Asian Fantasy

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What a terrible post title, huh? But descriptive! While I was at BEA, I got an email from the library saying that a book I had on hold had come in. Figures, right? Just when I’m drowning in books, more arrive.

The book that had arrived was Eona by Alison Goodman. I loved Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, and the sequel was a wonderful, sprawling epic. If you like fantasy with dragons, a girl who pretends to be a boy and learns how to fight (while crippled!), and a fictionalized Imperial China, these books are for you. Actually, I think Goodman used elements of both Chinese and Japanese mythology and culture to create her world, and while I love Lewis & Tolkien, I’m really enjoying worlds that diverge from the Western fantasy canon.

Speaking of, one of my BEA books was Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon. I wanted to love Silver Phoenix, and there were bits of it that I thought were terrific — the world, the setting, the food — but the plot was a little choppy, especially toward the end. I wish she had taken more time unfolding the story, as she had with the food descriptions and setting. Fury of the Phoenix is a solid step up. It’s a challenging book to pull off craft-wise because Pon is telling two narratives at the same time, centuries apart, with the past informing and affecting the present. To her credit, she keeps the pacing up across story lines and keeps them both moving forward tightly and skillfully. I love watching writers grow, and you can see her growth from one book to the next. My one gripe is the transitions between the two stories — I couldn’t tell how much the present figure knew of the previous story — and at times I thought they should have been more directly tied together rather than unfolding in parallel. Still, I’m glad to spend more time in this spectacular world and looking forward to more.

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