The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as...

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Title:The Name of the Wind
Author:Patrick Rothfuss
Rating:
ISBN:075640407X
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:662 pages

The Name of the Wind Reviews

  • Patrick
    Feb 19, 2008

    I kinda liked this book. But my opinion on the matter probably shouldn't be trusted....

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    Apr 16, 2008

    This is why I love fantasy so much. After a recent string of okay fantasy novels, a couple of good ones but nothing to get really excited about, I've rediscovered my passion thanks to this book. I'm so impressed, and so in love, I can't begin to describe it. But I can try to give you a feel for the book, if I can figure out where to start and how to do justice to this masterpiece.

    Kvothe (pronounced like "Quothe") is a world-renowned figure of mystery with a disreputable reputation - a hero or a

    This is why I love fantasy so much. After a recent string of okay fantasy novels, a couple of good ones but nothing to get really excited about, I've rediscovered my passion thanks to this book. I'm so impressed, and so in love, I can't begin to describe it. But I can try to give you a feel for the book, if I can figure out where to start and how to do justice to this masterpiece.

    Kvothe (pronounced like "Quothe") is a world-renowned figure of mystery with a disreputable reputation - a hero or a demon depending on which stories you hear. The real man has hidden himself away at an inn in the middle of nowhere with his apprentice Bast - we know not why - and it's not until the Chronicler discovers him there that he shows any interest in reliving his past life. Insisting that his story will take three days to tell, and that the famous chronicler must write it down exactly as he tells it, he begins to share his story: a child genius growing up with his parents' troupe, performing plays and tricks across the land while being taught "sympathy" (magic), history, chemistry etc. by a tinker, Abenthy, who had been to the University; to ending up homeless and penniless on the streets of Treban, a big port city. It's not until he's fifteen that he makes it to the University, and is accepted, though he's three years younger than is usual. Abenthy has taught him well, and combined with his impressive memory, natural talent, quick intelligence and training, he moves quickly up the ranks of the university.

    There are many adventures and mishaps along the way, and while some plotlines come to a tidy end at the close of this novel, over-arching plotlines and themes have been given a solid foundation to continue on into the next books. It took a surprisingly long time for me to realise the connection between the number of days he will take to tell his story, and that this is "Day One" in the trilogy - it's told over the course of the first day. The only thing is, he's young yet (Chronicler judges him to be about 25, though at times he looks infintely older), and there are things happening in "real time" that intrude upon the story, that will need to be resolved I think - so while I have every confidence Rothfuss has excellent control over his creation, I would love more than three books :)

    I can't think of the last time I was this impressed by any story, let alone a fantasy novel. I won't compare it to bloody George R.R. Martin like everyone else is doing because I don't see that they have anything in common, really - one is a work of pure genius and the other is utter crap. Comparing them only heightens my dislike of

    . In truth, it's simply a marketing strategy to compare new books to ones that are already really popular, in order to draw in a well-established audience.

    This

    an epic fantasy - epic in scope - but it's also a

    , a story of a person's life, a life journey (including the quiet moments), which I love. The character development is ludicrously good. The world-building is solid, believable and original - there're enough new elements to keep your interest, but not so many that you get confused and overwhelmed: a perfect balance. The design of "sympathy" is original and unique, and makes so much sense that I'm half-surprised it doesn't really work. It's complicated enough to not be trite, but one basic premise is the connection between things, the sympathy they have with each other - if you broke a branch in two, the two halves would still have a connection, like sharing the exact same DNA, and so if you control one half you affect the other half. Same with two pennies of the same metal, so that, if you were holding one and someone holding the other and they worked a "binding" on their half, and, say, lifted it in the air, then your penny would also lift. It's fabulous! It's an intellectual kind of magic, not a "wave the wand" type. It takes knowledge, concentration and effort, so in effect, anyone could learn.

    As for the characters and their growth, I am so impressed and so in love I will no doubt do a bad job of expressing it. While Kvothe's story is told in his voice, first person, the present day interludes are told in third person omniscient, but usually from certain characters' points of view. You get a mix of other people's impressions of characters, and a gentle showing that tells us even more. The genius is in how Kvothe is portrayed: while telling the story, himself as a young boy, already having experienced tragedy and sorrow and despair, and already feeling the weight of worldly concerns, but still with a lot to learn, comes across strongly. This is counter-balanced with Kvothe as a man, having been through all that and more and had it shape him into something subtly different, yet still very much the same person. If it had been written poorly, there would have been discord between the two Kvothes, but there isn't. He has so much charisma, and is such a complex sort, that I really felt for him. I may even have a bit of crush, actually. He's not good or evil, but he's suffering from a conscience: he's very human, and lonely, despite the friendship of Bast. At the same time, he's a god-like figure, an amazing musician, a skilled fighter, and a powerful magician. One moment he's commanding and chillingly masterful, the next he's doing Bast's bidding and fetching food and cutting wood for others. I expect it's his contradictions and complexities that draw me to him.

