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Racism in literature

 

Let’s talk about racism in literature, surely a delicate topic. I am aware that this subject can generate a lot of controversies. So, first of all, I would like to clarify that in this post any racial reference does not have any negative connotation and this issue will be treated with all the respect it deserves.

Racism has been present one way or another during our existence. As a result, there are manuscripts of different ages that reflect it. Many writers found in their literary art a way to denounce this.

Racism in fiction and medieval fantasy genres

Even in fiction and medieval genre, many authors have included racism in their lore in one way or another. To cite a few examples of more than well-known sagas, in Lord of the Rings, Tolkien included in the lore the contempt that existed between some of the fantastic races of the Middle Earth, who does not remember the contempt that existed between the dwarves and the elves? both races had no problem in showing their mutual contempt. However, Gimli (a dwarf) and Legolas (an elf) would end up being great friends.

Another example in fantasy literature would be Harry Potter (which if you loved, you can check these other suggestions). The aversion that some magicians felt towards Muggles (a person who lacks the magical ability and was not born in a magical family) or mudblood (a foul name for someone who is Muggle-born) would be a different approach to racism. Racism is present in these novels in different ways, and is in fact, partly at least, the plot of the second volume of this saga, The Chamber of Secrets.

There are not a few authors who, in one way or another, introduce racism in their books, as something to deny or fight against. By denouncing it, these books help many people to realize this issue, to create social awareness and to stand up against racial prejudice.

Which novels are about facing racism?

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee, 1960.A classic of modern literature, no doubt. This book takes place in the Alabama of the 1930s.  It tells the story of a lawyer, Atticus Finch, who stands up against all the prejudices of a village, deciding to defend an African-American man accused of raping a young white woman. While the rest of the villagers already consider him guilty, not even requiring a trial, Atticus Finch will do his best to prove his innocence earning the disrespect of most of the Maycomb citizens (a fictional city). The story is set in the Alabama of the 1930s. The story speaks of racism as present in society but shows the titanic efforts of those “racial heroes”, such as the courageous lawyer Atticus Finch, to fight against it.

The Hate U Give

By Angie Thomas, 2017. The Hate U Give addresses the problem of racism in our time. This novel tells the story of Starr Carter, a girl born in a poor neighborhood of African-American people who attends high school in an elegant neighborhood. Things will get worse when she witnesses how Khalil, a childhood friend, get shot by the police.

Broken Earth Series

By N. K. Jemisin, 2015 (first novel). This series is a prominent example of racism in fiction. In this case, the prejudice goes against the orogenes, people with a mutation that makes them capable of preventing (and also causing) earthquakes.  They are both hated and feared, many of them ending up being murdered due to this.

Thud!

Terry Pratchett, 1997. Thud! is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, it is part of his Discworld series. In Thud! A murder of a dwarf will reveal their contempt for trolls, a different approach to racism. If you want to know about Discworld, you only have to click here to know more.

 

Literature conveys messages through characters, this is why it is so powerful and yet beautiful. It thus becomes a perfect tool for raising awareness and mobilizing society.

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The King Killer chronicle background

The Kingkiller Chronicle all you need to know

You probably have heard about this saga already. The Kingkiller Chronicle is probably the most popular fantasy series right now.  both lots of fans and critics consider this saga the heir of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) books. Not because these stories are similar, they truly aren’t at all in fact, but because these novels by Patrick Rothfuss are expected to turn into a media phenomenon.

The books are of course already best sellers. That’s not all, these novels are not getting a Tv series like A Song of Ice and Fire did, or a movie adaptation like Mortal Engines, or “just” a video-game series as The Witcher. No, The Kingkiller Chronicle didn’t have to make such a choice, because it is getting all of it! movies/series/video-game, multiplatform experience. Yes, the full pack.

As you see, quite a big deal. Books have already a passionate fan base, and the potential to reach to reach a whole new audience with all these adaptations.

I just love the way the author, Patrick Rothfuss, shared this news on his webpage, let me show you a small fragment:

Then Lionsgate got in touch. “About that whole TV-show-and-a-movie thing you mentioned,” they said. “If we’re going to do some sort of big narratively intertwined multi-platform development deal based on your books, wouldn’t it make more sense to do a video game along with the TV show and movies? Because seriously, why wouldn’t we want to do a video game too?” (I’m paraphrasing a little here you understand.)

