Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Big Fat Fantasy

I'm currently reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. So far it's an excellent fantasy novel, set in a rich world with an intriguing anti-hero and a rich use of language.

It's been awhile since I read a fantasy novel like this - one aimed squarely at adults and male readers rather than at women and teens. The main difference so far is the pace. YA usually reads like a bat out of hell. Even the more adult but female-oriented fantasy books like the excellent Mercy Thompson novels by Patricia Briggs tend to move more quickly than the tomes put out by male authors of the genre like Robert Jordan (not my cup of tea), George R.R. Martin (Song of Ice and Fire novels are MUST READS for fantasy fans), and Neal Stephenson (haven't had the guts to open up one of his gigando books yet).

Yes, yes, I know there are fast paced male fantasy writers - Terry Pratchett, some Greg Keyes, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, etc. And JK Rowling could go on a bit long at times in the Harry Potter books (love them!), not to mention the rather lengthy Mists of Avalon, which I could never finish. But if you pick up a big fantasy novel that throws out your back and has a few sequels that are even longer, odds are it was written by a man.

I'm not objecting. I'm just remarking on the difference. In the case of books like Martin's, I never want them to end. I'm grateful for their full-blooded appeal. And so far The Name of the Wind has been delightful, even though I'm a hundred pages in and the real story hasn't started yet. I can't help thinking: that would never fly in YA, dude.

But there's room for all kinds. I just wonder why it's the men who do go on...

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