    The writing style is smooth, the pacing just right (though the first few chapters take a while to get you into the story, you still need to read them closely because there're a lot of details in them), and the prose isn't cluttered with boring, irrelevant descriptions or pointless details. It's a fat book and a long story, but it flies by. While it needed better proofreading - there were a lot of problems with dialogue punctuation; there were a few lazy typos; he never once used a semicolon when he should have; and he always used "lay" instead of "laid" (but hey, at least he was consistent) - the prose itself is engaging, often humorous, detailed but not overly so, and never boring. I also loved the little songs and ditties that are included, and the stories within Kvothe's story.

    Likewise, the way he doles out the various plots, revealing and hinting at the right moments, building up tension and anticipation, giving clues that start to coalesce into a stunning picture, is, frankly, impressive. The supporting cast, while not as fully explored as Kvothe (it is his story, after all), are in their own ways vividly portrayed and gradually explored. There's no chunky exposition or a description of a character shoved at you all at once. It's more a show-not-tell kind of book, appreciating the intellect of its audience and our ability to figure things out for ourselves. Nicely done. There was a while there, when I was reading, that the prose gave me the same kind of thrill as reading a sex scene in a romance novel might - but it could have just been the excitment of the story.

    One last thing (though I could go on forever): I loved what he did with dragons. I won't spoil it by saying more, just that it's original and delightful - this coming from someone who's been known to get a mite bored by dragons in fantasy.

    I would easily recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy, but also to people who enjoy great stories told wonderfully well. As many non-fantasy readers loved Harry Potter, they would also love this book.

  • Allison (The Allure of Books)
    Mar 09, 2009

    Originally posted

    This is definitely one of my new favorite books, so if you're a friend of mine, prepare to have me brutally push it on you until you give in and give it a go.

    One of the reviews I read compared it to The Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings, saying that the book was equal to the best of fantasy written thus far. Well let me tell you, this doesn't stand alongside the fantasy greats, it knocks them off the shelves.

    It isn't just some fantastic epic that you read for fun

    Originally posted

    This is definitely one of my new favorite books, so if you're a friend of mine, prepare to have me brutally push it on you until you give in and give it a go.

    One of the reviews I read compared it to The Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings, saying that the book was equal to the best of fantasy written thus far. Well let me tell you, this doesn't stand alongside the fantasy greats, it knocks them off the shelves.

    It isn't just some fantastic epic that you read for fun and adventure (although you'll get plenty of that too). It is story of a real life. Kvothe has known pain, despair, the feeling of being completely abandoned and alone, and he has also experienced joy, love, happiness and knowledge. One chapter he is beaten half to death, the next he is being shown some of the truest acts of kindness I could ever imagine.

    I can't think of an emotion I didn't experience while reading. I snorted with laughter, gasped in outrage, choked back tears, shook with disbelief and trembled with anticipation. Seriously, the book has it all.

    What a magnificent achievement to tell this story in a completely believable way-I mean sure there are dragons and magic (sympathy)...but I mean the "real life" stuff. Here you have a 15 year old boy, who early on, had fantastic parents and a happy life as a traveling performer. When that was taken away, he lived on the streets of a large city and raised himself to be tough and cunning. He knew how smart he was, and he got himself a place in the University. Now-before you start thinking that he is portrayed as being perfect-the author never hesitates to remind you that he is still a kid! He is constantly showing off and doing outrageously idiotic things that get him into heaps of trouble. I wanted to wring his neck more than once myself!

    Anyway, I'm not going to try to summarize the book. I wouldn't be doing it any favors. I will say that the beginning was slow. It probably took me over a hundred pages to actually get really involved with the story. But, even that was all so mysterious and sinister that I knew sticking with it would pay off. I can't wait to read it again someday when I will be able to understand more of what was going on in the beginning.

    The ending. I have read a ton of reviews and comments of people saying it ruined the book and so on. I don't get that. I thought Kvothe ended his story in a perfect place to set up anticipation for the next book, and the little scene with Bast and the Chronicler that closed the story was brilliant, set up interest in the current setting. Anyway...just my opinion.

