Tag Archives: mythology

Malamander by Thomas Taylor – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Malamander by Thomas Taylor. To find out more about the author you may visit his website. I discovered there that he illustrated the original cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Here is the book blurb.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

This is the first book in the Eerie-on-Sea series.

When you open the book, there is a map of Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside town, which I kept referring back to as I read the story. I do love a map to illustrate a tale.

The story draws you in with fabulous descriptive language right from the start as we get introduced to young Herbie, who is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. His usual remit is lost luggage but the mysterious girl Violet Parma comes especially to see him, declaring she is lost and wants to be found, although obviously not by the scary Boathook Man from whom she hides.

Mystery, adventure detective story, myth, legend, monster, fantasy – this book has it all. The characters and settings are all portrayed wonderfully.

Malamander is a great book, targeted at readers from about age 9-12. A captivating read. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what happens in Gargantis, book 2 at Eerie-on-Sea. And the author is currently writing the third title Shadowghast, which will be published later this year.

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How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon – book review

Disclosure. This post is a review of a book I was sent for free.. All opinions are my own.

I received a free proof copy of the book How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon

Here is the book blurb.

A no-good viking thief. The worst-ever trainee valkyrie. An ungodly case of mistaken identity.

When failing trainee valkyrie Lotta mistakes an unconscious viking thief, Whetstone, for a fallen hero and takes him triumphantly to Valhalla, things are definitely not turning out to be epic or glorious. Having lost a precious talking cup, Whetstone is also desperate to cover up his mistake and the two embark on a quarrelsome journey to find it and regain their heroic status. But Loki the trickster God is desperate to get his hands on the cup with a plan to unleash chaos across the nine worlds. Can Whetstone prove himself a hero after all when it matters most?

The first in a hilarious and fast-paced trilogy about how to be brave, what it means to be a hero and just how confusing the Norse Gods really are. Fully illustrated throughout, Cat Weldon’s How to Be a Hero is perfect for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and Who Let the Gods Out.

I was hoping to get a review from my younger son for this book, as he is very interested in Norse  mythology. However as we have reached the publication date and he still hasn’t started reading the book, you’ll have to make do with just a review from me.

The book draws you in with a couple of double page illustrations at the front. We have the nine worlds all hanging from the huge Yggdrasil tree with Asgard at the top. And then a map of Krud in Midgard, where the story opens, featuring signs like “Ivor the Nose Grinder, Gerroff My Land! Travelling Minstrels will be force fed Cabbage till they burst!” Just the sort of humour that will particularly appeal to young readers. The book has been illustrated by Katie Kear brilliantly.

I’m not very knowledgeable on Norse Mythology but the story all tied in with what I do know of Norse gods and worlds. Loki the trickster god and his son Vali certainly cause havoc in this tale.

The story begins with Whetstone, an orphan aged about 12, stealing a magical golden talking cup from Awfulrick, the Viking chief of Krud, on behalf of Light Finger, the greatest thief in all the known world. We then swap to Asgard to introduce Lotta who is of a similar age, and is training to be a Valkyrie in class 3 but not doing too well. Class 3’s next mission will be the first time they leave Asgard and they will be travelling to Midgard to collect fallen warriors to fill Valhalla.

Whetstone then hides the cup before taking cover himself. But things don’t go quite to plan. He is attacked and left unconscious. Lotta, finds him and assumes he is dead, so takes him back to Asgard as a “fallen hero”, Whoops.

The two have to then pair up to sort out the mess they are in. Lots of fun. Plus throw a dragon into the mix. The book finished leaving me tantalising clues ready for books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, but I’ll have to wait as book 2 doesn’t publish until the summer.

How to be a Hero is a great fun fantasy mythological adventure read, which I highly recommend to children age 9-12. Newly published today.

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Songs of Princes by Janell Rhiannon

I have received a free e-copy of the book Songs of Princes by Janell Rhiannon to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Song of Princes by Janell Rhiannon

Here is the book blurb.

