The Chronicles of Banarnia, by Robert Rankin – The follow-up to The Lord of the Ring Roads continues the tale of fairies who had been driven underground by humans taking over Brentford. In this book, Jim Pooley and John Omally journey underground with Professor Slocombe and the monster-killing Goodwill Giant Julian Adams. After a visit to Soap Distant’s subterranean bar, they come to the fairy city of Banarnia, where they’re all kept distracted by the inhabitants. Meanwhile, above ground, the shopkeeper Norman, the barman Neville, and the seemingly deceased Old Pete plan to counter the fairy attack on their borough. P.P. Penrose, an author mentioned in numerous other Rankin books, actually appears here, and is confusingly said to have written his own versions of the Brentford novels, only with the names changed in silly and often insulting ways. There are also flying monkeys and an enormous squid. I did hope there might be a little more done with the title, which is addressed and acknowledged as a bad pun, but nothing really comes of it. I also have to say I’ve gotten kind of tired of jokes about straight guys being offended when someone suggests they’re gay. I liked the use of some traditional British fairy lore, and Norman’s inventions are also amusing. Here, he creates an implosive by holding the formula for dynamite up to a mirror.
Race to the Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse – Another Rick Riordan Presents (boy, a lot of R names are showing up in this entry) book, this time a standalone instead of part of a series, it deals with Navajo mythology. Nizhoni Begay discovers that she can detect monsters, but the first one she does turns out to be her dad’s new boss, and he doesn’t believe her. The monster reveals his plan to kill Nizhoni and force her brother Mac into his service. He also has special powers, as the two of them are descendants of Changing Woman, mother of the original Hero Twins. I don’t know whether they have any connection to the Maya Hero Twins, who were total jerks in J.C. Cervantes’ The Storm Runner, but heroic twins are pretty standard in world mythology. Nizhoni and Mac join up with her best friend Davery, and they learn from a horned lizard masquerading as a stuffed toy that they’ll have to pass several trials and receive weapons from the Sun before they’ll have any chance at defeating the monsters. Along the way, they meet several other Dine Holy People. I can’t say I knew much of anything about Navajo mythology, or Navajo culture at all, so this was interesting in that respect as well as a good story.
A Disagreement with Death, by Craig Shaw Gardner – The last book of the Ebenezum and Wuntvor series has the apprentice compete with Death for his master’s life. The specter is intent on the idea that Wuntvor is the Eternal Apprentice, who is always reincarnated, so Death can never take him. Throughout the series, he’s been showing up to try, being thwarted by Wuntvor’s ever-increasing group of companions every time; but taking the master wizard is a new tactic. The apprentice sets out for Heaven to request help from the lesser god Plaugg. Along the way, they stop by the dragon Hubert’s old home, where his success in the theater has led to his relatives trying to be comedians, although it hasn’t stopped their desire to eat humans. In Death’s own territory, they first have to beat his champion at bowling, then fight off his forces. The ending wraps up most of the loose ends in the series pretty quickly. As with many of the other books in the series, it seems a bit padded, but it was a fun dragon ride.