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

Title: The Name of the Wind
Series – Kingkiller Chronicle
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: DAW Books
Release Date: 3/27/2007
Pages: 622The Name of the Wind

If there is one thing that can possibly sum up the magnitude of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind in one sentence it is this: its popularity allowed his second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle, The Wise Man’s Fear, to become one of the few fantasy novels to hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller’s list.

The Name of the Wind tells a story within a story (a la The Arabian Nights). A bartender, “Kote,” is suddenly visited by a man he never thought he’d see again, a man who knows him by his true identity of Kvothe, a name that happens to be legendary and has spawned many a tale with equal amount of truth and myth. This man, a scribe of great importance, sets out to write Kvothe’s story, to separate the myth from fact. Kote grants him this. From the woodland setting where the boy Kvothe travels with his parents and their traveling troupe of performers, to living homeless as a beggar in the slums of a gigantic metropolis, to an academic setting similar to Hogwarts in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, the reader watches as an innocent yet confident boy grows and learns how to transcend that confidence from mere curiosity to a passionate seeking of knowledge. A web of stories unfold in this novel, but there is one particular event that sets in motion a certain path that Kvothe must follow to the end, no matter where it takes him and, most importantly, no matter what it may possibly take from him. In his journey Kvothe dances with joy, love, sorrow, and despair, and only Rothfuss could tell this story in the manner it needs to be told. I am in awe of this man’s storytelling ability. And, as a fellow writer of epic fantasy, I am beyond excited to see what else he has to show us.

The writing is at times lighthearted, at times as hard as stone, but always crafted with precise meaning. There is often talk in the literary world that a writer must make use of every word; every syllable, even. If that is indeed true, Rothfuss certainly makes a wonderful example. Even when going off the path it still remains relevant to the story. Epic fantasy, full of dull reading and unnecessary fluff, is given much-needed innovation in a genre growing in popularity once again.

If there is one fault to the story – and really, I wouldn’t even call it a fault – it is that Kvothe is such a perfect character. Firstly, since he is the one telling the story we know that he survives everything that happens to him up until this point. Secondly, he is so talented at everything he does. He quickly picks up anything he needs to learn. He’s even good with the ladies despite what Rothfuss may want you to think. Despite this “perfect-ness,” it doesn’t detract too much from the story. He is still a flawed character in the sense that he has many troubles. And it doesn’t matter that he’s so talented; some things are more difficult to get out of than others.

The ending leaves an abundance of questions to be answered, and if the reader doesn’t find themselves on the edge of their seat that can only mean they’re not sitting at all; rather, they’re standing and waiting with great impatience. I have not yet read The Wise Man’s Fear, but from what I’ve read it is supposedly better than its predecessor. I can’t possible fathom how, given how much I’ve enjoyed The Name of the Wind, but that only has me sweating with even more anticipation than I already had.

(The second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, was released in 2011 and the final installment of the trilogy, The Doors of Stone, is in the process of being written. You can find out more at Patrick Rothfuss’s website: http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/index.asp)

4.5/5 stars

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Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Furies of Calderon cover

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal.  But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir.  Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.  Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting.  At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps.  Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.

The cover of the edition that I read stated that Furies of Calderon was inspired by Tolkien.  In some ways, I see that, I guess.  I really thought it was more reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire series with a bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender and maybe a little bit of Pokémon thrown in, but in a good way.

It started out a little slow, but once I got to Chapter 10, it became a page turner.  I just had to know what was going to happen next because, by that point, I cared about the characters so much.  Butcher includes plenty of plot twists, which really kept me guessing and one of things I look for in a book is the ability of the author to keep me guessing.  It got to the point that, after I had been surprised by so much, nothing would surprise me, if that makes any sense.  I definitely can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

I recommend this to fans of High/Epic Fantasy, especially if you like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Five stars!

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Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless coverAlexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.  Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

At first, all I knew about this book was that it was a Steampunk mystery and I was excited to begin it. I quickly found that it includes vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, which made me less excited to begin it. I’ve found that novels containing the supernatural can be very good, but most of them are simply awful. Nevertheless, as this was scheduled for book group, I began reading.

I was very pleasantly surprised. There’s no other way for me to explain Soulless than to say it is a Steampunk-Sherlock Holmes-Twilight-Jane Austen romance novel. It’s got a little bit of everything. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in it as well. I think my favorite line is after Alexia’s family discusses how horrible it is that scientists are moving in next door to an acquaintance of theirs and Alexia replies, “How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.”

I recommend this to fans of paranormal romance and paranormal mystery who like a little something extra in their reading material. I also recommend it to fans of Jane Austen who have an interest in the supernatural.

Five stars!

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Announcing a New Book Group – Beyond Imagination!

Here at the library, we’re happy to announce the start of a new book discussion group. Beyond Imagination is dedicated to the enjoyment and discussion of science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. The group will meet the second Thursday of every month at 7PM in the library’s Small Meeting Room. We’ve got a great selection of books for January through May of 2013, and will be adding more shortly.

Our first meeting, on January 10, will be about Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. If you’ve read the book, we hope you’ll join us. If you haven’t but want to, we have copies available here at the library. Even if you don’t read Stardust, but are interested in speculative fiction, come by and find out what we’re about!

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