The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind  - Patrick Rothfuss I hope my own take on a review for The Name of the Wind won't come across as biased or overly flippant. It's been too long since I've dropped myself into a good fantasy book.

Patrick Rothfuss writes wonderfully, in my opinion. It's sharp and clear enough to follow easily, eloquent and flowing enough to show us clearly what's going on without dragging anything out too much. Some parts lacked this a little and came off as a tad bland, but not usually for long. I rarely lost track of what I was reading, or had to skip back for anything more than to check the spellings of names.

There are only a handful of characters, but that works in favour of the story. He focuses on these few instead of swamping us with more people than we can shake a stick at, rounding them out and giving them actual character. For the first time in...possibly forever, I actually enjoyed female characters and looked forward to reading more of them. I love stories that focus on this rather than action, and this hugely appealed to me very early on and really helped drive me into the book. Ended up messing my sleeping patterns up just to catch another hundred pages for the past few nights, too.

Totally worth it, though.

More rambling review sort of thing below the spoiler. Better not read if you don't want to risk...well, spoiling.

As I mentioned, it really didn't take long at all for the characters to grab a hold of me and drag me kicking and screaming into the book. I picked up The Name of the Wind as a bit of a break, a nice treat for myself while I sigh my way through a personally less interesting series. I deliberately tried not to find out too much about it beforehand - I like diving headlong into stories with a clear mind. I didn't really know what to expect, and therefore expected nothing. Of course, I'd been recommended the book by my boyfriend who, frankly, was getting rather fangirly over it.

It took less than 50 pages to be actively interested in the characters, wanting to know more about them and each of their stories. To be honest, not much happens until Kvothe starts telling his story, but I loved it. Action rarely does anything for me - fantastical mystery, developing characters and imminent potentials do. I loved how long it took for the intro to conclude, and I loved that it was a story about a story.

There is action, for people who enjoy that sort of thing, but perhaps not enough to satisfy those who really strive for it in their books. The action that did show up really grabbed me at some parts, and of course this is when I ended up staying far too late to be considered healthy just in order to know the outcome.

The one scene that actually set my heart thumping, forcing me to put the book down a few times and hop around like an idiot until some of the anxiety cleared, was not really an action one. Kvothe, with his second-hand, slightly shabby lute, stepping up for his piping performance at the Eloian. We knew how risky his song of choice would be, even with a practised female vocal for the harmony, and here he was risking his name and money by hoping somebody from the crowd would step up during the song and join him. For a song that his parents, both well described when it came to their skills in music, had only performed a small handful of times. I remember needing to stop and pace again when one of his strings snapped during the performance. I was positively buzzed off of that one scene alone.

One thing I'm sure will have been mentioned in negative reviews (negatives are my favourite food for thought after reading a good book) is that Kvothe is, without a doubt, prodigious. His greatest asset is his phenomenal intelligence, and exactly what he can do with it. Especially at the University, where much of the story takes place. He blazes his way through the admissions, managed to get the University to pay for his initial tuition rather than the other way around, and instantly makes a name for himself because of his young age.

These sorts of characters tread dangerous grounds. Beautiful, intelligent, amazing characters who can do no wrong and somehow excel in whatever they attempt are unfortunately far too common in fantasy. I desperately try to only use the term Mary Sue/Gary Stu only ever when it is properly due, so I imagine when I sift through the negative reviews I'll see it crop up a few times.

Kvothe is not one, in my opinion. Why? Because he is smart, but he is also a smart-ass. He is intelligent but often arrogant. He knows when to push his boundaries, but steps over them far too often. For all his sharpness and cunning, he is remarkably stupid at times, either over-thinking things or treating them far more fantastically than the stark reality and simplicity of the situation calls for.

He makes plenty of mistakes, and gets hurt multiple times in more than one way. He dances with fire, thinking he can't get burned even as the heat is blistering his skin. He also learns from many of these, remembering the experiences and drawing on them later on. The ones he doesn't learn from don't sit idly, always returning to snarl and yip at him until his ankles are raw and bloody. Like with Ambrose.

My favourite character. For some reason this wasn't difficult for me. I enjoyed them all, and some of them stood out to me far more than others, but from the get-go I was entirely sure in my awareness of which one I favoured over the rest:

'You'll have to promise me,' a red-eyed Simmon said seriously,'That you will never play that song again without warning me first. Ever.'

'Was it that bad?' I smiled giddily at him.

'No!' Simmon almost cried out. 'It's...I've never--' He struggled, wordless for a moment, then bowed his head and began to cry hopelessly into his hands.

Dammit, Sim, you're just too precious. ♥