Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) - Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Name of The Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Published: Gollancz, Orion; June 2008
Genre: Fantasy 
My rating: 4/5

The Blurb says: "'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me'"


"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. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man's will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself." 


If it wasn't clear from that quote, Patrick Rothfuss really has a wonderful way with words. 

It's obvious really; really quite simple. It is essentially the story of Kvothe, told by the man himself. Like I said, it's simple; but it is glorious and beautiful. The now unassuming and rather unimpressive innkeeper Kote finds his past life catching up with him; a life he tried desperately to put behind him. With the timely arrival of the great story-teller the Chronicler, Kote decides it's time to tell the story of the man he once was: Kvothe, the Kingkiller. I don't really want to say much more than that; though it may not seem like it, the blurb doesn't really give anything at all away so everything else feels like a spoiler!

The characters are well crafted and intriguing. The young Kvothe is driven and motivated, awkward and naive. Rothfuss' short interludes in the story of young Kvothe kept me intrigued - what happens to Kvothe to make him deny his life of magic and intrigue and become Kote the innkeeper? As a love interest, I was relatively impartial to Denna for the majority of the book. She is most definitely a bitch, there's no doubt about it, but as much as Kvothe tries to apologise for it and excuse it, she very much remains unapologetic and you can't fault her for that. We learn about Denna as Kvothe does and I think, by the end, I was very much rooting for them. I loved Kvothe's school friends Sim and Wil; they sort of popped in and out and weren't around enough for my liking. Bast, close friend and tutee of our central character as innkeeper Kote, is a wonderfully mysterious Fae creature; we have yet to learn how he stumbled into Kvothe's life and why he was so willing to live his life in a mask with his master.

The magic is wonderful. The majority of the magic we see is sympathy and appears to be relatively scientific. Then there's the magic that gives the book its name: The Name of the Wind. I've always, weirdly and with no real known origin, enjoyed the kind of magic that's associated with the naming of things. After a chance meeting with the alchemist Abenthy, who would become Kvothe's first teacher, Kvothe dedicates so much of his future to understanding Naming and finding out the name of the wind. After being inspired by his tutor Abenthy and the tales of the storyteller Skarpi, we follow Kvothe as he battles the streets of Tarbean and becomes one of the greatest, and youngest, students the University has ever seen.

The world Rothfuss has created is well-formed with a well thought out history. It is infinitely clear that Rothfuss has spent an immense amount of time creating Kvothe's world both geographically and historically. Of course it needed to be for the sake of the story perhaps more so than in some other fantasy stories. Kvothe travels far and wide across his world and his motivation is heavily reliant on a well established history as he hunts down the Chandrian and explores the mythic, fantastical history of his world. What is good is that the story keeps moving. Rothfuss doesn't spend heaps of time just establishing his world and its history unless it's integral to the plot. Pat Rothfuss and his character Kote are masterful story-weavers.

The only thing I will say is that it's quite a long book, and it feels like we've barely even scratched the surface of Kvothe's story. Of the things outlined in the blurb it feels like, 600+ pages down and we've failed to cover any of it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's not good, and you barely feel the length of it when you're reading, this book just had a lot of ground to cover and is very much the scene-setter. It's a really enjoyable scene-setter but not enough for 5 stars.

I would definitely recommend this to all fantasy fans. It involves a very different method of world creation than any of the fantasy I've read and Rothfuss does it beautifully. I'm going to hold off reading the second book though, at least until there's a release date for the third book. The Wise Man's Fear is 1000 pages long I don't think I'll be able to revisit it for some time like I normally do when there's a long break in the publications of installments so I think it's best to wait. All I ask is that we find out more about Bast in The Wise Man's Fear. He was my favourite.

Thanks for reading,
Naomi Joy x

Thursday, 24 December 2015

UCLPub2015 - Term 1: Weeks 10 & 11 [7th-18th Dec]

So there's no excuse, I just fully forgot to do my weekly round-up for last week and this week's, for no other reason than sheer laziness, is horrendously late.

Publishing Skills
Week 10s Publishing Skills class on Nielsen BookScan unfortunately didn't go to plan. Due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances the website could not be accessed on the university network so we didn't get to spend any time on BookScan but it was great to have Annie in again and she helped us as best she could without access to the website.
In our final Publishing Skills session we had Helen Youngs in from Inspired Selection - a recruitment consultancy for the publishing industry. She helped us understand how to best market ourselves in our CVs and cover letters; an invaluable skill for all of us.

