Towers in Fantasy Books

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Towers. These towers can be tricky places to visit, since a lot of them are either hidden or in ruins. All the links for the books take you to GoodReads. The picture of Barad-dûr is from Tolkien

1. The Tower of Joy
From A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
The tower where Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna, died under mysterious circumstances. Eddard had the tower torn down, though, so you can’t actually visit it on your tour of fantasylands nowadays.

2. The Tower of the Hand
From A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
A bit more recently important tower from the ASoIaF universe is, of course, the Tower of the Hand. It is very pleasant and richly furnished, but must not be a very cheery place, considering that most of the King’s Hands seem to have met a bad end.

3. The Tower of High Sorcery of Wayreth
From the Dragonlance universe
The Tower of Wayreth makes another appearance on these lists. This is where the Test of High Sorcery takes place. The tower can be quite tricky to visit, since it changes location, and only shows itself to the people it chooses.

4. The Tower of High Sorcery at Nightlund
From the Dragonlance universe
Another tower from the Dragonlance universe, this is where Raistlin Majere sets up shop with his apprentice, Dalamar, in Dragonlance: Legends. This one used to be The Tower of High Sorcery at Palanthas, but bad things happened. The tower is still standing, but it is an empty shell, and I would not encourage you to tread inside.

5. Barad-Dûr
From The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Dark Tower is a fortress in Mordor. From its highest tower the Eye of Sauron kept watch over Middle-earth. Again, a historically important tower, now only ruins.

None of these towers are very happy places – I think being, at the least, a bit gloomy is a prerequisite to being a tower in fantasy books. Can you think of a cheery tower from a fantasy book?


Current Reads: Broken Homes

This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. As usual, the book covers in this post link to GoodReads.

I’m currently reading

Broken Homes
Broken Homes

(Peter Grant #4)
By: Ben Aaronovitch
Genre: Urban fantasy police procedural
First published in 2013

Police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant has to solve a murder case while continuing to navigate the magical politics of the gods and goddesses of the rivers of London.

I absolutely love Peter, Leslie and Nightingale, so I’m terribly happy to be back in this world! I love Aaronovitch’s wry humour, and the mixing of wizards with police procedurals. My current favorite urban fantasy series.

I’m also reading the horror classic Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.

I recently finished

The Last Unicorn
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

What is up next

The King of Elfland's Daughter The Princess Bride Keeping It Real
I will be choosing from these library books:
The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity #1) by Justina Robson

Review: Brave New World

Here is what I thought of one of the books I read for July’s classic-themed #AYearAThon. All the links lead to GoodReads.

Brave New World
Brave New World

By: Aldous Huxley
Genre: Dystopian sf classic
First published in 1932

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing, and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers.

Brave New World is set in a future society, the World State, where people are bred for a specific social status and work place – a caste system made possible by genetically modifying embryos, as well as conditioning toddlers and subliminally teaching the kids by playing them recordings while they are sleeping. People fill all their free time by consuming goods and services, or tripping on drugs. Silence is perceived to be scary (just turn the radio on), and any less-than-happy feelings are corrected quickly (just take some government approved drugs). The society is believed by most of its residents to be a utopia, but the reader clearly understands it to be a dystopia.

The story itself follows a few characters: two men that don’t quite feel like they belong, who value other things – one an unpopular outcast, the other a popular member of the society. There’s also a woman, who is a pretty normal follower of the society’s standards. Then there is “the Savage”, a young man brought into the society from the outside, having grown as the only white kid at a reservation. Through these people, but mainly Bernard, the unpopular outcast, and John, the Savage from outside, Huxley deals with the question of nature vs nurture, as well as the morals of different societies.

The concept and ideas are the carrying force of the novel, and while the book works on an intellectual level, the main plot and characters left me a bit cold. Where Huxley really triumphs, in my opinion, is by not hailing either the practices of the utopia, or of the reservation, as the better practice. They both have their faults. The “everyone belongs to everyone” sexually promiscuous society is no more or less unhealthy than when John lashes out at a woman because of how he has seen people violently react to a similar person in his childhood at the Reservation. Also, while the members of the World State automatically utter platitudes which were subliminally taught to them as a child, so does John quote his beloved copy of Shakespeare’s works, even when he sometimes has no idea of the meaning of the words. Both of the main male characters fall in love with a female character just based on her looks, assigning qualities to her in their minds that don’t match the reality, then are disappointed in her because she fails to deliver, simply by being the product of her society.

My edition included the authors foreword (better to be read after finishing the novel), written in 1946. Years after finishing the novel, Huxley takes a look at how the forecasts of his books have or have not come true, and makes some new predictions of the future. It is very interesting to read, and compare his predictions, both in the book and in the foreword, to the world of today.

There were a couple of things in the book’s future that seemed funny and endearing in our modern day, so I’ll list some below.

There’s the large government facility that stores all their information in:

“Eighty-eight cubic meters of card-index”.
“Containing all the relevant information.”
“Brought up to date every morning.”
“And co-ordinated every afternoon.”

In the age of computers, it does feel a bit silly. Also, the scientists of the World State can make one ovary yield over fifteen thousand adult individuals (via cloning). So, how huge is the population of the planet, then? “Two thousand million inhabitants.” Two billion people… vs. our 7 billion.

Then there’s a field reporter who has an aluminium hat that can sprout antennae, a microphone, and receivers over his ears. The power source with the required wires he carries around his waist. He presses a switch on the hat and has a radio connection to his paper’s headquarters, and can now make his interview. In this day and age, he would only have to grab his cell phone from his pocket. I did like how Huxley had thought of an apparatus that can do it all, though.

This was supposed to be a mini review, but it did turn out to be quite a long one, now didn’t it? Brave New World definitely earns its place as a dystopian classic that is still relevant to the modern audience, with a lot of comments on consumerism and the constant feed of entertainment. Like I said, the characters and main plot did leave me a bit cold, and while I do appreciate its ideas and understands its place as a classic, my personal reading experience gives the book 3 out of 5 stars.

Mainly Library Book Haul

Here is a little book haul for you guys! You can watch the video if you want to know more, but all the books are also linked below.

Library Books

The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
The King of Elfland’s Daughter, by Lord Dunsany
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Broken Homes (Peter Grant, #4), by Ben Aaronovitch
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Bought Books

Seconds, by Brian Lee O’Malley
Rat Queens Vol. 1, by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1), by James S.A. Corey

Current Reads: Middle Grade (#AYearAThon August)

The August theme for #AYearAThon is Middle Grade. I continue with my tactic of picking up two books I own from my physical TBR shelf.

This post is also linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The book covers link you to GoodReads.

Watch the video or just read about the books below. (And excuse my appearance, our apartment was boiling hot today!)

Planned Reading List

The Book of Lost Things The Dark is Rising
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising #2) by Susan Cooper

These are my main picks. Both have been on my shelves for a while, so it is high time that I got to them. They both sound very interesting, so I think I’ll have fun this week! I’m going to start with The Book of Lost Things today.


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1), by Catherynne M. Valente

This is the group read for the month. I borrowed the ebook from the library, and will read it if I have time left over from my main picks.

What are you reading this week? Comment or leave a link below!