I blame myself for procrastinating but that’s life. Mere hours after this post, I fell ill for several days.
I spent the last few days in the basement in the hope of not infecting my daughter and wife with the plague. I’m better now, but I feel like I’ve been run over by a large ugly truck.
On the other hand, writing while feverish is interesting to say the least, if not very productive. I still have to work on my short story, but I’ve got a treasure trove of new ideas when I’m done my current list of projects.
The upside is that I had a lot of time to read and I have to say that Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind did not disappoint.
Which leads me to my very first book review!
Kingkiller Chronicle Day One: The Name of the Wind
This series comes highly recommended from all corners. Several sources around me have mentionned it, several blogs touted it and a few authors I stalk online reviewed it.
Not one of these has said anything negative about it.
I won’t be the first. The Name of the Wind is a highly polished story. It’s a story within a story even. All of it good.
I think about it right now, trying to describe the book, I’m struck by how there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything I can tell you about it screams “It’s been done before!” Yes, it may all have been done before, and done well, but THIS book, well…goes beyond. It’s been a very long time since I’ve loved a story this much. A young boy tragically orphaned who attends a magical school? Done! Aging hero recounts his exploits? Done! Demons, sword and sorcery, young love and friendship do we have that? Yup. Hyper-competant hero? It’s there and it’s been done.
There’s a rule in writing. It’s ok if it’s been done before, as long as you do it well.
Patrick Rothfuss does it better than well.
I read this book in the time I was sick (3 days or so). It usually takes me 2 to 3 weeks these days to get through a normal manuscript. I didn’t just read, I devoured.
The Name of the Wind is the story of Kvothe, a legendary hero now under the cloak of an unassuming innkeeper named Kote. A chronicler (THE Chronicler) tracks down the hiding legend in order to get the real story behind the rumours and legends. In the background we have a world where war is growing nearer, taxes are rising and all manner of dark beasts and men stalk the paths. We find Kvothe (as Kote) running a small inn in a backwater village far out of the way of civilization.
Once unmasked by the chronicler, the real story of Kvothe begins as told by Kvothe the elder. The story itself deals with Kvothe’s childhood, his parents’ death at the hand of demons, his growing up as a homeless street urchin in a large city and finally his coming of age at The University. There are several points in the book where the narrative returns to the present-day inn allowing the reader to hear the legends (as talk in the inn) and compare that to what we’re told really happened from the horse’s mouth.
All of this is done in a very smooth, polished and relaxed writing style that is extremely engaging. The pacing is just right and keeps the book in your hand and reading to the end (I frequently found myself putting it down only because my iPhone needed charging). The poems and descriptions are just right. I found them quite artful and clever without being ponderous. I usually skip the poetry in fantasy epics, but I didn’t have the urge to do that here. That’s a rare thing for me.
In the end, reading Kingkiller Chronicle Day One: The Name of the Wind refreshed me in a way few books have lately.
It takes its place among the books that I can say I love.
Even if it does have stew in it.
Name of the Wind is one of my favorite books! it was really a game changer for me, when it came to enjoying traditional fantasy. I hate to call NOTW “traditional”, because it sure isn’t, but it does have some of the traditional fantasy elements: magic (of sorts), mythology, low technology world, and such.
now that you’ve devoured the first book, you asolutely MUST read the 2nd book in the series, Wise Man’s Fear. it’s even better than the first!
Don’t worry, I’ll be reading the second book VERY soon! I can’t wait!
I’m just sad that I’ll be stuck waiting for the one after THAT!
I think you are 100% right, I don’t think NOTW can be called “Traditional”. It’s too good for that and done in such a way that you’d really never see epic or heroic fantasy done. I find that so interesting because it’s loaded with “traditional” fantasy fare and Rothfuss puts it all together in such a way that it feels new and fresh and GOOD!
It’s a rare thing in a fantasy book. It’s a rare thing in ANY genre book!
I love fantasy in general and for me, NOTW isn’t a game changer necessarily, but it certainly raises the bar on how I rate OTHER fantasy books!
I was always of and SF and magical realism gal. before NOTW, the closest I got to reading “fantasy” was urban fantasy, magical realism – Charles deLint, Steven Brust, stuff like that. after I read Rothfuss, I found myself much more interested in more contemporary traditional (oxymoron??) fantasy.
Rothfuss ignores all the rules of writing fantasy. He just tells a story, and tells it good.