Sing Muse. Sing of the shining citadel of Troy rising from the hot sands of Asia. Sing of the Greek palaces ascending from their rocky hilltops. Sing of one woman’s dream heralding the madness of men and the murder of innocents. From bull dancing rings and wild meadows, the Forgotten Prince must choose between love and a golden crown. From seclusion and safety, the Golden Warrior must choose between his honor and his life. From behind the Great Wall, the Golden Prince must choose between his family and his city. And from a rugged realm on the far side of Greece, the Warrior King must choose between his son’s life and certain exile. Here shepherds and princes, warriors and kings, and seers and lovers seek to conquer their passions, outwit destiny or surrender to it.

PARIS, the FORGOTTEN PRINCE. ACHILLES, the GOLDEN WARRIOR. HEKTOR, the GOLDEN PRINCE. ODYSSEUS, the WARRIOR KING.

Where did their legends begin before their lives converged at Troy in one of the most famous battles of all time? The HOMERIC CHRONICLES tell the stories of Paris, Achilles, Hektor, and Odysseus in one chronological tale, beginning before the ILIAD and ending long after the ODYSSEY. Blending both history and myth, the Homeric Chronicles will satisfy your love of Greek mythology, while paying homage to the original storyteller, Homer.

SONGS OF PRINCES begins with the birth of Paris and Achilles, and introduces us to a young Hektor and Odysseus. The journey of the princes begins…

Fall in love with Greek mythology for the first time or all over again.

Although I occasionally read historical fiction, it is usually only a few hundred years ago, so this is an era I don’t know much about at all, mainly what I learned long ago at school or from watching fictional programmes like Atlantis. So I was very interested to see how this novel would portray Greek mythology.

This is book 1 in the Homeric Chronicles. It starts by introducing the gods followed by a timeline for the heroes and heroines of The Iliad and Odyssey from 1295 BC to 1251 BC. Some of the character names were familiar to me.

The story itself begins in Troy with a bad dream for Queen Hecuba. The seer foretells that that her unborn son heralds the destruction of Troy and that the prince should be killed. When the child is born, King Priam reluctantly hands his son to herdsman Agelaus to expose him on the mountain. He has to obey but prays to goddess Artemis to save the child, who converts to bear form and suckles the infant for 9 days, before Agelaus returns and finds the babe alive and well. He takes him home, keeping his parentage secret and naming him Paris, where the boy grows up looking after the sacred bulls. Years later as a bull dancer, it is finally discovered that he is The Forgotten Prince.

We are also introduced to Achilles as a baby, son of Thetis and Peleus. Similarly his future is foretold which is either to refuse to go to battle and rule after his father but die forgotten without glory. Or choose battle, die early but become the greatest warrior the world has ever known. Achilles grows up training to run like the wind with with Chiron the centaur. His mother, Thetis returns suggesting Achilles should be sent to Skyros in order to avoid battle.

Meanwhile Theseus kidnaps beautiful Helen of Sparta and hides her with his mother Aethra. Helen’s brothers Pollux and Castor find her and seize her back. Her father Tyndareus decides she must wed, but to whom. A throng of suitors descend on Sparta but her father secretly insists Helen must choose Menelaus. Then he makes all the other suitors take an oath to serve her chosen husband with military aid if she is ever abducted again.

Then King Priam sends Paris to Salamis to bring back his aunt Hesione to Troy. Enroute he stops to gift horses to Menelaus. Paris knows it is also time to claim goddess Aphrodite’s gift from many years ago of the most beautiful woman. It cannot be avoided. Aphrodite’s voice is speaking in his head. He forgets his own wife Oenone and takes Helen willingly back to Troy.

Menelaus invokes the oath and a thousand ships set sail for Troy. Odysseus goes via Skyros and finds Achilles who chooses glory and joins them.

However the book does end very abruptly with a To Be Continued banner across the bottom of the page, when Princess Iphigenia is slaughtered because the goddess Artemis demanded her sacrifice to raise the winds for the ships to sail to Troy. Although I knew it was book 1 in a trilogy, i wasn’t expecting it to just end on a cliffhanger.

Songs of Princes is available on Amazon, currently priced at £12.16 in paperback or 99p in Kindle format. Certainly worth a read, although I did keep getting myself confused over character names and between gods, mortals and nymphs, often having to retrace to something I had read earlier.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.