Goodreads: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Today’s review.
The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fucking great fantasy. Set after the facts (but with a hint of trouble on the horizon), Kvothe (pronounced “quoth”) tells his story in his own words. Which means we’re progressively introduced to his world both as he discovers it growing up and as a reader of a memoir who might not know what he’s talking about. So that’s one usual clumsiness in fantasy sorted.

There’s no denying some similarities to other stories, like Harry Potter Ender’s Game – orphan goes to magic school, pisses off a teacher, makes an enemy of a rich classmate, makes some nice friends, turns out to be absurdly talented, becomes awesome.

But who cares. It’s a nice recognisable fun story framework for Rothfuss to develop all of the other cool shit: the confused history of the world, the mysterious circumstances of this and that, the hints at the future in the telling. And despite our hero suffering slightly from Jimmy the Hand Syndrome (is there nothing this kid isn’t brilliant at? WHO ROLLED THE STATS ON THIS GUY?!), he’s flawed enough to be a realistic character.

There’s much, much more to it than I’ve made it sound, but I’m not going to spoil this for you.

If you like good fantasy, read this book.

Goodreads: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1)Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Assassin’s Apprentice immediately after I finally gave up on Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, so perhaps my delight in finding Robin Hobb has something to do with the bad taste in my brain left by Goodkind’s tripe. So it’s getting five stars, but I’m quite sure that I would have given it five stars anyway. As a fantasy book, it’s brilliant.

In some ways, it follows a lot of typical tropes. Young boy with royal blood and troublesome parentage forced to find his way in an unfamiliar world, finds he possesses rare talents, is taught by a mentor/father-figure and proves himself in the end. Sort of. Court intrigues, anonymous enemies threatening the kingdom, mysteriously knowledgeable lunatic to push the plot along occasionally. Sort of.

Even the whole first-person autobiographical style isn’t particularly original. So why the hell did I enjoy it so much?

Firstly, Hobb executes all of those usual patterns perfectly. The hero’s bastardy, his apprenticeship, the court intrigue – none of it is presented clumsily. Unlike so many authors using these devices, you get the strong impression that if you quizzed her on any of the characters or their situations, she would be able to tell you a million things, all internally consistent and interesting, that will never make it into the story.

Secondly, Hobb doesn’t rush. She deftly hints at things to come without waving them around as the sole thing to keep you interested. There’s no, “Ooh! Elderlings! Bet you want to know more about that shit, eh?!” Just little mentions, usually around times you’re too interested in what’s going on to wonder too much about what will be revealed later.

Finally, the characters are nice and flawed. Not token flaws, like Raymond E Feist’s “Jimmy’s amazing, but on the other hand he thinks he’s slightly better than amazing”. The characters are proper fucked up, for the most part.

I started reading fantasy again because I wanted something to fill the gap left by coming to the end of the published Song of Ice and Fire books. I forced myself through Terry Goodkind’s bollocks just to satisfy the craving. But Assassin’s Apprentice has sent me straight into the second book of the series, with A Dance with Dragons lying half-finished by my bed.

View all my reviews