I read this book on a Greek island beach in 5 days. It was after a tough period at work and I wanted something to escape into and just forget about reI read this book on a Greek island beach in 5 days. It was after a tough period at work and I wanted something to escape into and just forget about real life for a moment. For that purpose it was a great success. It was fun, engaging. I wouldn't say it is classic literature, or the best of this genre, but it certainly served its purpose. On the topic of the prose, I thought it was quite good, with the exception of the songs that seemed a bit bumbling to be honest with you. Now here are the negatives:
While I certainly enjoyed the book and intend to read the 2nd, I'm beginning to worry a bit about the modern fantasy genre penchant for brilliant young boys. It seems to be a new theme where a protagonist is born talented to the ears, an astonishingly brilliant badass who has to go through some hard knocks in life, but ultimately establishes himself as a desirable lady-magnet and focus of hatred for all other young males - especially rich ones. While the book is not Harry Potter, I couldn't help but note Kvothe, born better than everyone else, going to school where the chicks are falling for him left and right, becoming the nemesis of a rich blonde dandy son of a noble and drastically inferior in his talents. Ambrose is like a mirror image of Malfoy. So I worry a bit about whether I'm enjoying this simply for its wish-fulfilment or for emotional masturbation. Enjoy it I did, however, despite the overbearing adolescent fantasy quality and cliches of brilliant adolescents dazzling everyone as soon as they're born or go to school. As other reviewers have noted, one does come away with a sense of cheap wish fulfilment, but overall it is also very enjoyable and well written.
This seems to be some sort of weird product of American culture. There seems to be an obsession in the US of the unearned, being born better than everyone else, a misunderstood genius. It pervades all American art, from the superheroes of Marvel and DC like Superman and the X-men mutants and Tony Stark, to modern TV shows like Suits, Numbers, the Mentalist, Psych, House, the Big Bang Theory, Malcolm In the Middle, Independence Day, Star Wars... it's not enough to be a regular guy in a predicament anymore; you have to be a prodigy dripping with badassery. Either gifted with more intelligence than anyone else or more skill. Preferably poor or from a rough background. I feel that this trope is much rarer in European film, television, and literature.
Kvothe definitely has the air of The Chosen One, or Misunderstood Genius, whilst Ambrose is a Malfoy, Simmon is the goofy best friend like Ron or the trope of The Cynic, and Wilem doesn't really have enough character yet to be defined as anything more than a generic additional friend-character.
I was also annoyed to no end by the cringeworthy romance. It was really cheesy and contrived, and I had to struggle to believe that the women the protagonist was 'courting' were actually smitten by his dry-as-bread flirtation. Another fault was in how the author chooses to explain just how badass Kvothe is. His achievements were made lame by the fact that the readers would often discover them through a star-struck character asking Kvothe if the story was true. "Did you really learn X language completely in 1 day?" "Why yes I did, although naturally one never learns a language completely." This sort of faux-humility was very tiresome, but luckily it decreases as the book progresses. Nevertheless thinking on it after reading, I realize that at the back of my mind I was annoyed by the author's decision to make this into a sort of memoir when the leading protagonist is also a demigod. It gives the impression of a session of boasting. Like the ego-stroking memoirs of a president listing his own accomplishments. This may be less annoying, however, as the series continues and we find out why Kvothe is a barkeep.
Finally, the ending just fizzles out unexpectedly, as if the whole series is already written and the author just decided that 662 pages was a good reasonable point for people to take a break. The narrative rushes toward the end of the book quickly raising important plot points out of thin air as if desperately trying to entice the reader to pick up the next book. ...more
The Manifesto itself, is a profound and masterful work.
What undoes this book, however, is the pitiful introduction by A.J.P Taylor. This introduction,The Manifesto itself, is a profound and masterful work.
What undoes this book, however, is the pitiful introduction by A.J.P Taylor. This introduction, unlike Marx's work, is an unimportant quibble of its time (1967). He rails on and on for 47 pages (longer than the manifesto itself!) about how 2 buddies from Germany managed to fool millions of people into believing their crazy deluded message, and how these two lads, working completely and always alone, utterly misunderstood history and economics and sociology down to the core. The work itself is a classic simply because millions of people have been deluded into worshipping it, but the men themselves were self-obsessed and narcissistic and thought themselves gods among men, when in fact they were poor economists, and even poorer historians.
A.J.P. Taylor wrote this in 1967, and one cannot understand why on earth such an introduction could be commissioned or approved to accompany the Manifesto. I can only imagine what the public opinion of communism must have been like at the time - fear and loathing of the USSR alongside complete and total faith in capitalism. In an amusing passage, Taylor takes a break from criticizing Marx to "disprove" his critique of capitalism in the light of modern history, arguing that capitalism has proven itself after the little hiccup of the '30s. Well, it's 2011, and today economists like Nouriel Roubini are questioning capitalism altogether and the world is mired in collective contemplation on how to save the world economy. It seems that despite all of Taylor's fluff, Marx and Engels turned out to be far more timeless thinkers than he was.
Read the Manifesto, just don't read this version. It is nothing more than publishers wanting to make more pennies by pawning Marx's writings off with fluff-filler as an addendum....more