Monday, July 25, 2011

Since this is about books and concerns two of my favourite authors, I thought this would be a good place to post it for posterity.

Wednesday of last week, I did an interview with the CBC for a piece they were doing on George R.R. Martin. They wanted to talk to a fan, and my friend who works for the best sci-fi/fantasy bookstore in Toronto immediately thought of me and put my name forth.

The piece aired on Sunday, on The National no less. I'm on it for like 30 seconds, and they got my name wrong, but still, there I am along with interviews with George himself and Guy Gavriel Kay, who is undoubtedly, my favourite author. Supreme geek moment as far as I'm concered :)

Here's a link to the piece:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Number 12 this year is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Thanks to all the follow up to A Dance With Dragons I'm on quite the fantasy kick right now.

So I came to this book in a funny way. Two years ago, I voted in the silly cage match on where they pit various characters from different fantasy series against one another in mock battles. I started voting because one of the characters involved was Jaime Lannister. Jaime had a solid voting block and moved all the way through the competition to the final, where he was defeated by Rand Al'Thor from the Wheel of Time saga. But... the character Jaime defeated to get to the final was someone I'd never heard of before, a guy named Kvothe (pronounced close to 'Quothe'). Didn't think much of him didn't bother to look him up, I just voted for Jaime (and by this time, GRRM himself had gotten in on the fun and was doing little writeups of the battles himself, which definitely helped Jaime in the voting). I even remember thinking that Qvothe was a stupid-sounding name and basically dismissed it summarily (I have this rather strange bias that I usually have to like the names of the main characters I'm reading about in order to have full enjoyment)

A week before ADWD came out, I was browsing in Chapters and one of the employees recommended The Name of the Wind to me. I immediately recognized Kvothe's name, and was all set to dismiss it again, but then I realized; not only was this fellow recommending it to me, but on the strength of one book, this character had garnered enough votes in a contest voted on by fans of the genre, to get to the quarter finals. Hmm. Maybe there is something to this story. So I took the advice and the book came home with me.

I actually started it just before ADWD came out, but then set it aside in order to deal with that incredibly anticipated monstrosity. I picked it up the moment ADWD was finished and... I enjoyed it.

It's an interesting narrative, with Kvothe, now a simple innkeeper called Kote, basically telling his life story to a Chronicler. It seems that Kvothe has lead an extrodinary life, the life of a hero, and there is some mystery surrounding his disappearnce.

As with many fantasy heroes, Kvothe 'suffers' from disgustingly perfect syndrome. He's incredibly intelligent, the son of wandering musicians, playwrites, etc. So he can sing, he can play, her can perform, and he learns so very very quickly. When his family and troupe are killed by a seemingly mythical group of bad guys, Kvothe's comfortable life is (of course) thrown upside down. He spends three years living on the streets of a large city before he takes control of his destiny and goes to learn at the University, a place that teaches what passes as the world's magic.

The book, and Kvothe himself would get tiresome after awhile due to his incredibly gifted intellect, but fotunatately Rothfuss does balance this nicely with Kvothe's penchant for getting into trouble. It is, of course, a common problem of those who are so much smarter than most everyone around them, but in this case it does work. It's not so much you want to see Kvothe taken down a peg or anything like that, you actually do want him to succeed.

Rothfuss has done an excellent job of giving us a protaganist who might have tilted towards unlikable, but there is enough strength and depth to this charater that you do want to know how he went from poor child prodigy to hero and then fell to lowly inkeeper. And since this book revolves around the one character (told from his POV pretty much), that's pretty freaking important.

The sequel to this has just come out. And yeah, I'll probably end up picking it up.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'm so excited about number 11 this year. It is a book that I (and many other) have been waiting for SIX years to come out now. That's right folks, number 11 this year is A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.


In 1996, my then-roommate Karen tossed me a book with the words "Read this. I mean it." Karen and I had gone through university together and a lot of our reading tastes meshed quite well. So read it I did. And then I immeditately went out and bought my own copy of A Game of Thrones. So yeah, I've been with this series for a long time now.

I'm afraid to say too much about this book because I realize I blew threw this behemoth (900-odd pages long) in 5 days, so great was my NEED to read it, and I realize that not everyone has read it yet, and there are those who are coming to the books after having watched the series on HBO...

So all I will say is that for the most part, I loved it. It's been 10 years since we've heard from Tyrion (who had last been seen performing a rather incredible murder), Daenerys (who was staying put in the city of Mereen to try and learn to rule) and Jon Snow (who had just been made Lord Commander of the Wall). Much of DWD is devoted to these three, and it's so wonderful to read about them again. One of the few misgivings I had was of a new travelling companion for Tyrion. Not sure why Penny didn't sit right with me, but yeah... no. Dany's dragons are growing up and, in standard Martin form, they are not cute and cuddly, sage-wise dragons of much other fantasy. They have loyalty and love for Dany, but they are very large, VERY dangerous creatures that no one really knows how to train. And Jon... he has to deal with the resident king-claimant in Stannis, his rebellious brothers who aren't exactly in favour of Jon's dealings with the wildings, the wildings themselves, and the unrest caused by Roose Bolton's 'rule' of the North. He has his hands full and also has the book's first true "FUCK YEAH!" moment.

Disappointments? Not many. Biggest one for me is only one Jaime chapter, and a chapter that obviously puts him in some danger, so now I'm really wondering what happened to him.

More new POV characters, some I didn't really care about (as usual, I'm finding it hard to be interested in any of the Ironborn, with the exception of Theon though. Oh Theon, karma is a harsh, harsh mistress for you isn't she?), but a certain exiled ex Knight of the Kingsguard also becomes a POV character, and it was nice to read of him. He's a class act.

The endings leave some major characters (and some minor but those we've seen for a very long time) in pretty dire straights again, whilst some seem to be trucking along fine and others seem to be improving their lot from previous, and of course, the shifting power is shifting again, especially with the revelation of another Targaryen, one that Dany knows nothing about.

Overall? It's bleak and hard and dire with moments of cunning and heroism and just enough fantasy elements thrown in to make things just that much more intersting. In other words, it's perfect and like we haven't been away for 6 years (although, in preparation for July 12th's release date, I did re-read the other books).

So, how long before The Winds of Winter? :)