Review: ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ by Patrick Rothfuss (audio)

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The Wise Man’s Fear

The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day 2

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Format: unabridged audio book

Reader: Nick Podehl

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Length:  42 hrs and 59 mins

Release Date: 03/03/2011 (Hardcover published by DAW: 03/01/2011)

Acquired: purchased from Audible.com


Publisher’s Summary:

My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as “quothe.” Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I’ve had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it’s spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree. 

My first mentor called me E’lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.

But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant “to know.”

I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.


My thoughts, which include spoilers… thou hast been warned:

Since I had a super-awesome friend from Indiana picking up an autographed hardcover for me from an author signing, I bought the audio book from Audible as soon as it was released (two. long. days after the HC release!) and set to it. But as I started listening, I was torn between plugging in my headphones day and night to get through it as quickly as possible so I could find out what was going to happen and the alternative… taking it in small doses to make it last.

I had this same issue with Robert Jordan’s (& Brandon Sanderson’s) Towers of Midnight last November and ended up doing the same with this book as I did then. I tried to take it in small doses but then plowed through the last third of the book in a day or two. I just had to hear one more chapter… had to get through this scene… HAD to see what Kvothe would do next. Since finishing the book, it’s taken me a while to collect my thoughts, and get proper spellings for some names as I only heard them and was guessing, but I’ve got the book in my embrace… erm, I mean in my hands (thank you, J!) so it’s time to review!

Again, I do discuss spoilers for this book and most likely the first so if you’ve not read either book and are wary of spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading. On with it!

Knowing before even reading The Name of the Wind that Kvothe would be kicked out of the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in, I was anxious as Day 2 of his recitation of his legendary story to Chronicler would start. I really enjoyed hearing of his time at the University in Wind and was worried that he’d be ousted from that revered place of arcane learning early on in Fear and that I’d not get to see much of Wilem and Simmon, Auri and Elodin. Kvothe did end up leaving the University in the course of this book but it was by his own choice, and he had many adventures before returning. So I get to experience that OMG what’s going to happen that will result in his explusion?! anxiety again at the start of Day 3 of Kvothe’s story, when that book is published. Thanks, Pat!

All kidding aside… okay, some kidding aside, a LOT happened in this book as one might expect from a 43 hour long audio book. The hardcover is a massive 1,000 pages that you could most likely use to clobber a troll, or Ambrose, to death. As for the audio and my listening experience, I was fully used to the reading of Nick Podhel so I didn’t have a hard time getting into the story as I did with Wind.

On the morning of Day 2 of Chronicler’s stay at the Waystone Inn, Kvothe continues his story of his time at the University.  The pace easily settles back into Kvothe’s life as a student at the Arcanum and we again see him struggling to pay tuition and dealing once again with Devi, struggling in his feud with Ambrose and trying in vain to become closer to Denna while not crowding her and scaring her away. One of my favorite parts of this book was Kvothe planning and executing some much-deserved revenge on Ambrose. This took place after, of course, Kvothe kind of did a stoopid thing and made himself a target of malfeasance. He had to find a way to protect himself from Ambrose’s revenge and then pulled a hell of a whammy on his hated nemesis. It. was. fabulous!

Things escalate between the two and Kvothe decides to take a semester or two off which was a fortuitous decision as his friend, the nobleman Threpe, has a proposition for him. It would seem that Threpe received a letter from the Maer Alveron of Vintas a very rich and powerful noble, who was looking for a discreet and well-spoken person, preferably a musician to assist him in a delicate matter. Kvothe happily accepts the challenge, thinking that the Maer may be able to assist him with his search for the Amyr, the better to seek his revenge on the Chandrian. And so he sets off on what turns out to be rather a perilous journey that we unfortunately don’t get to hear much about.

Upon his acceptance into the Maer’s employ in Severen, Kvothe promptly foils an assassination attempt, reunites with Denna, learns a secret about her, helps the Maer woo a would-be bride and assists some mercenaries in the annihilation of a group of bandits that have been stealing the Maer’s taxes. I enjoyed Kvothe’s time with the mercenaries and found that the Adem, Tempi was  quite entertaining as well as an adequate substitute for the comic relief that had been absent since Kvothe left his friends Simmon and especially Wilem behind at the University. Kvothe displayed some incredible bindings during the altercation with the bandits and proved himself to be quite formidable and a little bit scary in that respect.

