Tag Archives: Wizards

The Bones of the Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: The Bones of the Earth
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Wizards
Dates read: 6th February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: I think we’re leaving things out, here, things worth knowing…

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Synopsis

Wizards and their mentors are a great motif in stories, but what happens at the end of the road? When they’re about to take that final step.

Thoughts

This short story is all about wizards and their mentors. The different ways in which mentors can inform their protegee, and how they fall into each others’ lives. I love that in telling about this relationship, it’s a little reflective. But also very much in the presence. There is a great split between the two timelines that enhances the timelessness of the bond between mentor and apprentice. And this flits across generations.

This is an incredibly bittersweet little story. One that makes you sit back and go “huh” at the end. It’s not sad, it’s not happy. It’s just a bit wow at the end. And I really liked that feeling towards to the end of the tale.

The Bones of the Earth is a great, easy read. It’s a little dark, but not terrifyingly so. It’s definitely intriguing. And not the sort of story that I’m likely to forget at any point soon. Especially when I have a Le Guin book sitting on my shelf…

<- No. 252 Rue M. le PrinceThe Closed Window ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Overview
Image result for book cover summer knight

Title: Summer Knight
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #4
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasyWizards
Dates read: 25th October – 29th November 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Orbit
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: I’m a lot of things, but I’m not a willing murderer.

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Synopsis

Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) Wizard P.I. Turns out the ‘everyday’ world is full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in.

Since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry’s been down and out. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t recall his last shower. Then when things are at their worst, the Winter Queen of Faerie saunters in with an offer Harry can’t refuse. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Knight, the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple, but Faerie politics seldom work out that way. Then Harry discovers the fate of the entire world rests on this case. So no pressure…

MAGIC – IT CAN GET A GUY KILLED.

Thoughts

I always forget how much I enjoy Harry Dresden when I walk away from one of his books. I always want to immediately pick up the next one in the series, but since I’m easily distracted… this doesn’t necessarily frequently happen. I only picked up Summer Knight because I recently read yet another short story set in this world. Which reminded me how amazing this writing is. Not just the storyline and the fun characters, but the pure sarcasm that tends to trip from the pages.

This might have one of my favourite scenes in it thus far – Harry screaming “I don’t believe in fairies.” As he charges into a battle with the faery courts. Quite possibly the best battle cry I have ever read and one that had me giggling quite insanely. Because I do many things in an insane matter at the moment… it’s just the crazy time of year.

This is the first Dresden Files story that starts to deal with the fae. The first book is a great introduction to the world, then we get werewolves and then vampires. And now, now it is the courts of the Sidhe going into battle with each other. And you know, an evil, completely insane faery behind it all who somehow thinks she’s doing the right thing by ripping the world apart. It’s yet another supernatural group which Harry manages to piss off and alienate.

There are so many hints of Harry’s history in the first few books of this series. It’s obviously dark and twisted. But you never actually find out why he killed his mentor. Finally, we meet Elaine (the woman who was a part of his life at the time) and find out exactly what happened. Why he decided that killing his mentor was a good idea. It also gives an inkling to why there are some ill feelings between himself and the Council. Ill feelings which I’m pretty sure are going to expand as the series continues and I think that Morgan is going to turn out to be a bit of a villain throughout.

As usual, this is a fantastic novel. I can’t wait to add more to my shelves… maybe in the new year I will finally get caught up on this series!

 <- Grave Peril ReviewDeath Masks Review ->

Image source: BookDepository

Something Borrowed by Jim Butcher

Overview
Image result for my big fat supernatural wedding book cover

Title: Something Borrowed
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #7.5
In: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (P.N. Elrod) & Side Jobs (Jim Butcher)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy, Wizards
Dates read: 16th October 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: On the weekend?

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Synopsis

Harry’s friends, Bill and Georgia are about to get married. There’s just one little problem…. Georgia is nowhere to be seen and there’s a revenge-hungry faery on the loose.

Thoughts

Every time I pick up a Dresden Files short story, I feel an insane urge to run up to my shelf and grab whichever novel I’m up to. There is just something amazing about this series that makes me want to sink my nose into it every time. But, I did exercise some self-control after reading Something Borrowed… because I have a pile of books I’m currently reading that is fairly high (I’ve been told I have to get them off the couch and use some restraint).

