Middle Aged Gardening

I never thought I'd become this guy. But something about making the back garden thrive with greenery and life just makes me smile. It has taken some time to get the garden to a state where I feel it's ok to show somebody, mainly due to it being a new build house. We basically got a square of grass and a few basic slabs leading to the back gate. Much time, a patio, shed and a few raised beds later I've finally been ready to plant something! Whilst I'd love to go off-grid like Tom and Barbara Good, to not end up with a garden that looks like an allotment, I think we have to temper the amount of edible produce. However, a starter-for-ten were the eighteen strawberry plants I stuck in in March. It has been a success! They are delicious. I'm fairly sure they're only about 20% better than can be bought from the supermarket. But they're all shapes and sizes, I took care of them, and they're just better. Like having chips out of the paper. It wasn't even a g

Revival and Rothfuss

Well, it has been a little over 2 years since I've found the motivation to write a blog post. I actually rediscovered my only other entry whilst digging around in my google account and thought it was perhaps time to revive it. Then though comes the obvious question, "what’s the point?" After much deliberation I’ve concluded there is no concrete point… other than a personal gratification by being creative in perhaps the laziest possible manner, and no doubt it’ll be a laugh to look back on later in life, inwardly cringing at the things I said. Let’s just see what happens if I write what I want, whenever I feel like it, and about things that interest me enough to motivate a post out of me. Right, ok mate? Good.

In trying to think about a good topic to kick things off I tried not to go to science/engineering (there’s plenty of time for that...), and so I have gone for a brief overview/synopsis of a great series of books I’ve been reading. The series in question is fantasy and called The Kingkiller Chronicles, written by Wisconsin author Patrick Rothfuss. From the outset it is only fair to warn you that currently only two books of the trilogy have been written. Of all the people I have recommended this series to, they have (without exception!) cursed me for not mentioning this before they started reading. I have been waiting since 2011 for the last book, and it’s slowly killing me. However, if you’re up for it anyway (and you’d a fool not to be!), go check it out. These books are now where I go for a comforting read on a Sunday afternoon, or for some grade-A relaxing audio book material for a long drive. They are simply top of the list for great story telling, a bit of realism when it comes to magic and very clever humour.

I have not done any sort of in-depth analysis here. There is in fact already a fantastic re-read of the books available from Tor Books here, which offers far more insight into the text than my oblivious engineering brain ever will (although it is littered with spoilers). In my little intro to book one below I’ve just given it a brief overview and a few of my insights (how posh) in the hope you’ll go read both books for yourselves, and they become your new favourites as well :). Minimal spoilage...

The Name of the Wind

Book One
Our story begins in a remote village in the Waystone Inn where everything is silent. The silence is described as the sound of "a man who is waiting to die". Cheerful start I'm sure you'll agree! This man (aka Kvothe, and a multitude of other names...) is our protagonist who is attempting to disguise himself as a simple innkeeper, accompanied by his mischievous assistant Bast. It is clear that these are dark desperate times, and after saving a scribe from a deadly beast, Kvothe agrees to regale his story in full. This will be a three day story, of this he is quite insistent.

The majority of the story is told in the first person from Kvothe's perspective as he dictates to the scribe, although there are brief interludes every now and again where we return to a 3rd person narrative. He begins with his childhood as part of a travelling troupe of performers known as the Edema Ruh, where his parents bring him up to be a performer, a composer and musician. Whilst travelling he meets an arcanist named Abenthy who soon realises Kvothe has great potential. Abenthy is certain that if Kvothe stays with the troupe he will become a performer, composer and musician the likes of which the World has never seen before. However, he encourages Kvothe and his parents that he should attend the great University and Arcanum where he will learn noble arts such as sympathy, artificery, sygaldry, geometry, mathematics and naming. Real magic! As magic systems go, Rothfuss uses a very real and logical approach. Which personally I find very satisfying as it scratches my engineering muscle (or lack thereof). This may stem from Rothfuss initially studying chemical engineering at university (woo!). Although he does go on to say that this only led to the "revelation that chemical engineering is boring". I like you Pat but careful now... that's sacred ground you're stepping on. 

Anyway... moving on!

Money is a problem for Kvothe. Getting to the University presents quite a challenge for the boy, and he learns on arrival that this magical World mimics our own via the necessary evil that is university admission fees. There are some fairly cruel and corrupt ways of determining these fees though. On second though maybe this isn't so different. Anyway... at the University Kvothe thrives and becomes a fantastic student, through a LOT of adversity I might add. He makes some great friends and some particularly nasty enemies too, mostly by the folly of his quick troupers tongue. 

From this point on it's difficult to not give away too much of the plot line. However I can assure you that there is something to titillate everyone. From dragons, blood magic, assassins and murder to beautiful music, love, Auri, and the names of things; The Kingkiller Chronicle has it all.

And that's just book one!