    Even after over 700 pages, I still don't "know" Kvothe. Isn't that the point? He isn't predictable, and he hardly ever did what I expected him to do. For that reason alone, I know the next installment will probably be even better then this one.

    So...quit listening to me and go meet Kvothe for yourself.

    Oh yeah--one more thing though. If you're a fan of the book...or really, even if you aren't, I recommend checking out Patrick Rothfuss' blog (it is posted on his website). He is hilarious, and regularly keeps me entertained. He is just the type of guy I would love hanging out with. Not in a creepy-I'm-looking-at-him-through-his-window way, more of a "hey lets eat something really unhealthy and talk about books."

    Anyway, he comes off as a really nice, interesting guy. Its a pleasure to read such a fantastic book by a guy that actually seems to deserve the privilege of having come up with it.

  • colleen the convivial curmudgeon
    Aug 25, 2009

    "I must confess myself... disappointed."

    (For those who don't get the reference, it's a line that Voldemort uses in Goblet of Fire - the movie version at least. I am using a Harry Potter reference in retaliation to all those people who are somehow comparing this to that series, for the sole reason that there's a freaking magical university. Really, there's very little comparison aside from that. I mean, not even to get into how the whole tone and whatnot is different, but, really, the fact that t

    "I must confess myself... disappointed."

    (For those who don't get the reference, it's a line that Voldemort uses in Goblet of Fire - the movie version at least. I am using a Harry Potter reference in retaliation to all those people who are somehow comparing this to that series, for the sole reason that there's a freaking magical university. Really, there's very little comparison aside from that. I mean, not even to get into how the whole tone and whatnot is different, but, really, the fact that there's a "Hogwarts like school" seems to be the only unifying focus.

    I don't agree that there's a "Snape and Draco clone" in this series because, quite frankly, it's not like the sneering, unfair teacher and the mortal enemy were exactly unique tropes when Rowling used them, either.

    And this book has none of the wonder of Harry Potter, and certainly none of the whimsy.

    Furthermore, one of the achievements of Rowlings world is that the characters are real and relatable - even secondary characters are given some semblance of depth and personality. Few of the characters in this book really stood out to me as real, living, breathing characters.

    Perhaps it is because the vast chunk of this book is written in first person narration - first person, total recall no less - but as we see everything through Kvothe's eyes, we aren't given the glimpses into their minds that we are given in Harry Potter.

    In short, I dislike the comparison. For one I liked the Harry Potter series much better. For another, I find the comparisons flimsy and nothing more than a cheap marketing ploy. That so many people do seem to see the comparisons just makes me shake my head in wonder - because either they're seeing things that aren't there, or I'm very myopic when it comes to my beloved Harry Potter. I admit, either could be a possibility.)

    Anyway...

    As I said, I'm not a huge fan of first person narration, but sometimes it works. I think it works best when I like the person whose head/life I am living in. I found Kvothe generally tedious and annoying and an unbelievable Gary Stu. I also found Denna/Dianne/Deannah/whatever to be far too high maintenance, and not really worth the time and/or energy that seems to go along with her. But, then, we can't really control who we fall for - but, aside from the fact she's beautiful, I can't really see why men fall over themselves for her.

    But, then, I prefer a Hermione or a Luna to a Lavendar or even a Cho...

    (Ok, I'll stop with the HP references now. Maybe... )

    A lot of people seem to feel that the story starts off slow and then picks up when he gets to University. Oddly enough, I'm rather the opposite. I liked the start of the story.

    Actually, even before we start his story, I liked the part at the bar and with the demon spiders. I imagine we're going to get back to that in the third book, since I figure the second book is going to be Kvothe's autobiography. Yay...

    So, I liked the start of the story.

    I even liked the start of the story within the story. I liked Kvothe's early years, his time with his parents and the troupe. I liked Ben, and following the things he was learning. I was interested in sympathy - and how it corresponds to the actual rules of sympathetic magic (well, sort of. You know, it takes the basic magical premise and then applies it to how it would work in a fantasy world, which would be much cooler than how it works in our world.)

    Quite opposed to most others, I felt things started dragging horribly once he got to University. I got tired of his effing "brilliance" and just how wonderful he is. I got tired of all the teachers being practically interchangable. And Hemme is no Snape. My gods, Snape is horrible and fascinating - and Hemme is just a silly little plot device to manufacture some arbitrary obstacles to impede our wonderful, fabulous, and did I mention BRILLIANT fucking protagonist. (My gods, at least Harry Potter has some actual flaws, aside from being crap with girls.)

