If I could give these books a 4.5 I would. They weren't quite perfect, but portions had be sitting up in bed raptly turning page after page.
Then I'd hit a portion not about the water walker and back out in the 'real' world and I'd sigh, my complaint the same as it typically is with Peter Hamilton's books: Bloat. Although I WILL say, it is markedly restrained in these books relative to his earlier books.
It's entirely possible, in fact, that at least this time around it was simply because I typically better like the 'fantasy' genre of writing that I was so engrossed in the Water walker's story and relatively Meh about the rest of it. In fact I'd go so far as to suggest this is likely.
Overall though, I do remember loving the books when I read them late last year/early this year, and then hotly anticipating the now released third book: The Evolutionary Void (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/74...) which I haven't yet read, but aim to shortly, and will be doing a review of that book separately when I do. :)(less)
This is my first exposure to Brandon Sanderson's writing, and I have to say... I wish I'd started with something else. Perhaps his Mistborn trilogy, o...moreThis is my first exposure to Brandon Sanderson's writing, and I have to say... I wish I'd started with something else. Perhaps his Mistborn trilogy, or his contributions to the Wheel of Time cycle (which I'll likely be reading next) or even the stand alone Elantris.
Anything else would have been better.
Why? Well; I've joined the excruciating wait for the next book in this series far too early. Sanderson is from all I can tell a solid worker and isn't looking likely to pull a George on us for which I cannot express my gratitude, but goodness. After the ending this book delivered, any wait for the next at all is just too long.
No, no. Not because he left us with some sort of jaw gnashing cliffhanger, but because even though it wound up of the events in this story rather masterfully, the promise of so much more to come is a siren call extraordinarily difficult to ignore. Sanderson has made a promise with this book; one that I believe he certainly has the capability to deliver upon.
It's not completely roses and rainbows though. Mostly for me it was elements of the writing style itself and it's being really quite picky of me, I realise. In some of the sequences dealing with the 'Lashings' for instance, the descriptions were just too bland for the action they were depicting. I don't want to beat on that too heavily because they clearly conveyed what was happening which is no small feat given what... well, what was happening, but nonetheless, it was jarring to me.
Did it detract from the story as a whole? Not at all. I managed to pick this up for a steal with a half price voucher for Whitcouls (a local book seller), but I'd buy it and reccomend it be bought even for full cost. That is, if you can stand the wait between books. ;)(less)
A story of a man, telling the story of a boy, who became a legend. The three are all one and the same, author Patrick Rothfuss not content with leavin...moreA story of a man, telling the story of a boy, who became a legend. The three are all one and the same, author Patrick Rothfuss not content with leaving in his wake yet another fantasy story detailing on only the 'legend' went beyond and instead told a rather human story; without sacrificing the excitement of magic, fights for survival and the like.
Some complain of the slow nature of the book, and it is at the least fair to say that large portions of the book are set within one place, the University. Yet as with the complaints sometimes levied against Robyn Hobb's Farseer trilogy of not much happening, I don't think that a large number of 'big' events have to happen when you're dealing with a story as character driven as both stories are.
I personally found the entire story interesting from start to end, and it was all the more so because Rothfuss made me invested in the well being of Kvothe. Admittedly if he Rothfuss had failed in bringing me to care for the character -- or if you don't tend to care for character driven stories to begin with -- then, then I likely would have found the story as long as it was, dull.
I can't wait until the next book in the series is out, but I'm thankful I didn't read this edition too much sooner than I did. While the end was not of any bother to me, I think it was rather skillfully wrapped up, another complaint is it ending seemingly midstory. If you look at it purely from the view of the story Kvothe within the book was telling, perhaps so. The book as a whole however ended as neatly as it could.
It left me burning for more however, so March 2011 can't roll on fast enough!(less)
Robin Hobb is clearly a believer in, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, at least when it comes to her characters. FitzChilvary rarely knows a moment...moreRobin Hobb is clearly a believer in, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, at least when it comes to her characters. FitzChilvary rarely knows a moments peace. This is a constant throughout the series and it is interesting to see the changes in Fitz’ reactions as his story progresses. Even as late as the early acts of Assassin’s Quest, he responds with the heat and impulsiveness of a child. Rash. Very, very, rash.
