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Old 05-05-2011, 03:12 PM   #9246
ATDrake
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Roundworld
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
As of late, I've become a sucker for revamped fairy tales.
An excellent graphic novel series that blends fairy tales with noir tropes is Frank Cammuso's Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective series. The author has a nifty website up with bonus art, including the original 6-page story which preceded the series, which you can read for free.

You might also want to look up P. Craig Russell's excellent The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde GN series and perhaps his Opera tales, if you haven't already, as well as Bryan Talbot's Alice in Sunderland which is a marvelous biographical deconstruction of Lewis Carroll's life, with many visual homages to other comic book art (there's an excellent après Tintin splash page that is worth the price of admission).

As for me, I finished Christopher Stasheff's The Warlock in Spite of Himself, which aside from the eye-rolling mild misogyny of that sort of patronizing old-school Boy's Own Adventure on Faux-Medieval Colony World style was a mildly fun read.

Then for a minor change of pace, moved on from pseudo-historical recreationist sf/fantasy to mytho-historical extrapolationist magical realism with Jo Graham's Black Ships, which was shortlisted for a Locus Best First Novel Award, which I have to say it definitely qualifies for.

The back blurb compares it to Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, but really, the MZB book that it brought to mind was The Firebrand: her retelling of the Trojan War from the POV of the doomed prophetess Kassandra*.

Black Ships is vaguely similar in having as its viewpoint character an oracle who serves as the Pythia, but this is more of an after-story, as in the aftermath of Troy, she accompanies the refugees on their way to try and find a new homeland.

Certain changes are made to the classical myth (which I'm not going to spoiler for you since the author uses the mythical "alternative" names {i.e. Alexandros for Paris} for people and places in order not to give away the story too quickly to people who aren't already very familiar with it).

Graham gives her reasons for that in the afterword, where she points out certain historical discrepancies in the myths that she decided to compensate for, by shifting those events to a time and place where they'd have been more "plausible" and make sense in the context of real history.

This book came with excellent extras: not only the author's historical notes and recommended sources, but also a glossary of people and terms, a bonus interview with the author in which she describes the inspiration for this book and her writing choices, and also a reading group guide. I must say that Orbit has done a very nice job.

Highly recommended if you like imaginative retellings of Greco-Roman myths which are reasonably historically-grounded in what little is known about the actual Bronze Age, especially books that come with substantive related extras.

I really liked this one and I'll be adding Graham to my list of authors to automatically check out at the library and buy her e-books if the story is good and the prices are right and there's a good Kobo coupon available.

* Fun fact: The Firebrand was the very first MZB book I ever read, which I sought specifically because it dealt with ancient proto-Greece/Rome†, and only read Mists and Darkover much, much later, which I gather is not the usual way for people to encounter her works, as most readers seem to have started with those first.

† A favourite time/place for which I can thank Asterix and Obelix for introducing me to.
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