rating: 3 of 5 stars
If someone had described this book to me, I would not have read it. I’m just not in the market for a first book in a trilogy that sounds like bog-standard modern fantasy no matter how you cut it.
Luckily, no one described it to me.
It just kept coming up from different people who I know had no contact with one another. So, when my first book of the summer reading came up I picked it up.
It was compulsively readable. I went through over 700 pages in five days. I was staying up late and losing sleep to read it.
I am not going to give a summary of the book because it isn’t my thing. The scenes in the arcane academia were really nice. A friend of mine was writing a novel set in a university of wizards and I loved it but, like in this book, was always disappointed when the plot took us away from that setting. It was obvious to me that the author had spent time in academia and having read his bio, I see that its true.
The framing of the story, the way that each book will be about one day of the main character telling the tale of his life to the royal chronicler is fantastic and well wrought.
There were lots of words wasted, telling us how difficult it is to be poor that were better shown just by illustrating his difficulties. Two or three times the main character talks about being a poor student and it got tiresome.
There was only really only one female character but even the characters listening to the story remarked on it, so I am thinking that will change in the latter two books.
I like how the book is a story being told; it gives it a kind of self-awareness that doesn’t come off as trying too hard to be some kind of lame-ass post-modern commentary of the genre (as opposed to China Mieville, which is fanastic commentary on the genre).
I promised myself I wasn’t going to get into any more fantasy series but I’m tentatively hooked. I want to see past the students days, into the epic, king-killing, gods-will-fear-me stuff. Seduce me with another block of a book that goes by like a breezy summer day and I’ll read your damned series. I’m in.