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Reading The Sword of Shannara: Chapters 31-35

The Sword of ShannaraThis week marks our last installment in our conversations about Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara.  You can find them all from the beginning here, and we'd encourage you to let us know what you thought of the book in the comments!


Dear Phil--

Congratulations! We did it! And some more of your predictions came true--Stenmin did get out and then back into the castle through a secret passage. Nice work! I kept thinking of our discussion of the predictability of the plot during these chapters as well. There was one moment in particular where Brooks completely tips his hand, deflating what could be a very climactic moment. This happens at the very end when Curzad Ohmsford tells Shea and Flick that someone is looking for them, and Flick says, “What can we do? We don’t even have the Elfstones to protect us anymore.” Instead of letting holding off until the last possible moment to reveal the surprise that Panamon has found the Elfstones and has survived, by having Flick say this, it plants the seed of this possibility in the reader’s mind, making the ending less exciting.

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Reading The Sword of Shannara: Chapters 26-30

The Sword of ShannaraJen Miller and Phil Ilten have been reading The Sword of Shannara together and sharing their thoughts by writing back and forth. Find earlier installments of our discussion here; we'd encourage you to add to our conversation in the comments!


Dear Jen--

Some of my predictions turned out to be correct! I was momentarily worried about my Eventine theory when Flick entered the tent, but it turns out I had nothing to fear. Unfortunately my other two predictions were only partially correct, or perhaps totally incorrect. While Palance has been mortally wounded by Stenmin and would appear to be at death’s door, the cause was not what I expected. I also had thought that Balinor and friends would escape through secret passages, but it looks like Stenmin did instead. However, I did feel rather confident that secret passages of some sort would be involved; what kind of castle doesn’t have secret passages?

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Reading The Sword of Shannara: Chapters 21-25

The Sword of ShannaraJen Miller and Phil Ilten have been reading The Sword of Shannara together and sharing their thoughts by writing back and forth.  Find earlier installments of our discussion here; we'd encourage you to add to our conversation in the comments!


Dear Phil--

Hey, we have a girl! Last time I was just complaining about the complete dearth of female characters, and now we have one. Sure, she’s a princess who needed to be rescued, but she has a name and says things, so we’re moving in the right direction, right? I am interested to learn how exactly Palance came to think that Balinor stole her from him, since that seems like it will do a lot to begin to bring some of the narrative threads developed in this section together into one glorious climax.

Speaking of multiple narrative threads: in our last set of letters, you had commented about how you got more interested in the story during those chapters--that happened for me during these chapters. One big reason was that I really enjoyed the multiple storylines that were developed here, and I agree that this has helped a lot to move the novel away from Tolkien’s influence and into a creative space of its own.

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Who We Are and How We Read: Rethinking N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand KingdomsSeveral of us here at Fantasy Matters have read N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and really enjoyed it, and after reading Matt Rasmusson's review of the novel last week, two of our editors were inspired to write down their own thoughts about the novel.  Reading these reviews in conversation with each other is particularly intriguing, as it highlights how a novel can speak to different people in vastly different ways.  If you have read Jemisin's work, we'd love for you to become part of the conversation as well--post your thoughts in the comments!


Adam Miller:

Well, I did it again: I read a novel, then afterwards learned that it was part of an unfinished trilogy. This is my personal hangup, and it’s the reason that I was unwilling to start reading the Harry Potter series until The Deathly Hallows was released and remain unwilling to start the Kingkiller Chronicles. For high-profile novels, it's a relatively easy thing to do, but for newer novels that I’m unfamiliar with it seems to happens from time to time. The issue is that my memory for plots and characters is not stellar, so I generally feel like I have to re-read any prior novels when new installments come out. In this particular situation, it was an especially painful realization because I loved this novel and don’t look forward to waiting for another novel to be released. The good news in this case is that book two (The Broken Kingdoms) has already been released, and I only have a few months to wait for the trilogy to be complete.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II: A Conversation

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)This past weekend, several of us here at Fantasy Matters got together and went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.  We sat in the second row from the front (not recommended) next to this hilarious little kid who chuckled when Voldemort died.  Afterwards, we sat down and talked about the movie, the book, and the Harry Potter series in general.  Here are some of our thoughts...

We started off our conversation with Neville Longbottom:

[note: this conversation contains spoilers]

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