Books - Top 7 Favorites

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
Harry Potter by JK Rowling
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Bartimaeus Series by Jonathan Stroud
What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci
Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault
The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

As you can see, my tastes hover somewhere between 'fantasy,' 'epic,' and 'snarky hero-slash-heroine.'  The first two hardly need explaining, I think. If I attempted to elaborate upon these, we would be here all day, so I will leave them for a post all their own.

The Thief has been one of my favorite books since I was approximately ten years of age, and is entirely to blame for my love of insolent, brilliant, funny heroes and surprise twist endings. It begins in a prison and ends in a palace. It's something of a faux historical novel, with a touch of mysticism, more than a little talk of destiny, and a journey across the European countryside in search of a legendary king-making jewel, all told with searing wit by the young thief in question. Imagine Neil Caffrey, but inspired by the Gods. Literally.

Same with Bartimaeus. Or, not really. But the snark is there. The snarkiest snark to ever snark, believe you me. There's this thing with these books that I can't quite explain. As if the author tapped into some old magic, some old understanding of the universe, and figured out how that shit really worked and just wrote it all down, the secrets of another world on paper for us to read. The panel flap makes it sound like Harry Potter. Ignore the panel flap. This is a world all its own, set in some London that never was, in the midst of wars that never happened, and in a world run on the slave labor of djinn. It's got politics and corruption and massively flawed characters and massively badass women, plus the most hilarious and quite frankly cuddly djinni at the center of the narration. And footnotes.

Lani Garver, though. It doesn't fit in with the rest, especially not at first glance. It's a fairly typical teen story - teenage girl learns to stop fitting in with the cheerleaders, lead out of her miserable life by a boy who all the meatheads hate. Except it's something a million times more than that. He's an angel, for one thing. Maybe. It's not for sure, and that makes it all so much better. He's maybe an angel.  He's maybe just a super gay (trans?) kid who lives his life helping others out. But there's something else at work, something bigger, something fucking huge, and I just don't even know how to explain it. This book changed my life a little bit. And I might be going out on a limb here, but judging from the author's other stories and how they all run on a similar theme, I'd bet you anything that there's something or someone in particular in her past that she's writing this stuff about.

Fire From Heaven massively fed my stupid love of Alexander the Great.  It's my historical headcanon, a simply amazing account of Alexander's life, from boyhood to glory.

And the Merlin series - well. Remember what I was saying above about how it felt like the author had tapped into something genuine? This is, in my fanciful mind, the 'truth' of Merlin's story. Because he was real, I like to think. Goodbye, naysayers. Goodbye.