The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This is the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

If you enjoy the fantasy genre, then there is a very good chance that you’re going to love this book as well as the first in the series, The Name of the Wind.

Patrick Rothfuss has, in these books, managed to do a phenomenal job of world-building. It is enough detail and depth to satisfy an avid fantasy reader, but it is not deep to the point where it will lose an audience who hasn’t read many books in the genre.

Rothfuss has an incredible ability to write in the first person, and uses that ability to take you on the wild ride that is the life of the main charachter, Kvothe.

You will follow him in his studies, his life as a musician, his love life, and so on and so forth, but you will never lose sight of the Kvothe’s life-long quest, which I will not reveal here.

In fantasy, magic is particularly important. Rothfuss manages to create a very unique magic system which is both complex and easy to follow at the same time.

If there is a single pitfall in this book, it is that there are some subplots that, while great, simply last too long and drag on, causing certain parts to leave you thinking “ok, let’s move on now”. The book is still phenomenal nonetheless.

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Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Hi!

If you are into high-fantasy novels, then this book is definitely a must-read. That said, I haven’t yet read any of the other books in the series, and there is about a million of them (ten, actually).

The book is a work of art when it comes to world-building, and you can just feel the Erikson’s will to immerse you in it. It also becomes apparent pretty quickly, though, that there is a lot more to the world than you are experiencing in the book.

Even those who are familiar with the genre are likely to find the book a bit overwhelming, referring to a multitude of things that the reader has yet to be explained in any way at all. Odds are, you will kind of feel like you’re drowning for a few chapters, although when you finally surface, it is going to be for one of the best reads of your life. The characters have depth, emotion, varying skill sets, and almost seem excited to show you the world they live in. What is particularly fun is that Erikson introduces new characters as he goes along, and those characters are given the same depth as those who are along for the whole ride. Some of the characters also go from being secondary characters to primary characters, and vice-versa, which makes the story all that more exciting to read.

The book combines regular humans, gods, mages and other creeds and creatures in order to deliver a gripping tale with a relentless number of twists and turns. The presence of gods and their role is something that, to me, made this book stand out from a lot of other books in the genre. It takes a gutsy author to involve gods in a story, but here it was done artfully and to the perfect extent.

Honestly, if this is a genre you enjoy and you haven’t yet read this, then you have been missing out (as I, admittedly, was).

This is a real page-turner and I have downloaded the second one (Deadhouse Gates) although I haven’t delved into it yet.

Sgold

Uncanny X-Men: Issue #6 from 1963

Hi!

Well, as promised I am intermittently reading the original X-Men comics while reading other things.

The 6th issue comes with its fair share of quirks. Not far in I found myself asking why Magneto was using some kind of ray gun and then how he was sending his mind forth from his body (all the way to the bottom of the ocean, I might add). Namor is also a bit of a giant princy cornball in a green fish-like speedo who has weird little wings on his feet and eyebrows that kind of make him look a bit like an elf. He also drives this hilarious little sub.

Namor is a weirdo and Magneto seems to be using weapons powered by magnetism capable of destroying things not made of metal, which makes relatively little sense. The X-Men also ride what is essentially a pirate ship out to sea.

Despite all of the abovementioned weird stuff, I thought this was good fun, and the creators are doing a great job of slowly inching us towards Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch ditching the very very bright purple Magneto. They also hint at Namor being a decent guy deep down, when he stands up to Magneto for the Scarlet Witch.
Overall, these seem to be getting better as I go through them. If not, then they’re definitely growing on me.

The Comic Book Newbie

Third Read: Civil War

Hi!

Well, this one was a bit of a no-brainer. Not only was Civil War (the 7 issues of the main story) recommended online by about a million different sources, but the comic book store near my place also recommended it. I picked up a copy and read through it. It’s definitely a fun story, especially for anybody who is getting into the comics after having already seen the movies that have come out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It didn’t take long before I realized that the movie had only been lightly based on the comic.

My big positives regarding Civil War are the following:

  1. A ton of heroes and villains (which is a positive, but also a negative to some extent)

    Civil War is a gold mine for anybody looking for an action-packed story loaded with heroes and villains. Personally, I got to enjoy a ton of the heroes I have come to love without having to read a bevy of different stories. I also got to briefly encounter some of my favorite villains from the Spiderman comics without having to actually read the Spiderman comics. As I’ll point out below, though, I thought the volume of characters was not always a positive.

  2. The story dragged me in and made me choose a side for myself

    This was definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story to me. I was rapidly confronted with a dilemma: Am I in favor of people with superpowers needing to be registered, undergo training and fight crime, or am I against it?

    I quickly made my decision: I am against it, and thus read in support of Captain America and his band of rebellious super-people. My support didn’t wane for a second, and the story did a great job of keeping me involved in the cause the whole way through.