    (And yes, apparently I lied about the comparison thing...)

    Ditto with the whole thing with being denied access to the Archives. Something so blatantly and *brilliantly* stupid, that it just seems totally unbelievable - just another manufactured obstacle.

    I mean, I know every story needs plot devices, and not even my favorite stories are without them. And sometimes they irritate me, too, especially when something is either overly convenient or clearly manufactured. But such things are always better when they seem to happen organically, or through some actual fault of the character, and not as some silly accident that he's not even responsible for because he was drugged at the time (which comes with it's own dose of silliness and arbitrariness.)

    So, yeah... where was I?

    Oh, so I felt things slowed down for awhile, and then started picking back up again with the music competition. That was pretty cool. And the fire.

    And then there's the sheer preposterousness of the ride to catch the Chandrians, which I just thought was silly, and the whole part with the draccus just went on forever.

    Now, let's see - what do I like? I liked Kilvin, as much as you can like a bare sketch of a character. I liked Elodin - but, then, I like the archetype of the mad professor. I wished we would've seen more of him and he was more fleshed out, as opposed to just being vague and abstract. And I like Bast, or I think I will like Bast, and hope to see more of him as the story progresses.

    I didn't hate the story, but I did find it overly long and thought it dragged in a lot of places, especially towards the last 150 or so pages where I just wanted it to be over...

    Oh - and Rothfuss repeats himself and his descriptions too much. Overall it's rather disappointing... And I am never listening to you people again. Ever. So there. :p

  • Danica
    Oct 23, 2009

    Okay. Wow. Let's back the hell up here. How is this so highly rated? Are those genre-establishment reviewers who're thrashing about in paroxysms of fawning five-star NEXT BIG THING OMG joy wearing blinders or just so used to mediocre fantasy that this book actually comes across looking good in comparison? Why do these high fantasy disappointments keep on keeping on? Whose brilliant idea was it to throw around the GRRM and Harry Potter comparisons, thereby actually getting me to waste my pennies

    Okay. Wow. Let's back the hell up here. How is this so highly rated? Are those genre-establishment reviewers who're thrashing about in paroxysms of fawning five-star NEXT BIG THING OMG joy wearing blinders or just so used to mediocre fantasy that this book actually comes across looking good in comparison? Why do these high fantasy disappointments keep on keeping on? Whose brilliant idea was it to throw around the GRRM and Harry Potter comparisons, thereby actually getting me to waste my pennies on this book when the money could've been better spent, I dunno, on some new dish sponges or perhaps bundled together into a lump sum donation to the Feminist Fantasy Writer Foundation? And for God's sake, why do male fantasy writers always write about do-everything, know-it-all male heroes who vanquish dragons, defeat their conniving rivals, strangle angels, and literally walk through fires /carrying weeping females over their shoulders like sacks of potatoes/???? HE WALKS THROUGH A FIRE GUYS. WITH A GIRL SLUNG OVER HIS SHOULDERS. LIKE JESUS CHRIST OR SOMETHING. AKJGALGJLSJLAG W.T.F.

    For one, the protagonist is an insufferable little shit. He's the best musician, the best dueler, the best test-taker, the fastest learner, the snarkiest snarker, and the best actor. Plus he's got the greenest eyes too. And an encyclopedic knowledge of everything there is to know, ever. And a tragic past. His one handicap is that he's dirt poor, but hey! That's okay, because he's so awesome it hardly matters. (Well, to be hair, it is a fairly severe handicap. But that doesn't make up for his infuriating lack of weakness in basically every other area of his life.) To echo an earlier review, I really was waiting for someone to hip-check this guy into a mud bog. Or a moat full of voracious alligators. Yay, the end!

    To be sure, Rothfuss is very self-conscious about his story-making. I lost count of the number of times he wrote, "If this were a story, Kvothe would be serenading Denna on his magical lute with a red rose clenched between his teeth. But it's not, which is why he's blushing and stammering (but still, amazingly, Getting the Girl)".

