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Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1)
by Christopher Paolini
Here's a great big fantasy that you can pull over your head like a comfy old sweater and disappear into for a whole weekend. Christopher Paolini began Eragon when he was just 15, and the book shows the influence of Tolkien, of course, but also Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, and perhaps even Wagner in its traditional quest structure and the generally agreed-upon nature of dwarves, elves, dragons, and heroic warfare with magic swords.
Eragon, a young farm boy, finds a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race thought to be extinct. Eragon bonds with the dragon, and when his family is killed by the marauding Ra'zac, he discovers that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the human but hidden Varden, dwarves, elves, the diabolical Shades and their neanderthal Urgalls, all pitted against and allied with each other and the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and his dragon Saphira set out to find their role, growing in magic power and understanding of the complex political situation as they endure perilous travels and sudden battles, dire wounds, capture and escape.
In spite of the engrossing action, this is not a book for the casual fantasy reader. There are 65 names of people, horses, and dragons to be remembered and lots of pseudo-Celtic places, magic words, and phrases in the Ancient Language as well as the speech of the dwarfs and the Urgalls. But the maps and glossaries help, and by the end, readers will be utterly dedicated and eager for the next book, Eldest. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell
Hardcover from Knopf
by Celia Rees
During the witch hunts of the mid-1600s, many young Englishwomen died on the gallows, innocent victims of false or hysterical accusations of witchcraft. But what of those women who actually claimed the name "witch" as their own? In the pages of her secret journal, Mary Nuttall reveals what it is like to live in a climate of mistrust and piety in which differences are dangerous and rumors can kill, where she must hide her heritage as a healer and pagan. With a sure hand, she describes her beloved grandmother's trial and hanging as a witch, her own rescue by a mysterious noblewoman, and her eventual passage to the New World and the forest settlement of Beulah. There Mary falls under a curtain of suspicion when she willingly chooses to explore the dark woods shunned by the fearful colonists and makes friends with some of the spiritual native people. When several girls in the community begin to shriek and swoon, and the same minister who damned Mary's grandmother comes to search for signs of witchcraft, Mary is subjected to close and deadly scrutiny.
Breaking with most historical fiction about witchcraft (such as Elizabeth Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond), British author Celia Rees raises the stakes and the tension by placing a real witch at the center of her story. Witch Child is an engrossing, suspenseful novel that will cast a spell over both readers of historical fiction and fans of witchcraft series from Circle of Three to Sweep. --Jennifer Hubert - Amazon.com
Hardcover from Candlewick Press
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Book Description From the Chronicles of Saint-Germain comes Book 16 in the long-running vampire series which brings the Dark Prince to California during the Great Depression. Fleeing Spain at the beginning of their Civil War, the vampire Saint-Germain arrives in California to reunite with the older and wiser Rowena Saxon, who is considering following the Dark Prince into an eternal life. Meanwhile, Saint-Germain is unaware that a ruthless assassin is pursuing him--one of the most charming killers ever to grace the page: Cenere. Unbelievably smooth and utterly inhumane, Cenere has trailed Saint-Germain across oceans and continents, killing anyone in his way, including those under Saint-Germain's protection. But will Saint-Germain finally awaken to the danger that threatens him before all he loves is lost?
Hardcover from Aspect
24 September, 2003