Tag Archives: name of the wind

Good fantasy writing vs the not so good

I’ve been ploughing my way through books this sabbatical. Two particularly awesome books were Patrick Rothfuss’ ‘Name of the Wind’ and ‘Wise Man’s Fear’ – everything I found tedious about Stephen Donaldson’s latest Chronicles is missing from these books. His use of language is precise and accessible, his narrative flow is well-paced and exciting, his characters are compelling and both the present day and historical stories he tells are equally engaging – both of which provide ample dramatic tension and kept me completely absorbed. Great value, too, LONG books, and that’s not a complaint!

Interesting that when John Scalzi, a great sci-fi writer and blogger who I rate, felt similarly about the book and wrote a tribute saying as much on Tor’s best SFF Novel’s of the Decade readers’ poll series – although he did pick up on a ‘stew’ cliché.

I love these polls because they help me decide what to read next…

Here are the top 10:

  1. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – READ
  2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – READ
  3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – READ
  4. Blindsight by Peter Watts
  5. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  6. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin – READ
  7. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – READ
  8. Anathem by Neal Stephenson – TRIED…
  9. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  10. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Which leaves me at least four new places to go when I’m through with my current batch (reading Trudi Canavan’s first book in the Traitor Spy trilogy, and a couple of shortlisted books from the Arthur C Clarke Awards 2011 – Declare by Tim Powers and Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson). I think I’ll try more Brandon Sanderson next as I’ve been so impressed with where he’s taken the Wheel of Time…

I read Raymond Feist’s latest Midkemia novel yesterday (yes, it took less than a day) and was moderately depressed by it. As the first book in his final trilogy in the series it is predictable and absolutely riven with references to his previous books. That’s the problem with writing what is broadly speaking one continuous story over 20+ books and 150 years of virtual history – you end up being tediously self-referential. Politics you don’t care about, characters you’re meant to care about because they’re related to characters you used to care about, &c &c. I’m principally reading this series now out of a desire to know what happens next… which I guess means its good enough!