By: Patrick Rothfuss
I’m not really sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. Perhaps it was the sheer size of it. Well over 250,000 words. I’m used to books of that nature being plodding and slow. But, I finished The Name of the Wind in about 10 days. 661 pages in 10 days… That’s pretty incredible to me. But, the book is very good. (thus it’s international bestseller status.)
I hem and haw with these reviews. Should I do the good first, or the bad? I don’t want to turn you off of the book, so I’ll start with the good.
This book is incredibly well written. The structure of it is amazing. It reads quickly and evenly. The characters are well done (mostly. see below.) and believable. Best of all, it isn’t just another rehashing of the same old fantasy story structure that we’ve seen before. That, above all else, is probably what gives it it’s bestseller status. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and found myself immersed in the world that Rothfuss created. Seldom does that truly happen. The book follows the adventures of Kvothe from his life in a traveling troupe through the death of his family and on into his years at the University studying to be an arcanist. Even more impressively, it’s all written in first person.
The worlds of the arcane/magic, and musical are beautifully melded together, and Rothfuss manages to describe all of it in wonderful detail without dragging the story to a halt.
The story it told as the main character, Kvothe, is retelling it to Chronicler, the scribe and jumps back to present for bits of the present. The first 50 pages or so are spent in the present, and I found myself lost for a while. That isn’t enough to deter me from reading a book. Luckily. I would have regretted it.
A few nitpicks. The women in the book are very well written, but are almost all written as girlish/childish. Which I suppose they are (about 15ish.) but then there are several places where they suddenly switch to using harsh language and acting much older. Perhaps Rothfuss meant it to be a revealing part of the hard life they’ve lived, but for me, it caused a hiccup in the reading.
Many of the plot points and many of the scenes from the University were reminiscent of another popular boy wizard. Young boy, whose parents died, finds himself at a University for magic folks where he routinely gets in trouble, breaks rules, and gets away with it. The majority of the book is a far cry from Harry Potter, but the thought did cross my mind, so it bears mention.
My last nitpick is that the main character seems affable enough most of the time, but will randomly become a very intimidating and violent person when he needs something done quickly or a negotiation isn’t going his way. I understand why it was there, and the actions were in fitting with the character, but the abrupt switch was sometimes jarring. Many times, when this switch occurred, there was little explanation from the character as to why he suddenly snapped. Perhaps I’m a bit too daft to pick up on some things, but it still seemed to break the flow somewhat.
Those nitpicks are exactly that. Nitpicks. If it hadn’t been for them this book would have gotten perfect marks from me. As it stands, it still is very near to a perfect book. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in fantasy novels. One caveat, however. The next book (which you’ll want to read) is currently still in the works and has no publishing date that I’m aware of. (B&N says May 2010, but it’s not even listed in Amazon.)