Shortly thereafter, Kvothe has a rather drawn-out visit with Felurian, the incredibly beautiful fairy of legend that is known to lure human men into her reality and very literally pleasure them to death. Kvothe composes a less than flattering song about Felurian and manages to convince her to release him so that he might gain more experience with women in order to better praise her many talents. He convinces her that he’s being truthful in saying that she’s the first experience he’s had and goes on to explain that he can’t very well tout her superiority over human women as he’d never been intimate with one. And so he escapes her clutches with some new skills, a promise to return to her, a pretty bad-ass cloak made of shadow and some disturbing words from the Cthaeh, a being he encountered while in the land of the Fae who seems to know a great many things about Kvothe.

At this point, we experience an interlude that’s very unlike the previous sort, when Bast interrupts Kvothe’s re-telling with an outburst. He’s very upset that Kvothe never mentioned his talk with the Cthaeh and predicts doom upon anyone who seeks advice from it and on anything that person does henceforth after meeting with the being. I’m guessing that we’ll see or hear more of this in the next book but the interruption was a bit disjointed and left my curiosity on the matter unfulfilled since there was no more mention of it in the book.

Shortly after leaving Felurian, Kvothe travels to Ademre with Tempi, who has been teaching Kvothe of the Lethani and the ways of his people… and is kind of in trouble for it. So Kvothe, intending to defend his new friend, lands himself in a trial during which he must prove himself worthy to learn the Lethani or… die. Once he learns a few fighting skills and shows that he understands the Lethani, thus proving himself, he is gifted with some very valuable information about the Chandrian. Content with his newfound knowledge, he returns to the Maer in Severen for a short time before returning to the University to continue his studies. He has another solo adventure on his way from Ademre to Severen and is touted a hero though he must seek a pardon from persecution from the Maer.

While he was unable obtain the patronage of the Maer before leaving Severen as he had hoped he would, having revealed his ancestry and forever alienating the Maer’s prejudiced young wife, he was gifted with his University tuition paid in any amount for as long as he was to attend. So despite the unfortunate cessation of his time in Severen, Kovthe was in a much better place financially upon his return than he had been since losing his parents to the Chandrian.

There’s not much revealed about the goings on in the world during the interludes when we revisit “Kote” and The Waystone Inn. A few villagers saunter in to have Chronicler write up wills for them and we see Kvothe set upon by bandits but other than that, we don’t hear any more of what’s happening in ‘current times’ and I hope to see some more of that aspect of the story in the next book.

I absolutely loved this book and I suspect that I’ll reread it and book #1, The Name of the Wind at least once more before book #3 is released. I hope the wait isn’t too terribly long!

 

Fave quotes:

‘We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because, that’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite? To know the flaws and love them, too. That is rare, and pure, and perfect.’

“Ambrose, your presence is the horseshit frosting on the horseshit cake that is the admissions interview process.” ~Kvothe

“Your next assignment is to have sex. If you do not know how to do this, see me after class.” ~Elodin to Kvothe’s classmate

“After all this is done we can have a symposium on how stupid I am.” ~Kvothe to Simmon and Wilem

“Do all of the women in the world secretly know each other? Because that would explain a lot.” ~Simmon

“All I want is someone who likes me.” “All I want is  a clear sign.” “I want a magical horse that fits in my pocket, and a ring of red amber that gives me power over demons, and an endless supply of cake.” ~Simmon, Kvothe and Wilem, while drinking

‘I don’t mind being called a liar. I am. I am a marvelous liar. But I hate being called a liar when I’m telling the perfect truth.’

Review: ‘Badlands’ by Seleste deLaney

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Badlands

Author: Seleste deLaney

Format: galley (available for purchase as an audio book at Audible.com or as a Kindle ebook)

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date: 2/28/2011

Length: 104 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

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.Publisher’s summary:

After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn’t find them first…


My thoughts:

The idea of an America forever divided by Civil War was intriguing to me and along with the seriously cool cover art was what prompted me to request the galley for review. I assumed upon reading the summary that romance of some sort would enter into the story but even a few dozen pages into the book, it became evident to me that the romance was the prominent plot factor and the cool, post-Civil War storyline was mere background noise.

