Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Year 7
by J. K. Rowling

759 pages
Scholastic (July 21, 2007 US)

Does The Boy Who Lived survive? Does He -Who -Shall -Not -Be -Named live? Is Severus Snape really to be trusted, what really happened to Albus Dumbledoor? All of these questions and more are finally answered in J. K. Rowling's final installment of the Harry Potter series.

After an explosive, emotional, and eventful trip from Privet Drive to the cluttered Weasley abode, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger resurface from their summer vacations and find themselves preparing the place for a wedding joining Fleur Delacor and Bill Weasley in marriage. Finally, the wedding day arrives and the celebration is crashed by Death Eaters and members of the Ministry of Magic. Of course the evil followers of Voldemort are searching for Potter, but he and his two best of friends narrowly escape and find themselves on a months long hideout from the searchers. Harry and crew during this time of hiding contemplate possible Horcrux's and their various possible locations. In the midst of this hideout is where the tale of the Deathly Hallows comes into being. Harry becomes addicted to finding the Deathstick Wand and the Resurrection Stone. After many epiphanies and realizations, many way too close captures by the Death Eaters, and many arguments and fights, the gang find themselves in possession or near-possession of the Deathly Hallows and cracking down on all of the Horcrux's. Of course to gain what is needed and what is needed to be destroyed, Harry finds himself at the Battle of Hogwarts and face to face with every existing Death Auror and every conceivable monster, and of course..Lord Voldemort. The battle ensues and comrades are fallen, tears are shed, and a winner is left victorious. An epilogue closes out the book and brings finality to the mega blockbuster series that is Harry Potter.

There are many, many great parts of this book. There are also many parts of this book that are not so great. For me, this final chapter of Harry Potter does not contain the magic that the first four books held in so much abundance. The characters and their interactions are all still very enjoyable and the dialog is often enjoyable as well, but this story just falters where The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire strives. The story takes way too long get to its points, and the points themselves seem to be way too contrived. The Deathly Hallows, in my opinion, is such a weak plot for this unrivaled series ending book. The Horcrux idea was a great plot that may have gotten its start maybe a bit too late in the series, but it did have a bit of a glimpse with Tom Riddles diary and the locket in the drawer, but if Rowling would've just kept that story as the main focus of Year 7, this would have been a much better and more cohesive book. The ending is way too confusing, or rather, befuddled. Rowling twists plots way too much, and seemingly way to forcefully. The book reminds me of a season of 24, way too many time bomb in your hands but you cut the right wire at the last second moments. All kinds of new twists in the magic system are discovered and all new sides of important characters are found as well. This book just does not meet the overall flow of Harry Potter as a whole. Severus Snape was basically cut out as a character, he shows up in the last two chapters of the nearly 800 page book, weak. I won't say how the book ended, but I will say that I don't like it, but at times I forget, this is a children's book, but is it anymore?

My complaints seem to greatly outweigh my pros. At times in the book I did laugh, I was also mournful at times, and very nearly shed a tear. Dumbledoor is still one of the best characters of all time, and so is Snape, but of course he had somewhere less than a dozen lines of dialog. Ms. Rowling got rolling a wonderful and imaginative tale but she left it kind of floundering in an unfleshed out mess. Too little thought was given and too weak of writing was done to maximize this once untouchable story. You don't write an epilogue seven and a half pages long to a seven book large series, especially when its the most anticipated book of all time. I'll end this by saying it was a mediocre book, a disappointing ending, and it left me nearly mad at Rowling, I felt wronged by her lack of imagination. She ended not horribly, probably just disappointingly, what she started so grandly, so full of imagination and so flawlessly. [book: 2/5, series: 4/5]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Name of the Wind
The Kingkiller Chronicles: Day One
by Patrick Rothfuss

662 pages
DAW (March 26, 2007 US)

"A silence of three parts. The Waystone Inn was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn's ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die."

The last paragraph of the first chapter sums up the whole of what the reader will find in Patrick Rothfuss' tale of a lonely innkeeper divulging his inner secrets and life story to a traveling writer. This book is both deep and wide. It is also heavy. It can also be quite grim, like the patience of a man waiting to die.

Another new author in the year of 2007 that seeks to fit amongst the ranks of todays premier high fantasy legends. Rothfuss hits the nail on the head his first person narrative debut, The Name of the Wind. Part one of a trilogy (so far), the novel opens with an innkeeper looking inwards and finding not what he wants to see, or rather, not what he use to be. With a great longing to get back what he once had, he sighs to himself and lays in a bed devoid of sleep. Out of nowhere, a traveling writer named Chronicler visits the inn and captures Kvothe's first person narrative on paper, which is what we, the readers, read. In Day One, Chronicler visits Kvothe's childhood and early to mid teen years.

Kvothe of the Edema Ruh, a traveling troupe of actors, singers, and musicians, finds himself to be an orphan (much to my dislike, aren't all of our heroes orphans?). Without his parents and traveling family, Kvothe follows his love of magic to Hogwarts, er The University. While there, the young student proves his talents and knowledge and surpasses his peers in the art of magic and naming. Financially strapped and always in trouble, Kvothe is at constant odds in his first year of magical learning. Ron and Hermione, er, Wil and Sim are loyal and honest friends that are at his side to voice their opinion and deal out sometimes helpful and sometimes not so helpful advice. Then there is Denna, the hard to get flower of a girl that is always at Kvothe's fingertips but always ever so distant. Harry, er, Kvothe is our lovable hero that is trying to make something of himself in the hard world that he lives in.

I hate comparing this to Potter, but it's just so much along the same lines plot wise, but aside from the Harry Potter likeness, Patrick Rothfuss' dive into fantasy has plenty of originality that consumes the reader and saturates the pages with brilliant concepts and characterization. The magic system is quite original, simply put, if you know the name of the wind, fire, water, etc., you can make it do as you please. Of course, wind isn't simply wind, its some unpronounceable word in a foreign, archaic language thats long forgotten. Kvothe and his relationship with his friends, teachers, and especially the girl Denna, are easily read and make you yearn for more interaction. Kvothe's chase of the Chandrian, those who killed his troupe, is believable and exciting, you as the reader can't wait for him to gain just a little more knowledge about the elusive demons. This book releasing the same year that Potter's story draws to its end is definitely something that older fans of the Hogwarts student may want to check out. It is much more mature, much more believable, on an adult level, and in my opinion, better. Day Two is slated for April 2008. [4/5]