Bookbanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 8: The Sarantine Mosaic

Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 8:
The Sarantine Mosaic

But with the release of Tigana in 1991, he began a journey through many worlds and stories with many more books, which are all kind of linked. Tigana is a quasi-medieval Italy, but with alternate, with numerous fantasy elements.

A Song for Arbonne is alternate-medieval France. The Lions of Al-Rassan is sort of medieval Spain. And The Last Light of the Sun is from the time of the Vikings, in a story you likely haven’t read about before.

And then there’s The Sarantine Mosaic, a duology written about the time of the great city of Byzantium with its powerful king and queen, and the chariot races, and the magic that existed there.Bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay got his start in writing in an unusual way, working more as an editor with Christopher Tolkien on the numerous volumes of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth material J R. R. Tolkien wrote during his lifetime.

His first published series was the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, which falls into a lot of the pitfalls of a stereotypical fantasy series with some weak characters.

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BookBanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 3: King Raven

Pretty much everyone is familiar with Robin Hood in some way, whether it’s thanks to the wonderful Disney movie (still my favorite!) or various stories heard as a kid, or the well-known old text by Robert Pyle, or the various movie versions of this enigmatic figure, shrouded in history and intrigue.  We all know the basic story of this unusual hero coming from very little, living out in Sherwood Forest with his band of merry men, robbing from the rich to feed the poor.  But for the most part this story is one of invention and imagination, as there is very little evidence to support this.

Stephen R. Lawhead, bestselling author of many books including his Song of Albion series and his Pendragon Cycle, does something a little different in his King Raven trilogy, pulling from various sources and melding a world of eleventh century turbulent history and Welsh mythology.  It is again very much a what if, but one steeped in research, making it a fascinating read.  It also, perhaps for the first time, puts Robin Hood on an epic stage with these three long and detailed books, giving this mysterious character of history the recognition and respect he deserves.

Hood: There are a couple of “legends” in British history that many people worldwide know about: one of them is King Arthur and the other is Robin Hood.  Arthur has an entire bookshelf of history and fiction written about him, and many of those fiction books profess to be as accurate as the possible truth, even though it is still not fully known if there ever was such a living person.  As for Robin Hood, much of the same story and lore shrouds this figure, and yet the amount written about him is small in comparison.  There are many seminal works that are considered part of the “King Arthur Cannon,” such as Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, Chretien de Troyes romances, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles, and Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles, to name a few.  In fact the author, Stephen R. Lawhead, has even written a series about Merlin and Arthur, known as his Pendragon Cycle.  There have been mediocre to poor TV shows about he who robs from the rich to feed the poor, but there has never really been an equivalent book series or trilogy about Robin Hood of a high caliber; until now.

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Bookbanter Column: “Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 2: Riyria Revelations” on Forces of Geek

Some years ago, author Michael J. Sullivan began writing a fantasy for his daughter: a story that she would enjoy hearing, but also one that he would enjoy reading.  It eventually turned into a six-book epic fantasy series that was published through an independent press.

What was perhaps most unique about the Riyria Revelations was that Sullivan had all six books completely plotted and planned to serve as individual, stand-alone novels, but also linked together into a long series.

The series slowly but surely gained momentum and a following, as more readers and fans were discovered, and the books received more ratings and reviews on the likes of Good Reads and Amazon, and Sullivan received more and more interview requests, including with yours truly.  His popularity and success grew to such a point that after the release of the fifth book in the series, Sullivan finally got that big publishing contract with Orbit Books, who released the series in three volumes late last year and early this year, with two books in each volume.

This is the story of two thieves who change and grow and develop through each of the six books, as readers become so attached to them that by the end they feel like family.  It is also the story of what heritage and history means, and that the past is never truly gone, but also that sometimes these things don’t have to matter as much as people think they do, and it’s important to enjoy life however you can.

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