Tag: fantasy

Why You Should Read The Wanderer’s Daughter – Review

The Wanderer’s Daughter is the first book in the Georgie Tanner Series by Justyn Walker. It’s hilarious and you really should read it.

The book is middle-grade and is full of quirkiness, humour, and bit of grossness and comic violence. The stuff kids are supposed to enjoy. I first read it quite a few years back. I know it was in the last ten years, it might have been in the last seven. I still love it today. It was one of the first fantasy books I read outside of Narnia and the second book is one of my favourite allegories ever.

The characters are brilliant. Georgie Tanner is an orphan and a misfit. Her best friend (and only, but who’s counting) Thomas Finnigan isn’t an orphan (though he might as well be for the attention his parents give him), but he is also a misfit and not very brave. And when I say misfit I mean Georgie has been expelled from many schools (she’s currently at St. Mary’s School for Very Difficult Children), and trouble just is drawn to her. She can’t help it. And Thomas gets his lunch stolen everyday. And then they meet and quickly fall through a puddle into the magical land of Allegoria.

Not everything about Allegoria is nice though. They still have to go to school and as neither Georgie nor Thomas know anything about acting like the princess and knight they’re supposed to be, that does not go well. There’s also people being killed in the forest, impending doom, and suspicious characters.

There are certain aspects in common between all books in the series. They always attend school (it’s peasant school where they learn to rake dung in Book 2). There is always a game of Combat Croquet which is a lethal sport with golden armadillos for balls. And there are always monsters and at least on nasty member of the Royal family (and sometimes they’re one and the same).

There’s also a contrary magical book that only opens to riddles, has a time limit and tries to bite off Thomas’s hand more than once. It can however be quite useful. A bat named Max Mousewing or Agent MM is a recurring character as is Smokey the Terrible (a dragon) and Lydian, the great Magician or Wanderer (the book was originally titled The Magician’s Daughter and I have no idea why it was changed for Kindle). Lydian is also Georgie’s father by adoption.

Other characters include a nutty wizard who makes cockroaches into stools and sandwiches, changes people’s hair colour and usually pretends to be a ghost. He found it inconvenient to be around after giving the Duke of Osterik ostrich legs. He also has secrets.  For example he’s the one person who knows where to find the wizard stone that can defeat the dark lord Morlock. Unfortunately he’s forgotten the riddles that explain where to find the keys to unlock the wizard stone.

Despite the presence of a wizard, a magician and a dark lord, the book doesn’t have a lot of magic. It’s mostly silly fairytale type stuff. Or monsters. Anything kids might think of as monsters appears. Bogie men, pirates, ogres, vampires, trolls, and giants. They’re all very much just monsters though and are mostly scary by ugliness or size. They’re not creepy.

The whole Georgie Tanner series is unapologetically allegorical, but I don’t think it’s preachy or overdone. But then, I’m not sure I’m good at telling when a book is preachy and when it’s subtle. However I’m not sure a book with this amount of silliness could be preachy. It’s just too fun. There’s certainly things that can be learned from the story, but it comes naturally.

Now why do I love these books? I’m not sure I can explain it simply. But inside all the silliness is a tale of learning to become brave, and of accepting your identity. The series is also one of the few that my older brothers read and talked about. I had heard quite a bit, so when the third book was published and they got it from the library, I read it too. And then one of them got book two out to read again, so I read it. Finally I helpfully got the first book out for him and was able to read it. So I read them in reverse order. Twice actually.

The second book, The Ancient Machine is my favourite, so I’ll share its description. It’s rather cruel of me, because all but the first book are near impossible to get outside of Australia. I need to contact Justyn Walker and see if I can get him to put them on Kindle too.

The Ancient Machine

When an accident causes Georgie’s orphanage to be drowned in 10,000 gallons of gluggy, grey gruel, Georgie and Thomas sink through a bottomless puddle of gruel into Allegoria once more. There, Lydian the Great Magician charges them with a quest to find a machine that is ticking down to the end of the world – when an ancient curse will be unleashed upon mankind!

In this funny and daring pursuit, Georgie and Thomas team up with a troupe of traveling daredevils, discover a hidden fortress of forest animals, meet some colorful underground grunks, and have several near-painful encounters with a well-meaning torture master.

 

Giveaway

My editing launch giveaway is still running and The Wanderer’s Daughter is one of the prizes.
The deadline is getting close so make sure you share it around.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

11 Reasons Why Fantasy Isn’t Better

This post is half tongue-in-cheek and half serious points. It could probably also be called 11 things that any fiction can do, but that didn’t sound so cool. And before anyone gets more annoyed at me, I’m am not trying to say fantasy isn’t equal to other genres. I’m just reminding people that other genres are also worthwhile.

Also though I only mention fantasy I’m really talking about spec-fic in general. Anything out of this world, or partially so.

Non-fantasy stories can spark imagination too

I hardly read any fantasy as a child, but was my imagination decreased by that? No. My bed being the covered wagon we we’re travelling to the frontier in was one of the most realistic games.  We had magic blankets that floated on lava and imaginary families inspired by a non-fiction kids book. Biographies of missionaries have sent me all over the world. I can imagine crossing a vine bridge in Papua-New Guinea though I’ve never even seen a photograph.

Other stories can have brave heroes

So think of a fantasy story. There’s a fair chance it will feature a brave hero completing amazing (or slightly less amazing) feats. But heroes exist out of fantasy. Just think of a  war story. Many have brave, inspiring heroes. Also heroism isn’t just about battles. A nurse just going about her duties is a hero, parents struggling, but still doing the best they can for their children. They are some of the best heroes.

