Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adult Fantasy: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

About the Book: What happens to legendary heroes when they grow tired of saving everyone? How do you motivate a hero? How does someone go from being an ordinary, albeit talented child to being the greatest hero in a generation? The Wise Man's Fear is Day Two of the back story of the legendary hero Kvothe.

My Thoughts: Again relayed mostly through a series of flashbacks, this story continues to be fun fast paced and exciting. Rothfuss reclaimed his wonderful writing style and again the voice clearly changes when he is writing in the past versus writing in the present. Kvothe is flushed out much more as a character, but his story takes a darker and more dangerous turn. Adult relationships flourish in all of their complexity. While there were a couple breaks in voice as the book went on, for the most part Rothfuss quickly brought the story back to where I expected it to be. My biggest problems are that the middle of the book is a sexual romp in a fairy realm and the story seems to be progressing too slowly. I can handle sex in a book, but it seemed like 200 pages of the book was devoted to sex, it just kind of dragged on and on. The other problem with progressing too slowly is this. In the present, Kvothe is around 30 years old. By the end of the second book, he is not even twenty in his flashbacks. That means in the next book he has to cover 10 years worth of back story and I am not sure how he is going to do it.
Since this series is called The KingKiller Chronicle, I am hoping that the series will be longer than a trilogy. I have not heard how many books this series is scheduled for, but I image it will take at least 2 more.
Overall this book was very good and had a much better ending. Rothfuss has won me back and I well be impatiently awaiting the next book. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An "Appropriate" Ending *SPOILER ALERT*

I don't care if the ending is happy or tragic. All I care about is an appropriate ending. I can't stand when everything changes at the end of the book. I don't like when the solution comes out of the blue without any foreshadowing, or when we find out the whole conflict really was no danger after all.

An inappropriate ending ruins books for me.

I have known where my ending was going to end up since the beginning, but I am wondering how to execute that ending.


It comes down to this question: How bothered would you be as a reader if the book ended on a very public murder, but you as the reader never knew which of the characters was killed?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Adult Fantasy: The Way of Kings By Brandon Sanderson

About the Book: Roshar is a world dominated by weather. Powerful, enchanted Highstorms sweep across the land with such fierceness and regularity that the plants have evolved to retract into the ground to avoid them. The energy of the storms provide powerful magic to Roshar's citizens and captured Stormlight can be used for everything from adding value to money to making legendarily powerful weapons and armor.

Kaladin is a brilliant soldier betrayed by his commander and sold into slavery for knowing too much. Shallan is a minor noble and talented artist who can capture a scene with a glance and duplicate it hours later, who's family no longer has enough money to survive, has a daring plan to steal a powerful magical item to try to save her family. Following the assassination of the king, and six years of war with the people who sent the assassin, Kaladin and Shallan must each risk everything just to stay alive.

My Thoughts: This book is massive, over 400k words and over 1000 pages. It is the first book of a ten book series, but it is amazingly written and the story is masterfully crafted. The characters are vibrant and leap off the page even if the background is more sparse than one typically finds in fantasy. The setting reminds me of the seafloor just without the water.

Part Lighting Thief, part Ben-Hur there is a lot of action and adventure. While not quite the page turner that Goodkind's Sword of Truth was for me, this book is definitely one of my favorites and I will be eagerly awaiting each new addition to this series. I have not spotted any major flaws other than perhaps its length, and a desire to see a few of the background characters flushed out a bit more particularly, Wit and Szeth. (of course assuming that the rest of the books will be just as large, Mr. Sanderson will have plenty of time to flush out these characters). I have had the ARC of the book for about a year and just never made the time to get to it, but now that I have I am drooling over the next one. I give it an 9 out of 10. Oh, and the audiobook is awesome too!


I got Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss today! Even though I only gave Name of the Wind a 5 I am hopeful that his second book will be as good as I hoped his first book would have been.

A Tribute to Dave Duerson

My blog has been a real downer lately. I don't post as often as I should and most of my posts lately have been about recent deaths.

I believe that the greatest stories are the ones around us. The stories that we live everyday. What triumph lives in the mind of man that cannot be found in real life, perhaps even in the lives of our friends or neighbors in real life? What horrific dreams of evil born in literature could not already be found the darkest souls of the depraved?

My tribute today will not be complete, it will be a fractured tale that comes from childhood memories that long ago obscured, like looking at the past through a frosted window.

Dave Duerson was a professional football player, but when I first met him that was only slightly important to me. Sure, I was excited to get to meet a professional football player, but I was young and I had yet to fall in love with football. My grandparents took me to a party that some wealthy friends had every year. At these parties I met many professional athletes, but since I was so young and the party rather formal, I was bored. I know at some point I ended up at an arcade playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was not very good, but as I played I received some help.

That help came from professional football player Dave Duerson. He came over with a bucket of quarters and played the game with me until we beat one of the bosses. We eventually ran out of quarters and he went back to the party, but for a little while he took time to bring joy to a bored little boy. I don't remember if I ever met him again. I know that the next year when the time for the party came around I had to stay home sick with the flu and Mr. Duerson asked about me and sent me a get well card along with an autographed photo.

Mr. Duerson had a fan for life and I began to pay more attention to pro football. I remember being sad that he retired, and he settled into obscurity off my radar.

He had not really settled into obscurity, he started a successful business and in his free time was busy working with former NFL players who were having trouble with brain injuries sustained while playing football.

That was until he began to show the same symptoms that the other former NFL player struggled with. He began to have trouble speaking and writing. His business floundered and his marriage fell apart. He was arrested for domestic abuse, but his exwife maintains that the incident was due to her husbands brain injury and that he was not responsible for what happened.

Two weeks ago Dave Duerson took his own life. He was 50 years old. A suicide ending the life of a former NFL player is not unusual, but the method that Mr. Duerson chose to end his was. Despite his problems with brain injury, Mr. Duerson shot himself in the chest. This way of committing suicide is particularly unusual because of the chance of suffering before death is so much greater and where the psychology of suicide by firearm normally leads. The following quote probably says it best: “Think of the old cliché about the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. They shoot the terrible master.”

So why did Dave Duerson take the harder death and spare the terrible master? Because he wanted to donate his brain to science so that they can continue to work towards finding out more about the injuries that made him take his life. His suicide note and his last text messages to his family both said to make sure that his brain was donated.

This is a tragic story of a desperate broken man. This man showed me a kindness as a child and I have never forgotten it. I grieve for his family and friends. I remember a life well lived until brain injury began to remove what made him who he was. I hope that his donation will save the lives of others.

Back when I made my post about Brian Jacques I realized that he was the second person that I had recently posted about and since superstition says that deaths come in threes I was wondering who I would next be writing about. I am hoping that this means that other people that I was worried about dying will be able to hold on. (I am looking at you George R. R. Martin). I am sorry things have been so somber. Look for my review of Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings soon, and I will be back to writing about writing soon.