I've been treating myself to some of my favourite reads lately and it's been fun. I love reading a good book again, even if I do know how the story ends. There are always things I've forgotten, or things I look at differently the second time (do now have to admit that my English teachers were right about that?). So in between the "more serious" reads, I've been indulging in two series I love.
The Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage is the first. I love these books (as you may possibly remember me telling you once or twice, or three times). They're easy to read, fun and imaginative. I've now finished my second read of the first three and am eagerly awaiting Oct. when the next one comes out. The books are set in a fictional world complete with magic, castle, wizard tower, port, marshes, badlands, a cabbage cooking aunt, a grumpy Extraordinary Wizard and message rats. The story follows the adventures of Septimus Heap, seventh son of a seventh son, as he finds his place in a magical world. I don't want to say more and give the plot away, but it's a bit like Harry Potter with all the sense of discovering something new every time Septimus rounds a corner. The books aren't as dark as the HP books, and are really for a younger audience (I think 9-12 year olds), but they are really, really fun and are just a good read. Love them. I'll be re-reading Quest this weekend and then waiting for October.
The Black Magicians Series by Trudy Canavan is the second. In my humble opinion, these are fairly well written books that drag you into the story and manage to keep their hold on you by mixing action with intrigue. Even this second time I can't wait to get back to reading before bedtime (which has unfortunately kept me up later than I really liked, but what can you do when you have a good book?). Set in the fictional land of Kyralia, the story opens with the clearing of the "slum people" from the city. Sonea, one of the slum dwellers, is caught up in the futile fight against the magicians who carry out The Purge once a year. They know they pose no challenge to the wizards, yet attempt to express their anger by throwing stones and nasty herbs at the guards and magicians. Even though Sonea knows this, she throws a stone at one of the magicians with the surprising result of success. The satisfaction is, however, short lived as she suddenly becomes the target of a massive man-hunt. The Magician's Guild says it want to help her, but she knows the magicians to be a cruel and devious group, so to be on the safe side, she runs and hides with the help of the Thieves, but how long can she evade them and is she really better off on the lamb? The story is good, the balance is good and the series has a distinct lack of romance which so often accompanies fantasy books. Personally I found that a great benefit as the author was allowed to concentrate on character development and plot. It's a good series for anyone who likes books of this genre.
Last but not least, The Ice House by Minette Walters. This was Walter's first novel and is the one that got me hooked on her. The story revolves around three women living together on an English estate. Because of their situation, and the disappearance of the estate's owner's husband ten years earlier, the women are subjected to all kinds of unimaginative village gossip, which they do little to dispel. They prefer to keep their distance and themselves to themselves. That only propagates the gossip and cements their roles as outcasts, until the day a body is discovered in the ice house. Once again, as with the disappearance, their lives are turned upside down and inspected from every angle. It's surprising what looking under stones can turn up. Again, this is a good book and one I can recommend to mystery lovers.