So, what's so special about Tanith Lee? Below are some recommendations, but before, here are short
extracts of Tanith Lee's work These are taken from 'The Book Of The Damned'
On the Observatory Terrace the tables were out, the gossips, gamblers and drinkers, cards fluttering like red and black
pigeons, and the resinous clink of glasses of black coffee and liqueurs. From here, by means of an architectual gorge
running through the City of Paradys, you saw the masonary precipices drop down, through coins of roofs and flutes
of steps like folded paper, into shadow depths veiled in parks, with bright sugar churches appliqued on to a mellow
sunset, which shed a glamour now like the lambency of some old priceless painting.
...Then her eyes did meet mine. It was like some sort of shock of burning searing cold. Black mirrors, black water
frozen to iron, trapped under the surface to freeze or drown.
...Sometimes I laughed at the moon, she looked so like a nun, a priestess, with her bloodless face cowled by night.
She had no scent, no odour at all, only perhaps the faintest fragrance in her hair, like the clean fur of a cat that had
been out on a chill moonlit night....The wrists, they were icy cold, dipped up from some lake within a piano of snow
mountains, rinsed in liquid music, over and over, they burned ten freezing notes across my mouth (before I let her go)
The tarn was a bath of wine, the whole sky had become a red window....the tower a black fire-iron against incorrigible
....Through an arch in the cloistering was visible a paved inner court, dominated by the church door and the implication
of the tower. From the height of this, the bell tongued out mutely over and over, at its three-hourly intervals night and day,
and the nun-bees droned, punctual as a bell, their ghostly songs to God.
Winter rode through Paradys on a grey horse, a lord in mail and armour, with a vizored helm, and his train behind him.
The sky and the bare trees groaned and the honed winds blew. Branches, slates and birds fell down. The snow began
to fall. The City blanched...Love-songs listed cold hearts....
...This creature looked filled by darkness. Her eyes, though they could have been any rich colour, were miles
deep. Through the obligatory minute, as the photograph was taken, she had sat so still her soul mignt have gone from
her body. Look into the eyes, and fall down the miles to nothing. To nothing but - nothing.
Outside, brilliant sunlight set Paradis in Crystal. But in my rooms darkness came and blossomed.
Stars were in the sky above the tarn. I could see them through the doorway, huge stars that blazed too brightly...
I had nothing to write with...write with my voice then, on air, or with my nails in the plank table. Or with fire, scour
the kitchen with arson....water was sadness, air a vision, earth was a thought. But fire, fire was the will.
This is a small example of Ms Lee's prose. A book reviewer once said 'If Shakesphere was alive today he (she) would
be Tanith Lee'. Lee has a painters mind, her works are suffused with imagery, wonderful detailed descriptions,
colour and interwoven story lines - you could almost say she writes tapestries! She is perhaps one of the most intellegent and
influential contemporary writers alive. The sad thing is that she is vastly unrecognised, only now is she beginning
to be appreciated. Put her alongside Angela Carter and she'll shine equally bright (if not brighter). So why doesn't
she have greater recognition? Maybe it's because she writes mainly in Speculative Fiction? Poor Marketing...? Or maybe
she needs that break into films like her American contemporary Anne Rice.
Ms Lee can write on many levels. 'The Flat Earth Series' reads like a self-contained Arabian Nights as an epic poetic
fantasy-myth. The second book of the series 'Death's Master', can remind one at times of Ovid's 'Metamorphosis'.
Her 'Don't Bite The Sun/Drinking Sapphire Wine' brace of books is a beautifully written witty Sci-Fi yarn. Her 'Blood
Opera Sequence' can be compared to Mervyn Peake's 'Gormenghast' Trilogy, while 'The Secret Books Of Paradys'
Series is one of the great Gothic Fictions of the last 50 years. Her powerful short story 'Fleur De Lys (Bite Me Not)',
is arguably the most original and heartbreaking vampire story ever written. In her 'Red As Blood' collection of
short stories - archly subtitled Tales From The Sister's Grimmer - Ms Lee re-works some of the Brother's
Grimm better known tales from a more darker sinister angle, reminding one at times of Carter's 'A Company
Of Wolves'. She has also written many highly acclaimed children's novels.
Her out-of-print works are rightly becoming collectors items.
She is well worth a read.
