Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My friend Jacki at Lovely Little Shelf has been recommending this book to our online book club for at least a year now, probably longer.  I've always been iffy on it because I'm not really a fan of high fantasy, but I was given a copy recently in a book exchange, so I decided I'd try it out.  And it turns out that, as usual, Jacki was spot on with the recommendation and I now have a new favorite book.

I'm not going to even try to give a detailed summary because there is way too much to give away.  Briefly, the book is told as a story within a story - We are introduced to Kvothe as "Kote" a humble innkeeper, but we soon learn his real identity.  He is in hiding, but a scribe named Chronicler manages to find him and convince him to share his legendary story.  The story takes three days to tell and each book in the series represents one day.  The Name of the Wind is the first in the trilogy and introduces us to Kvothe and Chronicler, as well as the beginning of Kvothe's story.

Stunning.  I'm so impressed with Rothfuss's writing.  I was completely caught up in the story, but the writing is equally impressive.  Not a single flaw to complain about and several amazing aspects to highlight:
  • World building:  Rothfuss does it better than any other authors I've read.  I believe Kvothe's world and the people who live in it.  And the details he has constructed are amazing.  The religion, the history, the socio-economic relations, the languages, and even the magic are all perfectly coherent and integrated.  There wasn't a moment in the book that I found contradictory or out of place.
  • Epic writing: That's not a real term, but I can't think of a better way to say it.  If an author is going to write a book over 700 pages and follow it up with a sequel of over 900 pages, the book better be interesting.  And Rothfuss has created an epic story that doesn't drag.  There aren't slow moments or passages that make me want to peek ahead.  I actually got teary about halfway through the book when I realized it was going to end.  I'd compare Rothfuss to Tolkien, but my Tolkien loving friends would get their feelings hurt.  Yeah, it's that good.
  • Characters: I LOVE the characters.  Like the world Rothfuss has created, the characters are absolutely believable.  They are all flawed and unlikable at times (some more of the time than others) but even the bad guys (with the exception of the Chandrian) have sufficient motivation for their actions that the reader finds them sympathetic at times. 
  • And speaking of the Chandrian:  Holy moly.  Talk about some amazing villains.  The children's rhyme about the Chandrian seriously had me totally creeped out.  I think they are some of the creepiest villains I've ever read.
I can't say enough about how amazing this book is, both in terms of writing and entertainment value.  I will say that it took me around 150 pages to really get into it.  Not that I wasn't enjoying it before then, but I wasn't obsessed.  But I was just telling Bestie how it was literally like a turn of the page and I was into it.  One page I was iffy, the next page I was hooked.  And once it starts, it doesn't stop.  I read it during every spare second I had - on my lunch, as soon as I got home from work, until I went to bed, and before I left for work in the mornings. 

The best thing to me is that there are so many aspects of the book to love.  It reminded me of It by Stephen King in that way - not any of the plot of course, but just the stories within the stories.  So much detail and so rich in character, setting, and plot development.

Honestly, I think this book may have knocked two of my top three favorites out of the running.  It's up there with Till We Have Faces in terms of amazing-ness.  I got The Wise Man's Fear (day two of the story) in the mail yesterday and I cannot wait to sit down and read it tonight!


  1. Thanks for the review - I'll look out for this one.

  2. :-(

    I want to read this because everyone is talking about it and I feel left out. Stupid me added it to my wishlist for elfster but I'm dying to buy it

  3. I loved this book as well! Wise Man's Fear might be even better. I agree with you though. Tolkien has definitely got some competition from Patrick Rothfuss.

  4. I'm so, so, so glad that you enjoyed it! I think that you'll like #2 as much if not more!

  5. I'm so happy you loved it!
    I need to pry Wise Man's Fear out of Frenchie's hands so I can read it.

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  7. High fantasy deals with an entirely different world than what we know. It can be a parallel universe (Narnia), a separate world within this world (Harry Potter), or its own unique world that exists independently of our own (Middle Earth). As opposed to regular fantasy, which might feature mopey vampires who attend high school. In a high fantasy, the world has its own rules, traditions, geography, and history; as opposed to fantasy where magic exists but is an addition to what we know of the world.

    High fantasy is also usually epic and typically focuses on one main character and his or her struggle against evil, supernatural forces. And it's more likely to be a saga or series.

    I'm actually not a fan of much fantasy at all - high or low. I just think unicorns and wizards and elves and it's not my thing.

    Ben, I think you would really enjoy this one! My copy is currently loaned out, but I'd be happy to lend it to you when I get it back!

    Crystal - I see this book in your near future.

  8. sigh! yes...I know I must read it. Just 300 more pages to go of the last of the Millenium Series and I am ON IT!

  9. This sounds like an interesting book; I might have to pick it up. I'm not usually into Fantasy but I've read a summary and I think I could like it!