Friday, May 4, 2012
Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Tags: fantasy, boarding school, music
At the unassuming and immaculate inn just out of town, you’d never expect to find a contemporary legend in the quiet, red-haired, green-eyed innkeeper. But he is Kvothe, and when he finally tells his true story for the first time, it is one of love and loss, childhood inquisitiveness and hard-knock-life resilience, boarding school pranks and events that will change the course of the world. You don’t believe in magic? You’ve never heard Kvothe tell his own story.
You’ve all felt it at one point or another. The desire. The craving. The urge to go to bed with a book. The new hardcover whose jacket you’ve taken off for safekeeping; falling asleep with one hand splayed over its naked, embossed cover. An old favorite, its edges worn and soft to the touch; it fits perfectly in the space beside you on your wrinkled sheets.
At around 700 pages, THE NAME OF THE WIND is the perfect shape and story to sleep with.
(At least, I assume it would be, as I read this on an e-reader.)
Even without the tangible reassurance of a physical copy, THE NAME OF THE WIND easily slid into its position as my new favorite book. Somewhere in an alternate universe, J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin had a literary lovechild, who somehow stowed away on a ship bound for Earth, assumed the human name of Patrick Rothfuss, and, after wandering, bard-like, through many years of higher education, discovered the secret to turning words and ideas into gold.
Remember those sleepaway camps and public library programs you attended when you were young, the ones where the performer would gather you and the other kids round the sleepy campfire or colorful hand-sewn rug? Remember how, at first, you were suspicious of this stranger with the odd hair or scruffy beard or clothing that audibly ruffled whenever he shifted positions? Remember how his voice sounded unfamiliar at first, unlike the dulcet tones of your own parents telling you bedtime stories? And then remember how, before you knew it, you were so far immersed into the story you forgot who was telling it and found yourself leaning forward, hanging on to his every mesmerizing word?
That’s kind of how THE NAME OF THE WIND was for me. The third-person beginning section was a little awkward, as I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about this Kote/Kvothe character. But as Kvothe stretched out his long-unused storytelling muscles and the book eased its loving way into first-person narration, I found myself as entranced as Chronicler and Bast were, sitting in that inn and listening to the never-before-told story of a contemporary legend.
He has a sexy voice, what can I say?
I could mention some minor quibbles I had with the book, like Kvothe’s unfortunate near-“perfect-ness,” or how Denna skirts the edge of geeky-adolescent-boy’s MPDG wet dream, but it totally and completely doesn’t even matter because don’t you know that the greatest artists can break all the rules? THE NAME OF THE WIND is an epic novel, part memoir, part boarding school tale, part wild adventure, and I just know that Kvothe’s world is only going to expand from here in future installments. Recommended for anyone and everyone anywhere—except for maybe that hipster classmate of yours with the I-just-got-out-of-bed-no-really-I-just-did messy hair and black Free Trade coffee perpetually in hand who refuses to read anything that hasn’t won the Nobel, Pulitzer, or Man Booker Prize. But who wants to be reading buddies with them anyway?
J. K. Rowling
George R. R. Martin
J. R. R. Tolkien
DAW / April 7, 2009 (reprint) / Paperback / 672pp. / $17.00