I said, “What?”

The films will cover the book’s story while the tv series will be a prequel. I will write about this in detail in “To the big screen” though, let’s focus on the books right now.

What is the series about?

This series genre is Heroic Fantasy. As advanced in a previous post this saga tells the story of Kvothe, a retired legendary hero who will narrate his life adventure to Chronicler (a scribe). The book is structured so it’s the same Kvothe who tells his own story, while there are certain interludes where the interaction between Kvothe and Chronicler is described. Kvothe tells with delightful detail how his life was from his childhood to present.

The story is set in the fantastic world of Temerant. While the story is crude and compelling, the characters are powerfully built, and the action is truly convincing. I love the pace and flow in each chapter, the story is so engaging you really wish Kvothe to succeed! The author made a great work, the writing is a subtle combination of power and beauty.

The book is really accessible, so not only fantasy readers will love this, there is no need to be into medieval fantasy genre to enjoy this book.

How long is The Kingkiller Chronicle?

The King Killer Chronicle is a trilogy. The first two novels are already published while the third and last book has no release date yet.

The king killer chronicle book covers

The king killer chronicle book covers

  • The Name of the Wind. 662 pages, published on March 27, 2007.
  • The Wise Man’s Fear. 994 pages, published on March 1, 2011.
  • The Doors of Stone. To be determined.

Regarding the reading order, there is actually no need for a “how to start reading” for this series.  Just take the publishing date as the reference.

Awards

This book series have already sold over ten million copies and the two first novels in the trilogy are of course Bestsellers.

Here are some awards achieved by the author and his novels:

  • Quill Award (2007)
  • “Best Books of the Year” (2007) – Publishers Weekly–
  • NPR Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books (2011)
  • Ranked 3rd in “Best 21st Century Fantasy Fiction Novels” (2012) –Locus–

How has The Kingkiller Chronicle been received by critics?

The critics are in general positive, all of them praise the author and his manuscripts:

I was reminded of Ursula LeGuin, George R. R. Martin, and J. R. R. Tolkien, but never felt that Rothfuss was imitating anyone. Like the writers he clearly admires, he’s an old-fashioned storyteller working with traditional elements, but his voice is his own. I haven’t been so gripped by a new fantasy series in years. It’s certain to become a classic.”
The London Times

“No ordinary fantasy full of pointless quests and overblown drama. Rather, it is a finely tuned coming-of-age story, full of humor, action and the occasional dose of magic.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Writers like George R.R. Martin and Gene Wolfe are old hands at revitalizing old tropes, giving fantasy the depth and humanity of the great literary novels, but Rothfuss sets out to retell what should be the most familiar tale of all, in the most familiar mode (the triple-decker). Remarkably, he does make it fresh again in this opening book, complete with an interesting take on magic that adds both emotional impact and intellectual excitement. So bring on volume two!”
Locus

As you see, a must-read saga. I bet you will claim this when you end these books: Wottaread! 😀

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Fire and blood book cover

🔥Fire and Blood George R.R Martin new novel

Amazing news! George R.R Martin recently published his new book. No, I’m afraid it’s not the long-awaited book The winds of winter (the planned sixth novel in the series A Song of Ice and Fire, which the author revealed wouldn’t be published in 2018) but it’s really close. Instead, the American author has published Fire and Blood (A Song of Ice and Fire). By the way, if you haven’t started reading this series, here you have a good reason not to read them yet…

What is Fire & Blood?

This new book is actually a prequel, telling a story 300 years before A Song of Ice and Fire plot (also known as Game of Thrones, if you are a fan of the TV series). This will be the first volume of two-part history, the second volume publishing date to be determined. It is 640 pages long, and it also eighty black and white illustrations by Doug Wheatley (a veteran comic book artist, concept designer, and illustrator) which, allow me to say, are astonishing.

Fun fact, this book is known as the GRRMarillion, a joke comparing this book to J.R.R Tolkien’s prequel of Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion.

What is this book about

The cover already hints what this novel is about “300 years before A game of thrones dragons ruled Westeros”. Dragons, Westeros… Targaryen!

Exactly, this novel tells the fascinating story of The Targaryens. Remember them? the noble family who reigned for almost three hundred years in Westeros.

