I stumbled across this book while looking for something for my husband and I to listen to in the car (that was essentially kid-friendly for my way too...moreI stumbled across this book while looking for something for my husband and I to listen to in the car (that was essentially kid-friendly for my way too bright three year old), that neither of us were at different places in. We've got a couple of series we're both reading but were in different places in them. We had a ten-hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted something that was about twenty hours. And I stumbled across The Name of the Wind.
The reviews for the quality of the audiobook itself were excellent--the narration was fantastic. I also have to admit being swayed by a quote from Game of Thrones author, George R. R. Martin: "he's bloody good, this Rothfuss guy."
Okay, so the audiobook is twenty-seven hours, not twenty. Still, I agree with Martin's assessment. The worldbuilding in this book is phenomenal. I just adored it. The setting, the magical system, the width and breadth of the cultures--everything feels so real. There's history, things lost, things forgotten, the world feels complete. I want to know more. I'm currently beating down my own tendency towards spoilers. This is a rare occasion in which I just want to read.
It's a different take--the infamous hero's tale from his own mouth. And Kvothe as a narrator is charismatic, magnetic, incredibly compelling. There's humor, tragedy, a real sense of the fragility of life and the emotions associated with loss and poverty. It's also great fun to hear the true stories of what come to be infamous tales.
Not only is the world a masterclass example of worldbuilding, and the narration fantastic, the character building is done with equal skill. Characters long dead you feel like you could know, they're just that well built. I think the synopsis covers the greater part of Kvothe's life, whereas The Name of the Wind really covers from ages 8 to 16-ish, childhood to the cusp of adulthood, when he begins to gain infamy. This allows school-age antics with a group of close friends to provide some levity in what can otherwise be a dramatic and tragic story.
And on top of all of that is the prose--the language. This is literature. The prose can bounce from playful to heart-wrenching, from satire and sarcasm to statements that seem like profound truths.
"Remember this son, if you forget everything else: A poet is a musician who can't sing. Words have to find a man's mind before they can touch his heart. And, some men's minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly, no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”
There is a care and a craft to the storytelling as a whole that is deeper than anything I've read in a good long time. And, it's something I strongly feel will last the test of time. As much as I enjoy contemporary fiction--even contemporary paranormal, I think a lot of fantasy has a longevity much greater because it doesn't involve modern element which can be so quickly outdated. The Name of the Wind, I feel, could definitely become a piece of classic fantasy literature.
So, go read it. It's awesome. I've got some other books on my plate before I can read the second and the third will hopefully be sometime in 2014. I can't wait.
Also, given the time period that most of this book covers, it almost counts as YA and it's pretty clean in terms of language and sex.
"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a woman love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself.”(less)
Foreverland is Dead is the sequel to Annihilation of Foreverland and you don't necessarily need to read it to understand this follow-up. This one actu...moreForeverland is Dead is the sequel to Annihilation of Foreverland and you don't necessarily need to read it to understand this follow-up. This one actually has me a little torn as I read them with significant time between them, it took me a bit to remember and put pieces together. I think this book could be read either way--I feel the suspension and the mystery would be far more intense if you hadn't read Annihilation of Foreverland, but I also think that what happens at the end of the book is much clearer if you read the first. So with that pseudo disclaimer, onto the rest of the review.
First let me start by saying that everything I've read from this author has been excellent. At this point, if he wrote it, I pretty much recommend it. Annihilation blew me away (you can read my review here) and I was excited to learn about the other half of Foreverland. The pacing is perfect. Despite being 300 pages, I got through it in 5 or so good hours. Bertauski has a tendency to be very straightforward in his writing that makes it for fast reading. He's fantastic at building atmosphere and certainly demonstrated that in Foreverland. His characters are real, you can latch onto them, understand them, relate to them. You care about them and what happens to them.
So, the writing is excellent, great pacing, great atmosphere, great characters. Why the four stars? It sure sounds like a five.
The four is a personal reaction. While I raced through Annihilation, which left me feeling exhilarated and grinning for hours with the rush of a great mystery and an ending of just deserts, I felt more compelled through Foreverland. The overall tones of the two books is very different, and there's a looming sense of desperation and hopelessness almost omnipresent in Foreverland. Even at the end, something told me not all was quite right in the world. And Bertauski reminded me he likes twists with one right at the end of Foreverland that left me feeling strangely brokenhearted. I almost got my happy ending, or at least one that I could live with, and then then twist that sort of twisted my heart. There is a third in the works that I'm sure will answer the twist, but the overall feeling of sadness I was left with just keeps me from 5 on this one. I'm old fashioned and like my happy endings.
