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Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of the Wind

September 7, 2008

109. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day 1

Length: 722 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Started: 02 September 2008
Finished: 06 September 2008

Summary: Kvothe has been many things over the course of his life: traveling player, street urchin, student, magician, swordsman, and hero. Now, however, he’s in retirement as an anonymous bartender in a tiny rural town, where none of his clients ever connect the quiet innkeeper with the Kvothe of legend. When he saves the the Chronicler from giant spider demons, though, Chronicler guesses at Kvothe’s true identity, and persuades him to tell his true life’s story. Kvothe agrees, but states that it will take three days. The Name of the Wind is the first day of storytelling, and covers the period from his childhood among a troupe of traveling players through his mid-teens, when he is a student at the University. Along the way he must face obstacles that are not much different from those faced by any precocious boy: poverty, hunger, bullies, dragons, harsh teachers, love, heartbreak, and the mysterious creatures called the Chandrian who murdered his parents.

Review: I’m having a hard time writing this review, I think because this book is suffering from a case of over-high expectations. Everything I’d heard from friends and online, not to mention the full five pages of blurbs at the beginning, led me to think that this book was going to be the second coming of the fantasy genre, that it was an orgasmically good read and that it was going to ruin all other fantasy books for me forever. And, while I certainly thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and have very few and very minor complaints about it, my socks were not particularly knocked off, and therefore I’m left feeling a little disappointed.

I don’t mean this review to come out sounding negative. I really, really enjoyed this book; it is as solid a piece of fantasy as I’ve read, and all the more impressive for being a debut novel. Many of the elements of the story are familiar fantasy tropes (there’s more than a hint of Star-Wars-ian pigboy parable to it, the school of magic setting is going to draw inevitable Harry Potter comparisons, and the idea of magic through knowing the true names of things is hardly a new idea), but they’re utilized in such a way that they work to the story’s benefit without feeling derivative, which is to Rothfuss’s credit. The writing ranges from inconspicuous to nicely poetic, the story moves through its 700 pages without dragging, and the characters are well-built and sympathetic. My only quibbles are that Kvothe occasionally acts (and thinks) much older than his fifteen years, and that because this is the first novel of a trilogy, it does have the feeling of a lot of build-up without an equivalent amount of pay-off. Still, I will be eagerly reading the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, when it comes out next April. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: For fantasy fans: Read it. It’s not the most original fantasy book I’ve ever read, but it is solidly and entirely enjoyable. For non-fantasy fans: I don’t know that this book would be my first pick for an entrĂ© into the genre, but it also wouldn’t be a terrible choice – it is an entertaining and well-told story, unhampered by most of the elements that tend to turn newbies off of fantasy.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Patrick Rothfuss’s Official Website, Patrick Rothfuss’s LibraryThing profile

Other Reviews: My real-life friend John wrote a guest review of this book a while back. Also see: The SF Site, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, The Book Book, A Dribble of Ink

First Line: It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

Vocab:

  • p. 217: ““You have a keen sense of defalcation.”” – misappropriation of money or funds held by an official, trustee, or other fiduciary.
    .
  • p. 292: “And it isn’t malfeasance if you give him your hair and watch him stick it on the mommet’s head.”” – more typically mammet: an idol; a puppet; a doll.
    .
8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2008 7:41 pm

    I had the same general feeling after reading this — too high expectations leading to slight disappointment. One minor quibble I had was that Rothfuss sometimes dwells overmuch on minute details. For example, I could have understood Kvothe’s money struggles without a constant accounting of every last coin he lost or gained. I definitely look forward to the rest of the trilogy though.

  2. September 8, 2008 8:51 am

    Laura – I didn’t really notice the conspicuous financial accounting while I was reading, at least not enough to bother me, but after the fact, you’re absolutely right. I don’t even know the contents of my own wallet as well as we know what’s in Kvothe’s!

  3. September 10, 2008 3:56 pm

    Obviously, I’m biased. That said, I can see the issue with the accounting; however, I attributed it to a truely poor person living in a wealthy world. I think that would make one keenly aware of their financial situation at every turn. My father came from the same rags-to-riches scenario (though he isn’t a wizard, either) and exhibits some of the same traits.

  4. Anna permalink
    January 15, 2009 12:11 am

    I really enjoyed this book but I felt that it’s overall structure didn’t quite work. Up until he gets into the university he has pretty much one motivation (to get into the university) but after that it splinters into a lot of sort of half-pie motivations – learn about the chandrian, learn the name of the wind, get that musician badge, pay back debt, get entrance to the archives ect.
    I felt that the climax came out of nowhere, and alot of other scenes felt like they could’ve done with more of a build-up e.g when he goes for his pipes (or whatever that muscian thingy was called) it was a really cool scene, but it was all over in one chapter, yes in previous chapters he was praticising, but he never mentioned what he was practicing for. I didn’t notice the issue with the accounting but it did bug me that he said about three times – If you’ve never been really poor you can’t understand (fill in action) – I wished he would just assume my imagination was capable and carry on with the story.

  5. May 19, 2011 1:08 am

    I read “The Name of the Wind” and “A Wise Man’s Fear” back-to-back, and I think the framework is rather clever, if not totally original. Each book encompasses one day of Kvothe telling his story to Chronicler. Kvothe insisted that he needs 3 days to tell his tale. I’m expecting a HUGE payoff in the third book!

Trackbacks

  1. December Wrap-Up « Fyrefly’s Book Blog
  2. Patrick Rothfuss – The Wise Man’s Fear « Fyrefly's Book Blog
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