2011 Reading Roundup, Part II

/ Books /

As I mentioned in my previous post, 2011 was an awesome year for me when it came to reading. I read and listened to some really fantastic novels and I wanted to give them a little more credit than I was able to before.

The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

One my favorite podcasts is the Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club, and the hosts continuously lauded Abercrombie’s first fantasy trilogy. After such glowing praise, I had to check it out and, damn, I’m glad I did.

The First Law Trilogy is what they refer to “post modern fantasy,” which I guess means that it’s grittier, grimmer, and somehow more realistic than the high fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien and his contemporaries. As it turns out, I loved that style. The characters were flawed, there was no clear line between good and evil, and the plot was an intricate weave of politics and gruesome warfare. Plus, it featured one of the most awesomely vicious characters I’ve ever come across: the Bloody Nine.

Now, this trilogy isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t like blood, this series isn’t for you, but, otherwise, it’s a great modern fantasy trilogy and I recommend it highly.

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

Believe it or not, I actually followed Pat’s blog for several months before I picked up The Name of the Wind and, in that time I learned something: Pat is an awesome dude and he writes a very honest and sometimes very humorous blog. So, going in, I had pretty high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. The Name of the Wind was amazing…I absolutely loved Kvothe’s adventures.

Now, I actually timed this out pretty well and finished the first novel right as the second was published and as soon as I finished The Name of the Wind, I tore into Wise Man’s Fear. Rothfuss’s second novel was also very good, but, despite it’s massive acclaim, I actually liked the first novel a little better. Regardless, I cannot wait to see how the story ends! The Kingkiller Chronicles are highly recommended.

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

I actually picked up the whole trilogy on Amazon.com for no other reasons that I had heard of the author and it was a great deal. As it turns out, it was a steal! Although it was the last book I read in 2011, I’m pretty sure The Way of Shadows was my fastest read of the year. I just could not put it down. I’m currently reading the third book in the trilogy now, but I would already recommend it highly to any fantasy reader.

Neil Gaiman

One of my reading goals of 2011 was to try out some new authors (I actually tried out many new authors), but I was especially eager to find out what the big deal was about Neil Gaiman. After reading The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere, a couple volumes of The Sandman, and, most importantly, American Gods, I think I understand. Neil Gaiman gets fantasy. His writing perfectly embodies that sense of awe and wonder that truly make a story a thing of magic.

The bottom line is this: I’m really glad I found Neil Gaiman this year. If you haven’t read his works, seriously, you need to get on that!

Well, I think that’s all I really wanted to say. I don’t know if 2012 can top 2011, but I’m up for the challenge.

Review: The Wise Man’s Fear

/ Books /

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After thoroughly enjoying Patrick Rothfuss’ first novel, The Name of the Wind, I was very excited to jump right into Wise Man’s Fear. At first, I got exactly what I wanted, but then things changed and I found the story to be less gratifying. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but just not as much.

One of my favorite parts of the story is the University. Rothfuss has so many uniquely accurate insights about university life, I just enjoy reading that part of the book so much. It was no big surprise that when Kvothe left, the story lost a little of its magic for me.

At that point, I felt the story started to lose its shape a bit. Yes, it continued to be interesting, but it just kind of kept going without any real buildup to an eventual climax. So, even though Kvothe’s adventures were enjoyable read in varying degrees, I started to lose focus and the novel stopped being a “must read.”

Nonetheless, I found the novel very enjoyable. Rothfuss continued to hint at larger mysteries and themes (Denna, the Chandrian, the Amyr) that mold the fabric of the story without divulging many details. Those are things that I can’t wait to discuss with others who have read the both and make me eager for the third volume.

Another interesting component of the novel is present day Kvothe. Kvothe the narrator is so much different than the Kvothe we know from the story and I’m still really interested to find out how that happens. However, I’m a little fearful of it. Up to this point, things have gone pretty well for Kvothe, but in order for him to find himself as owner of the Waystone Inn, I would imagine that things need to go really poorly at some point. Kvothe tries so hard to do well for himself and genuinely cares for the people around him–I just want to see everything work out, but I’m concerned that’s not what we’ll see in the end.

Overall, this was a good read, but I don’t think it was quite as good as The Name of the Wind. If you liked the first one, I think you’ll still enjoy Wise Man’s Fear greatly and I would definitely recommend it!

View all my reviews

Review: The Name of the Wind

/ Books /

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first heard about The Name of the Wind maybe six months ago and since then I’ve continuously heard almost nothing but praise for the novel. At some point, I even came across Patrick Rothfuss’ blog and started following it regularly. Needless to say, by the time I finally came to reading the novel, I had hyped it up quite a great deal and, somehow, it managed to live up.

