If you're expecting a carbon copy of the movie in print form, you're in for a bit of a surprise. Heinlein was one of the greatest science fiction writ...moreIf you're expecting a carbon copy of the movie in print form, you're in for a bit of a surprise. Heinlein was one of the greatest science fiction writers of his time, possibly one of the best ever - not the sort to write the cheesy jokes and poor dialogue the Hollywood version spouts. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the film, as an action-adventure film, but the novel from which it derives is a much better piece of work.
The writing in this book is very technical. Though told from a first-person perspective, it gives more of the feel of a narrated third-person observation. The action is fast-paced, the conflicts are well-fought, and the reader is never disappointed, but a sense of detachment definitely forms. Heinlein does go into great detail on the futuristic technologies, exemplified by the description of a Mobile Infantry mechanized armor suit, solidifying the story's claim to the title of science fiction; at the same time, a fair job is done displaying the personal struggles that are all too real to any person of any time, and allow the reader to truly relate. The author even adds his own bit of personal experience to the novel, as one can clearly draw from his descriptions of recruit training that Heinlein was at one time processed through the military himself. At one point in the writing, he directly addresses the read with a comment that if you have never been through boot camp yourself, he doesn't expect you to understand - and having been through Army Basic myself, I can tell you he certainly got it right.
At the time of its release, Starship Troopers was one of the most controversial writings imaginable. That's because it's far less an action-adventure story than it is an intellectual political science debate. Many, many times in only a few hundred pages, Heinlein goes into great detailed explanations of the system of government employed by the Terran Federation, and compares and contrasts with many previous systems, including 20th century America. The controversy lies in the negative connotations: he repeatedly calls all 20th century governments failures, and at one point directly insults the very principles of democracy. Especially due to the circumstances of the time (1959, Cold War in full swing), many could have viewed his words as socialist, unpatriotic, or even treasonous; nevertheless, every point he makes is backed by a logical argument, all of which make a great deal of sense.
All in all, a great piece of work by a brilliant man; contained within is enough varied content to satisfy the adventure-seeker, the military man, the tactician, the logician, the political critic, and the typical sci-fi reader, whether die-hard or casual.(less)
This was the second L'Amour novel I've read, the first being The Haunted Mesa nearly a decade ago, and I have gained an enormous new respect for the a...moreThis was the second L'Amour novel I've read, the first being The Haunted Mesa nearly a decade ago, and I have gained an enormous new respect for the author. Known primarily for his Westerns, L'Amour tackles an entirely different venue with this story that sweeps across all of Northern Europe, the Eurasian Steppes, and on down through Constantinople all the way to Persia and beyond, near the end of the 12th Century. The geography involved is as thorough and accurate as any of Mr. L'Amour's depictions of the American Southwest, and is even displayed as a map on the pages before the first chapter, in much the same fashion used by modern fantasy writers to show the details of their imagined kingdoms. In addition to the landscape, the customs, languages, and even styles of dress of the time are remarkably well-detailed and represented; also, as I'm learning should be expected in a L'Amour novel, the very names and likenesses of Emperors, nobles, and high-class individuals of the period are expertly brought into use. As a student of histories, having earned a double Bachelor's in Archaeology and Classical Civilizations, and routinely indulging my lifelong interest in Medieval times, I must admit to being humbled - Louis Dearborn L'Amour, a man who received no schooling past the age of 15 and no formal training in research, could have put my own abilities to shame.
Regardless of the historical accuracy and other technical aspects of the novel, as a reader and lover of stories I was thoroughly entertained by The Walking Drum's hero, Mathurin Kerbouchard, and his adventures and endeavors. L'Amour's work exhibits that rarest of talents in an author, to present great amounts of detail and create a realistic, believable world, while simultaneously keeping the story moving at a very engaging pace. I found myself routinely intending to put down the book and take care of other things, only to continue turning the page and launching into the next chapter. Perhaps the only flaw encountered was the occasional confusion of perception: L'Amour described his own work as more in keeping with oral tradition and intended to be read aloud, likening it to stories told by traveling bards; however, this particular piece is written in the first person. The result is a feeling within the reader that you are more often experiencing Kerbouchard's trials and successes through his own eyes, but occasionally being jerked out of time to view events from the modern perspective, looking back. Still, this being the single qualm I had with the novel, and the transitions being well smoothed-over, it hardly comes close to spoiling a highly enjoyable read of an absolutely stupendous book.
