Fairy tales and Fantasies are as old as the world

N.D. Wilson in the introduction to Twilight Land by Howard Pyle:

Fairy tales and fantasies are as old as the world. This is an easy thing to forget.  It is easy to see only the stories we tell today – fresh and shiny – and then assume that they came from nowhere, that they have no ancestors, and no narrative parents whatsoever.  But today’s fantasies are built on a rich imaginative heritage, a global heritage.  As long as there has been language, there have been stories.  And as far back as we can trace, those stories have been about dragons and magic and sacrifices, fools and wise men and wizards, fate and luck and love.  What we call realism in storytelling is a relatively new concept.  It is the sapling in the wood surrounded by towering moss-covered giants as old as history, giants grown up out of myths and legends.  Fantasy.

Fairy tales and Fantasies are as old as the world

N.D. Wilson in the introduction to Twilight Land by Howard Pyle:

Fairy tales and fantasies are as old as the world. This is an easy thing to forget.  It is easy to see only the stories we tell today – fresh and shiny – and then assume that they came from nowhere, that they have no ancestors, and no narrative parents whatsoever.  But today’s fantasies are built on a rich imaginative heritage, a global heritage.  As long as there has been language, there have been stories.  And as far back as we can trace, those stories have been about dragons and magic and sacrifices, fools and wise men and wizards, fate and luck and love.  What we call realism in storytelling is a relatively new concept.  It is the sapling in the wood surrounded by towering moss-covered giants as old as history, giants grown up out of myths and legends.  Fantasy.

My Favorite Reads of 2011

I wasn’t able to post thoughts on the books I read in 2011 by the end of the year so I am doing it this week.  I noted the general statistics yesterday and today want to tackle my favorite reads.  Like last year, I am going to break in out into categories.

Young Adult Fiction

A large chunk of my reading this year was YA (30 of 79 books were roughly in this category) so I had a lot of books to chose from in 2011. So here are ten of my favorites in no particular order:

  1. Cover of "The Wednesday Wars"

    Cover of The Wednesday Wars

    I am going to cheat a little and put two books by Gary D. Schmidt on the list, Okay or Now and The Wednesday Wars.  “Great stories, great characters, imaginative settings and clear writing make these two books great reads. I highly recommend them.”

  2. I am also going to put N.D. Wilson here because I can’t choose just one of his wonderful books I read this year: The Dragon’s Tooth (start of the new Ashtown Burials series) and the entire 100 Cupboards series)  “… if you like large, complex and imaginative fantasy series this one is a must read.”
  3. Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby “Kirby weaves a great tale. There is historical detail, psychological insight, mystery, intrigue and more.”
  4. Skellig by David Almond “It is a simple and yet powerful story of friendship, family, compassion and faith.”
  5. The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi “The world DiTerlizzi has created is captivating and mysterious enough that you want to keep reading; not just to see the next illustration but to dig a little deeper into the mystery.”

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The Dragon's Tooth: Ashtown Burials #1 by N.D. Wilson

There is always a certain amount of excitement mixed with nervousness when a favorite author starts a new series. What if I don’t like it, or worse, what if it isn’t any good?

It is with just such excitement and a tinge of nervousness that I approached The Dragon’s Tooth N.D. Wilson’s first book in a new series called Ashtown Burials.  The publisher was kind enough to send me a copy, so I dived in and read it in a couple of days. The excitement stayed and the nervousness went away.  It was a fast paced, imaginative and action packed adventure.

Here is the publisher’s introduction:

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.

Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world’s secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.

Wilson’s 100 Cupboards series started slowly and involved world building and a more literary style – at least in my opinion. The pace felt slower and the descriptions and detail more complex and layered.  Dragon’s Tooth, in contrast, starts off with a bang – shotgun blasts bring the first chapter to a close – and the break neck pace basically continues for the rest of the book.

That is not to say there isn’t complexity and vivid descriptions, but Wilson fills in a complex fantasy backstory as the plot rockets forward rather than setting the scene and then launching the adventure. As the action happens readers begin to get a glimpse into what has brought Cyrus and Antigone to this point and how their family history has led them to this seemingly impossible scenario. Chapters give you a chance to catch your breath but you want to immediately plunge back in and find out what will happen next. Of course, you race to the end only to be faced with the unanswered questions and the inevitable wait for the next book in the series.

Continue reading

The Dragon's Tooth: Ashtown Burials #1 by N.D. Wilson

There is always a certain amount of excitement mixed with nervousness when a favorite author starts a new series. What if I don’t like it, or worse, what if it isn’t any good?

It is with just such excitement and a tinge of nervousness that I approached The Dragon’s Tooth N.D. Wilson’s first book in a new series called Ashtown Burials.  The publisher was kind enough to send me a copy, so I dived in and read it in a couple of days. The excitement stayed and the nervousness went away.  It was a fast paced, imaginative and action packed adventure.

Here is the publisher’s introduction:

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.

Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world’s secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.

Wilson’s 100 Cupboards series started slowly and involved world building and a more literary style – at least in my opinion. The pace felt slower and the descriptions and detail more complex and layered.  Dragon’s Tooth, in contrast, starts off with a bang – shotgun blasts bring the first chapter to a close – and the break neck pace basically continues for the rest of the book.

That is not to say there isn’t complexity and vivid descriptions, but Wilson fills in a complex fantasy backstory as the plot rockets forward rather than setting the scene and then launching the adventure. As the action happens readers begin to get a glimpse into what has brought Cyrus and Antigone to this point and how their family history has led them to this seemingly impossible scenario. Chapters give you a chance to catch your breath but you want to immediately plunge back in and find out what will happen next. Of course, you race to the end only to be faced with the unanswered questions and the inevitable wait for the next book in the series.

Continue reading