    And the language. Okay. What. I understand this is fantasy, so it's gotta have the ponderous, stentorian, "And Twas it Was that Haldorian Son of Keoth-Arbalith Returned to the Great Stone Tower of Gothalas to embrace his weeping elven bride" Tolkien vibe, and that Rothfuss was a substitute high school teacher all his life and didn't graduate from the much-touted Iowa workshop with an awesome literary degree of MFA awesomeness, but jesus, put a cap on it, please? Like, the cheapass cliff-hangers that end one chapter only to resolve in the very next paragraph? And this following paragraph, which I especially earmarked out of boggle-eyed feelings of what-the-fuckery?

    "Deoch, my heart is made of stronger stuff than glass. When she strikes she'll find it strong as iron-bound brass, or gold and adamant together mixed. Don't think I am unaware, some startled deer to stand transfixed by hunter's horns. It's she who should take care, for when she strikes, my heart will make a sound to beautiful and bright that it can't help but bring her back to me in winged flight."

    A moment of wondering silence for how this drivel actually managed to avoid excision via enraged editor.

    Not to go on an embittered, long-winded rant or anything (.. too late for that), but this book represents pretty much everything I hate about high fantasy. There's the utter paucity of strong female characters. The cardboard villainy of the baddies. The lack of real dimension besides character 'typeness'. The never-ending leveling up of powers. The protagonist who can do no wrong. The frankly boring, and sometimes hair-raisingly clichéd, use of language. Also, the lack of females. You know what this book makes me want to do? Smash the patriarchy. Oh my god. I think this guy needs to sit at the feet of Joss Whedon or George R.R. Martin and learn something worthwhile.

  • j
    Jan 28, 2010

    I must preface this review by stating that my experience with fantasy is somewhat limited: the Harry Potter books, George R.R. Martin, a dozen scattered other novels and series. The more of it I read, the more I realize traditional "epic" fantasy of the multi-book series tack is not quite for me.

    Or maybe I am bad at choosing, since I really like some of it (Martin, Bujold). Some of it, not so much. Take, for instance,

    , one of the most celebrated fantasy debuts in years, with

    I must preface this review by stating that my experience with fantasy is somewhat limited: the Harry Potter books, George R.R. Martin, a dozen scattered other novels and series. The more of it I read, the more I realize traditional "epic" fantasy of the multi-book series tack is not quite for me.

    Or maybe I am bad at choosing, since I really like some of it (Martin, Bujold). Some of it, not so much. Take, for instance,

    , one of the most celebrated fantasy debuts in years, with glowing praise from... just about everyone. In some ways, I can see why. It's very well written. The characters are engaging. There's good dialogue. Drama. Adventure.

    But it's also very

    . I'm not against a long book if I feel like I got something back for the time invested. But TNOTW doesn't tell an epic story to match its epic length. To be fair, it's the

    of what

    to be an epic story, but that means I'll have to read the next two books in the series to be satisfied. This book is not a satisfying installment on its own. The episodic structure means large parts of the book are largely inconsequential when you get right down to it, so if they aren't interesting, well... they feel like a waste of pages. Which means while I really enjoyed the scene of Kvothe earning his silver pipes, I *really* could have done without the extended horse bartering/fevered riding/detective work/battling dragons section (which was about 150 pages I think), as it didn't advance the story... at all, really. Not even when you throw in the romance angle.

    What I liked: The structure of the book is interesting. I like the idea of the narrator telling his story. In fact, because of this I can somewhat excuse the episodic feel (and the appallingly thin, idealized female characters, who have no substance and next to nothing to do), even if I don't always like it. It also does a great job of slowly revealing the mechanics of its world without too much exposition or too little explanation, and some elements, like the explanations for sympathy and "real magic," are very satisfying. The prose and dialogue are better than the narrative; I would read other books by this author (just, er, no more books like this one).

    What I didn't like: Rothfuss is a little too satisfied with the ways he's working to break fantasy conventions even as he seemingly reinforces them (i.e. a unassuming boy is secretly a genius and a chosen one, goes off to a magic school, excels at everything he tries, etc. etc.). I can't even count the number of cute comments like, "If this were a story, X, Y, and Z would have happened. But this is not a story." This might be a revolutionary concept in fantasy writing, but considering much of post-modern literature is built on metafiction, it struck me as

    one interesting element; certainly not enough to excuse 600 pages of narrative inaction.

