Reviews: Fly Away Home, The Wheel of Time Companion, 12 Kings in Sharakhai

FANTASY with Colin Steele

FLY AWAY HOME. By Marina Warner. Salt. $24.95.

Marina Warner’s scholarly books on gender, myths and fairytales, underpin the “feminist fantastic” of her twenty short stories in Fly Away Home, which treads a delicate narrative line between the real and the unreal and the natural and the supernatural. In Ladybird, Ladybird, a young woman who is unable to fall pregnant, finds an unexpected solution emerges when she buys a charity shop dress. In After The Fox, Judith, a recent widow, takes up landscape gardening and finds her relationship with her new employer evokes the ghosts of his past loves. Warner’s imaginative collection is imbued with a haunting magic, often blending ancient myth and contemporary concerns.

THE WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION. By Robert Jordan. Orbit. $32.99.

Robert Jordan’s bestselling Wheel of Time series which ran to 15 books, selling 44 million copies, was completed by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death in 2007. The Wheel of Time Companion, running to more than  800 pages, is an essential A-Z glossary of the series, with much new material on characters, chronologies and topographies. The Companion, compiled by his widow, Harriet McDougal, and Jordan’s long-time editorial assistants Alan Romanczuk and Maria Simons, draws wherever possible on Jordan’s own notes in terms of back stories and characters. This is a must purchase for devotees of the series but new readers, be warned, many of the entries include spoilers.

TWELVE KINGS IN SHARAKHAI. By Bradley Beaulieu. Gollancz. $29.99.

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, is the first in Beaulieu’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Song of Shattered Sands. With fantasy trilogies pouring out of publishing houses weekly, it is pleasing that this one rises well above the fantasy average. It has a powerful opening with 19-year-old, female pit fighter, Çeda, known as the White Wolf, defeating a physically stronger male champion. Çeda uses being a gladiatrix as her cover to seek revenge for the death of her mother, whom she blames on the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai. Characterisation is strong, while the powerful trading metropolis of Sharakhai, set in a vast desert, evokes both Dune and The Arabian Nights.

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