Publishing Project
We had an information meeting on the 8th to check out the interest and answer any questions people may have had. It was better attended than we had hoped and helped us to iron out a few kinks and understand what we hadn't quite made clear enough. It at least showed us that our marketing is somewhat working though and we're keeping our fingers crossed that we get our first submission soon! In our final Pub Project session we each gave presentations on how our projects were coming along and any stumbling blocks we'd hit along the way. It was really great hearing from all of the other groups and I'm super excited to see how everyone gets on.

Author Management
In our penultimate session we had a great team in from Unbound - a crowdfunded publishing company. The team contained 2 UCL Publishing alumni which was exciting; it's always good to see the successes of former students. We looked at how important it is to find new ways to publish and work with authors if the "traditional" publishing industry hopes to remain competitive in this new, digital industry.
Our final Author Management session was a space to ask any questions we had about anything we felt needed covering further. We also got a couple more ideas of what we could do for our assessment for this module: an author tool-kit.

Theories of the Book
Week 10: In this session we had special guests Prof. Alexis Weedon and Claudio Pires Franco come in and talk to us about cross-media publishing and the changing "book" in the digital age. They brought in several examples of books that had crossed media boundaries - partnering apps, QR codes that unlocked new material.
Week 11: we sort of lead this session. In the groups from our projects we lead small presentations each on a different arena of publishing. From women's presses to self-publishing; pamphleteering to zines; we got a quick yet thorough run through of many, vastly differing sectors of the publishing industry.
The assignment for this was handed in on Friday so this module is officially finished!

I think it's safe to say we're all looking forward to the coming weeks off, even if we are going to be spending a lot of it working on the assignments for Publishing Skills and Author Management.
The weekly updates will be cooling off over the Christmas holidays (because really, my life is not all that interesting that you'd want weekly updates of my down-time).
Happy Christmas from me and, as always, thanks for reading!
Naomi Joy x

Monday, 7 December 2015

UCLPub2015 - Term 1: Week 9 [30th Nov-4th Dec]

We revisited InDesign in Publishing Skills on Tuesday morning. While last time we learnt how to add content to the book, this time around we worked our way through the intricacies of cover design. Marita gave us everything necessary to work through her step-by-step guide to make a cover for a book published by her publishing house: Norvik Press. Once we'd completed that, in the spirit of Christmas, we made some Christmas themed poster designs for our favourite books this year. All in the name of education of course! I would show a picture of my design but I decided to take more of a consultant role on this one rather than create my own as I was not quite feeling the Christmas spirit just yet (yes, I know, bah, humbug!)
Next week: Nielsen BookScan revisited.

Publishing Project this week was a hub of productivity. We now have a website! is still "under construction" but it's live while we fill it up so that everyone can access all the information they need to send their awesome YA short stories to us! Check it out here! We have also made a video (of sorts) which is linked to both the vlogging part of our Publishing Skills, and our Publishing Project topic. We're preparing for our Information Meeting on 8th December where we hope to meet a few of the writers interested in entering our competition and answer any questions they might have. I can't say anything just yet but we already have some great judges lined up and more brilliant judges and prizes in the pipeline. It's all getting very exciting!

The Author Management session on Thursday morning was on literary agents. We saw the history of the literary agent and investigated the various roles of a literary agent in the publishing industry at present. We looked at contracts from another perspective: the one between an author and his/her agent. We saw the breakdown of commission from each of the different rights up for grabs; from simple things like hardback, paperback, and ebook, to subsidiary rights like radio/TV, reprints, and translatio. Special guest Matthew Hamilton gave us a great insight into the life of a literary agent from his first hand experience as long time agent at Aitken Alexander.
Next week's focus: 'New ways of working with authors, or why not DIY?' with special guest Dan Kiernan of Unbound.

In Theories of the Book on Thursday afternoon we had a session on Globalisation given by one of our lecturers Daniel Boswell (contrary to what I said last week). He got us thinking about what globalisation means and if/how it can be applied to the publishing industry. While it has resulted in greater trade across borders, it has also resulted in a homogenisation in the books that are published, particularly in the Anglo-American book industries. It also cannot be ignored the lack of translated works that are making headway in our book industry - we very much expect our books to be snatched up and translated in other countries but, for whatever reason, we do not seem to consider works written in other languages a hot enough commodity that they are worth seeking out for translation.
Next week: 'The 'Book' in the Digital Age' with Mel.