Ask her how she did it, and I will make all straight for her. Yesterday she saved your life, slew a wicked magician, set fire to Moscow and then saved it all in a single night. Do you know my sister? But of course, Dmitrii did not. He only knew Vasilii Petrovich, the boy she had pretended to be. They are one and the same. Beneath his bluster Dmitrii must realize that; his unease betrayed him. A cry from the men around the stable spared Sasha from answering. Dmitrii turned with relief. What is it? One of the men found his tongue. He pointed at a gap between two fallen posts, and someone thrust down a torch.
An echoing gleam came from below where a shining thing gave back the torchlight. The Grand Prince and his cousin stared, dazzled, doubting. A fourth plucked it out and handed it to the Grand Prince. Gold it was: fine gold, and not melted. It had been forged into heavy links and stiff bars, oddly jointed. The metal had an oily sheen; it threw a shimmer of white and scarlet onto the ring of peering faces and made Sasha uneasy.
The thing was a bridle. An armful of gold was very welcome to a prince whose coffers had been shrunk by bandits and by fire. His eye dwelled with disfavor on the spiked bit. A hot meal and wine for all you men; well done. Dmitrii handed off the bridle to his steward. It might cheer her. Then see it safely locked away. Miraculous, coming on the heels of that other miracle: the snowstorm that delivered us.
You are to tell anyone who asks exactly that. God spared this golden thing, because he knew our need was great. Sasha had stilled, his head lifted. Dmitrii frowned. The fire had not touched it, except for singeing from falling sparks.
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All Moscow roiled with rumors, with sobs, curses, arguments, questions, and yet here a fragile order reigned. The lamps were lit; servants gathered what could be spared for the comfort of the impoverished. The horses drowsed in their stable; tidy columns of smoke rose from the chimneys of bakehouse and cookhouse, brewhouse, and the palace itself.
The author of this order was a single woman. She sat in her workroom, upright, impeccable, starkly pale. Sweeping lines of strain framed her mouth, though she was not yet thirty. She had gone into the bathhouse the night before and delivered her third child, dead. In that same hour, her firstborn had been stolen, and nearly lost in the horrors of the night.
But despite all that, Olga Vladimirova would not rest. There was too much to be done. A steady stream of people came to her, where she sat by the workroom oven: steward and cook, carpenter, baker, and washerwoman. Each one was dispatched with an assignment and some words of thanks. A pause came between petitioners, and Olga slumped back in her chair, arms wrapped around her belly, where her unborn child had been. She had dismissed her other women hours ago; they were higher in the terem, sleeping off the shocks of the night.
But one person would not go. In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child - not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring, like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power - the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Enter a world where fire and ice are mortal enemies Ruby is a Fireblood. In a land ruled by frost, her very existence is a crime. She's spent her whole life in hiding. Until the day Frostblood soldiers raid her village and kill her mother. The day she swears to avenge her people. She must travel deep into the heart of the enemy, to the court of the Frost King, with only the mysterious warrior Arcus - a Frostblood rebel - by her side. But with alliances between flame and ice strictly forbidden, is Arcus friend or foe?
India Steele is desperate.
- by Katherine Arden!
- The Best Fantasy Novels of All Time | Penguin Random House.
- by Nnedi Okorafor.
Indeed, the other London watchmakers seem frightened of her. Alone, poor, and at the end of her tether, India takes employment with the only person who'll accept her - an enigmatic and mysterious man from America, a man who possesses a strange watch that rejuvenates him when he's ill. Alek Fitz is a reaper, a collection agent who works for the supernatural elements of the world, tracking down debtors and solving problems for clients as diverse as the Lords of Hell, vampires, Haitian loa, and goblins.
Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, Alek is the best in the game. Paris, The Nazis have occupied the city - and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses. For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer.
A magical debut novel for listeners of Naomi Novik's Uprooted , Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus , and Neil Gaiman's myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year, and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind - she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed - this in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales. This was such a wonderful story that I honestly got lost in it and it was unlike any book I have read. It was also familiar, in a way, and reminded me of stories my own grandmother used to tell me when I was little. This is a story with a strong protagonist, rich characters and an enchanting story that proves you are never too old for fairy tales.
I would recommend it to anyone, but especially someone who loves folktales and especially on a cold night with warm tea handy! This novel of Russian Folklore is beautifully written with smooth narration. Arden paints a great mental landscape with rich descriptions Russia and it's culture. If this is a fairy tale, it is an adult fairy tale. I am certain that reviewers have been as favorable or moreso! Absolutely fresh and refreshing, learning about Russian fables She injects a certain Eastern focus by explaining, for example, the lore surrounding "Frost", which is most interestingly and definitely different the "Jack Frost" tales we have here in the USA.