The Walking Drum should be on the reading list of any fan of historical fiction, any enthusiast of Crusade-era Europe, anyone who enjoys a thrilling adventure story, and, well, just about anyone else who can read.(less)
I launched into Sitka mere hours after finishing The Walking Drum, as I couldn't accept the idea that the adventure was over and immediately craved mo...moreI launched into Sitka mere hours after finishing The Walking Drum, as I couldn't accept the idea that the adventure was over and immediately craved more of Louis L'Amour's unique blend of action, intrigue, and history. Having already gone into some depth on his style and ability as both a writer and storyteller in my review of The Walking Drum, I won't do so as much here; however, if any clarification is needed, I recommend checking out both the review and the book.
This novel brings the reader back to the most common setting and subject for L'Amour's novels: the westward expansion of the United States during the mid- to late-19th Century and the men of mettle whose unique abilities made surviving the frontier not only possible, but oftentimes even profitable. The story follows the adventures of Jean LaBarge, a young man who rises from humble beginnings as a swamp-dwelling orphan to become one of the most successful and well-respected merchants in the burgeoning young city of San Francisco during the years following the famous gold rush. It is through his travels and dealings there that he learns of and begins to obsess over the newest untamed land of interest: Alaska, also known as Russian America. Of course, his interest is further fueled by an encounter with a beautiful young woman who steals his heart and who just happens to also be a Russian princess, heavily involved in the political turmoil surrounding the territory and its future. The escapades that unfold involve ship chases, gunfights, a formal duel, a tour of St. Petersburg and meeting with the Czar, and an ongoing rivalry with a ruthless and vindictive Baron; only Jean's keen intellect and shrewd planning will see him through, if anything can. Little does he know, however, when he sets out with the intention of making a fortune by sneaking fur pelts past Russian patrol ships, that his actions and knowledge will help to shape the futures of two nations.
Once again, L'Amour's exceptional story-telling ability and stream-of-consciousness writing kept me turning the pages long after I intended to stop, and many an hour of sleep was lost to the desire to reach the end of the journey. I also learned more of the conditions surrounding the Alaska Purchase than I was ever taught in school; it's as though the man had the entire Wikipedia site available to him, decades before the internet was available for private use, not to mention geographical information on par with or better than that offered by Google Earth. I was yet again impressed with L'Amour's detailed research and flawless incorporation of fact into his riveting fiction, and even setting that aspect of the novel completely aside, I was quite entertained by the story. Mark Sitka down as another novel I would recommend to anyone, especially those who are fans of action / adventure, political intrigue, and historical fiction.(less)
I must admit, I am disappointed with this novel; it seems to be the exception to the rather excellent body of works produced in the author's later yea...moreI must admit, I am disappointed with this novel; it seems to be the exception to the rather excellent body of works produced in the author's later years. Though he was known for his westerns, the L'Amour novels I have read to this point have been either historical fiction (Sitka, The Walking Drum, The Lonesome Gods) or modern adventure (The Haunted Mesa). I have found each work to be a masterpiece, with all the facts - names, dates, locales - to be very well-researched and accurate, while the action remains fast-paced and engaging. Yet despite the author's previously demonstrated mastery of plot control, I found Last of the Breed nearly impossible to slog through.
The story takes place during the mid-1980's, modern for L'Amour at the time of its writing, when prolonged Cold War tensions were causing the Soviet Union to near the end of its implosion. Air Force Major Joseph Makatozi has been captured and imprisoned within a secret Russian government facility, with the Colonel in charge hoping to pluck from him the secrets of the many experimental aircraft he has tested for America. 'Joe Mack,' as he is known to his friends, escapes from the lightly guarded camp only to find himself stranded in the middle of the largest prison on earth - the vast wilderness of Siberia. With the entire Soviet nation on the lookout, escape by air or over the border to China becomes impossible, and Joe Mack decides to retrace the ancient land route across the Bering Strait. Largely of Native American descent, and having been raised by his people in the Western United States, he must now employ all he has learned of the ways of his ancestors in order to live off the land and avoid capture. Over the course of more than a year, he evades pursuit through his own wits and a few fortuitous encounters with Russian dissidents, constantly dogged all the while by the best native tracker Siberia can put on his trail. At the end, within sight of his destination, one final confrontation will resolve it all one way or another.