Some general praise:
"One of the most powerful and intelligent writers to work in fantasy" - PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
"Restores one's faith in fiction as the expression of imagination and original thought" - The GUARDIAN
"Bizarre imagination and elegantly decadent atmosphere" - DAILY MAIL
"Lee's prose is a waking dream, filled with tropical sensualities...No one writes quite like her" - TIME OUT
"Creates strange magic worlds full of beautiful landscapes....original ideas and evocative writing" - BRITISH BOOK NEWS
"It is a pleasure to read a fantasist whose style is so superior to that of the average writer" - INTERZONE
"Unlike most fantasists who wish they could write magnificently, Tanith Lee can actually do it" - ORSON SCOTT CARD
"Princess Royal of Heroic Fantasy and Goddess-Empress of the Hot Read" - VILLAGE VOICE
Some specific recommendations:
The Flat Earth Series
"Tanith Lee, who has been called 'A brilliant supernova in the firmament of SF', now proves that she is also the brightest star
in the sky of modern fantasy." - PROGRESS OF HOLLAND
"Lee is one of the most powerful and intellegent writers to work in heroic fantasy." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Of Tanith Lee's novels, no one has failed to maintain high standards of originality, imagination, intuition, and linguistic skill. 'Night's Master' proves this again." - STATION KCHU, DALLAS
The Unicorn Trilogy
"This is Lee at her best" - ISAAC ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE
"A madly colourful and exuberantly fantastic tale" - LOCUS
"Instantly readable...she has a gift for making the spooky seem part of everyday life" - NEW STATESMAN
"Her ability for creating a hauntingly vivid atmosphere remains untarnished" - STARBURST
"Truly exotic, full of colourful characters, dark secrets...an author at the height of her powers and it is just stunning" - DARK SIDE
The Silver Metal Lover
"Deftly written, moving, funny, totally convincing...this is quite simply the best sci-fi romance I've read for ages" - The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
"Tanith Lee has another winner in 'The Silver Metal Lover'. It's an aluminium souffle that's both amusing and touching" - ISAAC ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE
"The strengths of (The Silver Metal Lover) lie in the vivid vision of (Lee's) world - exotic and a little frightening, but quite believable...one of Lee's most fully realised creations" - PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
"Lee continues to distinguish herself with her ability to bring flesh and blood to the worlds of the future. For those who like emotion and feeling in their SF, 'The Silver Metal Lover' is highly recommended" - SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY BOOK REVIEW
"A lovely book..." - BRITISH FANTASY NEWS LETTER
When The Lights Go Out
"Superb fantasy writing" - TIME OUT
The Blood Opera Sequence
"America has Anne Rice, but hereTanith Lee is the undisputed queen of dark fantasy" - Christopher Fowler, TIME OUT
"Tanith Lee never ceases to amaze her readers" - DARK HOUR
"Quite astonishing: unrelentling skilful, unputdownable...Accept no substitute" - John Clute, INTERZONE
"A damnably readable gothic Aga Saga" - Christopher Fowler, TIME OUT
The War Of Vis Series
" Fantasy on the grand classic scale to rank with 'Dune' and 'Lord Of The Rings' " - Anon
The Birthgrave Trilogy
"A feast of excitement and adventure...filled with rich, alien names, half-sketched barbarian societies, ruined cities, decadence and wonder" - MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
" A big, rich, bloody sword-and sorcery epic...brilliantly depicted" - PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
The Secret Books Of Paradys Series
"...gorgeous, intoxicating, appalling...Paradys brings to mind M. John Harrison's Viriconium and Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria." - WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
"Reminiscent of the ominous black voids in Symbolist paintings, Lee's images pull the reader in with mysterious ephemera on the edges of sight" - LOS ANGELES TIMES
"The miasma of corruption and death, combined with vivid and at times elegiac writing, will engross readers who fancy this dark shade of fantasy writing" - PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
"...a dose of glamorous perversity and elegant wit..." - LOCUS
"Fatalistic explorations of a city so sinister it makes H.P Lovecraft look suburban...a high-quality mixing of eroticism, horror and aestheticism...splendid" - CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
"Tanith Lee is described as 'one of the world's finest and best-known fantasy writers' on the cover of 'The Book Of The Damned'. I only differ from this hype in feeling that Tanith Lee is not sufficiently well known" - INTERZONE