Fairy Tale (2022) by Stephen King

This is the first hardcover I’ve bought in a while. I read it in October last year and am only now getting around to writing my review. It’s Stephen King, so no surprises that this is a fairly long book. My edition is 592 pages and contains some nice black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The book’s title is self-explanatory: Fairy Tale.

Publisher’s Synopsis

‘Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.’

From the Author, Stephen King:

Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”

“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”

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Currently Reading: The Dragon Reborn (1991) Book 3 of The Wheel of Time

I have returned to Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series and have just started Book 3: The Dragon Reborn. It was Amazon’s TV adaptation that got me back into reading The Wheel of Time. After hearing such a divided reaction to the streaming series, I wanted to return to the source and see what was upsetting a lot of long-term fans of the books. I tried The Eye of the World years ago but never finished it. It just didn’t grab me and I wrote it off as Tolkien fan fiction. I know, I know, it was a rather hasty and foolish decision which I’ve now remedied.

I listened to audiobooks of The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt earlier this year. I enjoyed them both, especially the second book. It felt like Robert Jordan had found his voice and stepped out from behind Tolkien’s shadow. The Great Hunt’s story was also a lot more exciting than the first book’s in my opinion. But I can appreciate the slower-paced set up of The Eye of the World now. I can also understand what many book fans were upset about. The showrunners have changed a lot of the lore, aged up the characters, made some head-scratching casting choices, created new characters and changed some major plot points. Why couldn’t they just adapt the books as they were written?

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Alphabet of Thorn (2004) by Patricia A. McKillip

Nepenthe is an orphan who has grown up working in a royal library in the city of Raine. She spends her days translating rare and unusual texts and has developed a real talent for it. During the coronation of the new Queen, a young mage gives Nepenthe a book that appears to be written in a language of thorns. This unique book has resisted all previous attempts at translation. As Nepenthe begins to work on it, something about the book draws her deeper and deeper into its thorny pages.

Cover art by Kinuko Craft
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Currently Reading: Alphabet of Thorn (2004) by Patricia McKillip

Gorgeous cover art by Kinuko Craft

Taking a leaf from Bookstooge’s book and having some time to kill at work, here is a quote from Patricia McKillip’s 2004 novel Alphabet of Thorn:

“What else did you see?” he asked the odd young woman, who seemed more woodland animal than human. A useful quality in a mage, he thought. Some of us have a harder time forgetting our humanity.
‘Things,’ she said vaguely, remembering them. She took an unconscious step toward him. ‘A tree spoke to me. It looked like a very old man, twisted and slow, with mossy hair down to its ankles and eyes like dead leaves. It did not say much, just my name. I think that’s very strange, that a tree I have never met would know my name. And there were the stags with the fire in their antlers. They did not speak. The warrior followed them.’
‘The warrior.’
‘Fully armed, on a white war horse. The warrior wore a great sword with a crosspiece laid with uncut jewels; it looked too long and heavy for anyone human to wield.

A recommendation from Bookstooge, I read Patricia McKillip’s In the Forests of Serre back in July 2020. Her lyrical prose and layered world-building really impressed me and I determined to explore more of her writing. It has only taken me two years to get around to it.

I’m currently about a third of the way into Alphabet of Thorn and I really like it so far. I feel transported to another world when I read this book, and that’s one of the main reasons I love reading works described as “speculative fiction.”

Q. What are you currently reading and how is it so far?

Thanks for reading!

-Wakizashi, *wallowing in the rare luxury of being able to read all day at work; just for today*

Jingo (1997) by Terry Pratchett

jingoism, an attitude of belligerent nationalism, or a blind adherence to the rightness or virtue of one’s own nation, society, or group, simply because it is one’s own. 

Encyclopedia Britannica

Discworld Novel No. 21

It has been a while since I read a Discworld story. Some years ago, I went through a Terry Pratchett reading phase. I started reading the Discworld series in order and got as far as Book 12 Witches Abroad. (I have reviews of Pyramids and Witches Abroad on this blog.) Being a big fan of Sam Vimes, I’ve also read the City Watch books Men At Arms (Book 15) and Feet of Clay (Book 19). Jingo is another City Watch book, and I’ve had it on my kindle for a while. After a rather “heavy” reading experience involving Neal Stephenson, I fancied something light and easy.