L'Amour's intention with this story was apparently to examine the changes a man can undergo when faced with circumstances harsher than a member of modern civilization is normally ever faced with. In this regard, the desired effect is achieved, as the reader can clearly see the difference between the modern military man captured at the beginning and the ruthless, primal, almost savage individual who is willing to kill his pursuers and even scalp his true enemies before finally making his way home. Unfortunately, the events required to bring about such changes in the character lead to some rather dull moments for the reader - killing a moose for fur and meat might be a personal triumph for a starving, freezing man who hasn't seen a sign of civilization in months, but it provides little excitement when reduced to print in the hands of one who has never experienced such desperation. The author attempts to switch things up with some chapters following the affairs of a few more important secondary characters (especially Joe Mack's love interest, the daughter of a Lithuanian professor exiled to Siberia), but most of them seem to lead nowhere and feel more like a distraction to keep the reader from growing bored.
The background is still up to L'Amour's usual level, with detailed geography and complex, identifiable characters. He portrays both sides of the conflict as real people, with individual goals and lives, rather than simply a good hero fighting nameless enemies. Unfortunately, this level of quality does not counteract the slovenly pace of the plot or the disconnected feel of the overall story. If you are genuinely in the mood for a vague and fictional study on changes to the human psyche under hardship, you might actually enjoy this novel; if you are expecting another masterpiece from a legendary author, you will probably be disappointed.(less)
I'm going to keep this one short, or at least try to, because, to put it simply, this book was a huge disappointment.
Loosely based on the spiritual jo...moreI'm going to keep this one short, or at least try to, because, to put it simply, this book was a huge disappointment.
Loosely based on the spiritual journey and personality transformations of the author's youth, the story ended up far too fictionalized and fantastic to remain credible. At first, the young man's personal struggles were very easy to relate to, and the events that started him on the path to eventual enlightenment were ordinary and believable enough, and my attention was firmly captured. As things progressed, though, I began to lose interest at a rapidly increasing pace. The two main characters are complete opposites: A young fool who questions everything and can't see the answers even when they're dangled right in front of his eyes, and a wise, confident, almost super-human old man devoted to his unlikely young apprentice's 'education.' While this dichotomy is rather amusing at first, it soon becomes tiresome and annoying, especially after Dan has supposedly progressed and learned but still has absolutely no character development to display it. That progression and learning is achieved through revelations brought about not by life experience or circumstance, but instead in hypnotic visions which quickly become less relevant and more fantasy-laden. The adages and snippets of moral story that the author tries to fit into the book are stuck in seemingly at random, sometimes too few and far between to follow, and sometimes packed so close together that they blend and lose all significance. By the end, I was glossing over much of the material because I was simply beyond caring.
This title was on the recommended reading list for my dojo, and my Sensei had spoken highly of it, so I was expecting better, but in the end I was just forcing myself to keep turning the pages and cross this one off the list. The life lessons that can be taken from it are good, don't get me wrong, but in the end it just felt like the same old self-help seminar in new packaging; while it's certainly more interesting than sitting through a two-hour lecture, it's also a lot more of a time commitment to take away the same basic concepts. While the material might be new and life-altering to some, it was little more than a chore for me at this time.(less)
In the modern world, most people, especially Americans, have a very misguided concept of Ninjutsu. Simply hearing the word 'ninja' brings to mind thou...moreIn the modern world, most people, especially Americans, have a very misguided concept of Ninjutsu. Simply hearing the word 'ninja' brings to mind thoughts of black-clad assassins slinking through the night, taking out guards with throwing stars, sword-fighting through an entire fortress single-handedly, then disappearing into a puff of smoke once their missions are completed. While there is actually some historical basis to this idea, the reality was far more mundane than the fantastical images depicted by the modern media - though also far more practical. Then, if we want to dispel these illusions and shed some light on the real, historical Shinobi warriors of Japan, who better to learn from than the current grandmaster?
Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi is the 34th Soke (head of tradition), of the Togakure Ryu - possibly the oldest, and definitely one of the most legendary, traditional schools of Ninjutsu. Additionally, he is the grandmaster of two other surviving schools of Ninjutsu, and six remaining schools of the Samurai arts, but he has limited this book to the aforementioned Togakure Ryu. Hatsumi-soke learned this art directly from the previous grandmaster, his teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu, and is the foremost authority in the world on the subject. Ninjutsu: History and Tradition is his attempt to enlighten the public on the true role of the ninja, and was written in 1981, just at the time when the media portrayal was beginning to get out of hand. The effort, in my opinion, yields mixed results.
Going on the title alone, I assumed the book would be, of course, a simple history of the martial art. Well, it starts out as such, but quickly turns another direction. It's divided into sections, rather than chapters, and the first focuses on a very brief history of the Togakure Ryu, including a list of past grandmasters and a few anecdotes of notable Shinobi feats. The introduction and this section heavily stress the fact that traditional ninja were much more grounded and real than the popular misconception, but don't actually give that much detail on how; the subsequent sections, however, become almost too detailed.
Before a warrior can learn how to fight, he first must learn how to avoid a fight. Dodging and evading attacks, falling and rolling without injury, and other more detailed escape techniques are covered in a section longer than the introduction and history combined. Next, unarmed combat is discussed in some depth, as well. Each of these chapters quickly ceases to be a narrative, and becomes more instructional on how to do the techniques. Descriptions are accompanied by photos, which begin to take up most of each page, showing the actions being performed by either Hatsumi-soke himself or other masters of the Togakure Ryu. The following section, on armed combat, quickly devolves into a list of weapons that were or could be employed in classical ninja operations. Page after page is covered with the implements' names and images, with only occasional, brief explanations of their uses. Once this catalog is complete, special tactics are discussed, such as concealing blinding powders in sword sheathes, and hiding in trees and brush, to name just a few. Once the sections on combat and tactics have taken up most of the book, a bare handful of pages are devoted to the roles of female Shinobi, then Soke finishes up with a brief discussion of energy shouts and energy focusing techniques, stressing how the warrior must become one with the flow of events around him, rather than merely carrying out a set of physical actions.
My biggest criticism of this book is its seeming lack of intent - it can't seem to decide between being a history or becoming an instructional manual, and the result is that it fails at really being either. The combat sections basically just give examples of specific techniques being used in specific ways, which means that only a handful of moves get displayed, out of the literally thousands of possible variations. The photos are black and white only, and very poor quality and resolution (even by 1981 printing standards). The catalog-style weapons listing entices readers into even more daydreaming and hypothesizing, while doing very little to dispel the fantasy and explain the mundane ways in which the tools were more commonly used. The organization of the book into sections isn't bad, but the order in which they are presented could be improved upon, and there is absolutely no transition from one to the next. After the final section, the book simply ends, with no conclusion or effort to tie the segmented topics together.
If the original purpose of Ninjutsu: History and Tradition was to counter the fantastical media portrayal of the ninja, then I'm unsure as to its success. Personally, as a student of the Bujinkan martial art system (founded by Hatsumi-soke and based on the nine schools he heads), I found the book useful. Its more instructional parts helped illustrate and explain some of the techniques I've already learned, and gave me a better understanding of them, and I'm glad it was on my dojo's required reading list. However, I don't think a casual reader will get very much out of it - except, perhaps, their interest piqued even further.(less)
One of these days I may finally give up on the concept of 'reading myself to sleep.' For some years now, I've done most of my reading at night; normal...moreOne of these days I may finally give up on the concept of 'reading myself to sleep.' For some years now, I've done most of my reading at night; normally, I can comfortably put down the book at a decent hour and ensure a good night's rest - occasionally, however, a story grabs my attention and refuses to let go, and large quantities of sleep are lost as a result. Unfortunately for my health in the past month, the last three novels I've read have all been gripping, page-turning adventures that I could not force myself to close until my eyes became incapable of sight. The first two of these novels were The Walking Drum and Sitka, on which I have written lengthy reviews and praises; the latest was a novel called The Burnished Blade, by Lawrence Schoonover.
