“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe.
You may have heard of me.”
My dislike of the fantasy genre undoubtedly stems from my family’s obsessive love of it. My parents and my brother all adore it, and being forced to watch all three The Lord of the Rings films in the cinema, including the last one when I needed the toilet for approximately the last 42 hours (They throw the ring in the volcano thing and save the world – it must now be the end! Oh wait, nope.). I have since avoided the genre, being promised by my friends that I would hate The Game of Thrones, and then promptly watching all the seasons to prove them wrong. I actually don’t hate it, I really like it. I mean, too much blood and boobies for my taste, but it hasn’t grown so popular without reason. But anyway, I digress. The point is that it was quite far out of my comfort zone to read this book, but it had been recommended to me by so many people that I thought I should give it a chance, and see if I could somehow reignite my love for all things fantastical.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, with plenty of action and page-turning events, you probably shouldn’t read The Name of the Wind. The first thing I must address is the sheer length and pace of it. I don’t like to say it…but 650 pages and not that much happens. That’s not to say that nothing happens – the narrative plods along nicely and they’re are plenty of events to keep you busy, but in the grand scheme of things, and in proportion to its length, not all that much happens. I’m told it’s the same in the next book too, which is funny because the story of past Kvothe is being recounted by present day Kvothe who is not all that old, and I swear he’s still like fifteen at the end of this first one? *Beth mulls it over for a while and decides that Rothfuss is being a bit cheeky and that this must eventually come to more than a trilogy*
But for some reason I didn’t find myself minding all that much. It was quite nice to read a comfortably slow-paced book, to dip in and greet it like an old friend. Rothfuss’ narrative is easy-going and enjoyable, meaning that you’re able to sit back and just relish the nothing happening for long periods of time, and the detail in which Rothfuss has painted his world. His characters are vivid and likeable. And they’re funny, they’re really funny. I found myself really rooting for them, and really enjoying being amongst their company. Props to Rothfuss for that.
The storyline is simultaneously both a cliche of everything fantasy, and then it’s not. There are dragons (kind of) and a medieval-style world, and magic and village inns, dusty old libraries, and villages in need of rescue, but there are also clever ideas, a subversion of expectation and food for thought.
There is also, most importantly and most central to the plot, a school of magic, or rather, a university. And – I hate to say it, I really do – but it’s like fricking Hogwarts and I loved it. You’ve got the prodigal young protagonist, a loyal but dim Ron Weasely-esque sidekick, a mortal enemy and a bunch of crazy professors. You’ve got secret places and competitions and duels and the whole thing excited me so much I wandered around in a daze of happiness. Incidentally, I loved Rothfuss’ version of magic, or sympathy, one that doesn’t just simply exist, but which involves the elements, energies and a great deal of focussing the mind. He explained it all so logically I almost found myself believing that it could be possible. Unfortunately I am unable to split my mind into two parts so I guess that dream will have to live on a little longer, and I shall have to remain unfortunately magic-less for the time being.
Altogether, The Name of the Wind was a fun and clever read, and it did a great deal to convince me that my Lord of the Rings sized scars would someday heal. (I still blame you parents. If you hadn’t have loved it so much I bet I could have enjoyed it too.) It’s long and long-winded, and I definitely got a little bored at the extensive climactic scene at the end which was a little anti-climactic and overwrought in my opinion. But overall I really enjoyed it and would thoroughly recommend it to a lover of any literary genre. Give it a go, if only to reward Patrick Rothfuss for both his dedication in promoting a ginger hero (Go Kvothe!) and in trying his best to appear himself like a wizard, (Google him, I dare you), and you may just find that you love it. I certainly did.