If you are reading this blog entry that means you are neither reading Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name Of The Wind nor are you reading Peter Brett’s The Warded Man.
Since both of these are two of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time, I am sad for you. You are missing out.
I personally count myself lucky that I’ve got many good friends who were patient enough with my “I don’t read Fantasy” rants and nevertheless compelled me to pick up George R.R. Martin. Because it’s clear, from the rabbit trail I’ve tripped down in the last three months, that Fantasy has undergone a renaissance in the last five years.
When I gave up on Fantasy in the mid 1980s I was turning my back on a dozen cheap knockoffs of Tolkein, released every year with garish covers and that loathsome “Fantasy Font” that makes a book look instantly like it belongs in a garage sale. These books almost always rendered the old adage about judging by covers completely moot. You could look at one of these books and know instantly that, like a McDonald’s hamburger, you would get the same warmed over taste you’d had exactly a thousand times before. While I enjoy both McDonalds and a comforting degree of sameness, it was getting really tiresome. I swore I’d never again read a book with the terms “elfling” or “mage”.
Conveniently that was right around when I was getting ready to go to college, and much of my reading was designed to make me as smart as possible for the upcoming classes. I started devouring a lot of biographies (the aforementioned Mozart, various ex-Beatles, ex-Presidents and founding fathers) and classics. It was right about here that I first read through all of Dickens and polished off Les Miserables. I was also majorly into Gone With the Wind and read that once a year–ah, the days before Harry Potter was my Once A Year book.
When college came I read very college-y things. Siddharta and Camus and various Russians. I swear one of the reasons I left college was the tired stoop in my soul’s posture from all the weight of Serious Literature. Not so much the classics, but the newer things, the modern American stuff and the older Russian stuff that conspires to make you want to slit your wrists.
In the past fifteen years I’ve bounced around genres like a pinball, veering in and out of Mystery, Thriller, Romance and whatever you call people like Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Clive Cussler…all those fellas. I’ve also read countless books on the history of Medicine, comparative religion, British and Celtic history etc. But NEVER would I touch fantasy. Ever. Until now. And now I’m telling you the most exciting writers doing the most exciting things have been apprenticing in Fantasy. And the genre is getting remade into the best possible world of The Story.