bkdelong: (drwho-spoilers)
In my quest to find "Non-Vampire/Werewolf" fiction which seems to be clogging the "urban fantasy" genre these days, I stumbled across L. Jagi Lamplighter's "Prospero's Daughter" series. I don't remember seeing a recommendation to either the author or book(s) in my Livejournal post or its Facebook counterpart. I'm wondering if someone IM'd it to me or mentioned it in passing. If you did, please remind me - I am grateful and have stayed up late several nights reading because of it.

What is wholly ironic about my love for this series (and given my recent involvement in theatre circles and the extremely intelligent, well-read friends I am surrounded by) is that...and this is very hard and rather embarrassing to admit....I am not well-versed in Shakespeare. I have not read The Tempest and, in fact, have not really read most of his works with the exception of some high school prerequisites. It's not that I wouldn't want to, per se, it's just that given my learning challenges throughout secondary school and college, I've never had the attention span for the Bard's prose. It's beautiful, flowing poetry and I can read out loud well - strong in accent, emotion and purposeful rhythmic meter. I just never got around to it - along with many other tomes deemed traditional classics of hardcore, long-time readers.

So...the series.

"Prospero Lost" and "Prospero in Hell", written by L. Jagi Lamplighter is about Miranda Prospero, (famed daughter of the Dread Magician Prospero) who is present-day CEO of Prospero Inc., a corporation known for both its mundane and magical contracts. The latter involves Stygian-sworn contracts with several of the worlds magical beings who control the various elements to not cause natural disasters in exchange for some sort of agreed upon form of remuneration. The company (and family) are also served by the Aerie Ones - incarnations of the various elemental winds of the Earth - including Ariel whom the elder Prospero freed from the witch Sycorax (NB: Had a hard time NOT picturing the Doctor Who aliens of the same name every time I read that name. Thanks, RTD).

The elder Prospero has retired away to his island on which the famed events of The Tempest occurred but he has not been seen or heard from for months. The dutiful Miranda sends off a Aerie servant to seek him on his island and is presented with one of his journals containing a secret message urging her to warn her siblings of impending doom from the depths of Hell.

Yes, that's right. Miranda has 8 siblings - Mephisto, Theo, Erasmus, Cornelius, Titus, Logistilla, Gregor, and Ulysses - each sired over the hundreds of years the Prosperos have lived, surviving on a magical substance known as the Water of Life, which can only be retrieved at a Well at the Edge of the World. Each sibling also wields a staff made by their father of fantastic magical power which they've used for various means over the centuries. Early on they were all working together as a family - but over the last century or so, several have disappeared or gone on their own and sold their stock in the family company leaving only Miranda and Cornelius as the sole stockholders.

Miranda, along with an Aerie servant and Prospero Inc's "greatest detective" named "Mab" (incarnated in a human body made to look like a '40s Humphrey Bogart) head off to seek out her siblings and warn them of this danger which quickly becomes all-too-real. What Miranda thought was the truth quickly becomes convoluted, twisted and finally she learns were a series of falsehoods stacked upon lies jumping from "Prospero Lost" to "Prospero in Hell" as the various machinations of said darkness below have worked to tear the family apart. As Miranda finds each one and learns a little more, the puzzle just gets bigger - not necessarily more whole.

We see what was based on Shakespeare's tale expanded and crossed with deep Christian mythos, creatures of the Fey, Greek and Christian mythologies (mostly named Demons, Devils and Angels) as well as a sort of "Warehouse 13/Area 51" for relics from all manners of religious practice since the Earth was "made".

As someone who greedily read all I could about Greek Mythology as a child, took a Classics course in college on the subject, read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and Margaret Starbird's "Woman with the Alabaster Jar" & "Goddess in the Gospels" before "Da Vinci Code" was even published, and spent almost 4 years becoming a Subject Matter Expert in quite a few modified pantheons through Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Planescape campaign being the Canon Specialist for a custom module I was helping build to be sold on behalf of Bioware's Neverwinter Night's...I revel in stories like these that mix so many different pantheons and beliefs together. I eat it up - I crave it. Especially when you see the overlap of where various cultures essentially had the same deities just with different names and stories.

It is mystery, thriller, urban fantasy, drama, with a little horror and theology packed into two fascinating, hard-to-put-down books. I eagerly await the third book of the series allegedly due out in January 2011.
bkdelong: (techno deity)
So I've been reading quite a bit lately - I always have a paperback in my pocket when I know I'm going to be somewhere with some downtime to read (including the 35min commute on the train in the AM) and it follows me to my nightstand in the evenings.

I've glommed onto urban fantasy sparked by first reading Piers Anthony's "Incarnation of Immortality" series in the mid-90s - I pick the series back up every so often when I run out of others to read or am waiting for a new book in a series to come in like many of those I reference below.

I'm struggling to find new series that aren't in the Vampire or Werewolf genre. They're everywhere!

Recently the biggest series that I've just completed was [livejournal.com profile] rachelcaine's "Weather Warden" series about a secret, UN-like group stationed around the planet imbued with the various powers to control the elements and actually tone down the very-living but sleeping "Mother Earth"'s powers which wreak havoc in the form of various natural disasters - there are Earth, Fire and Weather Wardens.

The series was a great read and [livejournal.com profile] rachelcaine has followed it up with a spinoff. Mother Earth has manifested representatives of her "energies" in the form of the Djinn. Beings made of pure fire having varying qualities of their mythical counterpart. The "Outcast Season" series is about what happens when one of these Djinn is "cast off" from the collective into human form but "bound" to a Warden in order to draw energy for from the Earth for her magic. Only two books so far but quite good.

Since then, I've also got into [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire's "October Daye" series which is where the Seelie Court meets real life. October is a private detective changeling (half-human, half-fey) who lost everything she had and comes back to continue her work. Yet, as a reluctant knight to the fiefdom of her Duke, she is often called into service of his Court as well. Book 3 comes out September 7th.

In a mix of the elemental and pseudo-fey comes Jennifer Estep's "Elemental Assassin" series where if you don't have giant or dwarven blood, you may also have stone, ice, fire, or air elemental powers as well. Of course, being a mundane human in the normal world is perfectly acceptable as well...

The lead character, Gin Blanco, is an assassin with stone elemental powers - and quite the bad ass. She was taken in by the owner of a BBQ joint who had his own background as an assassin who has both trained her and became her handler. There's quite the cast of supporting characters and I don't actually mind that vampires actually exist (as mostly background) in this series.

Again, this series is only two books in - so it's fairly fresh.

I've read a few of [livejournal.com profile] jimbutcher's "Dresden Files" and I'm guessing I'll head over to consume the rest of the series. I enjoyed the one-season TV Series on Sci-Fi (when it was still called that) as well.

So what's next? There's probably more I'm forgetting offhand and I am certainly a sci-fi reader - that may be a different post. Apparently, I'm digging series that seem to have bad-ass female protagonists- (though I'm not adverse to a male "hero", I just appreciate bucking stereotypes) and again, my quest is to avoid the apparent glut in Vampire and Werewolf (or blatant "Were-creature premise to the point that it was an attempt to barely differentiate between werewolves but still capture the werewolf fan" series) and demons I can take a crack at within reason. I'm enjoying these series that are bucking the typical urban fantasy stereotypes.

So, thoughts? Ideas? Recommendations?

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February 2011

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