book review

Book Review: The Name of the Wind - by Patrick Rothfuss

11:30 AM

Synopsis from goodreads: 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 a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. 

Rating: 4.5/5

The Name of the Wind is nothing short of a legend in the making.

Sure, it's very possible to squeeze a few criticisms from the story: it's sometimes slow, some people might call it pretentious, etc. But then I'd be nitpicking. 

Here's the great thing about The Name of the Wind: it has a little bit of everything. It has action, though they're few and far between; there's romance, however slowly brewed; there are decent characters, even though some of the best written (arguable) seem to rarely make appearances; and there's amazing prose. 

The prose has made itself an area of controversy. Some say its flow and its diction is what draws and hooks the reader. Others say it's simply awful. Because of the apparent contradictions in opinion, I'll give a few examples of the writing style.

Example 1:
"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man's will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself."

Example 2:
"Do not mistake me for my mask. You see light dappling on the water and forget the deep, cold dark beneath."

Example 3: 
"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. The teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he'll look for his own answers."

It also has these moments:
"The boy grows upward, but the girl grows up."

"Only priests and fools are fearless and I've never been on the best of terms with God".

As for the slow pace, it is what it is. A lot of the time, there really isn't a good reason for the inclusion of an entire chapter, or even chapters at that. But then again, it is a frame narrative, and the main character is supposed to narrate his life. So the reader should be prepared for a drawn out recollection of every waking moment of Kvothe's life from the first moment he could remember to what will probably end up being the last moment he lived. However, if the writing style is to your liking, then the extra chapters and stories will probably have you jumping with joy.

Lastly, the characters: the main character is insufferably annoying, especially in the present tense. He holds himself in the highest of regards and truly believes there is none other that could match his marvelous character. But he's well written, and that is almost enough to tolerate him. There is also an extreme lack of female characters. There have been exactly four (minor and major characters). And two of them are only in the first half. 

This book will either be a hit or a miss. You'll either love it or hate it, but you probably won't know unless you give it a try. Fair warning: avid fantasy readers will probably find The Name of the Wind lacking in a lot of aspects. 

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  1. I read this a while back and quite enjoyed it. The pace is pretty slow, but I liked the world and the characters.

    1. Agreed. It's also impressive how the author made his own languages. Really can't wait to read the second book.