This week has been full of successful treasure hunts. Four separate visits to second hand bookshops (three shops) where I found both books that I was wanting to get for a while, and a whole lot of books that just intrigued me. You might want to get a snack and a bottle of water before you read any further, as we could be here a while 😆.
As usual, I was down in Wellington on Tuesday evening and had no plans. Well, that’s a lie, I did have a plan to curl up with a book and have a chill evening. Instead I went for a walk. Yes, the walk was to Arty Bees, which was about 10min away. But then I walked up and down the isles (if slow side steps counts as a walk). Plus there was the walk back, while load bearing.
I check for Jennifer Roberson books every time I visit. Imagine my delight to find three of the Chronicles of the Cheysuli books! Of course, I bet if I had been in last week or over the weekend, I would have gotten all 6. Ah well, guess that’s a reason to make sure I visit every week 😉. I now just have books 1, 2, and 5 to find. I read these back in the early nineties. I have very little memory of what these are about, but I do remember I loved it so want to get these and read them again.
I’ve been looking for Joust, book 1 in Mercedes Lackey’s Dragon Jousters series, for ages, so I was thrilled to finally find it. Finally I had completed collecting the trilogy, and could start it. Except this weekend I have just found out there are actually 4 books in the series 🤦♀️. I’ll be on the hunt again, but at least I can start the series now.
Vetch was an Altan serf working the land which had once been his family’s farm. Young and slight, Vetch would have died of overwork, exposure, and starvation if not for the anger which was his only real sustenance – anger that he had lost his home and family in a war of conquest waged by the dragon-riding Jousters of Tia. Tia had usurped nearly half of Alta’s lands and enslaved or killed many of Vetch’s countrymen. Sometimes it seemed that his entire cruel fate revolved around dragons and the Jousters who rode them.
But his fate changed forever the day he first saw a dragon.
From its narrow, golden, large-eyed head, to its pointed emerald ears, to the magnificent blue wings, the dragon was a thing of multicoloured, jeweled beauty, slim and supple and quite as large as the shed it perched on Vetch almost failed to notice the Jouster who stood beside him. “I need a boy,” the rider had said, and suddenly Vetch found himself lifted above the earth and transported by dragon-back to a different world.
Vetch was to be trained as a dragon-boy, and he hardly believed his luck. The compound seemed like paradise: he could eat until he was full, and all he had to do was care for his Jouster’s dragon, Kashet.
It didn’t take long for Vetch to realise that Kashet was very special – for unlike other dragons, Kashet was gentle by nature, and did not need the tranquillising tala plant to make her tractable. Vetch became determined to learn the secret of how Kashet had been tamed. For if Kashet could be tamed, perhaps Vetch could tame a dragon of his own. And if he could, then he might be able to escape and bring the secret of dragon-taming back to his homeland of Alta. And that secret might prove to be the key to Alta’s liberation.
I managed to find a book that was recommended in the science fiction group I’m in, when there was a discussion about books with worlds that are of a single gender: The Disappearance by Philip Wylie.
One day, all human females in the work inexplicably vanished – simultaneously, entirely – and the bereft men discovered just what a man’s world was really like. On the same day, all human males inexplicably vanished in the same way – and in this weird parallel existence, the bereft women discovered just what a man’s world it had been.
This stunning, intensely provocative novel presents a powerful plea for liberation – both of women and men – from phony role-playing and sexual domination: a battle fought by both men and women.
I’ve also had Greg Bear recommended to me, so went looking for some of his books. From what was on the shelf, The Serpent Mage intrigued me the most. Of course, it’s a sequel, so now I’m on the hunt for book one.
I also decided to fill a couple of gaps in my English collection of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series (forgot to take a pic), and while I was hunting through, I decided to get what they had in the Crystal Singers series Killashandra and Crystal Line. Now I just need to find book 1.
When I was checking out, they suggested I go around the corner to Pegasus books to see if they had the Roberson books that were missing from my set. The didn’t, and their SFF collection was incredibly limited, but there were some real gems.
