Tag Archives: Fantasy

Lev Grossman – The Magician King (2011)

9780670022311_MagicianKing_CVF.inddIn contrast to the tested theory that the second installment in a trilogy will never be as good as the first, The Magician King was in my opinion, better than The Magicians, especially because it follows two storylines as opposed to one.

The character of Julia, the girl Quinten originally had a crush on before coming to Brakebills and meeting Alice, reappears in this story and we learn what happened to her while Quinten was obtaining a formal magical education and becoming a King of Fillory. Essentially Julia was in the admissions exam for Brakebills and did not pass. While students who are not admitted to the school normally have no recollection of the event, Julia knew something was wrong and she let that fact consume her. We learn that Julia, obsessed with becoming a magician, found an underground world of hedge magicians to train with.

While we learn Julia’s backstory, specifically how powerful she became eventually becoming a Queen of Fillory, follow Julia and Quinten as they find themselves accidentally kicked out of Fillory and struggle to find a way back.

While Grossman introduces some interesting moments in the Julia and Quinten storyline, like having to travel to Italy to speak with a Dragon and the nature of those dragons, Julia’s backstory is far more interesting and compelling to read. The book ends with Quintin once again in exile from Fillory and I’m sure the third book is all about his attempts to return. I really hope Grossman does more with the story however as I got tired of Quinten not in Fillory.

Patrick Rothfuss – Wise Man’s Fear (2011)

The_Wise_Man's_Fear_coverAs mentioned, I loved Patrick Rothfuss’ first instalment in the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Name of The Wind, and while I devoured this one just as fast, it was far more tedious. For starters, and I guess this is somewhat of a spoiler alert, by the end of this book you still don’t know why Kvothe is expelled from the University!

This review is going to be short because it is just more of the same. Kvothe has no money, he makes money as a talented musician and trough luck, he finds Denna, she runs away, he finds her, she runs away, etc. Kvothe does take a break from the University (He is arrested for pranks played on Ambrose but rather than being expelled is given a tuition he cannot pay), and takes up service with the Maer of a neighbouring town helping him procure a wife. Rothfuss does introduce the reader to new lands and therefore new characters, cultures, religions, and even mythical characters. You learn a bit more about the Fae, the culture that Bast belongs too.

If you love fantasy, you’ll like this book. As with most other second books in a trilogy however, it felt like this novel was being written simply as a lead up to whatever is going to happen in the last installment. I will give Rothfuss this, I have no idea how he plans on ending this; there are so many directions he could take. Unfortunately there is still not publication date set, so the Kingkiller Chronicles becomes just another fantasy series to play the wait game with.

Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of The Wind (2007)

NameOfTheWindAside from Game of Thrones, I don’t find that I read that many books that can be classified as Fantasy. I had this recommended to me by a friend though, and while I was a bit unsue at first (Fantasy books tend to be enormous), I’m so glad I read it.

While I tend to think of all Fantasy as being the same, battles with mystical creatures much like Lord of the Rings, etc, Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind proved to be something else entirely. It’s a bit strange actually, nothing really happens in this books, the first installment of a trilogy, and yet I was totally drawn in and compelled to keep reading.

We meet Kote, an innkeeper in a small town and learn that he is the fabled Kingkiller, one responsible for staring the current war, in hiding. He meets a scribe who wants to write down his story so Kote begins to relate his ubringing, the loss of his parents, and then his time spent at the University, which takes up the majority of the book. The University is like Hogwarts but a bit less fantastical. Kote, or Kovothe as he was then known, studies to be an arcanist learning the rules which govern sympathy, which is essentially a very specific type of magic. It’s hard to explain here, but Rothfuss does a good job in the novel. Kvothe’s goal is to learn the name of the wind and thus exercise power over it. Along the way Kvothe makes friends, and enemies, and well as tries to win the heart of Denna, a girl impossible to pin down, while trying to find out what he can about the mythical Chandrian who killed his parents.

The book ends, as I said, without many events occurring or any kind of dramatic climax, but it is clear that Rothfuss is setting the stage for the next two books. I have already started reading the second installment and hoping that there isn’t too long of a wait for the third.

Junot Díaz – The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)

OscarWao

This was one of the most unique, well written, and well flowing books I’ve read. Not to mention, Yunior, is probably the most fascinating narrator that you’ll ever meet. The novel follows Oscar De Leon, an overweight Dominican teenager growing up in New Jersey who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy.

The novel opens with an explanation of fukú – “a curse or a doom of some kind: specifically the curse and the doom of the new world.” And the zafa – a counter spell of the fukú. The story then alternates between the story of Oscar and his search for love, and the lives of various members of his family including his rebellious sister Lola, and his mother’s life living in the Dominican Republic under Trujillo. Later the narrator Yunior, reveals himself to be Oscar’s roommate and Lola’s boyfriend.

The story is a non-traditional one, but still contains all the elements of a classic coming-of-age story. It is heartbreaking but also magical making heavy use of references to popular culture due to Oscar’s obsessions with things like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. The insights and history of life under Trujillo’s regime are painful and honest. The book just flowed with such a rhythm that it was almost impossible to put down.