  • Ian
    Apr 27, 2010

    I'm sorry, Mr. Rothfuss. For realz, actual sorry. Honestly. I tried giving your book two stars out of pity, since I so wanted to like it and I'd feel bad about giving it one star and dragging down your average rating. Though you don't appear to need my pity. Your book has the highest average GR rating (4.49) of any of the book I've read. I finally dropped my rating down to one star because it's just a steaming pile of crap and I couldn't take the embarrassment of having posted a two-star rating

    I'm sorry, Mr. Rothfuss. For realz, actual sorry. Honestly. I tried giving your book two stars out of pity, since I so wanted to like it and I'd feel bad about giving it one star and dragging down your average rating. Though you don't appear to need my pity. Your book has the highest average GR rating (4.49) of any of the book I've read. I finally dropped my rating down to one star because it's just a steaming pile of crap and I couldn't take the embarrassment of having posted a two-star rating on something so awful.

    Mr. Rothfuss, you probably don't give a shit about my rating since, judging from your GR biography, you appear to be very comfortable in your own academic, geeky skin. And that is totally cool. I'm an academic, geeky type myself. Not as geeky as you. You are

    geeky. Like I said: that's cool. Anywayz, for a long time I gave you two stars since a couple of my most favorite people (my brother and his fiancé) both love your book. One star for each of them. But, like I hinted, the book is pretty bad. So are you and me good? No hard feelings? Awesome. I don't take shit too personally, either. So now I'll get down to ripping your book, knowing we can still be friends.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I faithfully admit that this book goes in my DNF shelf. I made it 162 pages in (I was reading it on the Kindle app on my iPhone and made it to § 3154, but with little arithmetic I determined that was the equivalent of page 162 in the mass market paperback). I just couldn't finish it. I gave it a good honest try and eventually found myself reading only so I wouldn't have to admit to my brother that I didn't like it enough to finish. But that isn't a good reason to spend my time—something we have precious little of in our short lives—reading something I dislike and not getting paid for it. So I'm sorry, bro. I tried. (Yes, my brother is one of my GR friends and will likely see this review.) Now on to the reasons I couldn't finish the book.

    Most of

    is written in the first person; it's the autobiography of Kvothe, who has a number of things in common with "The Most Interesting Man in the World." Kvothe is reciting his life story to a scribe while his male companion, Bast, looks on.

    There are several interesting facts pertaining to Kvothe and Bast. First, Bast is described as "sharp and delicate, almost beautiful, with striking blue eyes." Second, Kvothe and Bast run a bed-and-breakfast. Third, Bast follows Kvothe around like a puppy dog. Fourth, Bast likes to tuck Kvothe into bed and watch him sleep. Fifth, Bast cries like a little girl when he hears something sad. Finally, Bast apparently can manifest himself as some sort of goat-man creature. Do you see where I'm going with this? Kvothe runs a bed-and-breakfast, in which a very sensitive and beautiful man follows him around and occasionally turns into a goat. Bed-and-breakfast and goat-men: what could be sexier? Not that there's anything wrong with that. I believe everyone should have the freedom be who they were born to be and I have several close friends who happen to be gay; I'm the last person who would have a problem with Kvothe and his beautiful male companion getting frisky (goat-style, of course). I only mention the implied homoerotic connection because Kvothe (a.k.a. The Most Interesting Man in the World) is supposed to be a lady-killer. No, not a psycho rapist murderer, you freaks. A lady-

    . A Lover of Women. I suppose that's not necessarily inconsistent; perhaps Kvothe swings both ways. Let's all say it together, now:

    Not all of the book, however, is written in the first-person. First-person narrative is reserved for Kvothe's recitation of his life story. The remainder of the book, particularly the scenes of Kvothe manhandling his lover in front of the scribe (Bast said Kvothe leaves bruises), are written in the third-person. I'll address my displeasure with the third-person sections first.

    Let me clarify at the outset that I have no problem with the writer switching between first-person and third-person narrative. I recognize it can be a powerful tool and it serves the structure of this story quite well. The book begins in the third-person, then as Kvothe tells his life story it switches to first-person, then back to third-person for occasional interludes. My problem is with the author switching his narrative voice within the third-person sections. The academic geek is all over the place in that regard. Sometimes he writes a scene in third-person subjective, other times third-person objective. Some passages read like third-person limited, others third-person omniscient. At points the author seemed to switch voice page to page, or even paragraph to paragraph. In one especially irritating scene he even threw in a hint of first-person for a paragraph or so. Maybe if I'd kept reading I would have found a scene or two in second-person, just for good measure. The switching of narrative voices was confusing and frustrating.

