Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Bygone Books

SEE LOOK AT ME KEEPING MY NEW YEARS GOALS. If Lawrence Dai can blog daily about Julia & Julia, then I can blog twice a week. Today, I am thinking about those book serieses (this is not a word, I'm sure, but not pluralizing it sounds more awkward) that were popular when we were younger. Big literary influences for me and hopefully books you will recognize and think, "Oh yeah, whatever happened to that?" Let the nostalgia fest begin!

The Claidi Journals by Tanith Lee. I believe I incorrectly referred to them as the Wolf Tower series in my last post, but they are actually collectively called the Claidi Journals. Probably one of the first series I remember with a female main character who basically kicks ass and takes names for the duration of the story. I loved Claidi! I tried and failed multiple times throughout my angsty pre-teen and teen years to keep a diary and I wrote them in the style of the Claidi Journals. Except badly, because I'm no Tanith Lee. 

This is high fantasy with touches of science fiction. The science fiction part kind of takes over and consumes everything in the fourth book, which I disliked, but as a whole, this series is still a winner. The writing is lush and believable and the setting is amazingly detailed. I used to pretend IKEA was Peshamba (one of the cities featured in the books; I had an active imagination, guise) Many books succeed or fall with their main characters and Claidi is one of those characters who can sustain a story even after it starts to go sour.

Just holding my journal and leaning casually to the side, BEING AWESOME.

The Silverwing series by Kenneth Oppel. Okay, just first off. Did you know this guy was pen pals with Roald Dahl and got published at fifteen?! He's like Christopher Paolini, except good! Just kidding, Chris P., you know I admire you, I just can't get into Eragon. 

Silverwing was a great fucking series, excuse my language. It was. It was perfect for a voracious junior high reader. Also, I may have been madly in love with Shade, the main character, who is ... a bat. A bat who saves the world! Hey, true love transcends all boundaries, even SPECIES and FICTIONALITY. The action starts from the first chapter, and it Does. Not. Stop. 

There are three books in this series: Silverwing, Sunwing, and Firewing. I'm going to be honest. You should stop after the second, because I hated the third. The third book focuses on Shade's son, Griffin, and I just did not love Griffin the way I loved his father. Because a lot of the time, books that focus on "the next generation" tend to put a new spin on the main character by giving him/her a hardcore inferiority complex, for whatever reason. Whiny, weak, "I can't measure up to [insert earlier awesome main character here]" MCs piss me off like no other. Also, the ending was just unforgivable. Don't want to spoil it, but I cried for days afterward. On the whole, a memorable series, and worth revisiting. I reread Firewing the other day. Don't know why. Still made me mad, but Oppel's writing has an addictive quality to it.

A very sexy bat.

The Redwall series by Brian Jacques. This may be cheating, as I did not actually finish this series. But let's cut me a break here, shall we? Because Redwall is the SERIES THAT NEVER ENDS. Seriously, at last count (by the numbers on Wikipedia), Redwall is up to 21 books, with the 22nd on its way. Each book is a stand-alone, however, so don't hang back from the land of friendly talking rodents just because you don't want to commit to 20+ books. Redwall is amazing. Brian Jacques is amazing for being able to write solely in this one universe for years. You think he'd get sick of it, but apparently, he has many stories left in his brain yet. 

The stories are well-plotted and action-packed, and the characters are lovable, and not only because they are cuddly and cute. Sword-wielding vermin? COUNT ME IN. In all seriousness, though, there's a reason this is an enduring series for children. It might not be epicly unforgettable like Narnia or Harry Potter, but it's got all the makings of a thrilling adventure for kids. Yeah, I've kind of outgrown it. This isn't to say it's not an enjoyable read at any age. If you don't read anything else in Redwall, you should at least try Mossflower, the second one in the series. Toe-curlingly evil villain? Check. Noble hero? Check. Trickery and battles? Check and check. Of course, I do admit, the reason I stopped was because the plots and characters get kind of repetitive after a while. There are only so many mice you can take before you call it quits. Also, just so you're warned, Redwall is straight-up food porn. I mean, there are pages and pages of description on the food. Apparently, moles can bake a mean pie, and otters have a taste for spicy soups. Like ... what? I don't even know, but I can tell you, the food sounds strangely appetizing. And then I get grossed out that I'm drooling over fictional small-furry-mammal food. Damn you, Brian Jacques. Damn you and your Great Feasts.

Is that Martin or Matthias or Mattimeo? 
IDK because there are 21 books holy shit.

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