The Out Of This World book club is reading Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey for our meeting on May 19 at 7:00 PM, and you should join the discussion.
Banewreaker is the first of two books in The Sundering, which is usually characterized as The Lord of the Rings told from the villains' side as a tragedy. It is also characterized as a deconstruction of the fantasy epic, because these are sympathetic protagonists rather than the unambiguous evil of Sauron's forces. Both sides are convinced that the other is lying and malicious, and war is coming.
If you enjoy fantasy but are looking for a variation, this has it. You have races that are identifiably elves, dwarves, trolls, and hobbits but there are differences. You have all the archetypes you expect, with a mixture of playing them straight and subverting expectations that makes the old new. Some things will surprise you, which might make it surprising when other things are exactly what you expect.
If you do not enjoy fantasy because of its black and white morality, here is your gray. Tolkien's Middle-earth has the forces of good and the forces of evil, where the main nuance is infighting in the forces of good. Banewreaker opens with the claim that the supposed war of good and evil started because the god of the elves demanded that the god of fertility remove humans' ability to reproduce so that they would die out in a generation. Motivations for the epic fantasy war are more realistic, misguided, and/or petty than "for/against the Dark Lord," although some of the participants certainly see it in those stark terms.
You may already know Jacqueline Carey from her Kushiel's Legacy series, which spans three trilogies. We will not have time to encompass all that, but we may have a chance to touch on Godslayer, the sequel, or your other favorite fantasy deconstructions, anti-heroes, and villain protagonists. There are more comic takes like Mary Gentle's Grunts and Eve Forward's Villains By Necessity, or perhaps you want something more classic like Michael Moorcock's Elric saga or even Shakespeare's Richard III? Paradise Lost is the obvious ancestor. Feel free to bring your suggestions for books we should be reading if we did or did not like Banewreaker
Whatever you think of Banewreaker, and you won't know until you read it, please join us on May 19 at 7:00 PM.