Still, the craftsmanship of this book leaves no doubt that it's a highly recommended read and I'm eagerly awaiting #3.
I'm not sure what it was about this book. It may have been partially that I got swept into another series after starting it, but this one... This one...moreI'm not sure what it was about this book. It may have been partially that I got swept into another series after starting it, but this one... This one was a struggle for me. For some reason, it just didn't hold my attention very well. I wasn't entranced or engaged. I slogged through it. And I got to the end, and even the cliffhanger left me feeling "meh." It certainly didn't send me diving for the next one (which almost a week later, I still haven't started). It's weird, because it's got a goodly amount of Ridley and Link, which I really enjoy, but this one didn't work for me. I'm almost to the point that I'd wiki it to find out how it ends rather than bothering to read the last book. Not quite, but almost.(less)
There is so much good about this book I'm not even sure where to start. First, I'm an old fantasy nerd, and Robin Hood hits it hard. This retelling is...moreThere is so much good about this book I'm not even sure where to start. First, I'm an old fantasy nerd, and Robin Hood hits it hard. This retelling is fantastic, in both the original meaning of the word and in the awesome meaning of the word.
Let's start with the basics: the language. A minor pet peeve of mine is historical novels where everyone speaks modern English. It just sort of hinders my willing suspension of disbelief. Hennig crafts a world where I can hear the accents in the voices--the variety between the low and high born. There are touches of French, Latin and Gaelic (I think, may be Welsh, I don't remember that it's specifically named), but their use is historically accurate and lends such depth to the world.
The myth maintained: I actually took a class that focused 1/3 of the semester on Robin Hood, so reading this story, seeing where the author has pulled from some of the oldest ballads and woven in all of the key components and characteristics of Robin Hood, yet, making them into a story that I haven't quite read was thrilling. The author did her research and it shows. Both in her weaving of the traditional tale and in her historic details.
The original take: One thing the original myths don't really focus much on is religion. It is present, but not a focus. So, Greenwode has a unique and creative--yet logical--twist on the Robin Hood myth, placing not only the rich against the poor but Christianity against the native pagan religion.
"The old gods aren't dead... we forget that at our peril..." --Brother Dolfin
The mysticism and magic of the old religion, and honestly, just the information about and portrayal of the old religion, is completely fascinating.
And then, we have the characterization. The characters, the heart of the story and my ultimate draw-- They're the icing on the cake for this one. Rob and Marion are spectacular as brother and sister and Rob's developing relationship with the the near monastery-bound Gamelyn is portrayed wonderfully. The two are magnetic. I can't think of a character that isn't well crafted and defined--from Rob, to his parents, Gamelyn's family and the Horned God himself. All I could think at the end was "Wait, that's it?!"
No. Fortunately, it's the first in a duology... the second just doesn't come out until late this month. Where Greenwode explores mostly pre-myth Rob, the sequel promises to give us more of the Robin Hood--or Hode--myth that we know and love. Honestly, I can't wait for it.
This one is a highly recommended read. Just read it. It blew me away.(less)
To begin: 5 stars. Why? Because I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to pick it up and read it in the middle of my workday, as I waited in line for...moreTo begin: 5 stars. Why? Because I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to pick it up and read it in the middle of my workday, as I waited in line for things. I thought about it, thought about the characters and the world and the concepts even when I wasn't reading it. Was I totally 100% blown away? No. The prose didn't make me swoon or sit back in awe. It made me laugh but didn't move me to tears. There were bits I thought were somewhat overdone or repetitive (dream sequences, anyone?), but I simply couldn't rate anything that engaged me this much as anything less than a 5.
I love Lena--the outsider who wants to belong but isn't willing to compromise who she is in order to fit in. She reaches out to that misfit, teenage part of me that makes her easy to identify with. Her strength, her intelligence, her vulnerability--I just want to follow her story. And I love Ethan--his devotion, the fact he's real, and scared and still refuses to be scared away.
The setting is so strong, so real that it's effortless to fall into. The supporting characters are strong. The concepts of Casters and their world are, I feel, very original takes on a theme that has become very now and "in", to the point of losing the edges that made vampires and witches and magic so appealing. I feel like Beautiful Creatures brought back those edges and the darkness that I loved so much about these paranormal novels.
Is it perfect? A paragon of the witchy, paranormal novel? Maybe not. Is it compelling, and original and just fantastic? Yes. There are places where it's a little campy, a little unbalanced, but the strength of the overall story and characters more than make up for it. Five stars, and I'm dying to dive into the rest of the series.(less)