    Perhaps the author saw his story as being so epic and/or complex that a third-person omniscient narrator was called for throughout. I certainly understand the advantages of an omniscient narrator that can relate some scenes from one character's point of view and others from a second character's point of view, and so on. But that theory doesn't fit

    . With most of the book, indeed the real meat of the story, being written in the first-person, the third-person sections are a minority and seem almost incidental, merely setting the stage and creating some dynamic/juxtaposition. And the theory doesn't explain why some scenes are told from the points of view of everyone present (a voice that strikes me as pompous and unreal) while other scenes are described objectively, from nobody's point of view. Still other scenes alternate points of view paragraph by paragraph, or even sentence by sentence, and at a couple of points I wasn't entirely sure who's thoughts I was reading. Such constant switching without an obvious purpose or pattern made the omniscient narrator (if that's what was intended) seem unreliable.

    Now on to the bulk of the book: Kvothe's first-person account of his life story. Kvothe's account actually read much smoother than the third-person interludes. Without the worry of mixing up his voices, the author did a much better job on the first-person narrative. Indeed, Kvothe's story incorporates some fair (not horrible, not great) drama, suspense, and sentiment. Portions are even quite quotable. The Author was thoughtful and observant in his telling of Kvothe's story, relating events and thoughts with which I could identify and pointing out a few things I wouldn’t have thought of. Unfortunately, for the reasons set forth below, those good qualities were not sufficient to demand my continued attention.

    Many passages in Kvothe's story felt lazy, unnecessary, unintended, or unoriginal. A few things were just plain weird. For example:

    --> Kvothe asks his father a question and the father makes a big deal about wanting to answer with a poem, but after five lines he forgets the rest. Setting aside that the five remembered lines were some

    poetry, why is the rest forgotten? If the poem was important, then the author should have taken the time (or sought the help) to craft something decent for the father to recite. If the poem was not important, why have the father recite a poem at all? A pointless poem only serves to clutter the prose.

    --> As a boy Kvothe watched his parents make out so he could learn kissing technique. That's weird.

    --> Speaking of Kvothe watching his parents, he has some sort of Oedipal affection for his mother. It shows in a few places but never more so than when he describes his mother as "slender, fresh, and bright, pale and smooth-skinned in the firelight." I have trouble reconciling the Oedipus Complex with "The Most Interesting Man in the World." Unless I just misunderstand one or the other?

    What I find especially interesting is my suspicion that the author was not consciously creating the Oedipal attraction. Similarly I suspect the author was not consciously creating the romantic connection between Kvothe and Bast. Maybe if I'd finished the book I would have found out that Kvothe was a gay man who masturbated to the memory of his mother. But I doubt it.

    --> Kvothe declares that he will "sum up" a certain magical principle and begins with his "first" point. He then expounds upon that first point, but never reaches a second point, nor a third or fourth. The explanation merely peters out.

    --> Kvothe's father sets up a dichotomy between poetry and music that I don't believe exists. (I admit that's only a disagreement rather than a problem with the writing.)

    --> In several places there was a lack of creativity with turn of phrase. One passage uses the phrase "there are times" too many times.

    --> The author uses the definite article in a number of places were the indefinite article would have been more appropriate. In the passage I marked as an example, Kvothe talks about going "deeper into the city" without any prior mention of having entered any city, much less being on the verge of going deeper into it.

    --> In another place, a beautiful metaphor was ruined when the author spelled out his meaning explicitly. Some metaphors are more powerful if left implied, resting behind the words for the observant reader to find on his own. In this instance, it went from beautiful metaphor to so-so analogy.

    I also have a much more fundamental, underlying problem with the entire storyline. That is the quality of Kvothe as a character. He's portrayed as a superhuman hero with a towering intellect and dazzling physical prowess. Kvothe can do nothing wrong; no puzzle is too difficult and no problem too big to handle. He can thrive under any circumstance and no lady can resist his advances (neither can beautiful goat-men, for that matter). He wins over the most cynical skeptics and his knowledge of the arts and sciences is without equal. Kvothe advises kings and kills demons. He can even run a clean and comfortable bed-and-breakfast. Kvothe, himself, is his own story's

    . And that, to me, it is the ultimate expression of unimaginative writing. Supposedly Mr. Rothfuss wrote

    over the course of a decade or more. You'd think, with all that time to contemplate and mull over his book, he could come up with something more interesting than (ironically) "The Most Interesting Man in the World."

  • Mark Lawrence
    Sep 24, 2011

    I'll give this 5* with no begrudging. I'm pretty easy with my 5*, they're not reserved for the best book I've ever read, just very good books. I thought The Name of the Wind was "very good". I read it in what for me was a very short span of time - it had that 'more-ish' quality that best sellers need.

