Earth Child (Romance Novels of The Fae Realm Book 1)
How many of us have wondered what we would do if we had some kind of world dictatorial power or other absolute influence? Many would find that conjecture to be overwhelming. Yet what if we limited our scope to, say, evil and corruption? The next barrier to fighting such iniquity would be the realization that too often world governments are inept when it comes to such endeavors. Inadequate due to legal, religious, intellectual, political and traditional moral strictures.
In view of that, what then if a choice had to be made between the world falling into chaos, and one in which there is secular salvation, but only through efforts that lie outside the normal bounds of the best of civilizations? There are immeasurable individuals and groups outside the laws who are vile and malevolent; why not a last-resort counterpart—unfettered by normal laws; practical and down-to-earth—dedicated to good, but who find it necessary to resort to harsh measures?
Those who realize that we have come to a point in history where we must fight fire with fire. Anna Romano is a middle-aged, Italian woman who is also a successful published author, a cat-mama, and an excellent cook with a hankering for Italian cuisine. She lives by herself in her quaint house, in a quiet community, with a white picket fence in Central New Jersey. When she is not writing her next book or hosting book-signing events with her publicist, she is cleaning litter boxes and baking Cannolis…but never at the same time, of course!
Is it a case of mistaken identity or was she just being paranoid? Not that he ever planned to return home after the community booted him out eight years ago, but his sister is in rehab, and he has inherited her problems. The illustrations are beautiful and the text appropriate for children from 4 to …. Now, Bilbo is not the age you'd expect for such a story. At the start of the novel, he's 50 years old. Not ancient by hobbit standards, but not young either.
Still, it's hard to deny that the book fits into this list.
It's a story of dragons, magic, and great evil. It details elves, trolls, orcs, and more. But the underlying theme is Bilbo's growth into his true self. At the start of The Hobbit, he's shy, complacent, happy to live a simple life. By the time the journey ends, he is an adventurer, a legend, and much more confident. The events in the novel serve primarily as a catalyst for Bilbo's change, forcing him to rely on his own strengths. It's this aspect that makes the tale so relatable, reaching across age brackets to bring joy to both adults and children.
Tolkien's unmatched world-building, lyrical prose, and standout characters only enhance this, creating a must-read for any fantasy fan.
It's an incredible accomplishment for Polish video game studio CDProjekt, but much of that success comes from the work of one man, Andrzej Sapkowski. Though his stories are popular domestically, Sapkowski didn't hit it quite as big outside of eastern Europe. Thankfully, that's not due to any lack of quality.
More than anything, The Witcher series promises a unique experience. There's nothing that quite matches the brooding, creature-infested world and its incredible depth. The story follows Geralt, a mutated monster-hunter or 'Witcher', and his protege, Ciri. It's in her that we see the main transformation. Born with elven blood, she will soon come into incredible power.
Eager to protect her, Geralt and the other Witchers teach her to slay monsters, use a sword, and figure out her magical abilities.
Throughout, Sapkowski manages to expertly juggle emotional scenes, action sequences, and politics to create a series that is an easy equal to its sister games. The Wheel of Time sits next to Tolkien's series as some of the most distinguished fantasy series of all time. That's not an accident, it's an incredible epic that starts with a strong but familiar coming of age story.
Rand starts in a small farming community and makes his way into legend. The premise has been done hundreds of times before, though admittedly Jordan got in pretty early. However, this book transcends those simply by its incredible attention to detail in world building and character.
Every person in this series is a living, breathing human, and none more so than Rand. Jordan follows the classic 'chosen one' trope, quickly establishing Rand as the dragon reborn. Joined by Mat and Perrin, he avoids the dark creatures that hunt him. The journey is offset by intense personal battles. Rand has to accept his destiny, Perrin has to face his fears, and Mat struggles with an evil influence. Everything unfolds so organically that you find yourself completely lost in Jordan's world, carried along by culture, growth, and perfect pacing.
His Dark Materials.
Pullman's multi award-winning series is as inventive as it is emotional. It sits in a parallel to our world, with references to Oxford college yet beautifully crafted fantastical elements.
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It starts with Lyra, a young orphan, who, like everyone else, has a daemon. It takes the form of various animals, mirroring the soul of the human and settling into a final form with adulthood. In that single element, Pullman manages to weave a coming of age into the heart of his story. There's a layered plot of other worlds, child thieves, and polar bears, tied together through the perspective of Lyra. It's far from predictable, forcing the reader and protagonist to confront their views as she's thrust into dangerous situations. With sparse prose, it describes the growth from a disobedient child to a strong young woman.
It's hard to say what makes this series so special, but there's no question that it is just that. It has all the elements of a generic fantasy story an orphan, thieving, an island city. Yet Lynch manages to tell a story so compelling and fresh that it makes you evaluate your bias for those tropes.
Some of that is thanks to the brilliance that is Locke Lamora. The character builds an instant and likable connection with the reader. He's not a particularly nice person; in fact, he's a thief and a liar. Even so, his humor, energy, and loyalty leaving you pining for his next word and wondering what heist he will pull next. Locke's development isn't an easy one, nor is it thrown in your face. It's a slow build, a realization that things need to change, a need to adapt to circumstances.
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He struggles his way into legend, building an empire bit by bit through pure resilience. He gets angry, he gets jubilant, and he learns the importance of both. A clever, turning plot runs through those themes, pairing with memorable characters to build an incredible yet unfinished series. Schools are a common theme in coming of age, be it a magic academy or just a mentor.
It's difficult though, to do that in an original way, and Ryan's series offers something fresh. Vaelin was given to the Sixth Order at ten years old, a secular group with a penchant for both battle and god. In a blend of high fantasy and excellent storytelling, we learn of Vaelin's journey from a boy to a hardened warrior, with a hint of power beyond comprehension. It's not an easy path, fraught with dangerous trials that are only offset by the loyalty between his peers. This book is regularly compared to The Name of The Wind, and in some ways it's justifiable.
Both are told through flashbacks. Both are coming of age stories. However, Raven Shadow is not about a man who is good at everything, but at a single discipline. Vaelin is not a Mary Sue. He's flawed, and if you didn't like Rothfuss' character, you'll probably like this one. Where his immersion is next-level, Ryan's storms ahead with his intensity.
Intricate subplots weave together, atmosphere overwhelms, and you always wonder how it will end. Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne. Staveley's Unhewn Throne series presents an intelligent mash-up of three simultaneous coming of age stories. Separated for eight years, three royal children must face the fallout of the Emperor's assassination and learn to deal with their complex new duties.
It's a simple premise, but it's hard to describe how complex and weaving Stavely manages to make it.
Each of the children has a feeling of relatability, trapped by their obligations yet likable and down-to-earth. They present an entirely different viewpoint on the same world the view of a soldier, a monk, and a finance minister. With the touch of a true master, Stavely manipulates these plot threads, expanding some, abandoning others, giving glimpses at a grand design.
Then, with sweeping grandeur, he manages to tie them all together in a rush of revelations and satisfaction. It ends with a real sense of development, the characters undeniably shaped by their roles and experiences.