I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer: these books are not necessarily my top five favourite books and if you were to ask me one month from now, my answers may be different. These books are 5 books that have made a lasting impression on me, while not necessarily being what first comes to mind when you ask me my top 5 favourite books. So here we go.
The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)
I picked this book up in my local library one day on a whim and found a hidden gem. This book and its sequel are on another level. They are epic fantasy and they are huge (think 900 pages). The book follows the life of Kvothe, a mage, a musician, and a mastermind. I think the most unique thing about The Name of The Wind is that it starts in the inn that Kvothe owns and he seems to be a typical tavern keep, but then this man called the Chronicler shows up and asks Kvothe to tell his story and so Kvothe does, and it turns out the man is a legend. He went to a school for a magic. He danced with faeries. He knows the name of the wind. He killed a king. He faced a dragon. And so on and so forth. This book is rich with adventure and wit and intrigue and while I was listening to Kvothe’s story, invested in the high stakes of the past, I was also wondering how exactly he came to be a lonely tavern keep, if he was such a legend.
As an author, this book showed me how books can have layers and the importance of having a strong overarching arc throughout a series while weaving your smaller problems in between to keep the reader guessing.
“My name is Kvothe. .... I tread paths by midnight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. .... You may have heard of me.” - The Name of The Wind (excerpt from blurb)
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)
I cannot begin to capture the sheer genius of this book and its sequels. However, I will do my best. Book 1 (The Lies of Locke Lamora) follows Locke Lamora and his band of thieves who are always one step ahead of everybody, until they aren’t. The story takes place in the ancient city of Camorr, which I can best describe as a medieval Venice ruled partially by Duke Nicovante and partially by his enemy, Capa Barsavi, who the duke can’t touch. Barsavi runs what is essentially the mafia of Camorr and Locke works for him. That’s the set up mostly, without giving too much away.
This book drew me in from the start with its exceptional world building without stuffing my head with information. I’m not quite sure how the author did it with so much going on in Camorr and its neighbours. Plus, the plot is action packed. Just one thing after another and yet its not overwhelming. The characters were always 3 steps ahead of me and when it all came together in the end, I was sitting there wondering how in God’s name the author managed to fool me for so long and how he even came up with such a brilliant scheme in the first place.
As an author, this book truly shows the potential of the written word and the imagination. Someday, I hope to come even close to the kind of mastery Lynch has created in his waterproof plots.
“At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unexpected visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.” - The Lies of Locke Lamora (First Sentence)
Illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
Illuminae is a science fiction masterpiece that blew my mind in so many ways, and I am not a huge lover of the genre. The story follows the journey of a ship fulls of refugees after their planet has been attacked by enemy agents. It follows their struggle to survive as they head for the next available planet, through a deadly pandemic, corruption, lack of supplies, and so on. But that description truly doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
The most striking part of this book is the fact that it is told through files, emails, video surveillance, and other formats, though no traditional prose, and it still resonated deep within me. The authors are pure genius for being able to evoke such strong emotions in this format. Additonally, there was the use of POVs and the fact that the ship’s Artificial Intellgience actually had POV sections. It was so creepy. And so well done.
As an author, this book opened my mind to the possibilties and reinforced that there is no one right way to write a book.
“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.” - Illuminae
And that's all I have for you today. Of course, this only scratches the surface of books that have made significant impacts on my life, but blog posts can only be so long. Next week, I'll be bringing you a post about the main characters in Project Petra, so stay tuned for that and as always, keep writing.