At one point, not too long ago, I was a voracious (if painfully slow) reader. Sadly, a string of not-quite-interesting books and a slew of distractions all but killed my reading for the last year or so. It’s a sad turn of events that I decided to resolve with some good high fantasy. Being removed from my favorite genre for so long made the towering fantasy aisles of a bookstore and the vast untamed Amazon into treacherous places of unfamiliar names and covers. Luckily, I found a reliable guide in the gentlemen over at Penny Arcade, whose always insightful blog and comic pointed me in the right direction. Tycho’s endorsement eventually led me to pick up a copy of Patrick Rothfuss’s  “The Name of the Wind” and I haven’t put it down since.

I figured any novel (the author’s first I should note) to garner the unabashed praise of such storied fantacists as Ursula K. Le Guin and Terry Brooks deserves a good try and I was not disappointed. From the beginning I have been captivated by the tone and pace of the story. I was first struck by how real it feels, a difficult thing to achieve in fantasy. It is easy for me to get lost in a fantasy novel, but there is usually a part of me that remembers that what I’m reading is a fictional story in a fantastical world. “The Name of the Wind” reads more like a history than a fantasy, due in large part to the unique frame the author has created for his narrative.  The tale itself is a story within a story, told by the protagonist, Kvothe. At times another story is told within this frame, creating a rich historical background in which the story unfolds like a great play. I find myself living alongside Kvothe, through his worst times and his triumphs. It is a true testament to Rothfuss’s mastery of language and pacing that, in a scene when Kvothe was to perform before an audience, I felt myself grow clammy and light-chested, the exact sensation I used to feel before going onstage with my bass. I won’t speak too much more about “The Name of the Wind” for fear of spoilers, but if you haven’t already read it, do so. Now.

It is my great fortune that, while enraptured by Kvothe’s  tale, Gamefly delivered a game that I can play without playing, thus allowing me to revive my old hobby of reading insatiably, while continuing to play video games. Gran Tourismo 5 arrived the other day, and while I’m not a huge fan of racing games, it is lots of fun to purchase an old clunker, supe it up and blow away the competition. There is a mode in Gran Tourismo 5 that allows you to create an AI driver and issue commands to him while he races in your car. There is supposed to be some strategy to the orders, but put the driver in a hot enough car and the machine does all the work. Sit back, read your book, and wait for the prize money to roll in. The mode is a blessing for people who love video games but don’t want to play them, which means it will be perfect for me, at least until I finish “The Name of the Wind” and the recently released book 2 in the series, “The Wise Man’s Fear.”