You know that any wedding set in the Dresden Files world is going to be entertaining. And things are probably going to be blown up because Harry Dresden is involved. This short story doesn’t disappoint on any front. It also involves insulting the future step-mother-in-law and a great little switcher-oo of the bride. Like I said, it’s impossible to be boring when reading one of the Dresden Files tales. Although, it was also quite sweet because there was the kiss of true love (I’m pretty sure there were two, but there’s enough ambiguity in the second one that you can’t be entirely positive).

Something Borrowed is an incredibly sweet, fun and entertaining read. I was so sad when it was over, although also quite happy considering there was a happily-ever-after ending to it all. This is the perfectly dramatic wedding – the best man is in plaster, the groom almost marries the wrong woman and there’s an insane fae running around trying to get vengeance. If you want a story of calamities that will make your own nuptials look kind of tame… definitely read this. Actually, just read this short story anyway. It’s absolutely brilliant.

 <- Spellbound ReviewDead Man’s Chest Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Curses by Jim Butcher

Overview
naked-city

Title: Curses
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #10.7
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy, Wizards
Dates read: 28th June 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: What stories are you interested in, specifically?

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Synopsis

Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs.

Thoughts

Baseball isn’t really my thing. Nor is it something that I’ve ever understood. Probably has something to do with being Australian and not really having many baseball players in the vicinity. But I still know that the Cubs are quite famous for not winning and having a loyal fan base. It seems to come up a lot in American TV, movies and books…

I love that this short story takes something that is so large in popular culture and gives it a beautiful, supernatural spin. It’s a great start to a collection of urban fantasy stories which I’m sure are going to get darker, grittier and far more fun as the tales unfold. It certainly started this book off with a great bang. One that made it kind of hard to put these stories down and get back to working like a real adult.

I was expecting a story in which Harry swings in and saves the day again. In this case, helps to unravel the curse on the Cubs and help them finally win the finals (or whatever they’re called). It didn’t quite work out like that, and I loved the change from routine that this indicates. The slight change from the typical trope. Which is probably why I love the Dresden series in the first place.

 <- Naked City ReviewHow the Pooka Came to New York City Review ->
Image source: Patricia Briggs

The Rite Stuff by Michael Kurland

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: The Rite Stuff
Author: Michael Kurland
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Magic, Wizards
Dates read: 2nd May 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: “What is being done?” he asked.

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Synopsis

A kidnapping of a little girl has taken place. And the detectives want the most talented forensic wizard on the case… even if the culprit really isn’t using the “rite stuff”.

Thoughts

This is one of those short stories that is fun to read, but not overly memorable once you turn the final page. It’s a fun journey and one that I’ll love to read again and again. But it’s also not the kind of story that has left me thinking and reflecting once I’ve turned the final page. It’s just… fun.

What I did really love about this story was the use of a crime solving team… who also happened to be wizards, or magic users… The big reveal at the end was very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. There is a great journey which outlays the crime. There is a seemingly coincidental co-occurring crime. And then, at the very end, everything is explained satisfactorily. In a way that makes you hit yourself on the head and say “duh”.

<- The Double ShadowMaster of Chaos ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Double Shadow by Clark Ashton Smith

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: The Double Shadow
Author: Clark Ashton Smith
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Wizards
Dates read: 28th April 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1933
5th sentence, 74th page: And still the master had perceived it not; and still I forbore to warn him, hoping that the visitant would withdraw in its own time, going obscurely as it had come.

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Synopsis

They decided to summon something, but what they ended up calling to them was so much more dangerous and sinister than they had first realised. And now they might all carry a double shadow.

Thoughts

Although I gave this story a kind of low rating, I did thoroughly enjoy it. The wording was just so beautifully lyrical and swept me away. Which makes sense, since it was originally written in 1933. It definitely means that this is a short story that I’m likely to go back to and reread. After all, the very lyricality of the wording makes it a fun journey and an intriguingly poetic one as well.

What I didn’t love about this story was kind of the story line. It was alright, but it didn’t quite grasp me like other short stories I’ve been reading lately. Hence the low rating on the story. I think this is the kind of tale that I will enjoy the more times that I read it. rather than loving it unconditionally from the very first moment.

<- TimekeeperThe Rite Stuff ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Infestation by Tom Holt

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: The Infestation
Author: Tom Holt
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Wizards
Dates read: 11th April 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: Like I said, we understand one another, just as we’re both misunderstood by all the rest of them.