The Name of the Wind is a story about Kvothe, an incredibly intelligent and multilayered character that reminded me a lot of Ender from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Kvothe is a bit older than Ender as the story begins, but we’re still seeing the world through the eyes of child and then a teenager for most of the novel. I tend to enjoy novels where the protagonist is a kid or a teen, especially if they are particularly gifted, and this was no exception.

The novel is often classified as epic fantasy and I expect something dark and bleak. That wasn’t really the case. It probably reminded me more of Harry Potter than A Game of Thrones, though it wasn’t all that much like either.

One of the coolest aspects of the novel is the story within a story concept. It begins with Kvothe as an adult, but then he basically becomes the narrator for vast majority of the book. Maybe it’s not the newest concept ever, but I really liked how the past continuously introduced more questions about the present. It added a little extra intrigue to the story. It was also interesting to see how different Kvothe was as a child than as an adult.

All in all, I think my favorite part of the book was the University. First of all, the concept of a school where you can learn magic (even if they teach a bunch of other stuff too) is not a new one, but this definitely had much more of an American college feel to it. It certainly brought back some not so distant memories from my college years and you can tell that Rothfuss was very fond of that time of his own life.

One thing I did not expect was the humor. No, it wasn’t Hitchhiker’s Guide caliber hilarity, but there was a number of rather amusing (and crude) jokes that made me chuckle.

Overall, I thought the novel was fantastic, an easy 5 star rating in my mind. I could barely set the book down once I started reading. I literally took the book everywhere until I was finished. I was reading during lunch, at the gym, and I stayed way too late several nights in a row because I just couldn’t bring myself to stop.

Once I did finish, I rushed over to Amazon.com to buy the next in the series, Wise Man’s Fear, and I can’t wait for it to come so I can dig in.

View all my reviews

2011 Reading Resolutions

/ Books /

I didn’t really make a New Year’s resolution for 2011, but I have given a little thought to what books I’m excited about reading. I typically read about 20 novels a year (which is way less that what I actually want to read) and basically everything I read tends to fall into the category of speculative fiction (i.e. science fiction and fantasy).

So with that in mind, here are some novels (both old and new) that I’m looking forward to reading in the next year.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I’ve been dying to read this for awhile. I keep hearing so many good things about it and keep seeing it near the top of lists that taut “top fantasy novels of the decade” and so forth. Luckily, I’ve got a copy sitting on my mantle just waiting for me to pick it up. My goal is to have it read by the time Wise Man’s Fear comes up in the spring.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I got The Hunger Games for Christmas and read it by the new year. A very fast read and a gripping story. I’m definitely excited to see what happens next.

Side Jobs and Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Side Jobs is a short story collection and Ghost Story is the thirteenth novel in the Dresden Files, which is one of my favorite series right now. I picked up Storm Front when I was travelled a few years ago and immediately read the next seven. I finally caught up with Changes last year.

The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

These are the second and third novels in the Mistborn trilogy. I read Mistborn: The Final Empire in late 2010 and I thought it was fantastic. I actually bought the whole trilogy so I’ve got them on hand and I plan to read them both this year.

Princep’s Fury by Jim Butcher

This is book five in the Codex Alera epic fantasy series. I don’t like it as well as the Dresden Files, but it’s still good. I got this for Christmas as well so I’ll definitely have to slot it in this year.

Read Books that I Own

I got several novels for Christmas and I’m a little backlogged at the moment. Another one of my goals is to simply reduce the number of unread novels in my house.

Read a New Author

There are tons of authors that I’ve never read that I’ve been longing to try out. I think the odds are good that I’ll pick up something by one of these authors this year: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Joe Abercrombie, and China Mieville.

Read Something Random

Every year, despite everything else I want to read, I’ll stumble across something on GoodReads.com and just run to the library and pick it up. I like doing that. It’s nice to just read some spontaneously once in awhile and it reminds me that reading is something I do for fun, not a chore.

Well, I think that’s pretty much it for 2011. I think it’s going to be a great year for reading. I’ve discovered so many great authors and series lately, the hardest part is finding time to read them all.

Patrick Rothfuss

/ Books /

I love a good epic Fantasy novel, but my “to read” list is a bit on the long side and I haven’t had time to dig into a few novels that I’m just dying to read. One of those is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve heard a ton of great things, but I’ve decided that I need to read through some of the unread books that are getting dusty on my bookshelf first.

Nonetheless, I’ve found enough time to check out Pat’s web site and peruse his blog. What I discovered is that the man is hilarious. His blog posts are so brutally honest and witty! So now, even though I’ve not yet read his novel, I’ve subscribed to his RSS feed and eagerly wait for a new post.

Today, he gave such a post and it was great. I love how he is so open about the writing process. Even as he complains about his dream job, he wins me over even more and makes me all the more eager to read his novel! I also highly recommend his “Everybody Hates Their Job Sometimes” post, which he references in today’s entry. Enjoy.