Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review 2011 #4 - Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Paperback, 722 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Chronicler stumbles upon Kvothe one night and recognizes the man of legend who is now hiding behind a bar and a different identity. Kvothe, or Kote as his is now known, has agreed to tell his story to Chronicler. It will take three days to tell the stories as it should be told in Kvothe's own words, this is the first. Beginning with his childhood with the Edema Ruh, performers and travelling gypsies, he learns to sing and act and play music. After a time the troupe picks up Abenthy, a sympathist, who learned his magics at The University, and knows the name of the wind. Abenethy becomes Kvothes teacher for a time, regaling him of tales of The University and the library, where all the books in the world are held. Soon Abenethy leaves to continue his own life, Kvothe hoping to one day follow his path and learn the name of the wind. Kvothe's parents have been working on a new song, an epic pieced together from story and myth about the Chandrian. The boogie men of their world. Boogie men who happen to be real and don't want a bunch of Ruh singing about them. Kvothe's troupe is massacred. Kvothe was out in the woods and comes back to the end of his world.

Going to Tarbean, he spends years on the street as a beggar, till one day he hears a new story about the Chandrian and realizes that he must start again. He musters the resources and heads to The University, meeting the beautiful Denna on the way. He is able to finagle his way into school, but not without first making an enemy of the wealthy student Ambrose, who is able to trick Kvothe into breaking the rules of the library and is therefore banned. Despite this limitation and his obvious insolence and inability to recognize authority, Kvothe loves school. He also slowly starts to love Denna. He risks it all though when rumors reach his ears that the Chandrian might be near. Kvothe has to choose between avenging his past and seizing his future. He's still only a kid, so his future might have to wait. His future that will end up behind a bar, waiting to die. But hopefully Chronicler will awaken the desire to live in Kote.

The Name of the Wind could been seen to be part Harry Potter, part Tom Brown's School Days, with a little George R. R. Martin thrown in with the slightest dash of Terry Pratchett. But people who set up this comparison fail to realize, that while there are correlations, Partick Rothfuss has transcended these to create a unique world all his own. Comparison is useless when you read a book so effortlessly itself. So funny and unique and wonderfully written that it flows. As I was reading it I kept thinking, why isn't there more humor in other books of this ilk. The humor made me connect with the narrative, made me part of the story, versus an outsider. Making someone laugh is the surest way to create complicity. Me and Kvothe, we're now on this little quest together. A quest that makes up one of the three parts of this book.

The three parts, the past, the present and the quest. We get Kvothe's orgin story, as it where, growing up in the loving arms of the Edema Ruh, which is harshly taken away from him and his early days at The University. We get his present as barkeep and his quest for the Chandrian. While we need to see where he came from to realize how far he has come, I felt that the harshness of Tarbean could have been avoided if he had gone in search of Abenthy. Couldn't he have written a letter? I know so much is character flaws, many of which made me shout at him, such as his continuing taunts of Ambrose. Yes, I know Kvothe can't hear me, that doesn't mean I'm not banging my head against the wall hoping against hope that this time he'll learn. And while I'm curious to know how he ended up in a little bar with a demon as his BFF, I assume it has to do with the whole "Kingkiller" part of the these chronicles. It's the Chandrian that I was desperate for. I was glad that Denna was worked into that story in a way so that Kvothe mooning over her might have some actual purpose. Thing is though... I want the answers now. I do want them to be played out over the books, but can't the books all be done already?


I am DYING to know more about the Chandrian too! Patrick Rothfuss definitely has me on the hook waiting for more.

I KNOW! And the very little hints we got in the second book. I can't wait. Write faster Patrick!

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