BOOK REVIEW: The Name Of The Wind – by Patrick Rothfuss

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Title: The Name Of The Wind
(The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Epic, Fantasy
First published: 2007
Finished reading: August 15th 2014
Pages: 662
Rating 5

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

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I don’t hand out the full five stars that often, but The Name Of The Wind just deserved it. It’s been a while since I have been this absorbed into a story that I just forgot everything around me. Patrick Rothfuss was able to put me under a spell with his story about the adventures of Kvothe. I can easily say this is one of my favorite reads this year! When I first read the description of this first book of The Kingkiller Chronicle, I thought it would be just another Harry Potter spin-off… But the story ended up being SO much more. I can conclude out of the mixed reviews I’ve read that you either hate or love this book. I definitely belong to the second group, and I’m dying to get my hands on a copy The Wise Man’s Fear so I can continue reading about the life of Kvothe. Magical, spellbinding, dark and mysterious… A definite must-read for fantasy fans!

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We get to know the red-haired and infamous wizard called Kvothe only after all his adventures already had taken place. He was forced to disappear after what happened and became an Inn keeper… But his helper Bast cannot live with the fact the real Kvothe is slowly starting to disappear, and secretly sends out messages calling for a scribe. And so Chronicler makes his appearance, and Kvothe agrees to start telling the story of his life which takes in total three days to complete (and thus form the three books in The Kingkiller Chronicle). Kvothe didn’t have an ordinary nor easy life. When he was younger, he travelled around with his parents and a group of travelling performers. They found him exceptionally bright and Kvothe was able to learn things at an impressive speed. When a tinker joined the troupe, the man introduces him to the basics of symphathy as well as many other useful knowledge. And it was this same man that introduced him to the University and inspired him to be come an arcanist.

His life turned around completely when one night his entire family and fellow performers were brutally murdered… Killed by members of the Chandrian who were supposed to exist only in myths. Kvothe was left all alone and had to survive on the streets for various years, now learning different lessons than before. But he never gave up on his goal to join the University of magic, and because of his boldness and intelligence he was accepted at an incredible young age. Problems didn’t cease to exist there. Not only his lack of money causes problems, his is also unfortunate enough to set various Masters and the high born Ambrose against him. Banned from the library, he has to search in different places to get his information… And the lovely Denna who keeps appearing and disappearing in his life doesn’t help much in trying to keep him out of trouble.

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Myths, adventures, dangers, magic and a little pinch of romance thrown in… This book is definitely mindblowing and the story is beautifully written. The songs, the use of invented languages, the prose itself… It’s hard to properly describe the feelings when reading The Name Of The Wind, and it has been some time since I’ve read a book with so many ‘quotable’ and interesting phrases. In short, it’s definitely not the typical fantasy book and absolutely worth the try if you haven’t read it yet. Trust me, you will discover soon enough if this book is for you, and when you do, I hope you will enjoy it the way I did.

BOOK REVIEW: The Known World – by Edward P. Jones

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Title: The Known World
Author: Edward P. Jones
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 14th 2003
Finished reading August 10th 2014
Pages: 388
Rating 3

“The hitter can never be the judge. Only the receiver of the blow can tell you how hard it was, whether it would kill a man or make a baby just yawn.”

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I first found this book when I was browsing for interesting historical fiction novels back in January. The story itself about a black farmer and former slave in the US of the 19th century sounded interesting and I decided to get a copy. After many months of collecting dust, I finally had the chance to read The Known World for the Dusting Off The Shelf Read-A-Thon. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be… Don’t get me wrong, the story itself is definitely worth reading. It’s just that Edward P. Jones seemed to be wanting to include the stories of too many slaves and their owners, and the change in POV was confusing at some points. The fact that he wasn’t following a straight timeline didn’t help either, and it slowed down my reading considerately. If you don’t like keeping track of many characters and timelines, this book is definitely not for you. But if you like reading more about the situation of slaves and former slaves in the US before the Civil War, this one is still quite interesting.

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In The Known World, we mainly follow the story of Henry Townsend and his family. Henry is a black farmer and former slave who is now one of the few black slaveholders in the South. His former slave owner, William Robbins, has always favored him and helps him by selling him the first slave named Moses. Robbins is a very powerful man in Manchester County, and uses his influence to help him build and expand his farm. Henry’s parents don’t agree with his choice of owning slaves after all that took his father Augustus to finally buy them free. He doesn’t give in though, and when he dies at an unfortunate young age, he leaves his widow Caldonia in charge with quite a few slaves.

We read a lot about the years where Henry grows up being a slave of Robbins. His father bought himself free early in the story, but it took him years to buy his wife and son free as well. Henry worked close to Robbins during those years, and Robbins took a liking to the boy. Important to know about the slaveholder is that he has a black mistress and two children with the same woman. He is thus not the typical white slave owner and symphatises Henry in a way others might haven’t. When Augustus finally gets a chance to buy his son free, Henry keeps in touch with Robbins, and later starts his own farm close to the one he had worked as a slave. The Known World is also about the slaves Henry owns; different families all with their own problems. A few try to escape, others try to win over their owners. Caldonia doesn’t seem up to the task of holding the farm together when Henry dies, and the County has to jump in and intervene.

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 The Known World is an interesting book if you can ignore the multiple POV’s and the sometimes dense prose and suitable for those who enjoy historical fiction. It’s about the cruelty of the white officers, trying to make money out of selling free slaves, and violence used on innocent people. And it’s also about hope and a future without slavery… And the lives of those who still are slaves.