Sunday, 23 March 2014

Carl's Once Upon a Time VIII challenge

    It's here!  It's here!  It's finally here!  Carl's annual Once Upon a Time Challenge, VIII. 

As he writes:  
“Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
~William Butler Yeats
 "It is that voice that beckons us to Middle-earth and Newford, that calls out from the gap in the village of Wall and from the world of London Below. It is the voice that packs so much promise into four little words…
“Once upon a time…”
Perhaps you too have heard that voice whispering on the spring wind, or perhaps Old Man Winter continues to drown out the sound; either way that time has come: Once Upon a Time is here!"

I am going to do Quest the Second:" Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category."
 I am also going to do Quest the Short Story: " This quest involves the reading of one or more short stories that fit within at least one of the four genres during the course of any weekend, or weekends, during the challenge. Ideally you would post about your short story readings on Sundays or Mondays, but this is not strictly necessary."

The books:
 Doll Bones - Holly Black
The Wood Wife - Terri Windling
Dragon Haven - Robin Hobb
London Falling - Paul Cornell
Red Moon - Benjamin Percy
Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs
Moon over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch
The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss
The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater
Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay
And Blue Skies From Pain - Stina Leicht
Ironskin - Tina Connolly
Gossip from the Forest - Sara Maitland
Short stories from:
Snow White, Blood Red - ed Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
 Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm - Philip Pullman

The books are a rough list, I may add to it if I come across other books I forgot to add, or that just look interesting.

Some books I read for past OUaT challenges:
This is one of my favourite challenges.  In past years, I have read such wonderful fantasy,dark fantasy, and faerie books as:
Of Blood and Honey - Stina Leicht, review here
some fairy lore from The Lore of Scotland, here;
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, review here
Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint, review here;
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin, review here ;
The Face in the Frost - John Bellairs,  The Godstalker Chronicles - P.C. Hodge, Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon - Charles De Lint,  Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs, Tooth and Claw - Jo Walton - all reviewed here;
 Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, reviewed here;

I also came across a post I did in 2009, during that year's Once Upon a Time Challenge. It was for science fiction and fantasy day, and talks about why we read fantasy.  I thought it would be timely to link to here.   I also found a post I did on one of the essays in Ursula K LeGuin's book The Language of the Night, linked here.  Her book is all about fantasy, and why we need it.  Indispensible, and if you are looking for something to challenge you during this challenge, to help you sort through why you love fantasy so much (because so many people still think fantasy is a genre that is barely decent and certainly not literature), then this book will help you see how honourable fantasy books really are.  We do need them.

  If you read fantasy, do you have any thoughts on why you enjoy it so much?  Is it the fairies that intrigue you, myths coming to life, or the incredible range of story types available?  Do you like paranormal romances, vampire fiction, werewolves, derring do adventures, hobbits, elves?  Magic?  Trolls and goblins and dangerous things in the shadows?  Fantasy has all of these.  There is something in fantasy writing that reaches to our wordless selves that understand some things are beyond word knowing.    We know fairy tales are true, even if we don't quite know how we do.  Fantasy books enrich our imaginations, giving voice to our fears and dreams, and showing us ways to survive and avoid dangers.

I hope you have a wonderful fantasy reading challenge, my dear readers.   Thank you to Carl for once again hosting it!


brideofthebookgod said...

Great list Susan! I hope you enjoy The Wood Wife, it's one of my favourite books (and ripe for re-reading)

Geranium Cat said...

LOL, I'm going to be reading all the old posts you linked to for the rest of the week! What a brilliant introduction to the challenge. Hope you get to The Wise Man's Fear, I'm dying to know what you think.

It's ridiculous that we are still having to defend fantasy as literature, isn't it? We've arrived at a strange, post-Victorian world which still holds to values about what belongs to the world of children and the world of adults and has far more to do with fitting young men to join the army than anything else.

Um, I'll try to write a proper answer to your question when I've got a bit more time... towards the end of the challenge perhaps.

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

That's a long list of books, most impressive.
I'm intrigued by The Wise Man's Fear and Ironskin.
I think Neil Gaiman may have been responsible for my love of fantasy. The man is a magician with words (no pun intended).
I also love vampire stories, but more dark & sinister rather than the teenage-romanticized versions.

JaneGS said...

I love the sound of this challenge and wish I had time to dive into it. I just reread/rewatched A Midsummer's Night Dream and am definitely in the mood for fancy, fairies, and fairyland forlorn!

Enjoy :)

Cath said...

Some terrific choices there, Susan! One of the best lists I've seen. I see we're both planning to read The Wood Wife and we have other authors in common too.

I was never a huge fantasy reader until about ten years ago. A friend persuaded me to try Terry Pratchett and I've not looked back since. I love it all, well almost... not that great on retold fairy stories but everything else is fine. Particularly love those travelling 'quest' type of stories.

I started one book, abandoned it, and am now halfway through Among Others by Jo Walton on my Kindle. Oh gosh, I *love* it. Had no idea it was such a great book. I think I'll have to get Tooth and Claw next and start on What Makes This Book so Great that I have from the library.

Good luck with the challenge.

Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous said...

Great list! Looking forward to your reviews.

I love fairy tale-inspired fantasy, because I like seeing the familiar stories with clever new twists--the endless variety always amazes me. I also enjoy fantasy's ability to take us into worlds that are so different from our own...and I like following characters who have to discover their own value or place in their world...

Susan said...

