December 16th, 2013

earthsea

December Books 9) The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

I don't think of myself as someone who likes the big fantasy trilogy, having bounced off several of the more celebrated examples recently; but I really loved this as much as I loved the first volume, perhaps even a little more. Our hero, excluded from university studies because his brilliance makes him the object of supernaturally expressed jealousy, wanders off to find several different sets of adventures which would each be worth a novel in themselves, as courtier, mercenary, lover of the fae and initiate of a warrior cult; and gets back to find that the plot still needs to be resolved. Meanwhile the framing narrative gets a bit darker as well. Excellent stuff, and I will be among those getting the third volume the day it is published.
train, tintin, leuven

December Books 10) Animate Europe! (responsible editor Hans H. Stein)

At the start of this year I met Hans Stein at a pub get-together, and we got talking about Brussels, politics and comics, which are three enthusiasms which as it turned out we shared, though they are surprisingly rarely combined. He told me proudly that he had managed to organise an international competition for people to write comic strips about the spirit of Europe - with a prize, and everything; we made sure to stay in touch.

And two weeks ago he announced the award, at a very nice reception at the Comic Strip Museum, along with this rather nice book including the winner and four other finalists (five, I suppose, because one entry is by two brothers). The winning entry is a pleasingly surreal tale by Hamburg-based artist Marco Tabilio of Erasmus and a talking seal having postmodern adventures in the belly of a whale. The judges made the right decision; the other stories are all OK (perhaps I woudn't have included the second of the five) but this is the best of them.

If Hans's party had managed a little more than 100,000 extra votes out of 44 million in September's election, he would now be a member of the Bundestag; but as it is he remains in Brussels. Berlin's loss is our gain.