Last, but far and away from "least" for the author, Katherine Arden, a huge "BRAVA" for her ability to bring Russian tales to light and sprinkling them them throughout to honestly picture the difference between East and West -- even to the "tales" we honor by passing them on the next generation. AND to presenting us with memorable insight to what makes our fairy tales so very entertaining, in this case, the "Eastern" focus and it's impact on both the story, the characters and the reader. Any additional comments? The Bear and the Nightingale swept me off my feet. Everything about it drew me in and kept me from putting the book down - I finished it in just a week, reading several hours a night.
Katherine Arden is a remarkably gifted world-builder and her prose style is gorgeous; the book comes to life before your eyes. I felt like I was in medieval Russia with the vivid, yet not overwhelming, description. That's a balance that seems to elude most modern-day authors, but when on the rare occasion one finds it as Arden did, everyone wins. I know almost nothing of Russian history or folklore beyond the context of this book, so my commentary on the cultural and historical aspects of the story is useless.
Regardless, I found the mythological aspects thrilling. Without any pre-existing understanding, it took me a while to figure out what some of the creatures were and their significance. I wasn't sure if they were malevolent or misunderstood. It's difficult to explain exactly what they are - personifications and guardian spirits, or perhaps both.
I was reminded of Miyazaki's Spirited Away in this sense, which I thought was pretty interesting given the very different and separate contexts. Strangely enough, I think this comparison actually helped me get the concept of the Russian spirits better than I might have otherwise. I really enjoyed the characters in this book - Vasya, especially, but also Dunya and even Ana only as a character, not a person.
To expand on that - Ana had a lot of dynamicism and I went through a whole cycle of emotions towards her throughout the story although none of those emotions was fondness. The relationship between Dunya and Marina and then Dunya and Vasya was Vasya herself was so easy to love - it sounds like a simple thing, but writing a character the reader is meant to love can go so terribly wrong, and there is no worse fate for a character than to become a Mary Sue. Vasya managed to be noble, courageous, persevering, and full of strength and fortitude without ever dipping a toe into those deadly waters.
I loved her character and getting the reader to love Vasya was such a critical accomplishment. No matter how beautiful the prose and elaborate the world-building, The Bear and the Nightingale is Vasya's story - for it to work, the reader has to love Vasya; there is no other option. Arden accomplished this brilliantly.
I found the religious conflict in the story to be interesting, although there were points that I wasn't comfortable with. I really enjoyed the way Arden portrayed the merging of traditional Russian spiritual beliefs with newly-imparted Christianity in Pyotr's lands. Being that Pyotr and his family did not live in the central kingdom of Moscow where, it appears, due to the strong influence of the king, other religious customs were no longer tolerated , it made sense that, having less pressure on them to fully devote themselves to Christianity, the transition would have been less of a conversion than an incorporation of new and old belief systems.
This has been the case in innumerable cultures worldwide as varying religions spread. No pressure, right? Too bad Ren's fate isn't as simple as getting it on with four scorching-hot guys. Someone is out for dragon shifter blood, intent on finishing the massacre. Then something strange happens. I get stuck in the middle of a bar fight, and instead of just punching the guy back, I blow a hole in the wall. I guess I do have powers.
by Lewis Carroll
This shit is definitely not normal. And it seems the magical authorities agree. I can go to school, learn to control my magic. One badass mercenary. Four sexy-as-sin rebels. Bound together by powerful magic and dangerous desire I get by just fine working as a bounty hunter Turns out, I do have magic. And it's so powerful, it's bonded four insanely gorgeous men to me. But if I agree to fight alongside them, I may be risking more than my life.
I could lose my heart too. For years I've been quiet, obedient Rose Hallowell. I accepted the man my stepmother chose for me. But I never stopped missing my long-ago friends. Now we're back on my childhood estate to arrange my marriage. The boys I grew up with? They're still in town - and they haven't forgotten me either.
And damn if they haven't grown up well.
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They're charming and sweet and infuriatingly hot, and I can't seem to stay away. The more I try to resist, the more secrets I uncover about my family, my betrothal, and everything I thought was true about the witching world. I've been lied to. I've been betrayed. Four renegade wolf shifters. An innocent young woman trapped in a web of lies. When their fates collide, sparks will fly. You'd think that basically being in charge of love would be an epic job, right? Sure, I can blow some Lust into people's faces and watch the show, but I can't actually participate.
It gets old, trust me.
The Bear and the Nightingale
Same goes for love. I can pass it out like sugar-free lollipops at a dentist's office, but I can't get any love for myself. It totally sucks. I used to consider myself a hopeless romantic, so why wouldn't I choose to become a cupid? Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong again. They don't call us stupid cupids for nothing. The gods walk among us. And they just might steal your soul I thought I'd survived everything life could throw at me. All I wanted was to keep my distance from the criminals I work for and get my little brother out of the hell that is our mother's house.
Then I died and woke up to four stunningly hot gods telling me I'm now a valkyrie.
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Sly, sharp Loki. Jovial but ferocious Thor. Dreamily compassionate Baldur. Grim and secretive Hod. They all have something to teach me.
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