Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Posted by Simcha 8:44 PM, under | 2 comments

Koth is the new innkeeper in a small sleepy town that has seen better days. New dangers on the road have caused business to slow to a trickle and so the only customers the Wayside Inn sees these days are a the local residents who stop by for drinks in the evening.

Koth's days are spent tending to his inn, sweeping the floors and shining the counters, allowing himself to transform into his new role as innkeeper. But his student, Bast, is not willing to let Koth forget who he once was, despite Koth’s attempts to put his past behind him. And there is the occasional passerby who will see past the innkeeper facade and recognize Kvoth the Bloodless behind the counter.

One night, Koth stumbles into the Chronicler who has been tracking rumors of Koth’s new existence. He’s been trying to find Koth in order to record his story, to separate the truth from the myths that have built around him. Although at first reluctant, after much bargaining, Koth agrees.

    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.

    You may have heard of me.

Kvoth’s narration begins with the story of his happy childhood as a traveling performer, slowly leading towards the events that brought him to become a student of sympathy (or magic) at the University. Occasionally the reader is brought back to the Wayside inn as Kvoth/Koth breaks off from the storytelling to tend to his customers or prepare a meal for his audience.

While I generally prefer stories that are currently taking place, as opposed to being told over in a story, this method works perfectly in The Name of The Wind as the occasional interruptions help provide some relief from the intensity of the narration. I also appreciated the reminder that Kvoth does survive the many challenges and tragedies he had to endure, to eventually tell his story. And even though most of the book is focused on the story Koth is telling, there are some interesting events that take place at the inn itself, which I assume will eventually tie into the story as well.

Many elements of the story will seem familiar to fantasy readers. A young boy forced to live in the street after being orphaned and eventually making his way towards becoming a magician and a hero. Rothfuss even pokes fun a bit with Kvoth’s own comments about typical story book events, as if telling the reader that he knows we’ve seen this before but things won’t turn out as we expect.

    I knew the shape of stories. When a young couple comes to a river there is a definite shape to what will happen next. Denna would bath on the other side of he nearby fir tree, out of sight on a sandy bit of shore. . I would move off a discreet distance, out of sight, but within easy talking distance. Then…something would happen. She would slip and turn her ankle, or cut her foot on a sharp stone, and I’d be forced to rush over. And then…

    But this was not a story of two young lovers meeting by the river. So I splashed some water on my face and changed into my clean shirt behind a tree. Denna dipper her head into the water to cool off…Then we sat on a stone, dandling our feet in the water and enjoying each others company as we rested.

Patrick Rothfuss does a magnificent job weaving together this story of a boy who becomes a legend.
From the moment I began reading The Name of The Wind I was pulled into the story; the words forming vivid images in my head as clearly as if I were watching it performed in front of me. There is adventure, sorrow and magic as well as many memorable characters who became so real to me that I had a hard time letting them go after I finished the last page. The Name of the Wind is an amazing achievement for a debut author and a definite Must Read for any fan of fantasy literature.

CymLowell


2 comments:

AMAZING! I love this review. I loved this book. The wording is rather vivid and descriptive. I could almost hear the music as well.

I was a little bummed with the end of the story, as I wanted the rest of the story. I am hoping Patrick will get the second book done and out soon. He is such a perfectionist he keeps working on it. But I have to say the perfection paid off with the rhythm of the words.

This sounds really great. Thanks for the review!

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