Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Read Lately: The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

  • For the last couple years, several people have told me that I should read The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. My reasons for not doing so are two-fold. First, I discovered Raymond Chandler a while back and have been stuck in the mystery and crime fiction genre ever since. Second and more important, fantasy is a broken genre for me. When I was younger, fantasy was all I read. And I read a lot of bad fantasy. But I did read some good stuff too. Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn stood head and shoulders above the mass-produced flood of titles. Then George R. R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire came out and set the bar so high for fantasy that I haven't been able to really enjoy another book in the genre since.

  • The Name Of The Wind had me hooked by page eleven.

  • With this book, Patrick Rothfuss has created a world and a character that is immediately appealing to my personal sensibility. You can see from the start that his main character is larger than life. At the same time, from the very first page we see that Kvothe (like quothe) is a haunted man. The descriptions of Kvothe and the silence that permeates him as well as the entire book set a grave tone.

  • I told my wife that I started worrying about the book at around page fifty. After a gripping first few chapters, the novel turns to retelling the story of the main character's youth. I'm pretty sure I rolled my eyes at this point. I don't know how many times I've read about the boy child learning magic at the foot of his master. Too many, to be sure. Thankfully, instead of devolving entirely into cliché, Rothfuss takes the story through a dramatic redirection fitting the tone he established earlier. Once over that rough patch (which is more likely my problem instead of the book's), I enjoyed to story clear to the end.

  • This retelling of Kvothe's life takes place over the course of three days within the frame story, with each day a book in the trilogy. The retelling has a high point, but it definitely comes to a screeching halt without much resolved as we run out of pages. To mask this, Rothfuss gives the framing story a tension all its own that serves as a fine backbone for the main story being told. I'm secretly hoping the final book gives us more about this current Kvothe after learning how he became the man he is.

  • Anyone with a high standard for fantasy fiction needs to look no further than Patrich Rothfuss and The Name Of The Wind. If you are as burned out by the genre as I am, this novel will welcome you back gladly.

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