Monday, March 28, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear

Title: The Wise Man's Fear
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2011

Recommendation: If you haven't read The Name of the Wind, read it first, otherwise you don't need my recommendation to know that you want to read this book.
Rating: 10/10

Summary: Kvothe continues to narrate the tale of his adventures at the University and abroad.

Reactions: I've been waiting to get my hands on The Wise Man's Fear for a really long time, but the experience of reading the book made up for the wait. The book itself is quite beautiful. DAW didn't shortchange the book, the pages in the tome feel thin and silky to touch, but strong at the same time. I am really glad I've got the physical copy instead of buying it on Kindle.

The book begins with Kvothe continuing with his studies and intrigues at the University until he leaves for an adventure that takes him much farther than he expects and gains him a wide variety of experiences. I'll give a small spoiler in saying that some of those experiences are sexual and I almost feel like that chapter is reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey's work, though not nearly as explicit.

The beauty of this book is in its language, its flowing story, its absorbing surrounding, and its relationship developments. It's a long book and I enjoyed it from beginning to the end, the plot moved along at the pace that kept me interested, but the book had space to create the atmosphere and suck me into the story.

I didn't want the book to end, but eventually it had to. I rather liked how well many of the story plot lines were tied up towards the end of the book. Not to say that there isn't a cliffhanger, but the ending was satisfying. That will help me wait for the third book in the series.

And to leave you with a quote from the book:
There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Man's War

Title: Old Man's War
Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2005

Recommendation: Anyone who loves character-driven books has got to love Old Man's War.
Rating: 8.5/10

Summary: John Perry is 75. His wife has been dead for many years and the advances in medicine still don't know how to solve the problem of aging. However Colonial Defence Forces (CDF) recruit the elderly with the promise of being young again in exchange for 10 years of service. With nothing left to lose, John Perry joins up and begins his exploration of the universe beyond Earth.

Reactions: I knew I was going to enjoy this book a whole lot before I even finished chapter 1. John Perry is developed as the protagonist from the very beginning and it didn't take me very long to start liking him a whole lot.

There are a number of excellent wryly humorous scenes that I really enjoyed in the book. Here's a short excerpt of one that happens at the very start of the book when John comes to enlist.
"You're John Perry," she said.
"That's me. How did you guess?"
She looked back to her computer. "Most people who want to enlist come in on their birthday, even though they have thirty days afterward to formally enlist. We only have three birthdays today. Mary Valory already called to say she won't be going. And you don't look like you'd be Cynthia Smith."
"I'm gratified to hear that," I said.
"And since you're not coming in for an initial sign-up," she continued, ignoring yet another stab at humor, "it stands to reason you're John Perry."
"I could just be a lonely old man wandering around looking for conversation," I said.
The scene continues with John's attempts at humor getting repelled in the most deadpan fashion. And the book itself continues to have a number of other enjoyable scenes with witty dialogue that I appreciated a lot. About half way through the book, I got pretty convinced that I've really been missing out on John Scalzi.

While the book was almost perfect for the first half, I found myself somewhat less enthusiastic about the second half of the book. Partially, I felt there were some holes in reasoning when it came to the scientific explanations and partially I didn't really care for the part of the plot Scalzi decided to emphasize. At the end, the book ending didn't quite have the bang I was hoping for.

Still, I enjoyed the characters in the book very much. I liked the touching moments between friends and the strongly rooted common sense of the main protagonist. The writing was smooth and witty and this was an altogether enjoyable read.

I learned that there is also a sequel which may be the answer to my need for closure in this book. I will most certainly be reading more novels by John Scalzi.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Recap

And it's March! Time to mention the books I read in February:
  1. Emissaries from the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro
  2. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
  3. The Company by K.J. Parker
  4. Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
Favorite book: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

So in February, I am on track with my reading goal of 4 books a month. I am rather hoping to read even more in March since I am going on vacation towards the end of it and there are going to be some long flights . Plus, Patrick Rothfuss's new book is coming out and I am waiting impatiently for Amazon to ship it to me. I am currently considering a re-read of The Name of the Wind to refresh my memory, but even though I really enjoyed the book the first time around, I am finding it hard to find the motivation to re-read the giant. Guess we'll see how it goes.

Notable distractions from reading this month include playing through Alchemy Classic on my phone and now starting to play Chrono Trigger on the same device. Old games are making a comeback on the phone and since I missed those the first time around, it's pretty fun.