The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

This is the second published novel in the Discworld series and it picks up immediately from where The Colour of Magic left off. It describes the continued adventures of the wizards Rincewind, Twoflower and of course the Luggage.

I found this much easier to follow than its predecessor, The Colour of Magic because there are far fewer subplots. It’s a great light hearted fantasy story, and very humorous and witty.

Apparently the Discworld series gets better and better as it goes along. I’m looking forward to reading more and discovering for myself!

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander is the first in a series of historical adventure novels by Diana Gabaldon, set in Scotland. Claire Randall is on holiday with her husband when she is suddenly thrown back in time to the Highlands in the eighteenth century. There she meets Jamie Fraser, and romance ensues amid the danger.

This was a fun read, and although any synopsis might sound cheesy it is better than it sounds! I’m not very knowledgable at all on the history of Scotland during the Jacobite risings so it was interesting to learn more about that period. It’s an impressive first novel, but it is quite long and I found it dragged a little occasionally. I was also surprised to learn that there are 8 novels in total so far – I’m not sure whether the plot is strong enough for that many books, but I will probably read the next in the series at some point.

The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad

Adolf Verloc lives in London and runs a shop with his wife Winnie. They also live with Winnie’s mother and her brother, Stevie, who has learning difficulties. Adolf is recruited as a spy to take part in a plot to set off a bomb in Greenwich, but things go horribly wrong.

I have also read Heart of Darkness by Conrad which I found incredibly difficult to read, but I wanted to try another of his novels to see whether it was that particular book or his style of writing. The Secret Agent has confirmed that his writing is not for me! It’s very dense and difficult to follow, however it did get a little easier the further into the story I read. I think the fact that I had watched the recent BBC adaptation also made things easier!

I’m glad I gave his writing another try, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up anymore of his novels.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind is the first novel in the Kingkiller chronicles, and it is the beginning of the story of a character called Kvothe.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. When I first started reading I was hooked, and I enjoyed the writing, Kvothe’s life running a tavern and his mysterious past and the strange spider-like creatures. When Kvothe begins to tell the story of his life to the chronicler who comes to his tavern, I also enjoyed the first part of his backstory, his childhood, his introduction to magic and especially the history and myths regarding the Chandrian. However, gradually the pace slowed down hugely and it dragged. Things did pick up a little towards the end but not enough.

I also found Kvothe highly annoying as a character. He was good at everything and came across as arrogant. Other characterisations were frustrating too, like Dana. She is only ever really described for her looks, and every man seems to find her irresistible and it isn’t clear at all why. She seems to lead so many men on.

Elements of the writing are very good, especially considering that this is Rothfuss’ debut novel. Some descriptions are fantastic but sometimes there were too many, and too much detail. The narrative was also repetitive at times – we are reminded constantly that Kvothe lacks money.

I think I felt cheated while reading this novel, as the story that is hinted at near the beginning isn’t what’s included. It felt like an incredibly long introduction to what will eventually be the main story. I may continue with the series but I definitely need a break! Also from what I’ve read the next novel in the series is more backstory, so maybe I’ll wait until the narrative finally reaches Kvothe’s present day.

Holding – Graham Norton

When human remains are discovered by a construction company that is preparing farmland for housing, several secrets in Duneen in rural County Cork begin to be revealed. What happened to Tommy Burke? Was he really seen getting on a bus leaving town 20 years ago? Or is he the body?

This is a fair debut novel by Graham Norton, and it’s a fun and relaxing read. I particularly enjoyed his characterisation, especially Sergeant PJ Collins. I did however guess a few of the twists, which doesn’t usually happen when I read a mystery!

Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders is in many ways an homage to the classic whodunits. It contains two mysteries – the first being in the manuscript of a novel written by Alan Conway, starring his detective Atticus Pund. When Conway dies suddenly, his editor at Cloverleaf Books, Susan Ryeland, realises that the final chapters of the manuscript are missing, and believing that this is somehow linked to Conway’s death, she decides to play detective herself.

There are plenty of red herrings and twists and turns in both stories. The Atticus Pund story is very much a parody of an Agatha Christie novel, and it is very intelligently written by a very skilful author. This is the first novel I have read by Anthony Horowitz and I definitely want to read more.

The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic is the first novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and it describes the adventures of the wizard Rincewind, the tourist Twoflower and his case, ‘The Luggage’.

I’ve only read one other book in the Discworld series so far (Going Postal), and when I was researching where to start with the series I read several reviews mentioned that The Colour of Magic isn’t the best place to start, as it isn’t the easiest plot to follow and not Pratchett’s best writing. I would have to agree that it is a little confusing at times, but it was nice to have a little background to the world having read another story in the series. There were some humorous moments but I feel some of the satire went over my head with regards to references to other fantasy novels.

Overall it was nice to have some background information about Ankh-Morpork and the Discworld but I’m glad that I had read another book in the series previously.