Book Review: The Name of the Wind

I know, I know, I promised it a while back.  Apologies!

Let’s start with a little backstory on how I found the book:  someone, somewhere, linked to a story on Patrick Rothfuss’ blog about saving a duck family.  I read the post and gleed, and from there clicked around his site.  He had an excerpt from The Name of the Wind up, and I read it.

And lo, I said to myself, “I must read this book.”

I bought it, and it sat at the top of my to-be-read pile.  And sat, and sat, and sat.  Not because I didn’t want to read it — quite the contrary!  Because I wanted to be able to sit down and read it without interruption.  Work-reading tends to take priority, and while we have some stellar things coming out, I don’t always have a lot of time to read from other lists.  I feel vaguely guilty when I take a break from our stuff.  Notable exceptions are, say, a new George RR Martin title, or other things equally as big on the “oh god if I don’t read this someone’ll spoil it for me” list.

So, The Name of the Wind sat on my pile for several months, until we stole away to Aruba.  Even then, I didn’t get to start it until the plane ride home (look, I brought a pile with me.)

But I read it! And it was good!

(I’m a lazy reviewer if I leave it at that, aren’t I?)

It’s a frame story, which is interesting — the majority of the book is Kvothe dictating his own adventures to a man named Chronicler, who wants to set down his tale.  The deal is, Chronicler has to give him three days to tell it, and has to set it down exactly as the legend-turned-innkeeper spins it.  The first day of the tale takes us up through his fifteenth year, or thereabouts.  Funny thing is, as much as I enjoyed reading about Kvothe’s childhood — the worldbuilding is excellent, and the rules of magic are complex — with every interlude that brought us back to the present, I found myself wanting to know what’s happening now. Kvothe’s present-day companions are great fun.  I’m intrigued by Bast, and very much hoping that his part in Kvothe’s past is recounted in the second book.

There were times in Kvothe’s narrative where the tale meandered a bit — late in the book, there’s an encounter with a draccus (big, dragon-like lizard) that felt like it went on for too long — even though I understand most of what felt long-winded to me was indeed setting up for something that would be important later on.  I wasn’t nearly as in love with Denna as Kvothe was.  She is the love-interest who seems to come and go from young Kvothe’s life like the wind he’s trying so hard to name, but I just couldn’t find it in me to be as enchanted by her as Kvothe was.  Reuben made a good point, though, when we were discussing it — this is his first love.  He’s only fifteen.  So what seems unappealing to us is of course a much bigger deal to him.

Still, I’m hoping if there’s more of Denna in the second book, that she’ll reveal some of her secrets and flesh out a bit.

Aside from Denna, though, the secondary characters reeled me in, from Kvothe’s companions at the University to the mysterious and deadly Chandrian, Rothfuss has a great eye for his supporting cast.  Especially Bast.  Have I mentioned him yet?

All in all, if you’re looking for good new fantasy to immerse yourself in while you’re waiting for the next Martin or Lynch or Abercrombie, give The Name of the Wind a try.

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