We’re super excited for Joshua Khan’s Shadow Magic, published by Scholastic, which sounds fabulous! We’re thrilled to have Joshua doing our 5-4-3-2-1 feature today.
Books you’d save from a burning bookcase
It was read to me when I was about seven and, I think, the reason I do what I do. I read it again every few years and am instantly transported back to that summer day when I sat on the lino floor in the classroom and the teacher uttered the immortal words, “In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.”
I read it to my wife and newborn daughter during those 4am feeds, when you feel that it’s just the three of you alone in the world and everything is at peace. Daughter is now 15 and keen fantasy reader. I wonder if the Hobbit reached through those new ears and settled somewhere deep within?
Epic sci-fi and truly orginal. All sci-fi that followed has some Dune in its DNA. Game of Thrones owes it a huge one, given it’s all about noble houses at war. I even loved the David Lynch movie. Where to begin? The Bene Gesserit. The Fremen. The Gom Jabbar. While Tolkien wears his Anglo Saxon and Norse mythology on his Hobbit-sized sleeve, Frank Herbert came (seemingly) out of nowhere. The plot, interestingly, follows the course of the rise of Islam (desert prophet gathering the tribes to an all-conquering empire, and then the managing of his legacy) and that’s something still rare in even modern sci-fi, that (like much fantasy) cleaves close to its European sources. Frank Herbert showed the way, even then.
Ok, I skip the poetry, but like Dune, it is a book with grandeur, huge ambition, and one that reminds us of how the most unlikely heroes can change the destiny of the world.
Philip Reeves is a literary god. Nothing more to say, really.
The Book of Lost Things
By John Connolly. Macabre, surreal and packing the most powerful emotional punch. This is Grimm’s Fairy Tales at its grimmest. It makes your skin crawl but you will be weeping by the end of it.
TV shows you can watch all day long (when not busy writing)
Vikings. Low-key, at least at the beginning, then with each season building upon the last. Ragnar starts as a farmer, becomes earl then king then legend. It’s great as it’s arching over his life, he’s now getting old and conflicted, and the series covers both the action in England and across in France. It doesn’t have the grand operatic feel of GoT, and its stronger for it. It still remains a tight, family drama, but with axes and a lot of blood letting.
Game of Thrones. Oh Lord, where to begin? I’m still upset about poor Rob! The scope is mind-boggling, and I’m in awe of the writers for keeping so many balls in the air over this. What the story does right is keep it about the characters, not the setting, which is as elaborate and as detailed as anything Tolkien produced. You may not agree with the actions of the characters, but they come from an authentic place in their hearts.
Lucifer. Now this is cheeky, sexy and very tongue-in-cheek and a million miles away from the other somewhat po-faced fantasy series out there. Season Two’s just kicked off and Lucifer’s mum (yes, his mum) has just escaped hell.