The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, is clearly written by a polished master storyteller; the characters seem live, feel, and work in a world as real as our own. The tale spins and pulls and ponders in just the right way with impeccable timing. The moments of choice and danger are terse with tension and consequence. And to top it all off, this is the author's first book. It's not fair to other authors that he is this good already, but for reader's, this is a great book to remind you of the joy of reading.

It is somewhat misleading to label this book as fantasy, and disappointing in that many will pass it over because of the genre label, but it falls in that genre nonetheless. However, anyone who enjoys a great tale should enjoy this story. It is hard to believe that a "fantasy" story can move with so much intensity without being intensely action-based. There is action here, but it is where it needs to be to further the story, not thrown in to cover up a weak narrative. And magic? Yes, magic is present, but not in your typical fashion. Magic is more of a mystery, a wonder in this book than something that is tossed about as carelessly as kids playing catch.  Yes, there is definitely magic here, but the majority of the magic is in the storytelling.

So, what is it about? It is a story within a story. It is the beginning of the tale of Kvothe, an orphan, a minstrel, a student, an arcanist, an innkeeper who has been convinced to tell his tale to a chronicler. It is a story of loss, love, hope, survival, fortune and misfortune. It is a wondrous and insightful look at how a boy can become a hero and an outcast, and it is a story that will hook you and leave you pleading, when is the next book arriving? Turns out, book two is available for you right now. Get The Wise Man's Fear here or at your local library.

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Amulet Volume 1: The Stonekeeper

This is an older review that I had never posted. It is funny to read, because my daughter and nephew are now a high school sophomore and senior. As they have grown, we’ve had so much fun passing time making up stories and playing in libraries and bookstores. All childhoods should include time in both. At this point, I’ve read through book 5, and believe book 8 is, or will soon be, published.

Amulet, by Kazu Kibuishi, is a graphic novel found in most children’s graphic novel collections. I really would not have read it if I hadn’t been sitting in the children’s area of a library as my daughter and nephew were playing. They were doing well without my immediate attention, so I pulled a book off the shelf, flipped through a couple pages, then turned to the beginning. The short prologue was tense and heartrending, and had me hooked.

What follows is a great adventure story, no matter your age. I admit that I am occasionally underwhelmed by a child or teen protagonist; they can seem whiny to me. There are exceptions, this book included. The book unfolds with great mystery and imagination. There is an alternate world, a magic amulet, a missing, eccentric grandfather (it’s a goal of mine, btw, being an eccentric grandpa), a kidnapped mother, and more. And besides a great heroine and her brother, there are fantastic machines. I must say, without spoiling the book too much, that the moving house at the end has me totally hooked and I have already requested the next book just to say what part it will play.

This review wouldn’t be doing the book justice if I didn’t bring up the artwork. What was really cool about the artwork is that it propels the story with as much, or more, momentum than the text. This art isn’t background; it works through the story, often being the sole vehicle for telling the story. You have to read the “pictures” as much as the text to follow this tale. Overall, this was absolutely charming, and a lot of fun. Now that I have finished it, I guess I’d better check it out for my daughter. 

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