Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This is a gorgeous blog post on the rapture of reading:


Next, I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss over the holiday weekend, and was pleasantly surprised and delighted by the marvelous storytelling found within this hefty tome.

I was not expecting to like this book, having recently been burned by Justin Cronin's The Passage, another hefty SF/F tome that has gotten some serious buzz. Fortunately, Mr. Rothfuss can actually write, and has an intense prose style that is modern and crisp/concise without the stink of too much testosterone and sexist twaddle, like Hemingway or the aforementioned Cronin. (The guy who wrote "Fight Club" and the guy who wrote "Little Children" both have written fiction that reeks of testosterone poisoning).

The Name of the Wind is the tale of Kvothe, a legendary figure who was part scholar, wizard, warrior and troubador. Having gone into hiding by working as a pub owner in a small village, Kvothe (called Kote) and his student Bast, who is a disguised satyr, are trying to fade into obscurity when some monsters from his past make an appearance and a scribe, called Chronicaller shows up to ask Kvothe for the real story of his past. Only after his identity is in danger of being revealed does Kvothe sit back and regale his student and the scribe with the story of how he came to be a legend.

The book alternates between short and long chapters, in which we learn through the excellent storytelling abilities of Kvothe (and Rothfuss, of course) about his childhood with a traveling acting/singing troupe, his parents death at the hands of the Chandrian, a mythical group of beings who are actually quite real, and his admission to the University at a young age, where he soon makes a name for himself and cuts a swathe through the academic's BS like a hot knife through butter. Fascinating side characters are revealed, and the reader gets a clear view of the realities of Kvothes struggles and triumphs, which are both more and less than the legends that spring from them.

This was the kind of novel that I end up staying up until 2 am to finish, because I just HAVE to find out what happens to the protagonist, or I won't be able to sleep. Though it is obvious that the story of Kvothe is far from over, I was happy to note that Rothfuss didn't leave his readers hanging at the end, but instead brought the story to a natural conclusion, one that will seque nicely into the next phase of the story.

I'd recommend this wonderful book to those who love Jim Butchers Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files) series, or those who like Tolkien-style fantasy that isn't quite as fussy and full of endless details. The Name of the Wind gets a solid A.

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