Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Books That Made You

The Books That Made You

Hello lovely readers.
We all have those books that stand out, as something really special, and they will be different for everybody.
With some books, you experience your first adventure, first crush/love, your first heartbreak.
With other books, you are inspired to pursue your own career in writing. You read something and realise that this genre was made for you. That you wish you could write something so compelling.

Here is a list of Books That Made Me.

The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis
Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.


This will come as absolutely no surprise - a Fantasy writer loves the Narnian stories. I think that's a given.
I remember, as a young bookworm, my mum used to try and foist this series on me. I put them off for a long time, because (at that bratty point in my life) I thought that anything my mum liked was 'old and rubbish', so I wouldn't waste my time with it (see also: Dirty Dancing & Grease films).

Eventually, my opinion changed. I think I'd read everything else in the house, and begrudgingly picked up The Magician's Nephew. I never looked back.

I loved everything about the books. It was the first time I'd experienced the escapism that Fantasy brings, and I was enamoured with the idea that one day, in my dull little life, I might get pulled away to a world of talking animals, magic and monsters.
These books made me fall in love with another world, and all it's own history, and hints at bigger, wider horizons.
In fact, this was the first book that made me cry - when I finished The Last Battle, and realised it was the end of my Narnian adventure.

The Silver Brumby
by Elyne Mitchell
A silver brumby is special, but he will be hunted by man and horse alike, and must be stronger than both. Thowra, the magnificent silver stallion, is king of the brumbies. But he must defend his herd from the mighty horse, The Brolga, in the most savage of struggles. But that is not the only danger. Thowra needs all his speed and cunning to save his herd from capture by man. In a desperate chase through the mountains, it seems there is no longer anywhere for him to run to...


If you haven't noticed, I love horses. I don't come from a horsey background, I just decided from a young age, that I would rather spend my weekends mucking out stables to earn riding lessons, than other, more normal hobbies.
My parents gave me up as a lost cause pretty quickly.

My best friend, Lisa (who, incidentally, is the same person who persuaded me to try publishing) bought me this book when we were ten years old. I was immediately entranced by the story, it pulled me away from Doncaster, and into the adventures of the wilderness in Australia.
I have read this book so many times, the spine is falling apart, and it's held together with tape.

Whereas the world of Narnia inspired me, I loved this book for its main character, Thowra, and all the supporting cast.
The wild horses go about their business, raising foals, defending their herds, and avoiding man at all times.
Thowra embraces life at all times. He is playful, and curious, and challenges himself to climb the most dangerous tor, and travel the most difficult route - just because he can. He loves and respects the world around him. He has strength and speed, that make it clear that he is going to be a great stallion, and it is an absolute treat to see his legend created.

Fire Bringer
by David Clement-Davies
Young buck Rannoch was born on the night his father was murdered and into a herd of deer where hunger for power has gradually whittled away at all that is true and good. He knows he must escape to survive. Chased by stags, with their fearsome antlers sharpened for the kill, he begins a treacherous journey into the unknown, and ahead of him lies a shocking and formidable search for truth and goodwill in the shadow of the Great Mountain.
One day he will have to return to his home and face his destiny among the deer to fulfill the prophecy that has persistently given them hope: that one day a fawn will be born with the mark of an oak leaf on his forehead and that fawn's courage will lead all the deer to freedom. Filled with passion and a darkness that gradually, through Rannoch's courage in the face of adversity, lifts to reveal an overwhelming feeling of light, Fire Bringer is a tremendous, spirited story that takes the reader deep into the hearts and minds of its characters as they fight for their right to live in peace.


I got this book as a Christmas present when I was fifteen, and I read it by the New Year.
I loved it so much, I even felt so passionate about it, that I used it as part of my GCSE coursework.

A lot of people comment that it echoes Watership Down, but I hadn't read that book until later (and to be honest, I think Fire Bringer gives a much more rounded story - although awesome, Watership Down does leave a lot of stuff unanswered).

My favourite part about this book was the prophecy. You know about it from the very beginning, and you see how it slowly comes true, and pieces fall into place. Some parts only become clear at the end.
The story follows young Rannoch, but it's much bigger than him. He has to go through his life, with the other deer treating him differently, because of an ancient prophecy. Some don't believe, and some take action to make sure the prophecy doesn't come true - but there actions become the actual cause.

The story becomes a fight to be free, and live in the way that nature intended. There are sacrifices throughout, and I felt like my heart was breaking on so many occasions.

The Moon Riders
by Theresa Tomlinson
When a young Amazon woman, Myrina, becomes one of the warrior priestesses known as the Moon Riders, she is well prepared to perform their sacred dances, hunt and fight when necessary. But the Moon Riders who inhabit the plains of Troy are drawn into the troubles of the city and when the visionary princess, Cassandra, becomes Myrina`s confidante, the help of the young band of horsewomen enables Cassandra`s young friend, Iphigenia to escape from the sacrifice planned for her. Hereafter the Moon Riders are drawn into the siege and the ensuing battle. Theresa Tomlinson, combining meticulous research into the Amazon women with the ancient legends of Troy, has created an epic story of tragic dimensions.


I also really enjoy Tomlinson's Forestwife Trilogy, but I remember reading this book for the first time at University, and just being blown away.
The author has taken the mythology that we feel is so familiar and twisted it into a new story. It follows young Myrina and the Moon Riders, and how they participate in the years of war between Troy and Sparta.
I loved how the author used a very established history, and added a strong female cast, who are respected warriors in their own right. It made something that felt original, but also an extension of a well-known saga.
As a female reader, I was inspired by the strong women, who train and dance and lead among men.
As a writer, I felt encouraged to use our history to strengthen my own stories, rather than feel like I didn't have permission to connect with an established background (I had just started working on my Witch-Hunter trilogy, and once I realised that I could incorporate the Malleus Maleficarum, everything exploded). 

What books do you continue to love and appreciate, long after reading them?

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