Bride: Thank you! Did you review The Wood Wife? I'd like to see your review, if you did :-) I had no idea you'd read it and loved it so much.

Btw, I can't post on your blog - Wordpress hates me right now, and I tried to leave one last night on your OUaT post. Just so you know! It will be in your blog trash :-( if it's like the other wordpress blogs.

Geranium Cat: Thanks! I had fun doing that last night. Of course I thought of other books I really liked/discovered during the challenges, afterwards! :-) Did you read The Wise Man's Fear? I loved the first one, The Name of the Wind, very much, so I'm hoping this second one is as good.

I am so disappointed that literary critics still look down on fantasy so very much. It shouldn't bother so much, I know, except that their awards are touted as 'books everyone wants to read' to be learned, and the same prestige isn't given to fantasy books. Some of the best writing and story telling is in fantasy - Among Others is extraordinary in many ways - and yet outside fantasy circles, no one pays any attention. That's what bothers me, the same with the really good horror books. I like your comment about the fitting young men to join the army kind of values - you are right there. The world of children, too - that's how fantasy is seen. And it's wrong. We all at least know this....

Delia: The Wise Man's Fear is the second book in the series, The Name of the Wind is the first book. I really enjoyed it when I read it a few years ago. Ironskin looks so interesting! I'm surprised more people haven't read it, so I'm hoping I do - I will blog about it.

Have you read Sunshine by Robin McKinley? A very good and dark vampire novel. Let me know what ones you've read, like you I much prefer the dark and sinister vs the teen versions.

Jane: Which version of A Midsummer's Night Dream did you see, the one with Kevin Kline? You know, you only have to read one novel to complete the challenge!! :-D

Susan said...

Cath: thank you for the compliment about the list! The good news is I own all the books, so I don't have to wait on any. I'm hoping you will read The Wood Wife soon, so we can compare notes :-)

I wonder what it is about retold fairy tales that you don't like? I am hit or miss with them. The short version of retold fairy tales can be quite brilliant.

I have to give a shout-out to Jo Walton's What Makes This book so Great, because I read one post on The Wood Wife to see what she said, and she writes about it so well that i knew I had to read it right away, and was able to get past the first two pages for the first time. I'm really enjoying it now. Very good writing. Sadly I had to give What Makes this Book so Great back to the library.

Among Others is so much fun! So well written, and so interesting. I am so glad you are enjoying it. I am looking forward to your review :-)

Cheryl: thank you so much! You too, enjoy this challenge. I'll come look at your list too.

Those are excellent reasons for loving fantasy. Thank you for sharing them. I agree with all your points, that fantasy takes us to other worlds and gives us other view points with which to see the world. I really like the point that much of fantasy is about discovering the character's place in the world. Excellent point.

Enjoy the challenge too!

brideofthebookgod said...

The Wood Wife was pre-blog sadly but if I re-read it (and I am SO tempted) I'll make sure to post. Sorry you're having problems with WP, i shall take a look!

Cath said...

I promise to get to The Wood Wide soon. I've put it on my OUaT list for several years now and this year I'm determined to get to it.

I honestly think my problem with retold fairy stories is that I know what's going to happen... more or less anyway. Some are fine, I quite enjoyed Robin McKinley's 'Beauty' for instance. And Sheri Tepper's Beauty was also not bad.

I haven't looked at What Makes This Book so Great yet. Still have a couple of renewals left on it I think. Plus, I'm almost certain I'm going to ask for it for my birthday in May. What I'm loving about Among Others is all the sci fi books recs. I need to reread it with a notebook and pen to make a note of all the great books!

Susan said...

Bride: I wondered if you had read it that long ago! Yes, if you reread it, you know you and me and Cath can all compare notes :-D I am really enjoying it.

Cath: I think you will really enjoy The Wood Wife! hint! lol Still, it took me several years until it was the right time - sometimes books are like that.

Yes, Robin McKinley's Beauty I really liked when I read it years ago. It's due for a reread soon. I have Sheri Teppers' Beauty on my pile of books to read.

That's so funny, because as I flipped quickly through What Makes This Book So Great, I was wondering if I was going to ask for it for my birthday too! It has some really good thoughts on science fiction and fantasy and books and publishing. Yes, I think I do want it.

Among Others was like that for me too! So many books she talks about in it, and I wanted to read them all. I was always happy when I had already read one, so I didn't have to try to look for it! lol

Cath said...

Hint taken, though I must have some crime next... I'm so hooked on it at the moment. :-)

Yes, I'm quite sure I'm going to want to own What Makes This Book so Great. I think it's going to be another Howard's End is on the Landing for me (though SH famously does not like fantasy. *gasp*)

I love the fact that Morwenna likes Robert Silverberg as he's a favourite of mine as well. And Ursula K. le Guin of course. Not read any Samuel Delaney so I must get around to him at some stage. I'm assuming, rightly or wrongly, that some of these books will be talked about in WMtBsG...

Love their sci-fi book club. Wouldn't it be brilliant if we book bloggers could do that, but we'd need a Star Trek style transporter. LOL

Susan said...

Cath: that would be so much fun, to have a Star Trek transporter! We would have such a great book club then :-) and could all meet, from all over the world.

There are so many books in Among Others that Morwenna loves that I haven't read, that I want to read now :-)

And yes, please do read crime! and mystery! I have a stack of ones I want to read too, I can't believe I haven't read them yet. I also have Howard's End on the Landing which I haven't read yet either. I need an extra life just to get all the books read!! :-D