Josh Kirby’s brilliant cover art

Jingo tells the story of a recently discovered island halfway between Ankh-Morpork and Al Khali, the capital city of Klatch. The island is quickly “claimed” by each country due to its strategic importance. Following this, in Ankh-Morpork there is an assasination attempt on a visiting Klatchian prince. This worrying event causes the two countries to break off diplomatic relations and the Klatchian prince’s brother issues a declaration of war. It’s not looking good for Ankh-Morpork as they seem to be lacking both an army and a navy. Can Commander Vimes and the City Watch save the day?

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The Great Hunt (1990) by Robert Jordan

Disclaimer: I started reading The Eye of the World in spring last year, but I didn’t enjoy it and I gave up about halfway through. I found it a very generic fantasy story which felt too much like poorly done Tolkien fan fiction. I also thought the pacing was very slow and parts of it were boring. So, I didn’t continue with the series. (Don’t attack me just yet, keep reading below.)

Then at the end of 2021, I started watching the Amazon Studios Wheel of Time TV Series adaptation and got pulled into the story. I know this adaptation has been getting a lot of criticism, especially by fans of the books, but I thought it was well made. I haven’t watched the final episode yet. I paused my viewing because I picked up a copy of Book 2: The Great Hunt. I wanted to give the books another chance. This time I got drawn into the story and enjoyed the second book much more than the first. I’ll watch the final episode soon then give my thoughts on the whole season. (I’ve been enjoying fellow blogger H.P.’s coverage on his blog.)


For me, The Great Hunt was a 3-star read. A Wakizashi 3-star rating means it was good and I enjoyed it; a solid story which was well written but didn’t blow me away. I’m not going to describe the plot, instead I will highlight what I enjoyed about the story. (*This may include some mild spoilers.)

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The Wheel of Time (TV Series) Episode 5 Review

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the books beyond The Eye of the World, so I’m coming to this series as a “newbie” and writing my reaction as a newbie.

Tar Valon, the White City

Episode 5: Blood Calls Blood

Short Summary with some Spoilers

We get our first proper look at the city of Tar Valon and it looks beautiful. The huge mountain in the distance reminded me of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. The White Tower is the home of the Aes Sedai magic users and where new trainees go to learn how to channel their power. This is where our characters are all heading.

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The Wheel of Time (TV Series) Episode 4 Review

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the books beyond The Eye of the World, so I’m coming to this series as a “newbie” and writing my reaction as a newbie.

Logaine using his power

Episode 4: The Dragon Reborn

Initial Thoughts & Short Review

This episode starts off with an attack on the city of Ghealdan and finishes with a magical battle in the Aes Sedai camp. The action scenes are exciting and well realized, there’s some good character building and more of the WOT world is revealed. The FX used to show the use of magic are excellent with the Power depicted as snaking and spiraling lines of energy. We get to see the Fade in action for the first time in a brief fight scene between one of the eyeless creatures and Gleeman Thom Merrilin. The Fade is impressively scary and hints at its powers as it easily catches the daggers thrown by Thom.

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The Wheel of Time (TV Series) Initial Thoughts on Episodes 1, 2, 3

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the books beyond The Eye of the World, so I’m coming to this series as a “newbie” and writing my reaction as a newbie.

“This power, it’s meant for women, and women alone. And when you touch it, you make it filthy.”

So says a woman dressed in red, part of a group of women on horseback who have chased down a man running for his life. The women are members of the “Aes Sedai,” an all-female order who can channel an elemental force known as the “One Power.” We are told this man is going mad and the woman proceeds to use her powers to kill him. We don’t see him die, we just hear his screams.

Well, quite a shocking opening. It seems that the magic in this world can only be wielded by women; women who have been trained by the Aes Sedai. If men try to use this power, they will lose their minds and “break the world.” This has happened before, and is referred to in a brief prologue in the first episode:

“Many years ago, men who were born with great power believed they could cage darkness itself. When they failed, the seas boiled, mountains were swallowed up, cities burned, and the women of the Aes Sedai were left to pick up the pieces. These women remember one thing above all else: the man who brought the breaking of the world. And him they named Dragon. Now this man has been born again.”

Moiraine, from Episode 1: Leavetaking

And so the journey begins!

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The Secret Commonwealth (2019) by Philip Pullman

Remember Lyra and Pantalaimon?

I read and enjoyed Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy back when they were first published just over twenty years ago. I’ve wanted to re-read them for a while, but I haven’t got around to it yet. I bought The Book of Dust Vol.1: La Belle Sauvage when it came out in October 2017. I enjoyed it overall, but felt that something was lacking. Perhaps it was the lack of familiar characters, as Lyra is just a baby in that story which is set chronologically before the His Dark Materials trilogy. But there were moments of magic in there; enough to make me want to read the next volume of the Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth (2019).

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