I’m always looking for Master of Paxwax by Phillip Man (I have book 2, The Fall of the Families) and while I still didn’t find it, I did find the rather interesting sounding Pioneers by the same author.
Ape-like and with one arm replaced by a claw, the not-quite-human Angelo and his beautiful female partner Ariadne are genetically bred rescuers programmed to travel vast distances through space in suspended animation to bring back Pioneers – explorers sent out from Earth generations ago to settle other planets. Their latest mission is to rescue Pioneer Murray from the planet La Plage and to return to Earth where – as usual – decades will have passed while they have been travelling between the stars.
But Earth itself has gone through a catastrophic collapse from which its burnt-out civilisation is trying to recover. And amongst the remnants of a sterile and despairing humanity, there is less room than ever before for such strange creatures as Angelo.
I haven’t yet read any Gene Wolfe, but I do have the first three books of The Book of the New Sun. This cover caught my eye and it sounded like it could be interesting, so I decided to pick up The Devil in a Forest.
One of the strangest battles between good and evil ever fought.
Deep in a remote forest wilderness lay a village so humble, so insignificant, that only a handful of people knew it existed. Yet it was here that a bizarre battle was waged in the endless war between Good and Evil.
Led by Fate into this timeless struggle were
Wat – the savage (and charming highwayman)
Mother Cloot – the cunning and cruel possessor of mysterious powers
Barrow Man – the awesome spirit of a long-dead warrior
Mark – not yet totally seduced by Evil, not yet totally convinced by Good.
And this third one was 100% a cover buy, though the blurb did sound interesting. And I have since been told good things about this book, Bios, and this author.
It is the 22nd century. Interstellar travel is possible, but colossally expensive, so humankind’s efforts are focused on the only nearby Earth-like world. Isis is rich with plant and animal life, but every molecule of it is spectacularly toxic to humans. The whole planet is a permanent Hot Zone.
Zoe Fisher was born to explore Isis. Literally. She has been cloned and genetically engineered to face its terrors. But there are secrets implanted with her that not even she suspects – and the planet itself contains revelations that will change our understanding of life in the universe.
I was supposed to fly home on Wednesday evening, but my flight was cancelled. So I scrambled to find a place to stay, which ended up being just around the corner from Arty Bees. So naturally, I visited to console myself that I was not on my way home and had had to cancel my plans that evening.
I remember reading several of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s books in the early nineties and enjoying them. I can’t remember which ones, but Darkover is a major series of hers so there’s a good chance I read some of these. I’ve decided to collect the first few books and series in the overall Darkover series and see if I enjoy it.
And I was happy to find books 2-4 of the Moontide Quartet by David Hair. I’ve heard good things about this series, and these were brand new books that had been handed in thanks to duplicate gifts being given. Someone had already nabbed book one, but three out of four that I don’t need to buy brand new is a plus.
And now we come to this weekend. I visited Atlantis here in Rotorua with my list of what I was looking for, as well as what a friend was searching for. I found two that she was after, but none that I was. Instead, I decided to pick up random books that caught my eye – as you do.
I had picked up Damiano by RA MacAvoy a while back, so I figured I should pick up the sequel, Damiano’s Lute, since it was there.
Then, as I was headed upstairs to checkout the super-cheap selection, I was pointed towards three boxes next to the counter full of SFF books that had just come in. Oh, boy, was I in heaven. So much treasure that I wanted to bring home. I spent quite some time digging through the boxes and picking out books to buy, while also messaging a friend to see what she wanted to claim. I ended up getting so many that I couldn’t bring them all home with me and needed to go back on Sunday morning to get the rest of what I had bought. Regardless of what sticker is on each of these books, they were all $5 each. But then I got a bulk discount added to them, so they were a real bargain, and why I was able to get so many.