This saga will reveal some of the mysteries already introduced in A Song of Ice and Fire such as what happened in Valyria to be so deadly after the doom or what crimes Maegor the Cruel’s did to get such a name? But that’s not all, if you ever wondered how it was when Dragons ruled the skies now you will able to satisfy your curiosity!

Dragons wottaread

Dragons in Fire & Blood? tell me more!

Do I have to read it before A Song of Ice and Fire?

No, definitely not. But considering how long it is going to take until that saga is finished this book is a great way to make the wait shorter. This book provides really interesting information that was only slightly introduced in the original saga and also tells the story about such an acclaimed family as the Targariens are.

Of course, if you are a fan of the saga this book is just a must read.

How has this book been received by fans and critics?

For such a famous and loved saga the critics have been quite more diverse than one would expect.

Hugo Rifkind, published in his review for The Times the following:

“Hugo Rifkind adores the Game of Thrones novels but this book is a yawn”

While Dan Jones wrote in his review for The Sunday Times:

Fire & Blood by George RR Martin — the Game of Thrones prequel is a masterpiece of popular historical fiction

Regarding the fans, opinions are pretty similar. Lots of readers love this book while others (I would say the less) think it’s boring. Seems like either you love this book or you hate it. If you ask my opinion, so far I`m loving it (I haven’t finished it yet). But also, I think this book should have been published after A song of Ice and Fire saga was fully written.

 

In conclusion, if you are a fan you must read this book. Dragons, Targaryen and mysteries resolved, what else you need to start reading Fire and Blood?

 

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The witcher book and videogame

The witcher series

 

The Witcher video games have been a huge success. The third game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is the most successful of all. It won the  Game of the year award in 2015 (Golden Joystick Awards”, “Game Developers Choice Awards” and “The Game Awards), a prestigious award  given by various gaming publications to a video game that they feel represents the pinnacle of video gaming that year. If that was not enough, it is also considered by tons of fans as the best video game in this Console generation. Its developer, CD Projekt Red, couldn’t be happier, because the figures of this game series have already exceeded the thirty-three million copies sold.

The Witcher is an action role-playing game based on the novel series of The Witcher by polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The story is set in a medieval fantasy world telling the story of the witcher Geralt of Rivia, monster slayer with unnatural abilities like the power of the signs (considered simple magic spells by mages) or accelerated healing. These incredible powers are thanks to both his extensive training and the mysterious ritual that is performed in order to become a witcher.

If this was not enough, is going to be also a TV series created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for Netflix. If you are interested on this TV adaptation check this post.

The Witcher books

 

The witcher books gif

Book covers

Thanks to these games, the witcher novels have gained more notoriety. People want to know more about Geralt of Rivia and his companions, could there be a better way than reading these fantastic series? Nope. The book’s plot happens years before the stories in the video games, it could be considered somehow a prequel, so reading is a perfect way to learn more about this wonderful world and its charismatic characters.

Whether your hobbies include both video games like reading fantasy books and you didn’t know anything about this saga, The Witcher is a great way to complement both worlds.  As I have already said, the video games are a sequel of the books, meaning that a good approach would be to read books and then play the video games (this is what I did by the way, and worked great), thus understanding better the plot and characters that appear. This way you would enjoy the most this literary saga which finds an astonishing sequel in the world of video games.

In case you already played the video games, I won’t spoil you anything, but you will be shocked more than once even so. Also, you will understand a lot of references to the books made during the game (it’s full of them!)

The proper way to read them

So, have you decided to read The Witcher books? Great! This is a fairly long series, and it gets a bit difficult to know the proper order to read them. There is much controversy on what is the correct reading order of these books. In my opinion, the one that makes more sense is reading them in chronological order (with one exception). The saga begins with two short story books after this come the novels, they subsequently end with a prequel. So, in my opinion, the best way to read this saga is the following:

  • The Last Wish (short story collection)
  • Sword of Destiny (short story collection)
  • Blood of Elves (novel begins here)
  • Time of Contempt
  • Baptism of Fire
  • The Tower of Swallows
  • The Lady of the Lake
  • Season of storms (Prequel)

I know, it may sound odd recommending reading the prequel the last one. There is a reason for this, it is true that chronologically it is the first one, but if you read the other books first you will understand its plot way better. This is only a recommendation of course. By the way, this book is not necessary to understand the overall story, but if you read the rest you will surely want to know more about the witcher’s story.

Why should you read the books?

