Here we go with my favorite fantasy art of the last week.
Unknown artist inspired by The Glass Throne by Sarah Maas
The Martian is an engaging book that hooks you from the very beginning, but also celebrates the ingenuity, tenacity, and determination of man to survive.
I don’t read a lot of science fiction books. In fact this is one of the first ones I have ever read and I’m glad because I liked it a lot and I think that this book will stay with me for some time in the future. If Mark Watney can survive on Mars alone by himself for almost 2 years, I should never complain about what I need to do.
The story is about Mars’ astronauts, the third group of astronauts to visit Mars, and a man left behind. There was an accident on the surface of Mars and a crew member was knocked unconscious. His vital signs were not registering and the rest of the crew had to get off the planet because of a dangerous sand storm that was about to make them all be stuck on Mars. Making the right decision, they left Mark Watney, because they believed him to be dead, and saved the entire crew.
Watney was able to make it back to the structure that housed the astronauts on Mars and make repairs to his space suit. Realizing he was probably pronounced dead, his focus now is to survive. Using ingenious chemistry, physics, botany, and many other scientific fields this mechanical engineer and botanist was able to grow his own food on Mars, and repair every issue that came up. His goal was to contact earth, and survive long enough to be picked up 3 years from then by the next Mar’s mission.
The people on earth found out that he was still alive and the entire world is turned towards watching the news about Watney. Everyone is pulling for him and the world comes together in a time of crisis to try to save Mark. So basically it is a mixture between Cast Away and The Truman Show. Everyone gets updates on how he is doing and what he is doing but no one can really do anything for him until much later.
This book is a relatively easy read. There is a lot of science being explained, especially Watney trying to figure out how to fix or accomplish a goal, but it is never over the reader’s head. I’m not that big of a science nerd and I understood almost all of the science jargon. The delight of the book is Watney figuring out all of these work arounds. It is like reading a McGuyver astronaut and it is highly entertaining. It is highly uplifting to the reader to read about a brilliant man using his brain to survive but doing it with such a great attitude. Mark is updating his progress with logs on Mars and there are only a few moments when Mark acts defeated but the vast majority of the time he is so optimistic that the reader can’t help but really like him. Because we see something in him that we all want, real optimism and intelligence, our connection to Watney is what makes us keep reading.
Andy Weir wrote this book and had it for free on his website when it started out. He then self published the book making it one of the best selling self published books available. Broadway Books then published the book themselves and now there is even a movie on the way. Weir is a science nerd and you can tell he really loved writing this book. The fixes that Watney made when problems arose were ingenious and that came from Weir. However, even though Weir wrote some amazing science stuff in this book, the actual writing has a lot to be desired. The parts in the book that were at Nasa weren’t the best parts in the book. They contained a cast of characters that the reader really didn’t care about and the writing seemed off a little bit. I think this is because Weir did a good job writing in the first person, from Watney’s log statuses, but struggled some with the third person writing. Watney’s crew members were written much better though and their personalities were engaging. More interpersonal relationships between the people on the ground would have helped a lot.
This was a fun read that I enjoyed exceedingly. It was not a perfect novel by any stretch of the imagination but it was entertaining. Watney will come to your mind in the future after reading this book. In that regards, it does more than a lot of other books do, it stays with you. When things are looking bad just think about how bad things must of looked for Watney. When Watney could of had a pity party he worked instead. We have so much to be thankful for in life and we could all be more like Mark Watney at times.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most revered books ever written in the English language and for good reason.
I must admit that when I started this review blog that I never intended on reviewing classic literature. However, the more I read this year the more I realized that there was a vast catalog of books that I was basically ignoring. I want to challenge myself in my reading and to read a diversity of great books. I want to be a well read individual. So I decided to challenge myself to read a classic literature or a modern classic once a month. I want to grow as an individual, open myself up to new experiences, and to develop a strong sense of who I am as an individual. I feel that these books will help me do just those things.
Pride and Prejudice is a book that focuses on the courting of young men and women in the hopes of marriage. Written in the early 1800’s, Jane Austen, focused on plots dealing with women’s dependence on marriage to secure their spot in society. Within these plots there are a lot of social commentary and irony that shows Austen’s thoughts on the roll of women in society. Pride and Prejudice was her second book after Sense and Sensibility and is regarded as the easiest book to get into reading Jane Austen.
At first I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy this because I struggled at the beginning. For a guy that is used to sword battles, magic being used, and treacherous characters, Pride and Prejudice seemed boring and trite. I realized relatively soon that I was reading the basis for every single romantic comedy ever created, which is guy and girl don’t get along, have witty banter with each other, one falls in love, and then has to pursue the other. So I kept reading and focusing on the material because millions of people can’t be wrong about the love of a book. After writing the character’s names down and their relation to each and reading a piece about Austen’s humor in Pride and Prejudice, everything snapped together. Things that I was taking serious were never really suppose to be taken serious and was suppose to be humorous. With those revelations I ended up enjoying the book greatly. There were then times when I was like, “No way Darcy did not just say that to Elizabeth, zomg!”
