Category Archives: 01 FANTASY

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

3 Stars

“I am a myth, a very special kind of myth that creates itself. The best lies about me are the ones I told.”

I read this book early last year and forgot to write a review until it was too late, so I took advantage of the long vacation to read it once again—thus, here I am writing this while feelings and emotions are still fresh.

It took me ages to finish this book the first time I read it and although I finished it a lot quicker the second time around, it still took me longer than how I usually peruse fantasy novels. The reason for this was the pacing of the frame story. See, Name of the Wind covers two timelines: The present, wherein Kvothe tells of his life story; and the past, the story being told. Truthfully speaking, I found the frame story a bit slow, too slow to my liking, that it took me ages to get past the opening chapters. I remember giving up reading the book multiple times because of it. However, once the real story began, the book became very difficult to put down.

“I would pass over the whole of that evening, in fact. I would spare you the burden of any of it if one piece were not necessary to the story. It is vital. It is the hinge upon which the story pivots like an opening door. In some ways, this is where the story begins.”

Name of the Wind’s magic was one of the things I loved most about it. Of course, there is “knowing one’s true name”—a concept that has been used in fantasy literature throughout history, but more importantly, I was fascinated by Sympathy. It was interesting how the author used concepts and laws borrowed from real Science and built a magic system around it—it can give you quite a headache too if you tried too hard to understand it. The school setting reminded me of Hogwarts, but not quite. Familiar but foreign. I get why people say the book has similarities with Harry Potter but seriously speaking I think that’s as far as it goes. Name of the Wind has its distinct charm that cannot be found elsewhere.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The stories within stories were fascinating and absorbing. The world was carefully built, and although it took me awhile to be submerged in it, the dive was worth it. Rothfuss is a great storyteller. He has a way with words—his prose dances and flirts with you like music, and I think this element shines through the brightest whenever Kvothe speaks of Denna. You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve read it. For now, I’m eager to read Day two.

Advertisements

My First Book Depository Experience

One of every bookworm’s worst nightmares is not finding a certain book in your area, or worse–in your country. And sometimes, e-books just aren’t enough. This was exactly what happened to me, so I turned to Book Depository. I’ve known about it for ages but I’ve never really bothered availing its services. For one, I just can’t wait that long to get a book, second, most of the books I want are available in Fully Booked (a local bookstore)–until one wasn’t. For some reason, Fully Booked didn’t have Joe Abercrombie’s Half A King. And by “didn’t” I meant they never had it and probably never will. Which in my opinion is absurd because, hello, it’s Joe Abercrombie! I desperately wanted a copy because I wanted to gift it to someone for his birthday (he’s been looking for it for ages), so I finally gave in and tried Book Depository.

Half a King

I’ll admit, the experience wasn’t perfect. The original 7-10 business days shipping (as stated in their site) didn’t push through and I was on a deadline. I had to get the book before my friend’s birthday. Three days after I sent my order (the book was available according to their site), it still hasn’t been dispatched. So, finally, I decided to contact them for help–and I have to say, their customer support system is beyond commendable. Their customer advisor, May Sherif, was very attentive and they don’t send “template” replies. They really answered my every mail. When my order still didn’t arrive after a week, they decided to dispatch another copy for me!

MAP

After a few days, my book finally arrived. It was in pristine condition and came with a bookmark. In the end, my first Book Depository experience turned out to be a very pleasant one. I’d definitely buy from them again!

 

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

3 Stars

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I should, but I didn’t. The Night Circus had a very good story, a solid concept, it sang a distinct sound. I get why some people saw some splashes of Gaiman in this novel. This book is incredibly descriptive and visual, the settings are always described in a way that make them very easy to imagine. I believe this book is a treat for imaginative minds. At first, I truly felt like a kid being thrust into a candy shop for the first time—but too much sugar can harm your teeth—and I think that’s what happened to me here.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

This is probably one of the most visual books I’ve read, and therein lies its greatest strength and weakness. The introduction to the circus was marvelous. In fact, I personally think the Prologue was the strongest chapter in the entire book. The first encounter with the Circus was enchanting. I could smell the caramel, popcorn, warm cider and candied applies in my head. It seemed as if I was literally there at the circus! But as the book went on, it felt forced and redundant. There were moments wherein I felt like the narrator was trying to push how great, grand and magical the circus was every chance he could get, raining the reader with a barrage of adjectives. It became too wordy. It felt like I was being forced to believe it—forced to smell the deliciousness and sweetness of the liquid caramel whose scent wafted through the air as it was drizzled in a slow pour, like maple syrup on a hot plate of pancake, on top of the warm and freshly-popped popcorn with melted buttermilk butter, held inside a fantastic bucket of black and white stripes with a sprinkled print of glittering stars. See what I did there? Too much of a good thing is not always good, and I think that’s why I found it difficult to truly love this book.

