The book first actually occurs towards the end of the series. As the series progresses, characters in the stories will be in later books referred to as heros and legendary figures.

The books also feature an in-depth system of magic in the series. Instead of wizards just casting a spell, they must have the ability to control the natural forces of order or chaos inherent in all matter.

The author recommends reading the series in the order written, not chronologically. The second book in the series is The Towers of Sunset.


If I should die before I wake...

The other night my son asked me a very profound question. "What would you do if you found out you only had two days left to live?" I told him that I'd spend it with my family. No parties, no wild adventures, no spending sprees, just time with my wife and kids. That got me thinking. What would I read if I could only read two books in my life. My first pick is the Bible. My second is The Hobbit.

Why The Hobbit you may ask? Well, the story of Bilbo, Gandalf and the thirteen dwarfs is a classic for all ages. Written by J. R. R. Tolkien, the story was originally intended to amuse his three sons. The library has several different versions of the story: Book on CD, Book on Cassette, DVD, graphic novel, large print, Spanish translation, and Korean translation.

So, if you could only read two books, what would they be?

A trip down the Ohio River.

What do a fire in Manhattan, P.T. Barnum, Irish gangsters, and an Aztec deity have in common? Nothing unless you're reading A Scattering of Jades by Alexander C. Irvine. In his first novel, Irvine combines historical facts with elements of fantasy to make this a great book.

Artemis Fowl: Audiobooks

Some twelve year olds might be prodigies. Artemis Fowl, however, is a criminal mastermind. While plotting to restore his family's wealth after his father's disappearance this young Irishman discovers an entire world below Ireland, full of fairies, elves, and all manner of creatures of legend. But gone are the days when magic is their only weapon. These mythical folk are armed with high-tech gadgetry and they bring it all out in defense of their gold.

All the audiobooks are read by Nathaniel Parker who does excellent Irish accents and voices for all the characters. The stories also start and end with a techno-rock theme that, while some may find cheesy, I quite liked and I thought it definitely fit the tone of the story. I liked the audio versions so much that I listened to the entire series which is currently five books long with a sixth (Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox) scheduled to come out July 15th. It is also worth noting that the audio versions are the original Irish editions and not changed or edited for America. There are very few changes, but if you'd like the original versions, audio's the way to go.

The Winter Prince

Having grown up reading a lot of fantasy books, I used to be of the opinion that the world didn’t need any more retellings of the King Arthur legend. Didn’t the ones already out there cover all the bases? But I’ve been forced to revise my opinion after reading The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein. This retelling is told from the perspective of Medraut (called Mordred in most other versions) and is more a character study than the usual quest. So if you’re looking for a fantasy book that’s a little different, check this one out—and then read the companion books: A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter, and (coming soon) The Empty Kingdom.

Fly the friendly skies

In Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey tells the story of Lessa. She is the sole survivor of the noble family ruling Ruatha Hold, located on the northern continent of Pern. Lessa eventually becomes a dragon rider and attempts to save Pern from an impending Thread reappearance, which would destroy the existing civilization. If you enjoy this story, you can find other Pern stories. You can also listen to Dragonflight on CD.

The Golden Compass Series: Audiobooks

Golden CompassGolden Compass

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) follows the story of Lyra Belacqua, the secrets surrounding her birth and future, and travel between the worlds.

With the recent film and a revival of the controversy that has always surrounded the Golden Compass series, these books are once more in the public eye. I've been told that even people who like them find the books difficult, but I throughly enjoyed listening to them on audio. This is possibly because they're performed by a full cast complete with sound effects and narration from Philip Pullman himself, making the whole experience more like an old fashioned radio drama than your average audio book. I highly recommend the entire series.

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