The prose, vocabulary, and structure of Pride and Prejudice is absolutely wonderful. I wanted to be challenged and I was because I used my dictionary at lease 15 times while reading Pride and Prejudice. Once I started to read faster and stopped thinking of it as poetry it also became much easier for me because most similar prose I have only encountered in poetry. This is a beautifully written book by a woman 200 years ago that shows how beautiful the English language can be.
Austen set the framework for all female authors and set the bar high. She is held as the greatest female author of all time. I am looking forward to reading some more of her work in the future. I watched many video book blogs on youtube that talked about classical literature and so many recommend starting their classical literature journey with this book. I am glad I did and will probably read this book again a few years down the line. I liked it a lot but I did not love it. Maybe with time I will learn to love it.
NSFW – Artistic nudity in one picture but that picture is gorgeous.
Welcome to the start of a new weekly entry. Every Tuesday I will be showcasing my 10 favorite fantasy pieces from the last week. These will consist of new pictures and probably some older ones too. Some art might be a little NSFW at times but I’ll try to not make it that bad.
All pictures are not my work. I will post the page from where I got the art from. Please visit the artist’s page for more amazing work.
In no order of importance.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is an up to date classic fantasy tale that captures the heart and imagination through honest storytelling. The main character, Kvothe, is a bright young man, stumbling through the world as he attempts to support himself alone, and pay for his education. Where other fantasy books would not focus on the suffering of the main character and his very human needs, Rothfuss wants the reader to know that real life is messy, and even if you are a gifted individual, it does not mean you won’t have your shares of set backs. We have a main character that we can relate to because our life isn’t perfect and even though Kvothe is our hero, neither is his life.
This is a character based story, my favorite kind. We learn about the world as Kvothe learns about it. There is very little exposition that doesn’t seem natural and Rothfuss succeeds admirably in that regards. The story is about a hero that everyone talks about but few know the real story. Chronicler, a historian, finds Kvothe, and asks him for his actual story to set the record straight. The chapters are mostly told in first person while Kvothe is telling the story but changes to third person in the scenes where Chronicler is transcribing the story.
It is very much an origin story, which I love. Kvothe was a part of a travelling troupe with his parents where he learned all sorts of things, especially from an arcanist that traveled with them as well. An arcanist is Rothfuss’ version of a wizard but more a scientist than anything. They are the keepers of knowledge that study at a place called The University. The magic system in The Name of the Wind is called sympathy where you form links with elements by using a small focusing piece of that element and an energy source. Learning about sympathy as a reader is delightful. Anyway, Kvothe ends up homeless, and alone after a group of men kill his entire troupe. For three years Kvothe is living on the street and his existence is so meager and disheartening. The reader becomes attached to Kvothe because of the pain he suffers. We want to see Kvothe overcome his obstacles. Eventually Kvothe ends up at The University and begins his studies. He can barely pay his tuition and living expenses, he makes mistakes and angers the wrong people, and is too strong willed for his own good. The story turns into Kvothe’s adventures and hardships at The University where one thing will go right but two things will go wrong. It is an amazing opening narrative to the Kingkiller Chronicles because we are living the story through or with Kvothe. At some point in the story, Kvothe becomes our friend, and that friendship is what powers the book.
I absolutely loved Rothfuss’ prose. He puts wise sayings that can be applied in our own life into his story as he applies it to Kvothe’s life. There are poetic and extremely quotable lines all through this book. In fact this is one of the most quotable fantasy books I’ve ever read. Here are some examples:
“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.”
“Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.
First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.
Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.
Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.
Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.”
“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.”
Also the stories and songs within the story are remarkable. Usually I don’t care for songs in a fantasy book but the songs in The Name of the Wind are on another level. Using songs and spoken-word stories was an ingenious way to talk about the history of the world without resorting to unnatural exposition. The best scene in the entire book is at the Eolian when Kvothe performs for his pipes. That was the highlight of the entire book because it was written so well that it moved me emotionally. The weakest part of the book was in the forest outside of Trebon. The scenes with Kvothe and Denna near Trebon didn’t hold my interest like the others.
I highly recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for those people that grew up on sword and sorcery fantasy books, people that want more character in their books, and people that want a break from grim-dark to experience classic fantasy told in a modern way. I enjoyed this book enough for me to order a signed hardcover that will be arriving in the mail. I cannot wait to read A Wise Man’s Fear. Kvothe is up there along with some of the great fantasy characters I have ever read. It does not hurt that Rothfuss is one of the best personalities in the fantasy genre today. I love his comments on everything from writing to the fantasy genre and when he is invited to panels he answers straight-forward.