Fantasy writing is flourishing in Australia these days. Led by established authors such as Garth Nix, Kate Forsythe and Isobel Carmody, the quality of Aussie fantasy just keeps getting better and better. With so much good local fantasy available, I wanted to take some time to highlight some of the best recent releases.
THE CRY OF THE MARWING: KIRA CHRONICLES BOOK 3
by K.S. Nikakis
K.S. Nikakis actually literally has a PhD in Fantasy Fiction, with her thesis entitled The Use of Narrative in Order to Break the Masculine Dominance Of the Hero Quest. Her debut series, The Kira Chronicles, obviously benefits from her ideas on the subject. Kira is a marvellous character, compelled to undertake a perilous quest to save her besieged, pacifist community. She is a true heroine in her own right, not simply a woman adopting the traditional male hero persona.
In Cry of the Marwing, the concluding chapter of the trilogy, she is forced to betray all her principles in order to save her homeland. The Kira Chronicles is one of those special series that has everything — a gripping story in an expansive and beautifully described world, centred by three dimensional characters with true human drama.
TRACATO: A TRIAL OF BLOOD AND STEEL BOOK 3
by Joel Shepherd
Joel Shepherd has quickly made the transition from up-and-coming-writer-to-watch to an accomplished and reliable spec fiction author. His second series, A Trial of Blood and Steel, has recently been bought in the US by exciting genre publisher Pyr. Tracato, released this month, is the third volume of this politically savvy fantasy quartet.
The noble-born swordswoman, Sasha, still struggles under the expectations of her people and against the squabblings of feudal lords, desperate to hold onto power in the face of revolution. And now despite all her best efforts, Rhodia has fallen into war. Tracato sees some side characters from previous books come to the fore, giving the readers fresh perspectives and removing some of the narrative load off Sasha.
ARROWS OF TIME
by Kim Falconer
Kim Falconer brings together science and fantasy in her first fiction series, the aptly named Quantum Enchantment Trilogy. Set upon two future worlds—a post-apocalyptic Earth and a distant colony on Earth-like Gaela—Falconer plays with technology and magic, quantum theory and astrology, to create a completely original universe where space and time don’t always behave the way we think they should. Portals exist, for example, between the two worlds allowing those with the ability to jump backwards and forwards in space and time. But there’s risks involved and playing with time can really mess up your day. There’s some interesting theory behind all of this and Falconer balances it all with aplomb while managing to develop some great characters to boot.
The second book, Arrows of Time, is due out this month but you will need to read The Spell of Rosette first if you are going to have any chance understanding it all. Personally, I’m a sceptic when it comes to universal connectedness theories and the appropriation of quantum theory by those attracted by its mysteriousness kind of annoys me but, for fantasy and science fiction readers who like to mix Quantum theory with magic, this is just the ticket.
THE DARK GRIFFIN
by K. J. Talyor
K. J. Taylor is a young author out of Canberra celebrating the release of her second novel and her first foray into adult fantasy fiction. The Dark Griffin takes place in the mythical world of Cymria, where griffins rule side by side with humans. There are problems both political and practical in the sharing of power and high status is afforded to the ‘Griffiners’, human companions who act as diplomats or ambassadors to the griffins, facilitating communication and smoothing relations between the species.
Arren is a griffiner but, being a Northerner, he is mistrusted and despised by his colleagues so that, when his griffin dies, his grief and resentment mix dangerously. Then he meets the Black Griffin, a rogue, desperate to escape his gladiatorial enslavement and quick to recognise Arren as the perfect means to an end. The Dark Griffin is a tight psychological fantasy with memorable characters and a fascinating world to explore – I’m looking forward to reading more.
This post adapted from my article in the Booktopia SF & Fantasy Buzz