GUEST REVIEW: Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of the Wind
Something new for me… but I’m very excited to present my first guest review! My friend John is a somewhat of a… discerning reader, shall we say? Not quite enough to start up http://www.johnhateseverything.com, but it’s become an interesting challenge for me to keep him supplied with books that I think he would enjoy. He recently borrowed my copy of Patrick Rothfuss’s first novel, The Name of the Wind (which I haven’t had the chance to read yet… hrmph), and he can’t stop raving about it… so, without further ado, here’s his review!
Length: 722 pages
Rating: 6 stars! (out of 5)
Started: 20 July 2008
Finished: 22 July 2008
Summary: Kvothe—genius, troubadour, arcanist (an amalgamate of sorcerer, physician, scientist, and artisan), and innkeeper—reluctantly agrees to spend three days dictating the accurate and unvarnished story of his adventures to a wandering scribe, whose life he has just saved from a pack of demonic spiders.
Review: THIS BOOK IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD, Y’ALL!! Unfortunately, that simple exclamation is what I keep coming back too every time I try to write this review. The writing is superb, and makes you feel as if you’re in the story. The characters are three dimensional in a way that seems natural and unforced. The love story is exactly what you would expect a realistic teenage love story to be: awkward and full of longing, with a liberal dose of angst. The world seems alive and dynamic. The pacing is relentless, but not anxious. It tastes great, but is less filling. But so what?! Why does this book get 6 stars?!
The answer is—it just does. Describing this book is like describing music or the color blue. I can tell you how they make me feel, but unless you’ve heard the song or seen the color, then anything I say will pale by comparison.
I identified with the character on a really personal level (not saying that I’m a genius, though [Ed: but apparently John is a sorcerer?]). The level of realism was refreshing compared to all the Tolkien-esque books and Urban “angels and demons around every corner” Fantasy that I’ve read recently. Kvothe’s obstacles aren’t initially demons and monsters (those come later…sort of), but bullies, financial hardship, and the romantic failings of adolescent boys, which are legendary anyway. It seems the thing he needs to become a great hero isn’t his intellect (which is often both his greatest asset and his greatest hindrance) or a magic sword, but wisdom, which can only come from experience. I also liked the idea of the hero dictating an autobiography after the journey is over. There’s a level of introspection in that most fantasy and sci-fi lacks. Also, Patrick Rothfuss does the best job of describing music and musicians that I’ve ever read. Ever. If you’re a musician—and I am—you’ll understand.
Should you read this book? Yes and no. Yes because of all the reasons above and more. No, because it has very nearly ruined fantasy fiction for me in the same way that Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces (which you also should and shouldn’t read) nearly did.
This is the first in the Kingkiller Chronicles; the second, The Wise Man’s Fear, is due in April of 2009.
Fyrefly here. I’ll eventually get around to reading this as well – it is definitely near the top of Mt. TBR – and I’ll see if I have anything to add. But, for the meantime, it sounds pretty darn good for anyone who likes fantasy… and while John and I don’t always agree on books, if he likes something, it’s got to be worth checking out. :)