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We are more than half way through November and I have not written a blog post. Life goes on as usual: Mondays and Tuesdays I teach dance. W...

About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia. You might enjoy my books - The Dagger of Dresnia, the first book of the Talismans Trilogy, is available at all good online book shops. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. Book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. I trained in piano and singing at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. I also trained in dance (Scully-Borovansky, WAAPA) and drama (NIDA). Since 1987 I have been writing reviews of performances in all genres for a variety of publications, including Music Maker, ArtsWest, Dance Australia, The Australian and others. Now semi-retired, I still write occasionally for the ArtsHub website, and I still teach dance at Trinity School for Seniors, an outreach program of the Uniting Church in Perth.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. Book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, is up on the usual bookselling web sites as an e-book, and I have a few hard copies to sell to those who prefer Real Paper. Book Two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available soon. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Book Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Shadowfell (Shadowfell, #1)Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The following review has been adapted from one I wrote for the now-defunct webzine The Specusphere, in July 2012.

Juliet Marillier has many fans, who are spread across all five continents and the seven seas as well. Her work has been translated into many other languages including Mandarin, and one of her strongest fan clubs is based in Portugal. Her work is largely set in the British Isles (Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret, being set in Europe, are exceptions) so just what explains Marillier’s worldwide popularity?

I would suggest that it is her likeable characters. Her ‘leading ladies’ are all young, strong, efficient and hard-working, and the men who love them are noble, kind and honest. There is, too, the popularity of Celtic mythology and culture, which constitute the main influences on Marillier’s work. Her flagship series, Sevenwaters, is set in Ireland, as are several other of her tales, but for this new series she has moved to an imaginary country named Alba, which we quickly realise is a re-imagining of Scotland.

It’s Scotland, Jock, but not as we know it. Alba is a country beset by wicked magic, wielded by King Keldec and his Enforcers. All other magic is forbidden, and magically gifted citizens are mind-cleansed to sway them to Keldec’s will. In the process, some of them have their minds almost wiped out. Neryn’s grandmother was one of those so ruined, and now Neryn, who has been able to see and talk with the Good Folk for as long as she can remember, must flee northward in search of sanctuary at a place only spoken of in whispers, if at all, Shadowfell.

It is a hard journey, and a long one. Neryn has many tribulations en route. She does have help, not only from the Good Folk, but also from a stranger named Flint. But which side is Flint on?

As usual, Marillier’s characters are clearly defined and individual. One does recognise similar ‘types’ from other books of hers, but each hero, each heroine, differs from all earlier ones through their well-defined personalities and backgrounds. What they have in common is a gift for magic and the desire to do good. The settings, too, are so lucidly described that there is no way we could confuse the mountains and forests of Alba with those of Marillier’s Ireland. Likewise, the magical characters are different: here we have, for instance, the highly original ‘stanie men’ – beings of rock who can only be set free to perform a task by someone with powerful magical gifts. Someone like Neryn.

Shadowfell is an easy read at under 350 pages, and can thus be expected to appeal to girls as young as twelve or thirteen. However, it will also provide a good read for their mothers and grandmothers, to say nothing of their brothers, for many Marillier fans are of the male persuasion, despite the fact that there is always a strong streak of romance in a Marillier book. But the romance is only part of the story. There are also journeys, battles and magic, and strong male characters that will appeal to both genders.

If you have not yet tried Juliet Marillier, you will find Shadowfell a very good jumping-off point. The series is currently set for three books, but if it’s as popular as Sevenwaters there could well be many more. The second book in the series, Raven Flight, has just been published, and I will review that one ASAP. Earlier this year,  Ticonderoga publications  brought out Prickle Moon, a delightful collection of Marillier's short fiction. That one is also on my list of books to review, which, sadly, grows longer by the week.

To learn more of Juliet Marillier’s writings and to see some lovely fannish artwork, go to her beautiful website


View all my Goodreads reviews
Saturday, 20 July 2013

Book review: Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon

Wolfblade (Hythrun Chronicles: Wolfblade Trilogy, #1)Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review first appeared in The Specusphere in May 2006

Jennifer Fallon is one of the brightest stars in the constellation of Australasian fantasy writers. She is in good company: shining alongside her we find several women writers of international repute, including Sara Douglas, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Lian Hearn, Glenda Larke, Fiona Macintosh, Juliet Marillier, Karen Miller and Marianne de Pierres. Each has a unique style, and all are worthy of recognition as fine writers by anyone's reckoning. One or two of them might prefer to be thought of as primarily literary or historical writers, but surely it's time for fantasy to stop being the genre that dare not show its face? Writers of their calibre can hold their heads up in any assemblage.

Fallon is not only a good writer but also a prolific one, often bringing out more than one book a year. Wolfblade is the first book of her third trilogy, The Hythrun Chronicles, a prequel to her earlier Demon Child Trilogy, and if Wolfblade is anything to go by, the series will be eagerly devoured by anyone who appreciated the earlier work. It features some of the same characters, including Lorandranek, King of the Harshini, and his champion, Brakandaran the Halfbreed. They figure in the subplot, which centres on Wrayan Lightfinger, a thief turned sorcerer turned thief again, with some good laughs being provided by a brace of eccentric shape-changing demons.

The doings of the otherworldly Harshini contrast nicely with the almost Machiavellian twists of the main story, whose central character is Marla Wolfblade, sister to the degenerate and perverted High Prince of Hythria. We see Marla forcibly married to a man not of her choosing, and over the course of the book we watch her grow from a silly teenager who can hardly open her mouth without putting her foot in it into a crafty stateswoman determined to become the real power behind the throne of Hythria. Along the way we are introduced to plenty of other intriguing characters, including a couple of frighteningly dysfunctional relatives-by-marriage of Marla's, and her devoted servant, Elezaar the dwarf, who teaches his mistress the subtle arts of deception and one-upsmanship essential to a ruler. All Fallon's characters are clearly and surely defined: we see how they affect events and how they are affected by them, so plot and characterisation bound along hand-in-hand. By the time I reached the book's surprise ending I was sorry to say good-bye.

I only have two small quibbles with Fallon's work, which is well-crafted, easy to read, pacey and gripping. First, she sometimes presents events from the point of view of a dying person. She is not alone in this once-unacceptable practice: the illustrious Guy Gavriel Kay is regularly guilty of it. For this reader, at least, it completely destroys suspension of disbelief. The other quibble is with her invented languages. Hythria must be on another planet, since we have never read about it in our history or geography books! How can it be, then, that its people have such an Indo-European looking vocabulary? 'Court’esa', meaning a slave trained in the sexual arts, is altogether too much like 'courtesan' for credibility as an Exotic Word. And names such as 'Bylinda', 'Frederak' and 'Mahkas' border on the ludicrous.

These criticisms apart, however, Wolfblade promises to be the first book of another captivating trilogy. (If only we were allowed give half-stars on Goodreads!) Long may the muse dwell with Jennifer Fallon!


View all my Goodreads reviews
Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Book Review: The Twins of Saranthium, books 1 & 2

Awakening (The Twins of Saranthium, #1)Awakening by Lara Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book one of The Twins of Saranthium trilogy.

Since these two books came out, Lara Morgan has been very busy with a new project – a series for young adults, The Rosie Black Chronicles. The promised book three of The Twins of Sarantium has therefore had to take a back seat, but I live in hopes of its eventual publication. 

(The material below orginally appeared on the now-defunct website, The Specusphere.)

An excellent first novel. Morgan's setting, characters and story ideas quickly catch the reader's interest. What if people had flying serpents to ride through the skies? What a god returned to his world after thousands of years to seduce those serpents into fighting against the people who rely on them, in order to bring the populace under the god's dominion?

The trouble is, with the proliferation of fantasy in recent years, it's becoming harder and harder to come up with truly original twists on the old tropes. We have several of them in Awakening. Twins separated at birth – tick. Dragons as mounts – tick. (Calling a dragon a serpent doesn't make it one, if it has legs and feet and claws.) Poor orphan trying to fulfil her dream of becoming a Rider – tick. In short, we've seen most of Awakening's components before, and will no doubt see them again. That will not detract from the value of the book for many readers. Let's face it, the reason the tropes hang around is because they make good copy. Readers will always want stories about disadvantaged youths, dragons and wicked supernatural characters, and it's an old saw but a true one that you've got to give the public what it wants.

But we can, I think, realistically hope for greater things from this obviously gifted writer. She has promised us more gods in book two, and looks set to give us a clash worthy of the Titans themselves. I hope she will also give us a tighter, less predictable story, with stronger build-up of tension – like many first novels, Awakening suffers from mid-book drag.

Betrayal (The Twins of Saranthium, #2)Betrayal by Lara Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Two of The Twins of Saranthium Trilogy

Betrayal is in many ways more assured than its predecessor, demonstrating that Morgan is settling into her craft. The trilogy tells the tale of how twins Shaan and Tallis are called upon to save their world from a god gone mad. At the end of book one, Shaan was forced by the crazed Azoth to liberate the powerful Birthstone, which he needs if he is to dominate their world. We find that the Birthstone has left Shaan with very special healing skills. The twins know Azoth is not to be trusted, but can they put their faith in the four other gods who oppose him? It seems that on their world, the gods are indeed crazy.

To defeat Azoth, Shaan must take a devious route, one that appears to set her against the very people she is trying to help. Tallis, meantime, grows in strength as a warrior and a leader, and by the end of this book we see him as a potential saviour. His growth into power contrasts cleverly with Shaan's apparent descent into confusion.

Once again we have wonderfully imagined scenery and beautiful renditions of the link between serpent and rider. The battle scenes are as good as any I’ve read, and I was left with a sense of anticipation, convinced that there is an almighty cataclysm coming in book three.

However, as with book one, there is a feeling of being lost in the middle of the book. There is quite a bit of journeying around to little effect, resulting in loss of tension. Even so, the final scenes lead the book to go out with a bang and I am really looking forward to book three.

View all my Goodreads reviews
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