The first four books of CJ Cherryh’s Tristan series were there. I know I have two already, but I couldn’t remember which, plus I thought I could select which ones I wanted to keep, based on which were more matching. I thought there were only four books in the series, but when I got home I discovered there is one more I need to collect: Fortress of Ice.
A ruined tower in a vast forest is the haunted home of the world’s last great wizard, Mauryl. Here in the storm-drenched night, Mauryl performs a final act of the highest Old Magic, a Shaping, hoping that by this most wondrous of spells the wrongs of a long-forgotten wizard war may be righted.
In the tower, a boy is brought full-grown to life. Named Tristen, he is neither golem nor man, and to Mauryl’s dismay he has none of the wisdom needed to ensure the success of his last gambit of the wizard’s long life. Presented with the precious book that contains the knowledge he needs, Tristen cannot understand a single word. Instead, Tristen loves his maker blindly, and loves the beauty of the world.
Tristen walks alone and helpless from the last outpost of the Old Lands into a new age of holiness rife with treachery and war. A glamour protects him until, as the veils of unknowing are blown aside by events, Tristen’s power is manifest. Then Mauryl’s enemies become his. And though Mauryl’s book is with him always, still Tristen cannot read it.
I’d not heard of Jane Welch before, but her Runespell trilogy sounded interesting.
Threatened by a new ice age, barbaric tribes of the vast northern tundra join forces under the bloody rule of warrior-chief Morbak. In the name of Marbak’s cruel god Vaal Peor they march south to claim dominion of the world. Only the frontier castle of Torra Alta stands in their way.
Within its walls, Baron Branwolf prepares his defences. For a thousand years Torra Alta has stood triumphant, unconquerable, perched on the spectacular pillar of rock where dragons once had their lair. But ominous sounds emerge from the labyrinth of dragon-built tunnels beneath the castle. Sabotage is feared. Against the baron’s orders, his young son Caspar accompanies the party despatched to seal off the tunnels. There, Caspar discovers an ancient dragon’s hoard of treasure gleaming in the magical light of a moonstone, and when Caspar is captured by enemy spies, so is the moonstone. It is not an ordinary moonstone but the Druid’s Eye – with its power Morbak will be invincible. Only the long-abandoned Runes of War can save Torra Alta, and only Caspar can find them.
There were also the first two books of her The Book of Man trilogy too, so I picked them up. It does, however, appear that there is a trilogy between the Runespell Trilogy and this one, so I should probably hunt those down as well.
Prince Rollo’s world is shattered by the death of this mother, Queen Ursula of Artor. But even before he can grieve he faces the bitter disappointment of being overlooked as heir to the throne in favour of his younger sister. Deeply concerned for his son, Casper decides to take Rollo to Torra Alta, his barony across the ocean in Belbidia, to claim the only birthright left to him.
But fifteen years have passed since Casper left his uncle, Hal, as guardian of the remote province and many things have changed. Terrible creatures, banished from Belbidia years ago, are remerging; a huge golden dragon plagues the fertile plains. Worst of all, the Chalice of Önd, a sacred artefact with the power to duplicate other magical objects, has been lost.
If this powerful weapon has fallen into the wrong hands, a dark age with undoubtedly befall Belbidia and her people.
I’ve heard of Poul Anderson and The King of Ys series looked different, so I thought it worth trying.
Before there was an England, there was Roma Mater. Before King Arthur, the King of Ys.
In the wild and eldritch time between the Fall of Rome and the rise of our own age, the kingdom of Ys was ruled by the magic of The Nine and the might of the King, their Husband. How the Nine conspired with their gods to bring him to them, though he belonged to Mithras and to Rome, is only the beginning of an enchanted saga that weaves together Celtic myth with distant memories of Roman Britain – and adds a magic of its own.
Another author and series that I had never heard of but sounded interesting was The Fencer Trilogy by K.J. Parker. The first two books were in the boxes and I just couldn’t pass them by.