I discovered this novel quite by mistake. As evidenced by my decision to study and dig up ancient histories and artifacts, I have always had an inexplicable penchant for items of great age. This manifests itself yet again every time I see a stack of books in an antiques shop, or an exceptionally old-looking volume in a used bookstore. A number of months ago, I happened upon one that appeared nearly as aged as some of the 100+ year old books I've had the fortune to acquire, but was in remarkably sound shape. It turned out to only date to 1948, but as it was cheaper than a new paperback, I picked it up, intending to perhaps skim it later, and it has since spent some considerable time between boxes and shelving in my possession. Last week, eager for something both intellectually and imaginatively stimulating after finishing the two L'Amour novels, I noticed the title The Burnished Blade on my shelf, and it immediately conjured to mind images of medieval knights clashing boldly for honor and a maiden's hand; once I began to read, the words turned those illusions to reality in my mind, and I was not disappointed.
The story, set in 15th Century France and parts of the Near East, follows a young man named Pierre, and begins with the unfortunate death of his unknown family, apparently on a journey far from their own land in search of a world-class doctor to treat the boy for some mysterious malady. His parents are obviously persons of some importance, as they have quite a company of guards and retainers, but after they are killed and the boy survives both the devastating fever and the life-changing tragedy, he cannot remember his own origins, nor can anyone ascertain them for him. When he shows up on the streets of Rouen in rags, he is taken for an orphaned peasant, and cared for by first a kindly priest and then an armorer, who takes the boy into his household and later adopts him as a son. This introduction having been established, the next segment of the story evinces Pierre's rearing and education, first by his new parents and later at the town's monastic school, a rare combination that brings him to manhood knowing the secrets and lifestyles of both a middle-class merchant and the priesthood, and proficient in all areas of academics to include advanced mathematics and several languages. From there, it only makes sense that he will go on to become traveled and accomplished, providing us with the entertainment of following his grand adventures along the way, which comprise the latter half of the novel.
The format in which young Pierre's adventures are laid out is somewhat unorthodox to the modern story, or at least seems so at first. There is not an immediate goal, to which the hero aspires from the start and attains at the end, nor a single nemesis that he must overcome in order to do so. Instead, the protagonist seems to simply react to a number of small issues, individually and as they arise, and is often forced ahead on his journey simply through being a victim of circumstance. At every turn, of course, his natural wit, extensive education, and affinity for encountering the right people at the right times allow him to turn what would ordinarily be a very bad situation into an improvement on his position in the world. Once he has reached a certain plateau, the more intricate plot devices begin to surface, and his true adventures commence, though the means to many of his ends are thrust upon him seemingly as wantonly as had been the earlier trials. To sum up the second half of the novel as succinctly as I can manage: As an adolescent, Pierre had met and done a great service for the family of a French Count; once grown and working as a clerk, he comes into contact with the family once more, and quickly falls into a reciprocated love with the Count's young daughter; not of noble blood himself, Pierre may not marry a member of the nobility; the young woman's distant cousin becomes Pierre's rival for her hand, and he is well-qualified; Pierre is then sent on a mission of modest importance to the East; at his destination in Trebizond, he immediately and quite luckily (or unluckily, at the time) uncovers a massive scandal that cheats and defrauds the rulers of both that empire and the kingdom of France, and is suddenly in a mess of intrigue and action that threatens his life at every turn; he survives all attempts to silence him, and in the process attains everything necessary to return a hero and marry the Lady who holds his heart, not to mention great status, fame, and wealth. The way everything seems so random and driven numerous minor incidents, then is realized later to weave into the overall plot, makes Schoonover either an ingenious master storyteller or a half-mad and incredibly lucky idiot; I'll take the former as my personal opinion, if only for ego's sake.