The characters were interesting, so varied, and likable in their own right but they felt so far away. Do you get what I mean? I liked them but I never got to invest myself in them. It never became personal, never intimate. At the end of the book, I knew I read a good story but I didn’t feel anything—except perhaps a slight craving for caramel-drizzled popcorn.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson

5 Stars

“Power is an illusion of perception.”

Phenomenal. The second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Magnum Opus not only lived up to the expectations of Way of Kings but also exceeded it. Honestly, is Sanderson partly digging his own grave here? Now that he has given us these two marvels, every book he writes after this will be expected to match their quality and that’s no easy feat!

“You will have to see the truth, child, before you can expand upon it. Just as a man should know the law before he breaks it.”

In Words of Radiance, we learn more about the orders of the Knights Radiants, the nature of spren, the Voidbringers, the magic system that binds Roshar and, most importantly, we are given more pieces of the massive puzzle that encompasses all of the Shardworlds’ eventual fate.

In Way of Kings, my favorite characters were Kaladin and Szeth. They still remain to be among my favorites but Adolin and Shallan have been added to that beloved list as well after reading this book.  Shallan reminded me too much of Sansa in WoK but here I got to see her strengths, her wit, her resolve and her weaknesses. Funny how her dark past made me like her more. I hate perfect damsels in fiction and she proved to be far from one. In this book, some of Szeth’s shroud of mystery were dissolved only to be replaced by another of greater and even more exciting proportions. I think I practically squealed from my seat when Nightblood made an appearance. What is Brandon Sanderson playing at here? Not that I’m complaining or anything—this twist will surely make a very interesting third book. If you’ve read Warbreaker then I’m sure you’ll be familiar of what I’m talking about.

The fight scenes in WoR were not as intense as WoK’s battle at the Tower but they were still pretty marvelous. The first half of the book was a bit slow but I didn’t mind. There were a lot of things going on and it was important for the readers to get through them carefully or they might miss some important things. All in all, this was another brilliant book for The Stormlight Archive and the moment I flipped the last page I was already aching for more. Seriously, how long do I have to wait until the third book comes out? You need to read this as soon as possible so that we can wallow in the misery of waiting together! Yes, I’m serious. And yes, you need to grab this book now if you haven’t already. If you do already have it but have yet to start it, why Stormfather, what are you waiting for?! Start flipping those pages! Epics like this aren’t made to wait!

“But the sky and the winds are mine. I claim them, as I now claim your life.”

 

 

My review for The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1)

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon. Too often, we forget that.”

After reading Way of Kings, it’s clear to me that Brandon Sanderson held himself back with great restraint when he did Mistborn. This book, this beginning of a grand, ambitious, luxurious and what shall become an epic fantasy series, is what happens when he lets it all go. This is how fantasy books should be like! There’s a reason why Fantasy has always been my favorite genre. Nothing can pull a reader into a totally different world the same way it does—completely and absolutely, the kind that makes you truly forget where you are and who you are— and Way of Kings most definitely did that to me.

 “A story does not live until it is imagined in someone’s mind.”

This world—this massive world of magic, depth, war, of places and people that can only ever exist in the realm of our minds—has wholly captured me. Sanderson’s magic systems, his world-building, a cosmos so rich and so vast… his stories are like the fantasy books of old. The thing I’ve always admired with Tolkien’s work is the thought and effort put behind it. His Middle Earth has its own history, its own mythology, and its own life apart from the lives of the characters that dwell in it. Sanderson’s books are the same. All of his books are connected, coexisting, intertwined, enclosed inside the same universe—bounded inside one cosmos. Different worlds, Mistborn, Elantris, Warbreaker, and now Way of Kings—each has its own story, its own rules, its own chaos, yet they are all connected by a string that only we readers know of. Sanderson gives us a small piece of the grand puzzle for every book he gives us. I truly applaud Brandon Sanderson for the grandness of the world he has created.

“The prize is not worth the costs. The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself.”

