By the time I read Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, it had been out for four years, garnered a critical mass of critical acclaim, and been followed up by a sequel both half again as late as expected and half again as long as its predecessor. The Wise Man’s Fear picks up almost exactly where the first book in the series left off. By way of summary: Kvothe, an extraordinarily intelligent and precocious gypsy child is orphaned by the brutal attack of a præternatural group called the Chandrian. His eventual enrollment in a university of engineering and magic lead him on a number of adventures both profitable (in many ways) and detrimental on his way to investigating and avenging the death of his parents. When we last left him, he had inadvertently called the True Name of the wind, which is the purest and most real form of magic.
The Name of the Wind came up, a little unexpectedly, on a list of the top 100 or so science fiction and fantasy books of all time. These are about as common as oxygen nowadays, but this particular list was from NPR, so I stopped to read. Among the obvious Tolkien, Heinlein, Herbert, Orwell, and other thoroughly entrenched authors were some surprises. I first learned of Gene Wolf’s The Book of the New Sun, which was new to me but an old book with its sci-fi bona fides. Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind was more puzzling, being the debut novel of an unknown writer, published a mere four years ago. My curiosity was piqued.
Die Hard has been one of my favorite movies since on first saw it on TV as a child; it sparked my love affair with Bruce Willis and with antiheroes in general. When, only a few years later, I stood in a used book store in Fremont, Nebraska, and read the back cover of a old book called Nothing Lasts Forever and thought “Hunh, this sounds familiar” before putting it back on the shelf, I had no idea that Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel was, in fact, the inspiration for Willis’ break-out movie.
There’s no denying that Alan Moore is a force to be reckoned with in comic books; his work has produced a number of very famous books (Watchmen and V for Vendetta being two notable examples that have also been turned into major films) and popularized the “graphic novel” format. At the same time, one can’t help but find, eventually, that Moore’s strangeness, preponderance of imagined dystopias, and penchant for oddity, to be somewhat laborious.
I should disclose right away that prior to the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I had never heard of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s superlative graphic novel(s). The only reason I watched it, in fact, was a combination of my friends’ rave reviews (despite lackluster box office performance) and the fact that I absolute adore directory Edgar Wright’s previous films. My reaction to the film was positive and visceral, as it seems to hit all the right stylistic notes, and of course its contents were a geekfest of epic proportions.