adiva_calandia: (iBook)
[personal profile] adiva_calandia
All righty, well, that's two new SFF books I've read in the last few months (Zoo City and now The Throne of the Crescent Moon) that emphatically did not end how I expected them to!

What should I read next? My effort for this year is to read more stuff that's not by white men. (I have a physical copy of Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler, that I should probably read, but I kind of want something fluffier than Butler at the moment.)

That said, I will also happily take recs for stuff by white men that has awesome worldbuilding, female protagonists, or both.

Date: 2015-02-18 02:36 am (UTC)
walksbyherself: (milla - queen of the world)
From: [personal profile] walksbyherself
The Goblin Emperor! It's written by a lady and it is FABULOUS. Maia, the emperor's fourth son (and half-goblin--almost everybody in this book is an elf), ends up promoted to emperor after an airship accident (i.e. sabotage) kills his father and older brothers. The majority of the plot isn't about the murder mystery (although that is part of it) so much as it's about Maia really coming into his own as an independent person and figuring out how to be emperor. IT IS SO GOOD, I WANT TO HAND COPIES OUT TO PEOPLE.

Date: 2015-02-18 03:26 am (UTC)
skygiants: Rebecca from Fullmetal Alchemist waving and smirking (o hai)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince! It's about ART and POLITICS and POST-APOCALYPTIC MATRIARCHIES and TEENAGERS HAVING FEELINGS and PARTY KINGS and is not anywhere near as depressing as Zoo City!

Date: 2015-02-18 05:19 am (UTC)
ceitfianna: (riding into the sun)
From: [personal profile] ceitfianna
The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston, Dragons! and the story is told by a musician who is the bard in this wonderful world set in rural Canada. Also happy lesbian couple, one's a sword maker, the other a dragon slayer, found families, I've read the second book of this series and it makes me happy.
Edited Date: 2015-02-18 05:20 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-02-18 01:57 pm (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Have you read the Steerswoman books? Read the Steerswoman books omg.

Date: 2015-02-18 08:42 pm (UTC)
genarti: Stack of books with text, "We are the dreamers of dreams." ([misc] dreamers)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Booo! They're available as ebooks, but I don't know if you want to buy a book you aren't sure if you love. I'd loan you the first if we lived close enough, but, uh. Good luck finding it, anyway!

I've also been on a Kate Elliott kick recently. She has a ton of stuff, most of which I haven't read, but I really liked Jaran recently. (First book of a series with the same name, but I haven't read the others yet.)

I've also been liking Judith Tarr. Lord of the Two Lands is I think the novel of hers I've liked best; main character is an Egyptian priestess accompanying Alexander the Great.

Zen Cho's stories are glorious and delightful, but her first novel is still forthcoming, and I don't know that a library's gonna have anything by her yet.

Anything and everything I've read by Frances Hardinge has been delightful.

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor is plenty of fun, too.

Date: 2015-02-18 03:18 pm (UTC)
kd7sov: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kd7sov
Awesome worldbuilding, female protagonists, or both? This sounds like a job for Brandon Sanderson.

Now, before I go into specifics, one of the really cool things about Sanderson is that most of his books take place in a single universe, and there is crossover - mostly conceptual at this point, but there is one named character, Hoid, who appears or is mentioned in each of them so far (though not always by that name). As for specific books...

Elantris is probably not what you're looking for. It's his first published work, and apart from the magic system the worldbuilding is not very exciting or unusual. As well, only one of the three viewpoint characters is female. The magic system (systems, actually, although only one gets more than a brief glance in this book) is shape-based - characters with access to it can draw a rune in the air, with different runes causing different effects, and all of them modifiable by adding extra lines. Not entirely unlike some uses of written wizardry in Young Wizards, actually.

The Emperor's Soul, set on a different part of the same planet, is probably a really good place to start. It's an independent story, one of the author's more recent efforts (with, therefore, fewer beginners' mistakes), and considerably shorter than most of what he's written. The protagonist, Wan ShaiLu (Shai for short), has 100 days to make a new soul, indistinguishable from the original, for an emperor who was nearly assassinated - and who hates her people. The magic here is interesting: it's also shape-based, but its power is specifically to rewrite the history of an object or person - make a decrepit table well-cared-for, for instance, or add unnoticed water damage to a wall... or give yourself, for a brief time, the training of an expert martial artist. And Shai doesn't rely only on her magic; she had to learn all kinds of related mundane skills, painting and forgery being specifically mentioned, before her training in magic proper even began.