I noticed I was too overwhelmed by the grand scheme of things that I forgot to actually write about Way of Kings alone. Well all I can say is that this is one hell of a start for an epic fantasy series. It’s fantastical world is filled with colorful cultures and characters that will hook any fantasy fan. The story is told from the point of views of very, very different people with, at first, seemingly urelated lives. One by one their individual stories mesh and I’m sure more of them will collide in the following books. The characters are complex, intriguing, annoying, frustrating, yet fascinating all at the same time. I admit I have my favorites: Kaladin and Szeth. I’m looking forward as to how their stories unfold and clash in the next book. This book started off slow but not in a boring way, but in a controlled pace—a needed control for us to see more into the characters and their histories. The first half of the book was a perfect expository to the pool of action that followed. I swear I was at the edge of my seat while reading the battle at the Tower! I couldn’t sit down at all fearing for the lives of my favorite characters. The book ended in a way that made me want to run to the bookstore and grab Words of Radiance at once.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories. I strongly believe that The Stormlight Archive is one in the making, and I am in for the full ride.

 

My review for Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2)

Mistborn: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #2)

3 Stars

“A man can only stumble for so long before he either falls or stands up straight.”

Reviewing this book was a struggle. I loved Mistborn—so much so that it was almost impossible for me to read Well of Ascension without any expectations. The truth is, I felt like a girl whose boyfriend has disappointed her, but does she still love him? Of course she does. That’s exactly how it was for me with this book. Let me tell you why.

“A man can only lead when others accept him as their leader, and he has only as much authority as his subjects give him. All of the brilliant ideas in the world cannot save your kingdom if no one will listen to them.”

Majority of Well of Ascension’s plot revolved around the siege of Luthadel and all the politicking that involved. In Mistborn, I was hooked in the political dance among the nobility, but for this book it kind of bored me. I felt like so much of it was stretched too thin that it almost felt repetitive. Another big problem for me was the redundant inner struggles of character, especially with Elend. So much was spent on his inner musings, on whether or not he was good enough. He questions himself, gets resolve—only to question himself again for the very same reasons several chapters later. This went on like a cycle throughout the entire book.

The conflict regarding the Kingship was interesting but it was played out too long that it became a bit boring as it went on, and to think that most of the story concerned warfare—I felt like it lacked the action that made Final Empires so enthralling. However, I must say that when the actual fight finally did happen, I couldn’t put the book down. The koloss army and Vin’s scenes were absolutely brilliant. Another nice aspect of the book was the new characters, Tyndwil and Zane. They were very intriguing, especially the latter one. I understood where Zane was coming from. In fact there were several times wherein I kind of agreed with him regarding how the others treated Mistborns, especially during Elend and Straff’s encounter.

The funny thing about this book is that the title, The Well of Ascension, actually didn’t play a huge a part in the story—not until the end at least. My favourite part of the book, aside from Vin’s battle scene at the end, was the “spy”. It was a twist that I absolutely did not expect and I totally loved it! I also liked how the author killed off some important characters during the war climax—in truth, I was saddened by those deaths (sadder than how I felt when Lupin and Tonks died in HP7). Maybe because I saw them as more human and more fragile—they grew on me since I first met them in the first book. The truth regarding the prophecies was also excellent. It was obvious that Brandon Sanderson plotted the big picture before he even began writing Final Empire. It made so much sense. Although this book didn’t please me as much as the first book did, I am still very much looking forward to Hero of Ages. Judging by the way things ended here, I’m expecting a lot more action in the next book. Crossing my fingers it won’t disappoint!

“At first glance, the key and the lock it fits may seem different. Different in shape different in function, different in design. The man who looks at them without knowledge of their true nature might think them opposites, for one is meant to open, and the other to keep closed. Yet, upon closer examination, he might see that without one, the other becomes useless. The wise man sees that both lock and key were created for the same purpose.”

Read my reviews for other books by Brandon Sanderson:
Mistborn: The Final Empire

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #1)

5 Stars

“Belief isn’t simply a thing for fair times and bright days, I think. What is belief—what is faith—if you don’t continue in it after failure?”

It’s been a while since I read a good fantasy book, a long while. I’ll be honest, I only first heard of Brandon Sanderson because he was chosen to continue The Wheel of Time, and it wasn’t until a couple of friends suggested Mistborn before I finally read a book of his, but I’m glad I did. Mistborn is a gem. I’ve read and finished several fantasy series but it’s been quite some time since any managed to hit my core, the last one was probably Bartimaeus (yes, it’s been that long).

Mistborn started off slow, in fact it took me a while to get past the first few chapters. However, once the story picked up, I couldn’t put it down. Brandon Sanderson is a master storyteller and a great world-builder. There’s something about his subtle storytelling that made it so easy for me to visualize and put myself in Vin’s world. His magic system was so intricate and so well thought-out it nearly put Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind structure to shame.

Continue reading Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #1)