  3. It made me like heroes and villains I previously disliked, and dislike heroes and villains that I previously liked

    Truth be told, prior to reading Civil War, and probably even after reading it, I definitely liked Iron Man more than I liked Captain America. As mentioned, I sided with the Captain in this one though, and quickly found myself rooting for a character who I did not like as much as his opposition. The story also lead me to firmly dislike Spiderman until he decided to cross to the “right” side of the conflict.

  4. It gets going really quickly and is then filled with unrelenting action until the end

    Considering the fact that the main story is 7 issues long, it really gets going fast. In fact, the fight which leads to the debate regarding the registration and training of people who have superpowers occurs immediately when you open the first couple of pages. After that, there isn’t much debating before Captain America is on the loose and rallying together a whole bunch of anti-registration superheroes. Once that happens, there is some form of fighting going on almost through to the last page, even when the main battles aren’t occurring. Plus, the fighting is pretty awesome, considering that there’s no shortage of firepower.

My big negatives:

  1. The number of heroes and villains became overwhelming at times, with some characters appearing so briefly (or even only in the background)

    I haven’t read a mountain of comics, and my knowledge of the Marvel Universe was relatively limited going into Civil War. The result is that a number of the heroes in the background were at times unknown to me, and because nobody ever even referred to them by name, I couldn’t even identify them and then go off in search of who they are. At other times, a character would arrive, maybe say something or have something said to him/her and then just essentially disappear. Their role then remains underdeveloped and if you didn’t really know that character before, you won’t know them any more afterwards. In my opinion, a good contrast is the way The Infinity Gauntlet introduced the characters involved in that story. It went through them almost one by one, allowing you to meet them and look them up if you didn’t know who they were. I thought that was a better approach, although I guess it takes more time and pages to do. There is also more heroes and villains in Civil War, so it may not have been possible for all of the characters, but at least a few of the primary ones should have had some more introduction I believe.

  2. Too quick a read for my liking

    I found this story too quick at times. There is so much action and a substantial amount of space used depicting action rather than having the characters speak. I found that the result was that I went through it a little bit too quickly. I enjoy a bit more character and story development than seems to have been done in Civil War

    SPOILER ALERT: The next one is about the ending, so do not read forward if you don’t know what happens and don’t want to know.

  3. The ending, which I did not like

    Captain America turns himself in? Superheroes heading to Canada? A state wants its band of superheroes to be essentially made up of a group of notorious super-villains? The end of the story left me feeling A) annoyed that the character I had backed since the beginning just gave up and B) feeling that the 50 state initiative through which a team is assigned to each state was bizarre.

Conclusion: I definitely enjoyed Civil War, although less so than The Infinity Gauntlet. I enjoyed that I got to see a ton of superheroes and super-villains go at it, and that I got to learn to enjoy characters I had previously disliked or enjoyed less. I’m very happy that I’ve read the main story that the movie was based on. I do, however, feel like there were some flaws which could have been avoided.

The Comic Book Newbie

 

Uncanny X-Men: Issue #5 from 1963

Hi!

I read the 5th issue of the Uncanny X-Men from 1963 and I thought it was worth mentioning that this is the issue I have enjoyed the most out of all first 5 issues. I found that the X-Men seem, at this point, to have mastered their powers better than in any of the first four issues, which makes sense given that they’re in training throughout all 5 first issues. Iceman definitely begins to get a little bit more creative with his powers in this issue. The group of villains, made up of Magneto, Mastermind, Toad, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, also seems to have become more creative in the ways in which they use their powers. It was nice to see Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s ethical dilemmas begin to come to the surface, with Scarlet Witch even putting a hex on a control panel that Magneto intends to use. The team of Evil Mutants definitely became more fun in this issue.

The Comic Book Newbie

Second Read: The Infinity Gauntlet

Hi!

The second read of my comic book journey was The Infinity Gauntlet, which I finished this morning.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I have already ordered both “Avengers vs. Thanos” and “Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos” through a comic book store which I found in my area. Those two stories preceded the events which take place in The Infinity Gauntlet, which throws you right into a pretty nasty situation. In The Inifinity Gauntlet, Thanos has been resurrected by Mistress Death and it becomes rapidly clear to the reader that with the infinity gauntlet, he has become the most powerful being in the universe.

In my opinion, The Infinity Gauntlet is a great tool for somebody just getting into comics. The characters are introduced almost one-by-one, allowing the reader to consider who they are, and, if necessary, look them up prior to continuing on (I did this with regards to Namorita, for example). In contrast, I’m currently reading a different story which also involves a large number of heroes, but does not introduce each one and, at times even seems to cause them to simply appear either momentarily or in background roles, never allowing you to really figure out who they are or what they can do.

