Posted on March 17, 2007 by Flames
Written by Patrick Rothfuss
As reviewers, we are trained to assess the strength of a book by its readability as well as its marketability. In other words, we understand that the art of writing and publishing is also a business, and one that always seems to have many twists and turns. Sometimes, we read books that don’t seem to fit in one place or another, but the story is amazing. Other times, we read a book that when you’re done you know it should be found smack dab in the middle of the fantasy, horror, or science fiction section in your bookstore. Often, though, it becomes increasingly difficult to read a book that stretches beyond the boundaries of genre to simply be a “good book.”
The Name of the Wind is that book. It’s a book that, while set in a fantasy genre, takes you by the hand and it is only hours later when the sun has set and your eyes are weary from reading that you find yourself halfway through Kvothe, the main character’s, tale. Told in the first person, Rothfuss’ story is unassuming, quiet, and friendly. This is not an epic story; this is a story about a character that has loved and lost, hoped and feared, regretted and remembered. The writing is well done, the language is strong and comforting and real. You could very easily give this book to someone who normally didn’t like to read fantasy; you could lend the story to your teenage child, your grandmother, you friend.
Deep beneath the primary plot, as Kvothe recants his life’s story to a Chronicler, an undercurrent of persistent fear gnaws at you, because you know the bad guy is coming to settle a score with an older Kvothe, posing as Kote the Innskeeper, at his Inn. You hope that Kvothe will wake up and realize that he is, as he always will be, a legend that doesn’t die. Truth be told, there isn’t much plot movement in the main story, simply because the entire book takes place in about two or three days. Much of what you are told could be considered back story, done in such a way that you remember every character and know every place that Kvothe travels to.
Fantasy lovers will recognize the common themes that many authors bring to their novels. Magic, swords, alchemy, bards, faeries, religion, and nobility all make their appearance in this book. The magic is tangible; the process of “sympathy” is palpable as if magic were real in our own world. Realism is a key element to the story, for Rothfuss delves into the darker side to any society, the differences between poor and rich, crazy and sane, addicted and clean. While there is a message within these pages, it is not something that yells in your ear, it simply is. Kvothe explains what it is like to be poor, not by telling, but by showing. Much of what you’ll appreciate when you read The Name of the Wind will come from your own imagination as you place yourself within the pages of this novel to understand Kvothe’s poverty, bravado, grief, and youth.
If you are looking for something to keep you warm at night beneath your covers, or if you’re searching for a tale to immerse yourself in, this is the book for you. It’s a fast read, at well over 600 pages, and it echoes books that were once written to simply be “good” and not “mass-produced.” The ending may not satisfy you, as there are many mysteries yet to be revealed, but it is good enough. We can only hope that the second and third book in this trilogy will not suffer the trials and tribulations of over-processed marketing and the intent to sell a story so quickly it often reads as if it is unfinished.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli