Yes, today, January 9, is the birthday of perhaps the bravest man Harry Potter ever knew. Of course, all true Potter fans of all ages know that already. 😉 . What you may not know is that we’ve got several books and series that Snape fans may enjoy. Some of these are adult, others YA, but both teens and adults who love fantasy and SF should enjoy them.
In an alternate England, during the Napoleonic Wars, young Jonathan Strange becomes apprentice to Mr. Norrell. Their goal is to bring magic back to England. But who is the Raven King? At once a comedy of manners, an alternate history, a coming of age, and a tragic love story, this book is beautifully written and unique.
Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron and Sapphique are also beautifully written and unique. 17-year-old Finn can remember no other world but Incarceron, the enormous living prison that seems to have a mind of its own. But he is sure he came from outside, and he’s determined to escape. In the outside world, Claudia struggles to free herself from another sort of trap. Her father is the warden of the prison, and he has secrets. This duology is firmly based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. It deals with themes of guilt, love, forgiveness, and freedom, and it’s unlike any other science fantasy I’ve ever read. Highly recommended for all SF and Fantasy fans.
If you’re looking for a true anti-hero, Kaz Brekker, leader of a gang called the Crows, may suit you. Kaz is a thief, a torturer, and a murderer. In her well-crafted duology, Leigh Bardugo shows us how he came to be this way. Six of Crows takes place in a fascinating, though horrifying, world based on the late Medieval/early Modern Hanseatic League. Its sequel is The Crooked Kingdom.
If you’re looking for humor with your magical adventure, you can’t go wrong with Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy. Like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (and, for that matter, the Potter books), this trilogy is set in an alternate London with magic. Young Nathaniel is a magician’s apprentice. Magicians gain their power by summoning demons, who then become their slaves–that is, if they can control them. If they can’t–well, the demons will enjoy tasty snacks. When Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus, it will change both their lives in some surprising ways. This story is narrated, in part, by Bartimaeus himself–with footnotes. If you read it, don’t skip the footnotes!
A Stitch in Time is a Star Trek novel, so you may enjoy it more if you’re already familiar with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the character of Elim Garak. The author, Andrew Robinson, played Garak for seven years. Here, he tells the character’s full story. Garak may be the most fascinating character ever to appear on Trek: he’s a tailor, an assassin, a traitor, a patriot, a spy, a loyal son and friend–and that just scratches the surface. Does such a character need redemption? And can he be redeemed? Robinson answers those questions in this book. Or does he? This, after all, is a man who considers lying both a skill and an art, something that must be constantly practised—
And finally, we go back to the Napoleonic Wars. There is no magic in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin stories, but there are terrific adventures, ongoing relationships, and a central friendship that’s been compared to that of Kirk and Spock. Maturin, the “Spock” character, is both a physician and a spy.
I hope you’ll enjoy this selection! Do you have any favorite Snape-like characters you would recommend?