There is little regard for consequence of action or word, and more than once he is offered warning from those closest to him that soon must come a point where he cannot so quickly apologise it all away. Truthfully, Fitz may come across as a foolish character during these earlier sections, one that makes it such you cannot help but to throw up your hands and exclaim, ‘When will you learn?’
Not a unique response to a character. Poor writers often have their characters be ‘stupid’ to serve the purposes of the story. The worst writers have otherwise brilliant characters pull these stupendous feats of stupidity only at convenient times and then have them return to solving the fantasy equivalents of multi-variable calculus on the very next page. Such writing has surely made my teeth a few millimeters shorter over the years from the grinding.
Hobb’s approach to Fitz is much more believable. As mentioned, he is rash and impulsive rather than truly being denser than an old forest log. There is an internal consistency, so more often than not when you are throwing your hands up in the air over his decisions, it is born out of an exasperation for the character. For a wayward child you hope will one day begin to make better choices, but you can’t help but to fret and worry that they may never get the chance. Fitz is a character that you will come to care and worry about due to the power of Robin Hobb’s writing. You will want him to do better with his relationships and you will ache at some of the isolating decisions he sometimes makes.
As you may have gathered then, this is a character driven story through and through. Much of the enjoyment comes from seeing Fitz — and indeed other characters too, albeit through Fitz’ eyes — grow and develop as we go. Relationships are made important and the people are brought front-and-centre. Hobb will make you care for her characters and then punish you for it with the ordeals they go through. There are some truly harrowing moments where the pages flip with your heart riding up in your mouth.
Suffice to say, it is not always the lightest of reads. It is an emotionally bumpy ride that will bring you right in and have you feel it all.
Personally? I love this. It is one of the most engaging books (and series) I’ve ever read and thus is why I’ve rated it so highly. I do however also offer up a warning for those who prefer their books to be lighter and happier in nature. This one isn’t.
I must confess that the early to middle sections of this book do drag a little. It takes the whole ‘Hero’s Journey’ thing to a ludicrously literal level. Fitz treks an extremely long way and we feel every step of it. I don’t mean to suggest nothing happens during these stretches, just that perhaps the book could have been a stronger, tighter finish to this series if one or more of the interim stages of the journey had been cut. By this point we know the character quite well and so it all seemed a trifle unnecessary. I suppose to be fair though, that I should mention that we begin to see perhaps the first hints of the subtle changes to FitzChilvary’s way of thinking over and about things. It is from this portion of the book I took the above quote from. Still. I did feel it dragged, but on my first read years ago and again now, so I must mention it.
As a final point, I would differentiate Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy from other attempts at ‘grit’. In fact, despite the emotional roller-coaster agreeing to read this series embarks you upon, I’m not even entirely sure that characterizing the story as ‘gritty’ is accurate. Or rather, it is achieved in a natural feeling way. This is a dark time for the Farseer line and their people. Even so, there aren’t any incidences I can point to of people needlessly slain just to show the author is willing to be merciless. There really don’t seem to be any scenes that leap out at you as being present simply because the author has thought, ‘Ooer, that’d be edgy’.
All told, I would highly recommend a read through of this series. Go along with Fitz on his journey from bastard child to hero — even if he is incapable of viewing himself in that light. He is the catalyst, the changer. The means through which ends may be achieved. The pebble in the path of progress, able to turn that ever moving wheel aside even slightly toward one path or another.
Assassin’s Quest marked a satisfying — albeit bittersweet — ending to the Farseer Trilogy. This particular adventure is wrapped up in full, so while there is more to be found within the follow-up Tawny Man Trilogy, you could stop here and be at peace.
…Perhaps. More FitzChilvary Farseer? Who wouldn’t want that? ;)(less)
Name of the Wind -- Patrick Rothfuss' first outing -- was good. It didn't quite live up to the hype, which makes me pleased I didn't see too much of t...moreName of the Wind -- Patrick Rothfuss' first outing -- was good. It didn't quite live up to the hype, which makes me pleased I didn't see too much of the hype until after reading the book for myself for it would have served no purpose but to make me disappointed had I seen it before hand.
Wise Man's Fear, on the other hand, cannot by hyped enough. I couldn't put this down. Just. Couldn't. This is the type of book that will lead you to looking at how you've rated every book before and wonder why. I would happily give this a 6/5. Since I can't I may need to look long and hard at how I've rated most everything that has come before.