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Synopsis

He’s a mediocre wizard at best. But he’s about to be challenged more than he ever anticipated. Will he overcome the infestation? Or be overcome?

Thoughts

I wasn’t expecting to like this short story so much. At the beginning of the story I was a bit ‘eh about the character and the storyline. Although it did make me feel a little like I was reading a Terry Pratchett story… it wasn’t until about the halfway point that it started getting really, really good.

This isn’t one of those stories where the little man rises up, finds a power he didn’t know he has and change his life forever. Of which I am glad. Because that is a little overdone sometimes. This is a story in which the bumbling fool manages to scrape together enough gumption and power to do the right thing. And then at the end of the day, he turns around and returns to his menial, frustrating job and life goes on.

<- The Game of Magical DeathThe Witch’s Bicycle ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Ten Things I Know About the Wizard by Steve Rasnic Tem

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dark magic book cover

Title: Ten Things I Know About the Wizard
Author: Steve Rasnic Tem
In: The Mammoth Book of Dark Magic (Mike Ashley)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Easy reading, Wizards
Dates read: 13th March 2019
Pace: Slow,
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: The wizard was indeed isolated; there seemed to be no other dweelings as far as the eye could see.

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Synopsis

There are a lot of wizards in the world, but here are ten things that we know about this wizard in particular…

Thoughts

I read a lot of lists online, but this is the first time that I’ve read a short story that is in list form. And it worked kind of brilliantly. I wasn’t really sure how this format would work, or if it would really be a story. But it did work, and a great story unfolded.

Dark magic always seems to be about power, especially over others. And what can be a more potent power than that of a parent exerted over their child? Especially when they are the creator of the child (not in the sense you are thinking, but you’ll have to read this short story to figure out what I mean there).

This short story plays on the idea of power in a parent-child relationship and the ways in which a suitor can upset this. There is constant plays of power and battles of the will throughout the storyline. And although there seems to be a clear winner at the end, you still have to wonder if he did win in the end…

<- The Mammoth Book of Dark MagicVillaggio Sogno ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Day Off by Jim Butcher

Overview
Blood Lite

Title: Day Off
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #10.3
In: Blood Lite (Kevin J. Anderson) & Side Jobs (Jim Butcher)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy, Wizards
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Edge
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: The golden lightning of a practitioner at work also flickered through their auras – which shouldn’t have been happening.

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Synopsis

Harry finally has a day off, and he plans to spend it showing a beautiful woman a good time. However, friends, apprentices and young morons keep getting in the way of his best laid plans.

Thoughts

I haven’t picked up anything in The Dresden Files for a while. Mostly because I’ve just been distracted by the multitude of amazing books that are out there. And reading this short story reminded me of just why I love this series so much. It’s funny. It’s quirky. And it always abides by Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

I love how Butcher can take such a small thing as a day off and twist and turn it until all hell is breaking lose. Not just one moment of oh crap, or even one thing going wrong. It is a calamity of things going wrong. There’s the apprentice. The friends. And some weird wannabe rival kids. Anhy one of which would make an entertaining short story. But when you put all three together? I was laughing out loud… luckily there was no one else in the house at the time.

 <- Dead Hand ReviewBlood Lite II Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Wizard’s Apprentice by Delia Sherman

Overview
Image result for troll's-eye view book cover

Title: Wizard’s Apprentice
Author: Delia Sherman
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fairy tales, VillainsWizards
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: And leave your boots by the door.

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Synopsis

The evil wizard in the bookshop is about to take on a new apprentice, but their relationship is not all as it seems.

Thoughts

This short story made me smile. It’s a great start to a collection of villain-based rewritings of fairy tales. For starters, the evil wizard that is a pretty common standpoint of many fairy tales and modern retellings is not at all what you would expect. The apprentice (who I thought was going to be eaten or turned into a toad) is from the background that I was anticipating, but the actual apprentice himself wasn’t even remotely who I thought he would be.

This is the second short story that I have read by Delia Sherman, and something about her writing manages to infuse a subtle, cheeky sense of humour into her tale telling. Wizard’s Apprentice is a little less subtle than the other stories I’ve read by her, but it still has that great twisting joy that I’m beginning to associate with her name. It’s especially joyful and obvious at the conclusion of the short stories, there is a fun and entertaining twist that leaves a happy little smile lingering across my lips.

 <- Troll’s-Eye View ReviewAn Unwelcome Guest Review ->
Image source: Amazon