The idea of Ever charging into battle topless is not a wholly unreal development. I’ve read books which feature warriors, male and female, who were made all the more fierce and deadly by their willingness to leap to the battle clad in naught but their skin. The fact that Ever remained topless for over a third of the rather short story took it a little far though, I think. Still, once she was clothed, I enjoyed the book much more.

My biggest complaint is that the story felt much too rushed. It seemed to take place over just a few days and I felt that it could have taken longer. That it should have taken longer. There could have been much more explanation to the scenes than a few paragraphs and not only would doing this have made for a longer book, but a more fleshed out and enjoyable book. A bit less of the main characters staring at each other with longing and/or tortured expressions and a bit more background and descriptive text would have made me like the story a lot more.

That being said, I felt that deLaney did a fine job of fleshing out the characters in such a short time. I came to like and care about almost all of them more than I thought I could, considering the length of the story. I think I was especially impressed with the way she wrote Henri. I wanted to loathe this character but found myself rather liking her instead, in part due to the way she performed her medical duties so capably despite very obviously not liking Ever in the least… but even more so because of her care for her crew mates when she herself was betrayed and injured.

Ever had a hell of a temper and seemed to let it cause her to lose sight of her goal in the story, which was a bit surprising, as duty-oriented as she was. I was left wondering what it was that caused her to express so much rage than was warranted at certain moments in the story.

While I can’t find any information regarding a continuation of this story, I’d most likely be interested in reading one were it written. I’d like to see what happens next, now that all of the yearning and denial is over with! I’m mostly curious about what, if anything will happen in the Badlands in regards to their resources and the state of the Monarchy (also how women became the dominant sex in that society), who will be the president of Texas (*wink*) and whether the Civil War was actually our Civil War and this reality is what came of the Union losing.

 

 

 

Review: ‘Theories of Flight’ by Simon Morden

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Theories of Flight

The Metrozone Series #2

Author: Simon Morden

Format: galley

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: 4/01/2011

Length: 296 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

Read an excerpt  here.

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Publisher’s summary:

THEOREM: Petrovitch has a lot of secrets.

PROOF: Secrets like how to make anti-gravity for one. For another, he’s keeping a sentient computer program on a secret server farm – the same program that nearly destroyed the Metrozone a few months back.

THEOREM: The city is broken.

PROOF: The people of the OutZone want what the citizens of the Metrozone have. And then to burn it to the ground. Now, with the heart of the city destroyed by the New Machine Jihad, the Outies finally see their chance.

THEOREM: These events are not unconnected.

PROOF: Someone is trying to kill Petrovitch and they’re willing to sink the whole city to do it.


My somewhat spoilerish thoughts:

How does one top a book like Equations of Life, which featured the near destruction of post-Armageddon London when an AI methodically killed hundreds of thousands of people while destroying pretty much… everything? Why, with a book like Theories of Flight of course, in which our good guy, Dr. Samuil Petrovitch not only makes the greatest scientific breakthrough in living memory but is betrayed, avoids assassination at least twice, narrowly escapes the revenge of a pissed-off American woman and then single-handedly takes control of the New Machine Jihad in an attempt to thwart a hostile take-over of the northern Metrozone. And that’s just in the first half of the book!

“A revolution. A whole new way of doing things. No one has to die, no one has to be overthrown. There’ll be no blood or fire–just light. It’s going to be brilliant.” Unfortunately, Sam’s vision as he told it to Sonja Oshicora four months after the events of book 1, dubbed The Long Night (the events, not the book), didn’t come to pass and there is plenty of blood and plenty of fire. Sadly, blood and fire was what was needed to save the Metrozone and Sam stepped up to care of business.

Of course, the whole thing came to pass when he set out to rescue Maddy, to whom he was wed in the four months since the end of Equations of Life. Maddy has joined the newly-formed MEA, the Metrozone Emergency Authority where her prodigious talents have been no doubt put to good use and Sam has also been busy, what with his whole discovery of artificial gravity thing.

But other events overshadow his historic scientific breakthrough: former Detective Harry Chain, who now also works for MEA asks Sam’s assistance on a case involving the CIA, assassins are out to get him, his wife is injured in the line of duty and finally, there is an incursion into the Metrozone by the Outies who, despite sounding like a bunch of people with protruding belly buttons, are actually a massive group of uneducated yet murderous outcasts. And they don’t just want to just invade and take the Metrozone as their own, they want to destroy it and everyone in it. What’s more, they’re fully capable of doing just that. It rather makes the term ‘Outies’ sound less amusing and more foreboding, yes?