I love the characters. They're well written and expressive, even though they're all filtered through the perspective of Kvothe, which is no mean feat. I knew this book had grabbed me and made me feel something when, early on, there is a touching moment with Kvothe and Auri that had me thinking, 'Auri is lovely. . . . Something bad is going to happen to her.'
That thought on it's own is not too uncommon. There are several books that can evoke that. The difference was that the thought didn't end there. No, you see, it was followed up with the thought, 'Christ, I hope not'.
I refuse to spoil whether or not anything happens to her; I wouldn't want to rob anyone of the same anxiety I felt throughout the book, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, or not.
Kvothe spends some time at the University still; and honestly these were some of my favourite parts. Saying goodbye to everyone there was difficult. This is not to say that the adventures away from Imre and the University were not interesting -- they were! -- it was just that I worried the entire time that Kvothe wouldn't go back.
Yet this was balanced against the desire to see the story move on, to see more of how the legend of Kvothe came to be, and I wasn't disappointed in this respect either, really.
I will say however, that while more happened in this book than the first, story wise, there is still so, so, so very much yet to be revealed in the third and final book. I honestly do feel the wait for this book was worth it if it resulted in what can only be described as a masterwork.
But... Please Mr Rothfuss, I think I couldn't quite take another equally long wait for the third! I just can't! (less)
“Do you know what punishments I've endured for my crimes, my sins? None. I am proof of the absurdity of men's most treasured abstractions. A just universe wouldn't tolerate my existence.”
Looking at my review history here on Once Upon a Time to date, one may understandably draw the conclusion that all I read are books featuring assassins. ((Even Mistborn while not an assassin story per se, featured, well... Mistborn, which were themselves assassins, really.)) This isn't true, I swear! I may even get to something else one day. :P
However, apparent themes in my reading preferences aside, I did very much enjoy this assassin story.
It's very much one of those 'gritty' books, and I think most people already know whether this sort of story appeals to them or not. Living in the muck and grime of the Warrens is difficult and each must do what they must merely to survive. Joy is fleeting and momentary, with an unpleasant death in this unpleasant place the only certainty for most of the inhabitants.
'Grit' in a story is something I can personally take or leave, it doesn't instantly turn me away from a story but nor does it particularly endear me to it. At first I wondered if perhaps Weeks was trying a little too hard to stress the point of just how awful and hopeless things were for the guild rats living in the Warrens.
He managed to convince me before too much longer though that he knew what he was doing. As dark and grimy as much of the story is, there is a message of savouring what beauty is found in the smaller things of day to day life.
There is a conflict between the nihilist theories and thoughts espoused by Durzo Blint and the surprisingly hopeful outlook that Azoth tries to nurture throughout his tutelage. As much as Azoth wants to be like Durzo -- seemingly fearless and unbeatable by anyone, an appealing set of attributes to someone having grown up in the Warrens -- he struggles to adopt this ideology.
All through the story, we see Azoth -- eventually Kylar -- struggle with this.
"Life is empty. Life is worthless. When we take a life, we aren't taking anything of value." - Durzo Blint
“I regretted that I hadn't turned myself into the kind of man that you could be with. That it wouldn't be just for me to be with you, even if you wanted me. Our lives started in the same shit hole, Elene, but somehow you've turned into you, and I've turned into this. I don't like what I've done. I don't like who I've become. You don't deserve a fairy tale? I don't deserve another chance, but I'm asking you for one. You're afraid that love is too risky? I've seen what happens when you don't risk it. [...] I'm willing to risk it to see the world through your eyes.” - Azoth (Kylar)
So yes, there is romance. There is also plenty of frenetic action, and even a dab of magic to complete the epic fantasy checklist.
Don't let the lesser count of Emblems throw you off from reading this one. It was a debut work for Brent Weeks, so perhaps some elements could have been stronger. In particular, some of the reveals which would otherwise have earnt this book an, 'Oh Snap!' seemed to come from no where. They weren't jarring enough to throw me out of the book, but still noticeable.
There was also a facepalm moment when Azoth / Kylar fails to see something which I feel falls strongly under the 'Character is Stupid in Order to Progress Plot' banner unfortunately, but the final resolution of this incident is almost satisfying enough to wave off the bears and give Weeks a pass on it. It came close to eliciting a Man Tear, but not quite there.
Overall, despite the issues mentioned, I loved the book and I've dived into the second to fill out my reading time when I get caught up with the current Warbreaker Group Read. You will no doubt see reviews of the second and third books in due course. :)