This is the book that pulled me in and made me a fan of Abercrombie! It works as a stand-alone book, but can also serve as an entry points into Abercr...moreThis is the book that pulled me in and made me a fan of Abercrombie! It works as a stand-alone book, but can also serve as an entry points into Abercrombie's others books (though I in hindsight, I recommend reading his books in their intended order).
This book is "low magic". It is basically a revenge story, in the style of military fantasy (i.e. small band of morally ambiguous characters on a mission). There are some supernatural/magical elements centered around some secondary characters. As a stand-alone book, these elements will seem interesting and somewhat mysterious, but not overly distracting. Reading the First Law Trilogy, either before or after, will give them a satisfying context.
Great characters. I really enjoyed the developed and changes to Caul Shivers (a key supporting character) as the story progressed. A northmen with a past as barbarian captain (of sorts) who starts out the story on a journey to be "a better man", only to get caught up in Monza's single-minded quest for revenge. He is turtured for his trouble and left disfigured for life, and his resentment and anger begins to darken his soul turning him more and more like the Black Dow - so much for trying to be the "better man".
MINOR SPOILER: Caul Shivers is a nice thread that ties all of Ambercrombie's work (so far) together. I find his developement interesting across the books, as well as within BSC.
This book is first and foremost a character-driven story (somewhat like Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company). The focus is not on big external...moreThis book is first and foremost a character-driven story (somewhat like Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company). The focus is not on big external plot-driving action. Because of this, some people may find the pace too slow for their liking.
I thought that the magic system was very interesting, and was described in much more detail than in many fantasy series. The book reveals the basic principles of the simplest form of magic (Sympathy), but also spends a lot of time explaining the mental control that is required to tap into those principles. This causes the reader to see magic as the skill and mental agility of the character.
I also appreciated the many detailed descriptions of how music is integral to the main character. You really come to understand that, for this character, music is an necessary as water, air, and food. I was a layer that I thought added realism and depth to the character's development. (less)
**spoiler alert** This book was as well written as the first.
I particularly liked the discussion of Kvothe's time studying with the Ademre. I liked t...more**spoiler alert** This book was as well written as the first.
I particularly liked the discussion of Kvothe's time studying with the Ademre. I liked the description of how the Ademre used hand gestures to modify and amplify their (sparse) verbal communication instead of using animated facial gestures. Very interesting.
Spoilers: I think that some future plots lines are starting to shape up. 1) The Maer's wife, Lady Lackless, had a sister who ran off with the Edema Ruh - and she now hates them for it. Recall that Kvothe's mother was a noble woman who fell in love with a ruh and left her way of life behind. And something about the Lady Lackless reminded Kvothe of someone, hmmm... I think the Lady Lackess is Kvothe's aunt. It is interesting to see if that connection is revisited in the third book. 2) The Lackless family used to be called the "Lockless" family. They are famous for having family vaults and family treasure boxes made of smooth stone with no hinges, no seams, and no locks/keyhole. Where have we seen that before...? That strange door in the Archives that Kvothe is curious about! I think there is more to come about this in the third book. 3) It is briefly mentioned that some nobles died who were high in the court. A point was made in teh first book that Ambrose was the first son of a noble within striking distance of the kingship. Got me thinking. Will Ambrose become king and give meaning to the title of Kvothe's story ("kingkiller"). Hmmmm.... 4) An interesting connection is unearthed between the Chandrian and the Amyr and Fae. The Cthaeh has a group of Fae folk called Sithe who are charged with isolating the evil Cthaeh from the rest of the world (both human and Fae). Recall when Kvothe's family was killed. The leader of the Chandrian told the other Chandrian that he protects them from the Amyr, the (something else), and the Sithe. This implies that the Chandrian might be allied with the Cthaeh and/or the Amyr might be allied with the Sithe. At the very least the Chandrian and Amyr are somehow connected to Fae. Interesting...(less)
Extremely interesting magic system. Since the allomancy was central to almost all the action, it's very satisfying that to have a magic system laid ou...moreExtremely interesting magic system. Since the allomancy was central to almost all the action, it's very satisfying that to have a magic system laid out with all the rules. The magic amplified the abilities of Mistings and Mistborn, but they still needed to be smart and use strategy. Thus, the magic wasn't an inexplicable and inexhaustible "get-out-jail-free" card, but rather a tool that had limitations and sometimes liabilities. Good book.(less)