Perimadeia: the famed Triple City and the mercantile capital of the known world. Behind its allegedly impregnable walls, everything is available. Including information which will allow its enemies to plan one of the most remarkable sieges of all time.
The man called upon to defend Perimadeia is Bardas Loredan, a fencer-at-law, weary of his work and of the world. For Loredan is one of the surviving members of Maxen’s Pitchfork, the legendary band of soldiers who waged war on the people of the plains for many years, culling the barbarian hordes and rendering an attack on the city impossible. Until now.
But Loredan has problems of his own. In a city where court cases are settled by lawyers disputing with swords not words, enemies are all too easily made. And by winning one particular case, Loredan has unwittingly become the focus of a misplaced curse from a young woman bent on revenge. The last thing he needs is to be made responsible for saving a city.
There was also a series by New Zealand author, Russell Kirkpatrick, that I have been wanting to get for a while: Fire of Heaven.
From a tiny snowbound village, five men and women begin a dangerous quest to challenge darkness, fulfil a prophecy and change the course of their world’s history.
For 2,000 years, Kannwar, the Immortal Destroyer, Lord of Bhrudwo, has been planning revenge on the Most High.
Mahnum has escaped the Destroyer’s prison, but on his way home to Loulea, he and his wife are captured. His sons, Leith and Hal, set off in pursuit with a small group of villagers to free their parents and to warn their world of the coming war.
But not all of the Company agree that so few can make a difference… or think that anyone will listen to them.
I’ve heard good things about Nancy Springer, so picked up her Book of the Isle series. Seemed silly not to since they had all five volumes. I have no idea what this one is about as there is no blurb on the back of the book, just the rest of the artwork that you see on the cover.
And finally, there was this rather interesting sounding trilogy by Gael Baudino. I’m not sure what the series is called, but it starts with Strands of Starlight.
Miriam is a frail young outcast whose healing powers have branded her a witch in the Inquisition of fourteenth-century Europe. Fleeing her city in search of the Free Towns and acceptance, she is brutally assaulted by a man she heals from the brink of death. Saved by the intervention of the elves, Miriam swears to exact revenge on her assailant – but first she must learn the art of swordmanship and train to be a warrior with her newfound powers of elfin sorcery. And when the Free Towns come under siege from the Inquisition, those powers will be tested to the full.
While I was there, I also picked up 20 books for a friend, including: Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth; Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb; and Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan. All complete. There were too many books to take away and still be able to pick up the groceries I had gone to town to get, so I left a box of books behind to be collected today. Of course, when I went to pick up that box of books, I spent another hour (ok, hour and 20 mins) perusing the SFF selection and getting us a whole lot more books. So there will need to be a part 2 post. What can I say – I’m weak, complete series were available, and the price was good.
what a fantastic haul. so many nice gems. i have heard good things of CJ Cherryh, so will be nice to hear what you think. can’t wait to see your part 2 post.
Well, I know I’m going to have some Cherryh double-ups, so you may find they come your way too
Wow, what a haul.
My favourite from the list is probably The Serpent Mage. I hope you find the foist one soon. I could lend it to you, if you really want to read them, but I’m sure you’d like to find a copy of your own.
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Thanks. Yep, my preference is to find a copy of the first one. I have a few places to check and I’m not in a hurry. So many of these showed up after months looking so I know Infinity Gate will too eventually
[…] Do you want to feel intense jealousy? Nic’s book haul at Dragon Rambles is absurdly good […]
I love the Darkover series. I have most of them if you get stuck. There are two ways to read them – as they were published, or in timeline order. I prefer as they were published, which does go back and forth in time.
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In the omnibus I have there is a reading order, grouping them together in what must be chronological order. When I was making a spreadsheet of them all though I noticed that it was completely different from publication order. I’m going to try publication order too. If the author meant you to read it in chronological order, that’s the way they would have published it. It’s like Recluce where so many people advise new readers to read chronologically and I’m “Nooo! You’re not supposed to know truths and history in the earlier published books”