The witcher books

The Witcher is a great literary saga, the plot of the books is certainly fascinating. The series revolves around Ciri a girl tied to the witcher by fate. Its protagonist, Geralt of Rivia has very special charisma, which makes the dialogues being spicy and fun.

Many of the characters have a unique personality that makes them very attractive. One of my favorite characters is Yennefer, a very powerful sorceress of which I already wrote in a previous post. The relationship between Geralt and his troubadour friend Dandelion (or Jaskier) is really inspiring, something that in my opinion you don’t get such  impression while playing the video games.

If you’ve already played video games or intend to do so, these books will provide much information on both the world and the characters depth. In addition, the game makes constant references to previous events that took place in the books. Therefore you will enjoy much more both formats if you read them before.

Lotr lord of the rings

What do I read after The Lord of the Rings? Check this!

 

Hello there. Lovers of reading are in luck, particularly those who love fantasy, medieval and fiction genres. These sagas have always been characterized by causing great admiration among the vast majority of readers, just as The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien caused in its time. If you just watched the movies, here are some reasons why you should read the books .

Today I wanted to take you back to a magical world, where spells are possible and heroic and warlike feats are the order of the day. So here we go:

A Song of ice and fire

a song-of-ice-and-fire game of thrones

 

A series of heroic fantasy novels that have been awarded on multiple occasions. Written by George R.R. Martin. The first volume saw the light in 1996. Although at first it was thought that it was a trilogy, at present, there are five published volumes and it is foreseen that there are two more. You can also find prequel and short novels for specific characters. You also have Fire&Blood, the prequel of this series, learn more here.

Surely many people know the saga for the series “Game of Thrones”. It is situated in a medieval fictional world where different races exist, some more friendly than others. But also, I discovered a weird progression in George R.R Martin’s last published novels, This is why you shouldn’t read Game of Thrones….

Martin himself has cited Tolkien as one of his references on more than one occasion, so the similarities with The Lord of the Rings are served.

Dragonlance

Dragon lance

A set of epic novels, where there are several trilogies. It was created by Laura & Tracy Hickman and written almost entirely by Margaret Weis and Tracy herself.

For role lovers, like the mythical game “Dungeons & Dragon”, this saga is just mandatory, since these novels are full of references to this game.

The world of Krynn is divided into several continents, one of the most important is Ansalon. The main story is based on a group of friends and their search for any clue that allows them to prove the existence of the gods that disappeared after the Cataclysm.

A series that are not yet finished and in which you will find different similarities to the Lord of the Rings, as the journeys of its protagonists and the dangers that lurk around every corner. In case you are interested in this series, here you have the Introducing Dragonlance article for further info.

Also, these series have a 3D animated movie and 3D based on the first story in the series, dubbing includes such relevant voice actors as Kiefer Sutherland, Lucy Lawless or Phil LaMarr.

 

Kingkiller Chronicles

King Chronicles Patrick Rothfus

 

Although it is a trilogy, the same author (Patrick Rothfuss) has commented that he does not exclude the idea of extending this wonderful saga. The third and last (for now at least) book still has no publishing date.

Join the story of Kvothe, a famous and adventurous prodigy in practically everything who disappears from public life and is found in a remote village, where a character known as Chronicler persuades him to tell him the story of his life, a story of how he became a legend. Read in more detail here.

 

The Pendragon Cycle

Stephen R. Lawhead The pendragon cycle

Stephen R. Lawhead was commissioned to make a fantastic novel, which is based on Welsh and Atlantean mythology. The story takes place in Britain when the Western Roman Empire is coming to an end.

The last of the five books came to light in 1997, formed by the trilogy and two prequels thanks to the great success of his novels.

As in The Lord of the Rings, you will have magic, cruel battles and an adventure that deserves to be read.

 

Forgotten Realms

 

A fictional universe that is also based on the role play “Dungeons & Dragons”. Ed Greenwood was in charge of giving life to this story.

Faerûn is the continent chosen for the most famous characters, with hundreds of places, organizations, plots, and nods to different video games, such as Baldur’s Gate.

You will be able to find a great number of Races like: Humans, Elves, Dwarfs, Gnomes, Orcs, Dragons, Centaurs, Satyrs, Goblins, Lycanthropes, Trolls, Demons, Wyverns, and a long etcetera.

Currently, there are more than 30 books that count thousands of adventures that you can not miss.

 

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