Back in December I was scheduled to give you my thoughts on a book I was super pumped to read. If you remember, I didn’t have it finished then and left you with a very excited me and half a review-ish kind of thing.
Soooo… THE UNTOLD TALE! I’m finished!
First of all, about the book…
Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head. Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence. Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.
So this book was all I wanted and more.
As a teen, I loved fantasy bofoks. Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms… anything written by Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Raymond E. Feist. If it had a dragon on the cover or a guy with a kick-butt sword, I was in. But it was more than a interest, I wanted to live in those worlds. I wanted to go on quests. I wanted a kick-butt sword. I imagined a portal opening up and taking me to another world… because I was certain I didn’t belong on this one.
As a teen I drew, a lot. I put on paper images of stories in my head, of characters that lived in the world I wanted to be a part of. I created me in that world… Tyra. She had a back story, a pain to overcome, she was AWESOME. Before I fell asleep I would live her (my) story in my mind. She had a quest to retrieve a sword… a special sword that would only respond to her. She had friends, like all fantasy stories did. An elf. A dwarf. A crazy shifter. A hero guy, who discovered there was more to Tyra than a pretty face. Dude. It was awesome. I probably still have that sketch book full of all those people.
So I connected with Pip (Lucy Piper) in The Untold Tale. And more than once I wished for the book to be in her POV. But it was Forsyth’s story and I enjoyed seeing Pip through his eyes.
But getting your wish to live in a fantasy world, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. To face the stereotypes: hero, villain, damsel in distress. To try to fit in when you are none of those.
This book has heroes and fabulous villains. There is a quest and a great battle at the end. But this story goes further. It challenges the stereotypes. What if the hero isn’t what he seems? What if the monster is just trying to be heard? What if the damsel in distress can be vulnerable and strong? It screams for everyone to have their voice, while reminding us how necessary it is to listen.
I enjoyed this book beyond just reading a tale.
The end held a fabulous twist and left a smile on my face.
And any book that mentions Karl Urban, Boris Vallejo, and Iron Man wins all the cookies.
So thank you, J.M. Frey, for the quest.
How about it, kids? Sound good to you?
And the fabulous author!
Toronto-based J.M Frey (pronounced “fry”) is a science fiction and fantasy author, as well as a fanthropologist and pop culture scholar who appears in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. Her debut novel TRIPTYCH has been nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, won the San Francisco Book Festival award for SF/F, was nominated for a 2011 CBC Bookie, was named one of The Advocate’s Best Overlooked Books of 2011, and garnered both a starred review and a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly.