Friday, December 2, 2016

Patrick Rothfuss - The Name of the Wind

This is the riveting first-person narrative of Kvothe, a young man who grows to be one of the most notorious magicians his world has ever seen. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a novel that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

Comment: Another book I wanted to get read this year. It has been in the pile since October last year and it never seemed like the best time to start it, so this month I added it to my reading list and before November was over, I took a deep breath and got to it. It's not the biggest book I've read (not even the biggest of the month) but small letters and many pages mean more time than small books, obviously.

This is basically a tale that a man, the innkeeper of the Waystone inn, shares with his apprentice Bast and the Chronicler he saved the night before.
The story will be told in 3 days, each day focusing on specific parts of the narrator's, Kvothe, life and experiences. At the same time, some weird things are happening in the present day but we have minimal scenes about it.
Kvothe is a man who has had joy and sadness in his life, he suffered and he achieved high moments. Who he is and what he can do is what truly makes this story unique.

Reading this book was interesting. It took me almost a week to go through it because it's a long book but especially because there is a lot of detail that we need to pay attention to. Many readers talk about the beauty of the writing, and I agree but it's the rich content, even when nothing major is happening in terms of plot, that makes the story feel full and solid. And this is only one part of the whole thing.

The plot is pretty simple in its development but complex in what is telling us. We learn how Kvothe's childhood was and how it all changed in one moment. I think this was probably the worst part, as you can imagine, Kvothe isn't a happy, rich kid who does as he pleases. This isn't also original, many fantasy books (and in other genres) feature the poor kid who has determination and need to overcome his odds and prove himself. But in this case, it was quite amazing because Kvothe didn't get lucky all the time, he suffered to accomplish even the easiest tasks we don't even think about in our daily lives.
My favorite part of the plot was when Kvothe finally arrives at his destination, the University where he hopes to study magic and chemistry. While there, he obviously has to go through some tasks, he has his challenges and adventures but he makes friends, he learns how to get things done, he meets people that will help him and he has one specific enemy to balance his better moments. It's amazing to see him triumph through some situations and despairing to wait and see if he will be punished by things he can't always control.

The characters are well constructed, Kvothe and his friends especially. I still find myself confused about certain characters and why would they matter but overall, the author did a good job.
The pace is interesting and so often the present day characters intervene to let us breathe again from Kvothe's adventures as a teenager in school.

The writing is one of the things most readers talk about. It's poetic, beautiful, poignant and precise when it matters. But for me, there is one problem, the author has this thing about letting us know some things indirectly that totally annoy me. For instance, Kvothe describes how he got the better hand on his enemy at the university and says something about how harmless he was and then "I was a fool.", which means he will be in trouble later and every time the enemy is mentioned I keep thinking "will it be now" and then it's not and I can see how on the edge of your seat it can be but to me it's irritating and ruins the fun of things because I keep waiting for the bad things to happen. I suffer a lot because of anticipation therefore I'd like it if we had less sentences that make it so.

So far, this has been interesting, richly described and done but because it's only one part it feels incomplete, of course. I hope the next installment will offer more explanations about things we've seen and about what can possibly be happening.
I'm not jumping to start it though. And the thought the 3rd long awaited installment hasn't been published yet makes me nervous to get to a point of having to suffer even more. So I guess I'll wait a bit more before getting the 2nd book.
Grade: 8/10

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