Mistborn is probably Sanderson's most famous work, apart from his participation in Wheel of Time. In a world covered with ash, a group of thieves from the underclass sets out to do the impossible: overthrow the immortal Lord Ruler, a tyrant who's been oppressing their people for a millennium. To say much more on that front would be spoilery, but I'll note that there are more than a few parallels between Vin, the primary protagonist, and Kim Merrill. This world's magic system is based on metals having magical effects, and my first reaction when it's being explained was "! Newton-compliant!" - which is to say that it follows the third law of motion, the one about equal and opposite reactions. All that said, while I wholeheartedly recommend the Mistborn trilogy, I wouldn't call it fluffy; it's about revolution, and the aftermath, all in a world of ash-clouded skies and brown plants.

The Alloy of Law is Mistborn's accidental sequel. That's a thing that happens from time to time with Sanderson - he'll get blocked on one project, start writing something else, and suddenly there's a whole extra trilogy. The rest of this set isn't out yet, but it's on its way. Anyway. This is, naturally, the same planet as Mistborn, but a few centuries later, and the setting is basically the nineteenth century - the main protagonist, Wax, has to give up sheriffing in the local equivalent of the Old West in order to manage his late uncle's noble estate. It's got some cool female characters, but none of them are really the protagonist, and while there are some amazing "new" discoveries in the magic system the setting is less original.

Warbreaker may be precisely up the alley of this request. The people of Idris broke away from Hallandren a century or two ago, but the Hallandren people still feel threatened by them - believing, for instance, that the Idrian monarchs have (and might exercise) legitimate claim on the Hallandren throne. The Idrian king signed a treaty decades ago to forestall a war he couldn't possibly win, agreeing that when his oldest daughter turned twenty he would send a daughter to marry the Hallandren God-King. At the last moment, due to a loophole in the wording, he sends his youngest daughter, all unprepared, instead of his oldest - although the oldest immediately follows, hoping to rescue her beloved (if aggravating) little sister. This all turns into a glorious mess of fantasy politics, mercenaries, and wisecracking gods who don't believe they're gods. This magic system uses color and souls (sort of; it's a bit complicated, and there's plenty that hasn't yet been revealed) to enhance people and bring objects to life.

(Warbreaker is also available for free on the author's website, and in fact was written publicly - I'm not certain how to get to them in the current site revision, but I believe it's still possible to get to and read his prior drafts, if you're interested in his writing process.)

The Stormlight Archive (so far consisting of The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, with eight more doorstoppers books in the works) is proportionally light on female protagonists, but does some astounding things with them - it's the planet where Sanderson really lets his worldbuilding out to play. Imagine, if you will, a single supercontinent of rock, frequently blasted by "highstorms" like a wall of hurricane. These storms provide the stormlight that gives the series its title and powers the magic system - which we'll get back to in a bit - and also force the plants and animals to adapt to driving winds and pounding rain. This is mostly done by shells or holes; grass, for instance, grows in crevices of the rock and retracts into those crevices when there's any threat; other plants have rigid exteriors and only withdraw their leaves or vines; a lot of the animals are crustacean-like; and so on. And the magic... if you leave a gemstone out in a highstorm (typically in a secured basket, although that's not foolproof) it glows for a while afterward. This light can be used to power ancient magical wonders such as Shardplate (armor that enhances the wearer's physical abilities and is extraordinarily hard to break) and newer magitech such as Soulcasters (intricate devices that let their users transform what something is made of, including air into stone, wood into metal, or rock into edible-but-bland food). Once, the legends say, the Knights Radiant (think fantasy paladins) could use stormlight directly to fly, or to heal, or to communicate across vast distances without the use of magitech... but there have been no Radiants for centuries. Then again, sometimes what is lost can return...

Those are his common-universe books; the others are set on variants of earth, rather than on fantasy planets, although they all have some fantastical elements. I'd be glad to talk about them if you want, but they strike me as less what you're looking for here and I've been at this comment for too long already. In summary: Emperor's Soul, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archive, and Mistborn in particular. If you have any questions or want any clarification, don't hesitate to ask.


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