    Can I see what makes this the single best selling epic fantasy for a generation (apart from George Martin's series)? No. Excepting that perhaps the lesson is that to be head and shoulders above your

    I'll give this 5* with no begrudging. I'm pretty easy with my 5*, they're not reserved for the best book I've ever read, just very good books. I thought The Name of the Wind was "very good". I read it in what for me was a very short span of time - it had that 'more-ish' quality that best sellers need.

    Can I see what makes this the single best selling epic fantasy for a generation (apart from George Martin's series)? No. Excepting that perhaps the lesson is that to be head and shoulders above your competition in sales "all" you need is to be better by a nose - after that the non-linear dynamics of the market take over and elevate you to godhood.

    I loved the writing, and that's very important to me. Rothfuss often treads the thin line between prose and poetry, and fortunately it's excellent poetry that he brushes up against. The quality of the writing breathes magic into even fairly ordinary scenes, and makes some of the important ones extraordinary.

    The story itself is mostly compelling. It uses the reverse of the device I saw recently in Blood Song of a framing story that's not in the first person, delivering up a first person narrative. Our hero, Kvothe has bags of attitude and is a total genius at everything. To balance out his 'all power' we have his poverty, bad luck, tendency to dig himself into a hole, and his powerful enemies.

    Kvothe's real powerful enemy sits in the background as a motivator (& presumably story for books 2 & 3) while his 'school-boy' adversary at the university fills in for bad guy for most of the book.

    Like Blood Song, and many other really successful books, TNOTW is at its core a school story. Harry Potter, Wizard of Earthsea etc all feature magic schools, for Blood Song and Enders' Game it was a battle school, but the point is that the schools + lessons + masters combo sells bucket loads if you write it really well and plumb it into a compelling larger picture.

    With magic the school system also provides a painless way of educating your readers in the magic-system you have (by virtue of it being delivered through formal education) elected to use.

    Was there anything wrong with it? For me the whole 'and then I broke another string' and 'I was very hungry and dirty in Tarbean' sections were rather slow and lengthy - I understand their role in the story but they felt overplayed. And at the end the whole business with the draccus felt tangential and diluted the endgame for me. But no, nothing of great significance.

    A final observation: throughout the book we (like Kvothe) are constantly aware of money. Kvothe's poverty is a driver and source of tension. He is constantly coming into money, losing it, incurring costs. We almost know the contents of his purse at any time and the price of all his needs. To me this was very reminiscent of Dostoyevsky's work (and to a lesser extent, Dickens) where a similar focus on the number of coins in our character's pocket is maintained and the need to cover their expenses drives much of the story.

    In short though, given the impossible level of expectation built up by years of hearing how incredible this book is ... the text made a very good attempt to live up to its reputation.

  • Rob
    Nov 29, 2011

    I have no interest in imagining I'm someone who is stronger, deadlier, smarter, sexier, etc. than myself - a famed hero in a milqtoast world little different from modern North America.

    I read fantasy to immerse myself in strange worlds ripe with danger and conflict. To uncork primal wonders. And there is none of that in Rothfuss' book.

    His world is about as strange and dangerous as a mashed potato sandwich. His protagonist is comically overblown wish fullfillment for people who weren't popular i

    I have no interest in imagining I'm someone who is stronger, deadlier, smarter, sexier, etc. than myself - a famed hero in a milqtoast world little different from modern North America.

    I read fantasy to immerse myself in strange worlds ripe with danger and conflict. To uncork primal wonders. And there is none of that in Rothfuss' book.

    His world is about as strange and dangerous as a mashed potato sandwich. His protagonist is comically overblown wish fullfillment for people who weren't popular in college. I'm absolutely mystified that this novel is so highly regarded by so many.

    I welcome fans of the book to explain its appeal. Specifically:

    *

    . I found the quality of the prose very poor. Cliches abound, the author tells rather than shows, and the language is neither poetic nor elegant. So for those who find the writing quality high, I'd like to hear some examples of writing they feel

    poor quality.

    *

    . I have no interest in wish fullfilment in fiction. So what other content does this novel offer me as a reader? Is there something in the plot or setting that makes this novel stand out to you as exceptional?

  • Raeleen Lemay
    Feb 12, 2013

    Upon this second reading, I've come to the conclusion that the audiobook for this isn't the greatest. SO, if you're reading it for the first time I INSIST that you read the actual book. 100% the best way to read this book.

    Also I am SO READY for book two.