Another positive is the use of emotion in The Infinity Gauntlet. I thought that the team who created this story did a fantastic job of capturing Thanos’ emotional issues, both from his perspective as well as from the perspective of some of the other characters in the story. For example, the reader is made quickly aware of Thanos’ quest for the love of one individual. I also found that they did a great job of contrasting the ways in which the different characters perceive what is going on around them. For instance, the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock do not always seem to see eye to eye on what is right and what is wrong, or what one can and cannot (or should and should not) be done in order to achieve a certain end.

Personally, the relative invincibility of Thanos when he’s wearing the infinity gauntlet is something I don’t love. While nobody would be surprised to hear that Thanos doesn’t win, it remains that all of the heroes that the reader has come to know and love (as well as their seemingly phenomenal powers) are for the most part useless against anybody who is wearing the infinity gauntlet. If the rest of the story wasn’t so great and if Thanos’ character hadn’t been granted sufficient depth, this could have become a problem for me (but it didn’t).

Another weak point (in my opinion) would be that The Inifinity Gauntlet doesn’t do a great job of explaining how Thanos got the gems that are in the gauntlet, nor where they originate from, which is slightly confusing. I’ll see if the two stories that preceded it explain the stones, but I have my doubts.

On an unrelated note, I know at least one person who doesn’t enjoy when superhero stories take a turn towards outer space or anything related to outer space (i.e. aliens). That individual always prefers the stories stay on planet Earth and that the characters be from there, even if they have superpowers. If you share that opinion and are not a fan of stories related to outer space or galactic wars, then this will be a story to avoid, because you will not only spend more than half of this story in outer space, but you will encounter some characters whom are definitely aliens and others who are gods.

Coming off of the first four X-Men issues of all time, I believe it is fair to say that this blows them out of the water in almost every way possible. That’s probably unfair however, given that the Marvel Universe was vastly larger and more developed in 1991 than it was in 1963. Not only had it had the chance to increase the number of characters, but also had the time to deepen them and intertwine them with one another in ways which were certainly still borderline impossible in 1963.

Conclusion: This was an awesome story which I believe can be read in isolation. That said, there are also stories which both precede and follow it, allowing for more reading if you enjoy the story. As a beginner, I thought it was a good read which did not lose me with regards to either the story or the characters which fill it, and which successfully dragged me into the story and caused me to order the two preceding stories.

The Comic Book Newbie

P.s. definitely looking forward to the upcoming Avengers movie even more now.

First read: The first four X-Men issues from 1963

Hi!

When I first decided to dive into comics about a week ago, I truly had no idea where to head, where to look, or what to read. In sum, I was a bit lost.  I had no idea where to go in order to buy physical copies of comics, so I tried the big chain bookstore near my apartment, but the issues/books they had in stock were unorganized and did not help me know where to start at all.

As a result, I figured there couldn’t be a better place to start than the very beginning of the X-Men. As mentioned in my first post, some of the X-Men characters are my favorite, so this seemed like a logical choice.

As I write this, I have only read issues #1-#4 of the 1963 X-Men comics. From the get go, you should note that there is a TON of material to go through if you try to start from the beginning like that. In fact, if you work relatively long hours like I do, it may only take you a few issues to realize that actually starting there and catching up is quite literally an impossible feat.

Nonetheless, I have enjoyed the first few issues of all time. You will be introduced to some all time favorites quite quickly: Beast (who, spoiler alert, is not blue at the beginning of the comics), Cyclops, Angel, Iceman, Jean Grey and Professor Xavier. You will also get your fair share of Magneto right out of the gates.

What I have also found fun about issues #1-#4 is the throwback to the 1960s. Being an 80s baby, I did not live in the 60s. It is fun though to see how the 1960s’ society, technology and international political climate is reflected in the comics from the era. For example, you will encounter a military base with rockets, attempts to reach outer space and a helicopter which was in fact tested and used at the time. You’ll also note the general way the men communicate with (and about) Jean Grey, which shows how much times have changed since then.

Overall however, you will likely quickly notice that you could be in these comics for a longtime before some of your favorites arrive. The artwork is definitively old school. I can’t yet compare it to other comics from that era because I haven’t read others. The writing was fun and, again, showed the differences in the way people speak today versus in the 1960s.

Conclusion: this was a neat place to start, but I got the feeling it could simply be too long to get through everything. I will continue reading them, but I will do so intermittently and read other things at the same time.

Last comment: the subject of my next post will be my read of “The Infinity Gauntlet” which is related to the upcoming Avengers movie. Not knowing where to head, I headed in a seemingly logical direction: the stories behind the upcoming movie.

Kudos to https://www.comicbookherald.com/ which provides awesome guides for those trying to link the many stories of the marvel universe to one another (and contains an amazing amount of information about comics).

The Comic Book Newbie