Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Shadow in Summer

A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really a 3.5, but I wouldn't recommend this to non-fantasy fans.

A fantasy book with an eastern flair, and a tragic end.

Some people are annoyed with books that introduce fictional cultures and settings. This book is not for them. They'll complain about how that element was stolen from some culture, or how it interrupts the narrative when the author mentions a formal "pose" as a method of communication. And it's true, there are a few moments where it's not quite carried off the way it should. There are moments where the novelty of the culture is a little too intrusive, but they are just moments.

Mostly this is a political tragedy around a love affair. The love affair is not greatly explored, but it's motivations are clear and sympathetic. The politics are complicated by personal relationships that the players must betray. In the end, the book explores love that is not eros.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is storytelling. There is a cadence to the story, a pace that is just perfect. The story teller, telling his autobiography, lives in tragedy, yet the story he tells of his past seems to be that of a conquering hero. The juxtaposition underlines even the best outcomes with a sense of dread. You know that somewhere in these victories, lies the seeds of destruction. You could complain that everything seems to come too easy to our hero, that every obstacle is demolished, and every pitfall narrowly avoided. But Rothfuss has provided a frame, that allows the user to see the undercurrents of failure. Yes, the pitfall is avoided, but an enemy is left behind. The obstacle is demolished, but innocent blood was spilled.

The online literary term for the always too perfect hero is Mary Sue. I believe that Patrick Rothfuss wanted to play with the idea of the Mary Sue. He created a hero for which everything is just so easy, whose weaknesses are trivial. Then he fast-forwarded past everything, and imagined what might actually happen to someone who always won, without thinking of the consequences. Eventually, something Bad happens. We just don't know when yet. And that gives a darker tone to this otherwise bright tale.

*This was the first book I read on my iPod Touch. I enjoyed how easy it was to always have with me. I could bring it shopping with my wife, and while she picked out dresses, I could read my book. That's transformative.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Book of Lost Things

The Book of Lost ThingsThe Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book about children in transitional situations, and the difficult feelings insecurity can cause. It is not necessarily a book for children, and is sometimes quite dark. The author dips deep into fairy tales, and pulls the darker elements out to create a phantasmal world to reflect the emotional fears of a child. Like me, David loved books. He felt the power of a story, how they can pull you along, and come alive. I can say that during times of my life that I felt insecure, reading was a way of escaping, forgetting, and recovering. Reading a triumphant story could help me feel triumphant, that awesome things (things full of awe?) do sometimes happen. Perhaps only in my mind, but that made them no less real.

View all my reviews