Being so impressed with the author's ability and so captivated by his story, but having never heard of either, I performed some quick research before composing this review. Lawrence Schoonover wrote a dozen novels between 1948 and 1973, and did not even turn professional author until he was past the age of forty. He was well-respected for his attention to detail, and the remarkable historical accuracy employed in his writing - a few of his novels have even been classified as biographies, covering such figures as John Paul Jones and numerous European monarchs of the Renaissance period. After the treat of L'Amour's books, for me to have picked a complete unknown off the shelf based on nothing more than a fantasy title and come away with another remarkable story of historical fiction is almost enough of a coincidence to compel within me some belief in fate or providence, and I believe I am now stuck on the genre, and gladly. The Burnished Blade was Schoonover's first work, and they are reputed to have only gotten better as he went; if this is true, I know what's next on my list.(less)
Based solely on my readings of the Mistborn trilogy, and more recently his completion of the Wheel of Time, I've been telling friends and fellow fanta...moreBased solely on my readings of the Mistborn trilogy, and more recently his completion of the Wheel of Time, I've been telling friends and fellow fantasy enthusiasts for years that Brandon Sanderson is the master of creating original and unique systems of magic. I've also thought of him as being very good at character development, creating heroes and heroines who are magnificently powerful and set above the rest, yet at the same time very human and easy to identify with. Never before, though, have I considered him a true world-builder. Until now.
With The Way of Kings, Sanderson has reached a new level, not only in his writing, but perhaps in the fantasy genre as a whole. The novel successfully pulls together every attribute I've come to look for in fiction: A richly detailed world with its own highly-developed cultures, customs, and belief systems; not just one, but a whole host of amazing characters, each with his or her own virtues and flaws, easy to relate to, whether in love or hate; well-paced plot that moves seamlessly between intense action and slower development; a grand, overarching premise. It is one of the few stories I have ever read that contains the complete package.
As the first in a new series, the book does a good job of setting the tone. While the setting focuses largely on the nation of Alethkar and its battleground on the Shattered Plains, the reader is also introduced briefly to many other regions across the continent of Roshar. Tantalizing hints are given towards the further development of secondary areas in later installments. Many different characters are introduced, and a few are delved into very deeply and set up to be major players in the events that will change their entire world and its future; others are barely touched upon, sometimes in ways that don't even relate to the story currently - one can only assume that they will play into things later. The new magics stun and dazzle the imagination, showing clear evidence of a solid foundation and cohesive system, but not yet giving too much in the way of explanation.
Sanderson engages the reader in more than just the details of his new world, however. "The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon." This quote is from The Way of Kings, but it is also clearly one of the author's own beliefs, because that is exactly what his works do. Many issues of morality and spirituality are brought up various happenings in this particular book, but most are presented in a way that simply suggests the quandary to the reader for personal introspection, rather than being directly outlined and discussed in the text. There are plenty of novels in which the author tries to broach such topics, but many devolve into little more than preaching. Brandon Sanderson shows clearly that he would rather prompt individuals to consider the issues from all sides and allow them to reach their own conclusions, rather than trying to force his upon them, and for that, he has both my gratitude and admiration.
While The Way of Kings is far from a masterpiece, it is an exceptional piece of fantasy. It pulls the reader in quickly and does not let go - I lost many hours of sleep to my constant desire to see what would happen next, or how my favorite characters would fare. If The Stormlight Archive continues to develop in this fashion, it could easily end up on par with (or even better than) the currently-established epic sagas. I'm sure that as I continue to follow it, the series will take its place among such greats as The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Kingkiller Chronicles.(less)
Patrick Rothfuss has done it again. Four years after his debut novel, The Name of the Wind, took the fantasy world by storm, he's picked up right wher...morePatrick Rothfuss has done it again. Four years after his debut novel, The Name of the Wind, took the fantasy world by storm, he's picked up right where he left off. The Wise Man's Fear is yet another example of Rothfuss' unparalleled storytelling ability, losing none of the magic of its predecessor and holding me enthralled late into many a night.
In this new volume, Kvothe resumes the telling of his life's story for a second day, and once again engages the audience's rapt attention. The first day of his narrative (covered in The Name of the Wind) related early-life experiences and gave a clear understanding of how Kvothe's personality, psyche, and goals were shaped. The events were detailed, vivid, and strung together marvelously, but very little was revealed of what they were building toward - in other words, of the overarching story's plot. On the second day, with the background securely out of the way, Rothfuss starts to throw some real meat into the tale. We get to hear, still in rich detail, of the adventures which made Kvothe a legend in his own time. The episodes run from one to the next at a flurried pace, while through them, and during his brief lulls between, we begin to see more plot-relevant content as he begins in earnest his search for answers to the questions he still has about the tragic events of his childhood, and even comes into direct contact with the keys to a few of those answers. At the day's end, much has been uncovered, but the main conflict still has not been broached.
