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Filtering by Tag: Epic Fantasy

Book Review - The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - go ahead and get the flatulence jokes out of the way, you'll feel better. Now, a brief review of one of the most promising first novels to come out in the Fantasy realm in many years. This is the story of the hero Kvothe, through his own eyes.  The story begins with Kvothe, many years after his most famous exploits, under personal exile as a tavern owner. He is recognized by a traveling chronicler who convinces him to tell his story and the telling is where the bulk of this story lies. It's an interesting story device since the juxtaposition between "now" and "then" actually works on multiple levels, slowly revealing important points while adding to the suspense since although we know he must have survived the "then" story, we have no idea where the "now" story may finish.

Kvothe begins life as member of a traveling group of actors and minstrels.  He possesses a tremendous gift for learning all manner of things quickly and is well trained in a variety of disciplines by his parents and other members of his troupe. His troupes chance encounter with a former member of the Arcanum (a higher order within the University, the realms highest center of magical and scientific learning) exposes young Kvothe to a wealth of new knowledge, some of which is very dangerous. Partially learning the "name of the wind" is one of the most difficult and dangerous bits of knowledge he is exposed to by the Arcanist.  His idyllic childhood is abruptly interrupted by a tragic event which will shape the arc of his subsequent life. He eventually finds his way to the University and the story concludes with him still a student. Along the way are many trials and tribulations, friends, enemies, arcane knowledge, scientific discoveries, all told in a first person narration style that draws you completely into the story.

This is one those books that you read in a few sittings and decide to skip television and the internet for a few days until you finish it. Sadly, the second novel isn't due for release until March 2011 which means it will probably be 2015 or later before the series concludes. This is just a very satisfying read; Kvothe is a very appealing character who is equal parts brilliant, brave, funny, shy and ultimately is a very convincing, complex character that isn't the typical cutout hero. Fans of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan will eat this up and even J.K. Rowling fans who want something more adult will enjoy this as well. Highly recommended.

Various and sundry musings…

It's a few days past Thanksgiving here. A couple of significant milestones approach, but I'll leave off mentioning them so all can savor their significance. By all, I mean me.  Anywho, over the past few weeks the Cowboys have managed to resurrect their season when it seemed they were doomed to the scrap heap for another year.  After several significant injuries to starters and their subsequent absence from important games, most of the key personnel are back and contributing to the Cowboys three game winning streak.  The final four games of the season are now all very important while also being arguably the hardest.  The Cowboys face Pittsburgh, New York (giants), Baltimore, and then close out against Philadelphia.  All of these teams have winning records and although Philly is barely over .500 they won very convincingly on Thanksgiving against a Cardinals team that was the start of all the Cowboy's early season woes. 

Aeyoung had sent me several cables and I was able to string the cable line from our satellite receiver so we can watch select games on my projector.  Unfortunately the signal strength decreases so much over the distance (about 100 feet of cable) that we can't get a picture so I'm buying a signal amplifer and will get to see whether they actually work in practice.  Hopefully we'll be able to watch select bowl and playoff games on the big screen.

On another subject entirely, there have been recent positive developments in the screen adaptions for two of my favorite fantasy book series'.  George Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series was optioned by HBO a while back but had been in "development hell" (to coin the IMDB term) since then. It looks as though they have already made plans to film the pilot and this will be the biggest hurdle before at least getting the first book made into a season long series.  Thankfully HBO is taking the approach of Peter Jackson and other filmmakers who realize that epic fantasy novels don't typically fit nicely into the two hour movie paradigm.  I'm confident HBO can do the series justice after watching many of their other series like "Rome" and "Deadwood".  I just hope that they get a good return on their investment since the book series is still being written and will most likely comprise at least seven or eight books by the time it's completed. I'd hate it if they get one or two books filmed and then abandon the rest due to financial reasons.

Right on the tail of that good news, I saw a press release from Red Eagle Entertainment that the first "Wheel of Time" novel was being made into a movie.  After George Martin's series, this is the next series I would most like to see made into film.  Unfortunately, I don't think an individual movie will be able to cover enough ground without making sacrifices to the plot, but at least it's being made.  Maybe the "Ice & Fire" series will help establish the viability of a long form television epic fantasy series. Although there are examples of this genre in the past, they haven't ever had really good source material to work with. Xena, anyone?

Book Review - The Runelords

The Runelords series by David Farland - an interesting premise for a fantasy series in which Runelords are powerful men and women who gain superhuman abilities by proxy. They use magic to take certain attributes (brawn, stamina, grace, eyesight, hearing, etc.) from willing (and sometimes unwilling or unaware) subjects who are in turn promised lifelong protection from their patron in turn for relinquishing these priceless gifts. The tale centers around a prince named Gaborn (of course it does, it's an epic fantasy isn't it?) who must battle the Wolf Lord (an epithet for another rune lord who has taken the attributes of dogs and wolves as well as humans) Raj Athen who is trying to become the "Sum of all Men" by taking endowments from thousands of subjects that may eventually grant him immortality and immense power. As the series progresses (I read the first four books, another is forthcoming this November, but it's about the children of the main characters in this story) another main rival is introduced in the form of a race of insectoid creatures known as the reavers and their powerful leader. They will all battle for the fate of the Earth (again, it's Epic Fantasy, what did you expect?) with several unexpected twists as the tale progresses. Overall it's a decent read. Not on par with Robert Jordan for page turnerish goodness, much less George RR Martin and his Song of Ice and Fire series.