Other stories can create deep emotion

Emotion comes from characters. Characters are common to stories. That was slightly too simple, so I had better elaborate. Emotions are created in stories by reminding you of real motions you’ve felt. (or something like that) All you need for this is realistic characters.

Other stories deal with social and philosophical issues

Fantasy is a good medium for focusing in on certain themes without bringing a long a lot of baggage, but other books can do very well. Dystopian is also spec-fic, but it is often great at this. Also stories that deal directly with the actual issues can be enormously powerful. Sometimes A story of a malnourished refugee in Africa, might be more powerful than that of a refugee from the land of Ulinent. We can’t help people in fantasy worlds, but we can in the real world.

Other books can awake a longing for great purpose

Some stories can bring an inspiring sense of awe and purpose, a reminder of how great the world is and that there’s much more to life than simple survival. Fantasy is a great vehicle for grandeur, but the simple thing of out world can also achieve this. It’s our world where we have purpose after all.

Other stories can be complex and twisty

I’ll admit that the most complex books I’ve read have been fantasy. But I’ve read some historical that comes close. Maybe the twists don’t come from outside the laws of nature, but that doesn’t been we’ll see them coming.

Other stories can be fun and adventurous

This is really obvious and actually two points. Adventure exists in our world,  and it can be pretty exhilarating. A humour or even quirkyness isn’t out of this world either. Some of the most laugh out loud books I’ve read have been collections of letters sent by real people. Reality can be plain ridiculous at times.

Other stories can have beautiful settings

Our world is a beautiful place and it can be described magnificently. Grand scenery isn’t sole the property of fantasy books; it might just be a little more common in them. When you have to invent your whole world, it might make you a little more aware of what it looks like. Or maybe not. It probably comes down tot he author and their skills of visualization and observation. Personally I don’t pay enough attention to my surroundings and forget to describe the made up  world of my own stories far too often.

 
Other books can be relate-able

Well of course. If a cat who must kill a dragon is relateable, surely someone trying to catch an ordinary criminal ought to be relateable. Though honestly some people click better with some characters. It’s not a fixed thing.

Other  stories can be original

Fantasy doesn’t have the same limits as other books, but it still manages to have a huge number of tropes. Other genres have tropes too of course, but they also can overcome them. The characters can vary hugely. The thoughts and themes behind the books are limitless. And the minds behind the books are different. Sometimes not having to invent a whole world can yield more depth of character.

And in case you aren’t into fantasy: Other books can be unrealistic

Hugely unrealistic. For example where the whole conflict is caused by a simple misunderstanding that would be fixed in a conversation. (yes, I’m talking about romance novels here) That’s not very realistic. Or when everything turns out fine due to some coincidence.  Or when someone doesn’t act like a normal person would. Or when things just turn out to perfectly. If you’re trying to escape reality, fantasy (the genre)  isn’t the only way.

 

I wrote this because I grew up mostly reading historical fiction, and Enid Blyton books and did love them. I don’t want to leave all that behind for fantasy. Kids adventure stories are fun even though it’s ridiculous how adventures keep happening to the same kids.

Brie, out.

My Stories

The Verlisi War series

This wasn’t meant to be a series, just a single book. But I had ideas for another story, but they wouldn’t all fit in one more. So now I have three and possibly I should call it a trilogy.

Girl of the Rumours

Status: First Draft finished and revisions beginning.

Some tales might be better left alone…

Aydel knew she was meant for more than a life of solitude, but the realization that she resembles a chief’s stolen daughter  is  a little too crazy even for her to believe. However as she learns of this girl’s expected role in rescuing the common people, there seems no good choice, but to become her.

With the help of the freedom fighting spy who discovered her, Aydel flees to the heart of the forest.  Once there she seeks the for allies before continuing onward to ask her father the chief for his aid. But when friends start acting like enemies and her sister is endangered, she starts to wonder if she did the right thing at all. Can she be a deliverer, while not being honest with even herself?

 

This was meant to be a bit of a parody about a girl who thought she was in a fairytale, but of course things actually turn out more like real life. It kept turning in a more serious story with higher stakes and deeper themes. It has little elements from Rapunzel (or Tangled) and Robin Hood as well as trying to twist fantasy cliches. And it has female brigands, and parrots, and tiny dragons, and endangered wild cats you’re not allowed to kill, but still want to put scratches all over your arms.

A Brigand No Longer

Status: Early outlining, not that I do intense outlining

A sequel to Girl of the Rumours about Joane, one of the brigands. Well at least she’s a brigand in the first book. Also It’s got more of Aydel in it and many other characters. And there is a war going on.

Book Three

Status: I have lots of ideas.

I can’t say much about this. It has prisoners, a girl named Carla and might have hints of Cinderella.

Lady of Courage (Working title, it will change)

Status: First draft pretty much done

A gearpunkish, political fantasy/alternative history about a girl who inherits the throne and must marry. Only there aren’t any eligible and capable men around. Except that guy who trying to take over the whole region and is a just a generally nasty person. Or maybe that person, but the council doesn’t like him. Or that guy, wait, why did he just die? And where are all the ships vanishing to?

Despite my lighthearted description this book is actually more tragedy than comedy and will make people cry. Even me. Lovely characters are going to die.

Even More Nebulous Ideas

Many more stories set in the world of Lady of Courage. Some quite connected, others not at all. Perhaps some genre melding, with detective stories.

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