“The Slow Regard of Silent Things” by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW, 2014)

The Slow Regard of Silent Things
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If the author on the cover doesn’t grab you, then the wonderfully evocative title should. For fans of Rothfuss who are waiting for the third volume of The Kingkiller Chronicles, you may be a little surprised with The Slow Regard of Silent Things. For one, it is a short novella weighing in at 176 pages; for another, it’s not your usual story with a beginning, middle and an end, but more of a peeking into an incredible character’s life and world.

Readers of Rothfuss are already familiar with the special and unique character, Auri, and in this slim volume they get to see her in daily life, in her familiar abode deep below the university and the world we have come to know. Auri is very particular about the place she lives, naming each of the areas and rooms in her own special way. She knows that she will have a special guest coming to see her in a few days and wants everything to be as perfect as possible for Kvothe.

This is the story of Auri preparing herself and her home for a visitor, of how she finds him a special gift, of how she gets everything ready, and how everything needs to be just perfect. It is also the story of this truly unique person and how she functions in everyday life, how she sees the world and acts and reacts in it.

Rothfuss does a splendid job of creating a definitive voice for Auri and the reader really gets to understand her with this point of view, whether it’s about getting her bed ready, traveling to new and scary places, or how she goes about making a new candle. To some it might seem like a dull read, but told in this captivating voice, it is a wonderful story that whisks you away to this special world.

In the afterword Rothfuss admits to feeling very nervous about releasing this story; how it was something that came to him and was very personal about a character who is clearly very special, and how he had little intention of ever publishing it, but was convinced by his editor and agent and friends. It is a story he really wanted to write, and unsurprisingly it turns out be something wonderful and shows a different side to this epic fantasy writer.

Originally written on January 10, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Slow Regard of Silent Things from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Desert God” by Wilbur Smith (William Morrow, 2014)

Desert God
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Taita the eunuch slave returns and is now a man of nobility and seen as a brilliant god by many in the fourth novel involving his character, after he took the stage and gained many fans in his debut, River God. In Desert God, Taita begins the work of removing the terrible Hyksos who have controlled so much of Egypt for so long, bringing the country closer to becoming independent and Egyptian once again.

As adviser to the pharaoh, Taita knows what must be done and begins the long journey first to Mesopotamia and the wondrous hanging gardens of Babylon to forge friendships in this distant land, then it is on to the great island of Crete where he will escort the pharaoh’s sisters to form an alliance and forge a mighty army and navy to take out the Hyksos once and for all. But fate has something great and dooming in store for him.

Fans of Wilbur Smith will be delighted with Desert God, while those trying him for the first time will do just fine, as little back story is needed. This book shows that Smith should really just stick to writing about his favorite character who grows older and wiser with each tale.

Originally written on November 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Desert God from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel (Knopf, 2014)

Colorless Tsukuru
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If you’re a Murakami fan, holding his latest book is always a cause for excitement, and whether you’re a fan or not, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a work of art in design from Knopf to be admired by any reader and art lover for its design, color and execution. And the good news is the story from Murakami stands up greatly to this beautifully created book.

After the long-windedness and lengthiness of Murakami’s previous 1Q84, Colorless Tsukuru is short and to the point, featuring some great characters and the sort of story fans have come to love from Murakami. It is the story of five young high school friends who become as close as siblings and do everything together; after graduating four of them stay in town, while Tsukuru Tazaki goes away for college. And then something happens which breaks the group apart and all their lives are changed forever. Tazaki is told to leave the group and never return. He does not know what he has done and the four friends refuse to tell him.

Tazaki lives his life through his twenties and early thirties as a designer of railway stations, a passion he has harbored since he was a child. Upon meeting an interesting girl that he begins to care greatly for, she tells him he should visit each of these former friends and find out why they abandoned him so suddenly and for what reason. His pilgrimage will take him back home to familiar sights and sounds, as well as to Europe where everything is different. Along the way he will learn a lot, but because this is a Murakami book, Tazaki will not always know why. Nevertheless, like all good Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until the last word is read.

Originally written on September 19, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Pretty Deadly Volume 1” by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics, 2014)

Pretty Deadly Volume 1
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The key to a good story is that it is compelling and immediately sucks you in. When it comes to a graphic novel, the same rule applies, both to the story and the artwork. In the case of Pretty Deadly volume 1, a new series from Image Comics that feels like a combination of Sandman and Preacher, the story and artwork does exactly this.

A young girl named Sissy is traveling with her guardian, blind Fox, learning from the stories he tells. The most surprising tale is of the death-faced Ginny who is looking for Fox with vengeance. As Sissy hears and learns of the entire tale (as does the reader), it sparks off a series of events that will eventually lead to Sissy’s destiny.

Told through the lens of the old west with plenty of mythology and magic thrown in, Pretty Deadly is a great new series with some vibrant, colorful artwork that makes it feel like a dark fairytale. Fans of Gaiman will want to get their hands on it as soon as possible.

Originally written on July 27, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Pretty Deadly Volume 1 from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Wake” by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (Vertigo, 2014)

The Wake
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Scott Snyder of American Vampire, Batman and Swamp Thing teams up with Sean Murphy of Punk Rock Jesus and Joe the Barbarian to create a standalone complete story about a doomed future in a cool world. The Wake embodies every possible meaning of the word and with some spectacular artwork and great storytelling, it’s a full graphic novel story that will suck you in and keep you going to the last inked page.

Lee Archer is a marine biologist who is contacted and brought in by the Department of Homeland Security to participate in a top secret project. She is taken to distant Alaska, beneath the waves in a hidden underwater laboratory where she meets an assembled science team, some members she knows, and one in particular she hates. After everything is in place, they are eventually shown the reason for all the secrecy: a new creature has been discovered from the vast ocean depths. The creature is not friendly and is deadly. Then things go horribly wrong when the team realizes this creature is one of a huge army and the rest have now been summoned.

We then cut to a future time where the creatures have overrun the Earth and people are doing their best to survive. We meet a host of new and interesting characters and one in particular who believes there is still hope for humanity, and when she hears a distant radio message from a scientist from the past, she knows she is on to something.

The Wake has a great pacing, setting up the start of the story and guiding you along to the doomed future, but still instilling you with hope and possibility. The artwork is impressive and colorful, though at times can be a little complicated and hard to understand what’s going on. The ending feels a little rushed, but overall the graphic novel is a fun riveting tale that shows you what great things can happen when you put a writer and an artist together to create something new.

Originally written on January 13, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Wake from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.