At the start of The Wounded Land over 4,000 years have passed since the end of the first trilogy (time moves at a different rate in the Land) and Thomas Covenant is once again summoned back to the Land. This time, however, he is not alone when he arrives as Dr. Linden Avery is summoned along with him. They arrive to find that the Land has been completely corrupted and a malicous force known as the Sunbane has made the Land almost uninhabitable. When the sun rises in the morning it does so with a colored aura every day. That aura dictates what happens to the Land throughout the day cycling at random times between rain, desert, pestilence and unnatural fertility. So day by day the Land either floods, has all plant life die away under oppressive heat, gets overrun by bugs, or has plant life grow at an alarming rate creating a jungle. Revelstone is now inhabited by the Clave who fuel the Sunbane through blood sacrifice and the few remaining inhabitants of the Land have adapted to use blood magic of their own. Covenant's heart is broken when he sees how the beauty of the Land has been corrupted and he vows to set things right and abolish the Sunbane. This is exactly what Lord Foul wants and he takes active steps to increase Covenant's ability to use the power of his white gold ring. Foul hopes to provoke Covenant to recklessly use his wild magic in anger and shatter the Arch of Time on his behalf. The state of the Land in this book broke my heart and I found that Donaldson had manipulated my feelings once again as I was now a staunch supporter of Thomas Covenant.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is a classic fantasy series published in 1977-1979. This is a very polarizing series for readers because the lead character, Thomas Covenant, is an anti-hero fraught with paradox. He is a young, best selling author living an idyllic life when his world is devastated by a diagnosis of leprosy. The disease not only costs him two fingers on his right hand but it also costs him his family, as his wife takes his son and leaves for fear of the disease. To make matters worse he is also shunned by the rest of the community in his small town and he quickly finds himself living a solitary life of despair. He is taught not to hope as there is no cure for his disease and hoping for one only leads to madness. Thomas Covenant is truely a man worthy of your pity. Then he is abruptly summoned to a beautiful and vibrant world known simply as "the Land" where magic is a reality and a cure for his disease is indeed possible. So what does he do? He commits an act of violence so heinous that he instantly transforms himself into a man now worthy of your hatred. Because Covenant is the only person capable of saving the Land from desecration author Stephen R. Donaldson now has you trapped in the paradox of hating Thomas Covenant and rooting for him at the same time. What a bastard.
It is 3000 years after the events that take place in Ender's Game and Ender Wiggin is alive and well, as is his sister Valentine. Having spent the majority of their adulthood travelling through space, relativity allows them both to be only in their 30s age-wise and yet they have both witnessed the progression of mankind for over 3000 years due to Ansible communications technology which allows for instantaneous communication across the vast distances of space.
Twice before the human race has faced extinction at the hands of the Buggers, an alien race that ruthlessly attacks without communicating in any way, and many feel the 3rd war is imminent. It is within this context that we learn about the battle school set up by the International Fleet (IF) to train earth's most promising children to become commanders of the human fleet. Only a prodigy trained from birth in the art of war will be able to resist our deadly enemy and with the 3rd war almost upon us, humanity is running out of time. The powers that be will cut any corner and take any risk they deem necessary to get ready, because if they fail there will be no humans left to condemn their actions as immoral.
Neal Stephenson takes a variety of different ideas and seemingly random subjects and does his best to weave them together into a coherent tale. These subjects include ancient Sumer, religious history, linguistics, virtual reality, viruses, sword fighting, and hacking, amongst others. They are all rolled into a story set in a bizarre future where the United States as we know it is no more and our current culture has been taken to absurd, and often entertaining, extremes. The US has become best known for its ability to deliver pizzas efficiently, the federal government has ceded much of the land to corporations/franchises, and couriers ride futuristic skateboards using magnetic harpoons to attach to vehicles on the freeway for a free lift.
I reject the idea that this is an "urban fantasy". Admittedly, it takes place in a city, Tenochtitlan, capitol of the Mexica Empire. There are definately magical and supernatural things going on, not to mention a little human sacrifice. Finally, the most common plot of UF is present, the investigation of supernatural crimes. Okay, there might be a few reasons this gets filed under urban fantasy, but there are no vampires, no werewolves or even werejaguars, and no fae. I would file this under Aztec Mystery.
In Acatl's Tenochtitlan the continued survival of his people depends upon the goodwill of the gods. As High Priest of Mictlantecuhtli, Lord Death of the Underworld (known as Mictlan) Acatl is asked to investigate the disappearance of a beautiful priestess. The only clues are the bloodsplattered room and that someone summoned a jaguar spirit. The only known witness, and obvious suspect, is his brother Neutomoc, a wealthy Jaguar Knight.
I have enjoyed every book in the 2 Riyria series (Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles) and wrote a review 6 months back where I heartily recommend both of them. It is hard not to like any book with the main characters of Royce and Hadrian so the Death of Dulgath was an eagerly awaited addition to my audiobook library. With Tim Gerard Reynolds at the mic doing yet another excellent narration, listening to him voice Royce and Hadrian made me feel like I was back with old friends that I had not seen in a while. A welcome place to be.
Jewel Markess, Jay, is an orphan living on the streets of Averalaan when she steals from Ararath. Rath has spent his life avoiding personal relationships so he's not sure why he follows her beyond a vague sense that something is different about Jay. When she falls ill he keeps her at his apartment telling himself it's only until she recovers. It's hard to categorize Rath since he's a bit of a confidence man, thief, spy, and scholar. But when he needs money he delves into the undercity, the silent ancient city below Averalaan, that only Rath knows about. Then one night Jay warns him, as he goes to sell some pieces from the undercity, that he's meeting a man who will have him followed. Now Rath has two puzzles. Who is this man that wants to kill him and how did Jay know?
The Books of the Raksura series tells the story of Moon, who is a Raksura but doesn't know it, that is living amongst groundlings and hiding his secret. Moon is able to change form into a fiercely strong winged creature capable of flight, but one that unfortunately resembles the dreaded Fell. The Fell are an evil race of beings that are hated by all others and are responsible for the destruction of many cities of many races. They are the ultimate predator and consider all other beings in the world to be their prey. This resemblance causes Moon to be generally distrusted and he has been cast out of multiple settlements when they start to suspect that he is different and might have some ties to the Fell. He finds himself leading a somewhat nomadic life as he is tormented by the fact that he doesn't know why he is different, but he is certain that he isn't a Fell. Right?
Imagine a world where your nightmares and darkest thoughts take form. Welcome to Erna. Damien Vryce is both a priest and a sorcerer. The Church was formed to focus human thought on the greater good in the hopes that the fae forces of Erna would reflect that belief. But many tap into the earth fae and shape it into sorcery. Damien bridges both concepts. Something of the fae attacks and steals the memory of a Lore Master Adept named Ciani that Damien was flirting with. As Damien is tracking it down he meets a mysterious and sinister adept named Gerald Tarrant who is following the same trail. Gerald wears the oldest symbol of the Church, a disc depicting Earth, but his sorcery consists of something he calls Coldfire, he cannot bear sunlight, and he feeds on fear. As they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Like one of Brandon Sanderson's books the world and magic are completely original and very well thought out.