As you probably know I challenged myself (and my readers) to read at least one Australian speculative fiction author for each month of this year.
I started January with Rowena Cory Daniells and her trilogy “The Outcast Chronicles”. You can read my reviews of the books individually on Goodreads (Besieged, Exile, and Sanctuary).
I found the books to be riveting fantasy that starts off more about political intrigue but that quickly becomes a dramatic fight for survival for two whole races. With a massive cast of characters who you love, love to hate and can’t wait to see what happens to next, you might be daunted thinking there’s too many characters to easily follow along, but I assure you, Daniells makes her characters memorable and distinctly individual.
The Outcast Chronicles as a series is quite gritty. Prepare to lose a few favourite characters in tragic circumstances. Usually I prefer a few less deaths in my fantasy when I’m reading, but I was not as against it as I would have thought when reading this series. It seemed to bother me more in the second book than the other two, perhaps because one of my favourites was a casualty of Daniells’ ruthless plotting. The benefit of being so vicious with your characters is that the reader will genuinely have no idea who will survive and who won’t, which cranks the tension up to 11 and makes these books serious page turners. Please note: I do not mean the deaths are excessive or incongruous to the story, they make perfect sense and are very realistic in context, I only meant I am accustomed to reading slightly gentler fare.
I’m eager to get my hands on her other series “King Rolen’s Kin”, but finances and time mean that will be a bit later on. If I’m lucky I might read them for a later month of the challenge but there’s so many Australian speculative fiction books I’m looking forward to I don’t know how I’ll fit them all in.
For February I’m looking to Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles. I’ve read the first three before in my teen years, but haven’t caught up (though I have been buying the books upon release recently). In fact you can blame Carmody for the fact I became a fantasy author because prior to reading her books I wrote horror and slice-of-life even though I was reading David Eddings, Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan already. Hearing she wrote Obernewtyn in high school changed my life and was possibly the moment I realised I wanted to write for a living (it’s the earliest time I remember thinking that even though I wrote and told a lot of stories before this point in my life).
Are you already challenging yourself? If not, join the challenge here or on our Goodreads group. If spec-fic isn’t your cup of tea why not challenge a friend?
And happy Australia Day everyone(both for the actual day yesterday and the public holiday tomorrow).