When Princess Lyriana herself decides to sit down at the Bastard’s table at a feast thrown by Tilla’s father, Tilla (herself a bastard) knows that it won’t be any ordinary night- but even she didn’t expect it to be so monumental. When a certain group of misbegotten teenagers witnesses a crime they most definitely were not supposed to, it sets off a chain of events that will make or break a kingdom and change the tide of a war. A novel detailing a journey in a medieval realm, with a magical undertone, Royal Bastards is a fun read. While I wish the male characters had been fleshed out with more vivid personalities, the characters and their relationships were believable and somewhat relatable. The world building was also pretty good, especially for what is apparently Shvarts’ first novel. While the end of the book leaves us with some unanswered questions and heavy foreshadowing of the future, indicating that there will at least be a sequel, if not an entire series to come, I believe this book is probably going to be best as a standalone. – Anya W. ’20
Doomsday Book, Connie Willis’s first Oxford Time Travel novel, is one of her most famous, featuring young time traveler-historian Kivrin on an expedition to medieval England. Shifting between modern and medieval times, the novel combines first person “journal” accounts and traditional narration. Like many of Willis’s novels, Doomsday Book is (in comparison) relatively slow moving for a good half of the book (though certainly not uninteresting) and speeds up to an incredibly moving ending. The book makes the horrors of the Black Death devastatingly real, and continuously questions the role of religion in our lives. While perhaps more interesting to those who have some background on the middle ages, I had little interest in medieval times but still found the book hauntingly captivating. I found myself pondering Doomsday Book for days after I had finished reading it.
It’s been 18 months since Alyss’s death and Will is still obsessively searching for the man who was responsible. Far away, Cassandra and Horace desperately look for a way to straighten out their rebellious daughter, Maddie, who sneaks out of the castle to hunt. It is decided that Maddie will be mentored by Will and train to become a full-fledged Ranger’s Apprentice, and despite having trouble coping at first, falls in love with the life of a Ranger. I found the book interesting, with humor and suspense scattered throughout and was well written. John Flanagan ties this book to his first, in comparing Maddie to a young Will, nervous but eager to learn. With this book, I enjoyed catching up on the latest book the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
The Name of the Wind has probably the most stubbornly arrogant protagonist I’ve ever been willing to put up with for 722 pages, though Kvothe makes up for it by being charmingly intelligent and well-written enough to sway the sympathy of the reader. The novel acts as a frame story for an innkeeper—Kote—in an out-of-the-way small town to tell the story of his tumultuous past as the legendary Kvothe Kingkiller to a scribe that has sought him out. From his childhood as a member of a traveling theater troupe to his trials at the prestigious University, Kvothe’s myriad of unique characteristics make him an unlikely yet quite lovable hero. Rothfuss’ writing is fluid and witty and does much to bring Kvothe alive and off of the 2-D page. Highly recommended to all fantasy lovers. – Elisabeth S. ‘16