Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mini-Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss warns you not to read his latest novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things – for reals – he says it repeatedly in the Foreword. I can understand this – it’s very different from the epic fantasy he’s most famous for. People looking for anything that’s more of the same will be…unrewarded in their quest. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t read the novella – because it’s good, very good in fact. But not classic fantasy and not what most people think of when they want to read something from Rothfuss.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is more a character study of Auri, a minor character from his world of epic fantasy. It’s simply the telling of a few days in Auri’s life as she prepares to meet with Kvothe, told in her own form of first person. The power of Rothfuss’ story telling is quite evident even in this more experimental novella – he makes a multi-page description of making soap exciting and entertaining. His playful prose only enhances his storytelling mojo, which makes this weird tragedy of an exploration of Auri something fun to read.

Of course the real beauty of the story is Auri – she is a tragic character, ‘broken’ in some way. But she’s found her world, her form of happiness, and it works. It reminds us to look past the exterior and consider an actual perspective. I think many will find her world something quite special, something they can relate to in some way, and something that brings of tear to their eye.

For the most part the experiment of The Slow Regard of Silent Things works well. Rothfuss shows flexibility and understanding and he once again entertains. Though he does slip up a few times where the story abruptly slips into a male gaze, and it still seems unfair that the world of Auri in this story entirely revolves around Kvothe.

So, some fans may heed Rothfuss’ warning and not read it. Many will not – some of those will love it, some will not. But I think a lot of them will ultimately feel as I do, that it is was a wonderful regard of a moment that has me even more excited for book three.

The Name of the Wind: My Review (don’t read, this one is old and I was such a ‘young’ blogger), Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon
The Wise Man’s Fear: My Review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon
The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon

Friday, January 09, 2015

Mini-Review: Assail by Ian C. Esslemont

Assail by Ian C. Esslemont wraps up a 5 (or 6 depending on how you choose to count it) book story arc within the Malazan world that Esslemont shares with Steven Erikson. The best way to think of it is that it’s a supplement and epilogue to Erikson’s Malazan Books of the Fallen series. And that brings us to what is my biggest problem with Esslemont’s contributions to the Malazan world – he’s not Steven Erikson.

Yes, this is perhaps unfair to Esslemont, but in a shared world, the comparison will be made. It comes down to this – I get Erikson, or more correctly, Erikson’s writing connects with me. The humor, the satire, the cynicism, the commentary on genre, and all the meta stuff that glues the rest together. With Esslemont, all that is absent, or at maybe it’s just that he doesn’t have the writing skills to pull it off. Whatever the specific reasons, Esslemont remains in Erikson’s shadow and I can only describe his books as a disappointment regarding what they could have been (if written by Erkison).

Esslemont has undeniably grown as a writer and story-teller since he entered the Malazan world with Night of Knives. He even pulls off some interesting thematic explorations. But he’s not Erikson. They may have co-created the characters, but time and time again, it seems that Esslemont takes a character made mysterious, interesting, and altogether fun by Erikson and sucks all that right out. Fisher is the prime example in Assail – Fisher’s origins and potential powers have always been of interest, and by the time we’re done with Assail, it’s boring, whatever reveal occurs has lost all its power and Fisher literally limps into what is supposed to the payoff for the series. Another example is the whole Crimson Guard thing – was it supposed to be a tragedy, because I think it was. Words were said to imply as much, though there was no emotional impact with it. I think that ending could have meant something, instead…well, it wasn’t as boring as the last book.

I called this a mini-review, when it may be better reviewed as a non-review. Because ultimately, what I say repeatedly in this review is that the book suffers a lot because it was written by Esslemont and not Erikson. That’s unfair. But that’s also how I felt. A mediocre fantasy adventure that fails to inspire any emotional attachment to its characters is all that the writing of Esslemont will ever be. That mediocrity is only more evident by occurring alongside the writings of Erikson in the same world.

Night of Knives (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon)
Return of the Crimson Guard (My Review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon)
Orb Sceptre Throne (My Review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon)

Friday, January 02, 2015

Mini-Review: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines is one of those authors I've meant to read for a long time, but just never got around to it. I've enjoyed his blog and Twitter feed for years, I even won a contest for an autographed copy of Goblin Quest years ago. And yet I've never gotten around to reading one of his books.

I’m happy to say that changed with Libriomancer (first book in the Magic Ex Libris series), and while it was ‘worth the wait’, it also points out that I shouldn't have waited so long. There are many reviews of Libriomancer out there, I don’t have much to add, so this will be short. I enjoyed it…a lot. This was just what I needed – a quick, fun and adventurous read. It pays homage to science fiction and fantasy books of all ages, and really speaks to all of us dreamers who have always wished (often secretly and sometime overtly) that we could have those magic powers, play with those ‘wonderful toys’, etc. What would we do with that gift? Well, maybe we’d save the world from evil magician commanding a legion of powerful vampires and robotic automatons (OK, legion is bit big, but you get the picture).

This a fun book written by someone who is reveling in being a fan. The love of genre and secretive dreaming fans have all experienced are overflowing in this book. In short, it was just what I was looking for, and now I want more.

The great news is that a sequel, Codex Born, is out there now and Unbound will hit the stores in January, 2015. I can’t wait!


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