I am not a fan of fantasy – except for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games books (if you count the latter as fantasy) – which always seemed weird for some people, cause I’m a big horror movies/books fan. I have heard my entire teenage years and part of my twenties that I should get into fantasy, since I like horrors so much, but I never got into it. I cannot explain why exactly, but horror movies/books are not the same thing as fantasy. So there.
Anyway, one of my friends at work recommended reading Trudi Canavan’s trilogy, and I decided to give fantasy one more chance. I loved Trudi’s books for some inexplicable reason, and I read each of the books from her three trilogies in like one or two days – and they all consisted of 600-800 pages. It didn’t convert me into a fantasy fan, but it did convert me into a Trudi Canavan’s fan. And I have nothing to justify myself with, for they are truly well, silly sometimes. Sentences like “she took magic out of thin air and used it to open the door” and stuff like that. Seriously? Still, I’m in love.
A little technical issue I’m having. I read this collection of stories as one book published in Polish. Despite of my love for English and rather good understanding of it, most books I read in Polish – for practical reasons, because I, hm, still live in Poland. Then for a review I check the English – usually its original – title and use it. This time I had a problem, since I am not sure these stories have ever been published in English (whichever country, and the author is Austrialian, btw) in this form. I know they were published in magazines (Australian if I am not mistaken). Therefore, and because Polish translators tend to be creative with translating the titles; I do not guarantee I got them right.
Whispers of the Mist Children – the first story of the collection and the one I liked the least. It was about a powerful sora, some kind of protector, with a secret from the past. I am all for powerful women, but for no particular reason, I couldn’t get into this one as much as I did into the others. Maybe because I thought it was least emotional, a little detached. Not sure. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it at all. I did like it. It had an interesting enough plot, a nice turn at the end, and it was an easy read. I just preferred the rest of the stories. Also, with this one I am pretty certain I got the title right, cause it was literally translated into Polish.
The Mad Apprentice – story from the world of The Black Magician Trilogy. My best from the five, and I think the longest. It’s a story about how misuse of “black” magic and power can lead to destruction. It’s a story about slowly getting crazy, and about denial, family love and standing by your family despite all odds. The main concept is that the mad apprentice wants to overpower his teacher, and then all teachers/the whole Gild, and then the whole country. It was a great idea to present it from the apprentice’s sister’s point of view, so we could get into her mind and her reasons for staying by her mad brother in spite of common sense.
Camp Follower – In Polish the title was translated into one word that is not used anymore and that I haven’t heard before; I am pretty sure, though, that it must be this story. No other English title of Canavan’s stories fits. So, the story tells about a girl in the middle of the war. The girl follows the soldiers’ camp and becomes a personal lady companion of one of the soldiers. However, she is more than she appears to be, and she has her own agenda and secret reasons to be in the middle of the war. Interesting concept, satisfying ending, and nice carrying out of the story.
Room for Improvement – I am the least sure of this title. In Polish it was something like “A Space for Myself” and it tells about a room where time freezes. One painter, who moves into the house with the room, quickly discovers it and uses it for improving her work. There is a catch, though. It’s written in a form of a diary, which is a great idea for this kind of story. Again, nice idea, and good carrying out.
The Lost Property Room – I actually thought this one was a little funny. A woman loses her umbrella and gets to the Lost Property Room to look for it. When she doesn’t find her own, she takes another with the same color, despite having been warned to “take only what’s hers.” A light, interesting and well written story.
The last two stories were different than the first three – and different than the trilogies I’ve read and become accustomed to. Trudi in my mind is a master of creating these alternate universes filled with true magic, magicians and magical creatures. That’s why these two stories were a little surprise, but they were still quite good and a proof that Trudi can be a decent writer not only in worlds created by her, but also in contemporary world.
The two, however, also included the supernatural.
A nice addition to each story was a note from the author how she got the idea and/or why she wrote a particular story.
My rating: 1. The Mad Apprentice 2. Two stories – Camp Follower and Room for Improvement – ex aequo 3. The Lost Property Room 4. Whispers of the Mist Children