In terms of technical writing, The Wise Man's Fear is far from perfect. There are scattered typos, rare but noticeable, and the narrative includes dropped articles and frequent misuse of grammar and punctuation (though these sometimes contribute to, rather than detract from, the flow of events). Considering Rothfuss cranked the sequel out in about half the time it took him to write the debut, I suppose this was unavoidable, as the length and complexity of the novel would make it rather difficult to catch every single mistake without taking much more time. Still, there aren't nearly as many errors as I've seen from many other authors, and they are far overshadowed by the story, which has suffered no such degradations. Patrick Rothfuss continues to amaze, allowing his characters to mature, their exploits to grow even more audacious, and the world around them to become more detailed and realistic. Through subtle placement of tantalizing material and clever use of foreshadowing, he guarantees that readers will come back for the next installment. I, for one, am already eagerly and patiently awaiting it.(less)
One thing is certain: Patrick Rothfuss is one of the greatest story-tellers I have ever read. I have a habit of becoming engrossed books, feeling more...moreOne thing is certain: Patrick Rothfuss is one of the greatest story-tellers I have ever read. I have a habit of becoming engrossed books, feeling more as though I'm an inactive participant than a reader; I see the worlds inside my head, feel as though I'm traveling alongside the characters and viewing their struggles firsthand. Any time I feel that I'm just reading words off a page, I'm disappointed and bored. Name of the Wind drew me in to an extent even I'm not used to dealing with.
The only major quarrel I have with Rothfuss is the writing itself. There have been numerous occasions on which I have pronounced myself a 'grammar nazi,' and this book definitely aggravated that side of me. The grammatical structure, verb tense, comma usage, absence of colons and semi-colons, and a number of other technical errors were almost enough to drive me off a wall. However, the story was so engaging even my critical eye started to gloss right over such minor annoyances.
In all, though nowhere near the best writing I've picked up, Name of the Wind is most assuredly among the best stories. If you like a good story, you'll love this book. I couldn't put it down.(less)
A unique take on the journey the mind goes through while falling under, and then working free of, the effects of severe clinical depression.
The story...moreA unique take on the journey the mind goes through while falling under, and then working free of, the effects of severe clinical depression.
The story is fairly short and simple, but provides good insight into the thoughts and doubts, hopes and fears of an individual suffering from very real and dangerous disorders. The engaging narrative is set to full-page artwork done in a style that causes swirling mental images and allows the reader to get a real feel for the content. Scattered throughout are medical definitions of various mental diseases, and dictionary definitions of key related terms, which provide a hard scientific analysis of what the character is experiencing.
The clinical aspect to the book is very informative, but inserted within the story as it is, it tends to distract from the feel. I was struggling to stay focused, and put the book down for months at a time because I just couldn't get into it - then I stopped paying attention to everything but the narrative, and started flying through the pages; I later went back through and read the medical terminology on its own, as though it comprised a separate section of the book. Tackling it from this new approach, I was able to see more of the inherent symbolism and relate more closely to the experiences of Skinny, without getting distracted by the clutter.
The story of Skinny Miss S. is the fictionalization of author Stacey Lane's personal experiences, a fantasy version of her own real struggles and eventual recovery. Anyone who has struggled with depression or other mental disorders should be able to relate, and hopefully take some lessons away with which to help themselves. The book is not quite a memoir, not quite a self-help guide, and not quite a clinical text, but a combination of elements from each. As such, it should prove useful to those suffering from, working to treat, or simply interested in the effects of mental disease.(less)
I can't stop reading this series. Loved it from the start, and it just keeps getting more engrossing. Pages turn, and hours pass without my realizing....moreI can't stop reading this series. Loved it from the start, and it just keeps getting more engrossing. Pages turn, and hours pass without my realizing. It's been a long time since something captivated my attention like this.(less)