Upon learning that Maddy has been called in to assist in the defense of the city, Sam sets out to rescue her from an invading force that appears to be much more formidable than was originally determined. He’s accompanied only by Miyamoto, sent by Sonja to protect him and by the artificial intelligence which is all that’s left of VirtualJapan, the AI that became the New Machine Jihad when Sonja’s father, Oshicora-san was betrayed and murdered.

At first it looks like an in and out job, grab the girl and go… only a whole bunch of other stuff comes up to distract Sam and divert his attention from his single-minded task. The odds are against him reaching Maddy, against the Metrozone surviving the invasion intact, against survival… so Sam is left with no choice but to unleash the New Machine Jihad, which is as powerful as ever but happily, less insane this time around.

Still, despite the horrors that may arise, Sam sets the AI loose to do what it can to help him save what can be saved of the Metrozone which it does. And which, unfortunately might start a war with the United States. So we have a few questions: can Sam survive and save the Metrozone? Again? Can he save the AI from those who would destroy it? And can he do all of this without bringing the wrath of the world’s sole remaining superpower down on all of their heads? As he tells Miyamoto: “What’s the point of being the smartest guy I know if I don’t use those smarts to do something?”

As with book 1, Theories is vividly orchestrated and action-packed, mildly graphic and chock full of grim humor, as evidenced by my extensive ‘fave quote’ section below. We also get a tantalizing peek into Sam’s past in St. Petersburg, Russia which of course, only left me wanting more of the back story… namely of Sam’s history and of Armageddon. I also want to know how the US became the sole super power -a ruthless and utterly amoral super power- in the world? I rather got a kick out of Sam threatening to take the whole country down, super-power or no. Bad-ass much, Dr. Petrovitch? Indeed, he is!

I also need to point out how tickled I was with Sam’s “One Ring” comments in reference to the AI and New Machine Jihad. Being a lifetime fan of Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I particularly enjoyed looking at the AI/NMJ as “one ring to rule them all”. Nicely done, Mr. Morden.

I’ll definitely be checking out Thy Kingdom Come, Morden’s collection of short stories that preface the events in Equations, once I finish with book 3 of the trilogy, Degrees of Freedom. The collection is available as a free PDF download at the link I provided to the author’s site but I highly suggest reading the series before biting into the short stories. Though I know little about what they cover, there’s just something about an agonizing wait that makes the attainment of literary gratification that much more potent.

One last comment. I would love to have these books in audio format so that I could listen to Sam swear in Russian. That would be awesome. That is all.

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Fave quotes and yes, I realize that there are a lot but the awesome quotes in this book are rather like Lay’s potato chips, I think:

“Out of the way. Science coming through.” ~Sam

Yobany stos! I’m trying to conduct an epoch-making experiment which will turn this place into a shrine for future generations. So shut the huy up.” ~Sam

“Everyone’s allowed to make a stupid mistake now and then, and this is your turn.” ~Sam to Andersson

“The CIA are in town, apparently, and not in an ‘if you have a few moments, I’d like to ask you some questions’ sort of way.” ~Sam to Sonja

“We can swear loudly and point guns at each other in a vodka-fueled frenzy: just like old times.” ~Sam to Grigori re: Marchenkho

“I have to catch a plane at stupid-o’clock in the morning.” ~Pif to Sam

“You idiot. You genius-level idiot.” ~Pif to Sam

Miyamoto: “What are you doing?”  Sam: “I’m being awesome Don’t interrupt.”

“I’m reluctant to threaten the only person in a position to help me. But I have a gun in my pocket that I’m very tempted to use on you.” ~Sam to Dr. Stephanopolis

[There is no logic behind your statement. Simply wishing for something to be so does not make it so.] ~AI, Michael to Sam

‘He had not been quite this angry for a very long time… Days, at least.’

“When I first met you, you were incapable of talking to a woman without insulting her. Now you have a harem.” ~Sonja to Sam

Sam: “Are you familiar with Schrödinger’s Cat?”  CIA assassin: “No.”  Sam: “And another metaphor dies whimpering on the altar of ignorance.”

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Would you like to win the entire Metrozone series? Of course, you would! Visit Deranged Book Lovers’ blog and enter the contest!

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