Friday, 16 November 2012

I Used to Know That: Geography: stuff you forgot from school, Will Williams

I bought this book for an extremely reasonable 99p, with the intent of refreshing my fuzzy and unreliable memory re: GCSE Geography. The author puts a modern and relevant spin on concepts, as well as reminding you of certain ways of teaching long passed that are amusing to look back on. I found the physical Geography section a bit mind boggling, with too many tricky graphs. But it was still fun to re-visit river formation and coastlines. Unlike when I was at school, I really enjoyed the human Geography chapters, probably because I am more interested in the wide world now than I was then and have first hand experience of a few places. There were lots of statistics about consumerism and the effects of natural disasters, as well as a refreshing stance on global warming.
After reading this book I felt inspired to jog my memory on the other subjects, specifically History, Maths (eek) and Science (double eek). But unfortunately, as is a trend with Kindle products, the offer is no longer on and the price has gone up to 4.91, which just seems a bit steep for something I got free when I was sixteen!


Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss

The second book in the trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle (the third yet to be published), I was very excited to read this after loving the first instalment. Set in a fantasy world somewhere between Middle Earth and Hogwarts, the 1000 page story looks back on the early life of the legend Kvothe, a man now in hiding as a pub owner in a small town. The retelling of Kvothe's life picks up where it left off, at the beginning of his second year at university, with all the familiar people in tow: his best friends Sim and Wil, Devi the money lender, Ambrose the arch enemy and Denna the elusive but irresistible girl. After one term of lectures, lute playing, increasingly dangerous fights with Ambrose and continually scraping money together, Kvothe has to go to court for a crime committed in his first year. After this is dealt with, the people closest to him recommend he take a break from university, so he goes in search of Maer Alveron, a rich man who might just become Kvothe's patron if he plays his cards right. With quick wit and a fighting desire to survive, Kvothe soon finds himself living in the Maer's house, comfortable but bored and pretty much a prisoner.
At this point I'm afraid to say that for me the book got a little dull, dragging on for about a hundred pages. It just felt like nothing was really happening. I was extrememly glad therefore when Kvothe was finally sent by the Maer on a mission to kill some bandits. This was the beginning of many adventures, including mass killing, rescuing kidnapped women, losing his virginity to Felurian- a mythical creature so beautiful that men die rather than leave her- and training to be a Adem warrior. When he finally returns to the university Kvothe is a grown up, self assured and rich. I couldn't help mourning the loss of the cute-but-terrible-with-women pauper Kvothe, but alas, we all have to become adults sometime.
The most intriguing parts of the story were when Kvothe was continuing in his quest to track down the evil Chandrian. Especially his conversation with the Cthaeh, the all knowing oracle tree that revels in telling people everything bad about their lives. But I found myself wanting more of this, and willing Kvothe to get a little closer than he did to the truth.
The Wise Man's Fear was all in all an extremely enjoyable epic read (is it me or are books getting longer?), and one I would definitely recommend, although of course The Name of the Wind needs to be first.