#SundayReview: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
For starters, let me begin by saying that nothing makes me feel more like an amateur than to publish my feelings on my favorite authors. I have this deeply rooted fear that one of them will read this and dismiss my review as inadequate. I don’t get as in depth with these as many review blogs. Honestly, all we’re trying to do with this blog is have a little fun and be people with all of you other people. I’m not a literary expert, and I don’t want to pick apart a novel or spoil the whole thing.
Glad we got that out of the way.
I found the Name of the Wind in a random and interesting way. I was perusing the book store, naturally gravitating toward my favorite section–sci-fi and fantasy, of course–when an odd and friendly woman interrupted my thoughts to ask if I needed help. I started to talk to her about how I was just browsing. She started to pick my brain about what I had enjoyed in the past. She asked if I had read anything by Patrick Rothfuss. When I confessed that I hadn’t, she got very excited and tugged me away to one of the displays. Based on what I had told her of my reading list and what she had said of hers, I was enthusiastic as well.
I walked out of there with eight books. When I got up to the counter and let them spill from my arms, the cashier and I exchanged a look. I told her I got, “[NAME]’d” (I wish I could remember that lady’s name…alas, my memory is terrible). The cashier chuckled and shook her head and totally understood.
I get tired of reading the same old tale over and over again, and the fantasy genre is thick with sameness. The Name of the Wind offered me something different. Refreshing. Almost real.
Love the cover.
The prologue is incredible. It’s poetic, yet grim. It sets the tone for the entire novel, and the writing is so fantastic that it had me excited right away. I found a brilliant writer. Yesssssss.
It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.
The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music .. . but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.
Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. They drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing this they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. It made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.
The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone hearth that held the heat of a long dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.
The man had true-red hair, red as flame. His eyes were dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things.
The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.
I mean…wow. What a way to begin a book.
What I Like
Another aspect that makes this book unique is something trifling and odd. It is written in two perspectives. There are times when it is written in third person, and times when it is written in first. It’s in third person during the book’s present timeline. The main character is telling his story to a traveling chronicler. When he is telling his story, it is in first person. Each book is a single day’s worth of storytelling. It’s intriguing…it’s two novels wrapped in one. I can see it in my mind’s eye like a classic film, much like how the Princess Bride was filmed, pulling in and out of the narrative but in a way that isn’t jarring.
I’m sure that they exist, but I don’t recall seeing books that shift between first/second/third person perspective. I find this decision from the author be be bold and impressive, though surely to him it was a move that just made sense.
I appreciate Kvothe’s flaws as a character. Kvothe is a young man with driving ambitions who doesn’t always think things through. He wants to have the power of Naming, and he wants the girl. Anything he has to do to earn them both is considered worth the consequence, even if he gets into some trouble along the way. I also appreciate how he sometimes has trouble refraining from making emotional decisions. He can be struck by the urge to get even and acts in the moment.
Despite his impetuous nature, he is brilliant and has natural talent in many skills. He is also generally kind and empathetic. Kvothe is a great character…easy to relate to and interesting to follow.
I also love the minor characters, particularly Auri and Kvothe’s friends. They were well-developed side characters that could probably have their own books. In fact, Auri got one.
I haven’t read this yet, but I know I need to.
What I Didn’t Love
Denna. I just don’t like her. I don’t like the way she plays her schemey games. I don’t like her use of subtlety and expectation. I don’t like how she disappears and reappears like no one’s feelings matter but her own. She strikes me as very selfish and unkind.
I’m sure that for the setting and her chosen life pathway, her behavior was probably smart and entirely appropriate. She has done a great job of remaining independent.
I just don’t like her. She’s the kind of woman I might have hated if I’d met her.
I loved The Name of the Wind because it provided me with a new and refreshing take on the fantasy genre. There wasn’t this massive grand scheme to fight the forces of evil. There wasn’t a Chosen One, overpowered magic, sword & sorcery. This book reads like fantasy that’s a real place. It’s just a kid who is trying to be somebody and isn’t ever sure that’s working out. It’s written beautifully and honestly.
Furthermore, since reading it I’ve learned that Patrick Rothfuss is a lovely person who cares deeply about the world and the people in it. I’ve mentioned Worldbuilders before, but I’ll bring it up again when the fundraising kicks into gear.
I definitely recommend this book. Currently reading its sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear. Loving it so far. Hopefully I can write up that review soonish.
Thanks for reading!
Check out our #SundayReview category every Sunday to find out what we are reading, watching, or learning about storytelling in all of its forms!