6. The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss

5 Mar

The Name of the Wind

This is the first book in a projected high-fantasy trilogy about living-legend hero named Kvothe in a faux-medieval world threatened by an evil fallen-hero-turned-demon and his vicious man-eating-spider-automaton minions. It started strong, if you like that genre, but was ultimately a failure and annoying.

(I tend to find grand-scale, heroic, dragon-slaying fantasy-fantasy annoying, though.)

The really annoying part was that it was a bait and switch. The book starts with the retired hero facing a new, very scary peril, and then moves into memoir mode, with the hero reluctantly telling his life story to a scribe who has tracked him down. I started to realize, 3/4 of the way through, as the page-count started dwindling, that the new peril wasn’t going to be addressed *in this volume*. The whole book was back-story and didn’t have enough of an arc on its own. It’s also a bait and switch because the hero is an adult, but the whole book concerns his time at university as a very young, precocious (15-year-old) student. If not for the framing device, this would be a teen book.

There’s been a trend in fantasy literature lately to darken things up, make the heroes realistic, introduce sex, gritty violence and the seedy side of faux-medieval life. (See Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains, for a great example of deliberate genre busting. I like that approach. Name of the Wind is the opposite. It’s squeaky clean, the good guys are all good, the bad guys are all bad, it’s about as sexual as Tolkein, and the writing has some style, but in the overwrought moonlight and moonbeams and whirling capes way.

2 Responses to “6. The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss”

  1. Elliot Stivers March 9, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    I agree that it was a bit of a tease ending the way it did (similar to The Strain by by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro) but I confess that I enjoyed it enough to read the second volume. The second volume was pretty much the same thing as the first volume–some pleasant reading and a fairly compelling storyline with an unsatisfying cliffhanger end. It only advanced the story another year or so and left Kvothe still recounting his past great deeds. I have a hard time seeing how Rothfuss is going to wrap it up in the remaining volume but I will almost certainly read that as well just to see. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.

    • ivalleria March 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      Yeah, now that you’ve committed to two, you’re going to have to read the last one. I did think it was pleasant reading and a compelling storyline. I was on the sum positive until the annoying cliffhanger pushed me over the edge.

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