How do you tell if something you are reading is a good series? What criteria do you put on good? What criteria do you put on completely awesome?
My criteria is something along the lines of
a) I try to read it slowly so it lasts longer, but it still only takes 2 days
b) I curse and weep if I have to wait longer than 2 weeks for the next instalment
c) I try to stalk the author on twitter and wonder if they are secretly reading my reviews and smiling a little. Or wanting to marry me. Either or.
So how often does this happen?
Well, it happened the the Liveship traders series by robin hobb, which luckily I only started after she’d finished all three books.
It happened again with Peter Brett’s Demon Trilogy (apparently the painted Man is going to be turned into a movie soon. I hope they do it justice). And it happened with Pamela Freeman’s Casting’s trilogy, ever book that Jacqueline Carey ever wrote and numerous other books. I didn’t want to read The Name of the Wind. Every fantasy fan I knew (and i was working in a bookshop when it was released, so that was lots of people) said it was the most awesome debut novel ever. Usually ‘awesome debut novel’ translates into “good for a first go, but shit compared to anything an experienced writer has written”. But then i got bored and I had a battered reading copy right there and I thought why not.
Next thing I know, i was ignoring customers and reading it under the counter. And at traffic lights on the way home. And while cooking dinner. I ignored my children. I ignored my friends.
The Name of the Wind is an engrossing book. I never wanted it to end, so imagine my shock when the next six months went by and there was no sign of the sequel.
I left the bookshop and had a baby – still no sequel.
I looked in every bookshop and told everyone that the author was an asshole for making me wait so long – still no sequel.
After 3 years, I gave up all hope – and suddenly, there was book 2!
The Wise Man’s Fear jumps you straight back into the story (which after a 3 year hiatus, is starting to blur slightly). And the story jumps and leaps and bounds and drags you along for the ride. Kvothe is still at university, still battling against the nasty Ambrose, dancing around the lovely Denna and attempting to stay one step ahead of the devious moneylender, Devi (excuse the pun, if you would be so kind). He drinks and plays and gets in strife and learns a new trick of two.
The first half of the book builds on the learning Kvothe is doing, as well as developing his character. In such a lengthy and detailed story, it’s hard to keep track of the fact that the guy is still 16. Telling a biography within a story has allowed Rothfuss to remain with Kvothe for the entire book, but it doesn’t get stale seeing everything from one point of view. And it also limits the jumping around that often happens in novels of this size (think Katherine Kerr, J V jones or Robert Jordan) – Kvothe’s tale is told sequentially and if he misses large segments, he at least glosses over them or admits that there is a hole in the timeline.
The second half of the book is more adventurous and Kvothe leaves the university to seek the patronage of the Maer, a rich ruler of superstitious Vinta. Kvothe saves the Maer from poisoning, helps him woo his lady love and then sets off to kill a group of bandits robbing tax collectors on a lonely stretch of highway.
On the way back, Kvothe and his company stumble upon the beautiful but lonely fae Felurian and that is where I will leave it for tonight – more in Part 2!