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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


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I just finished this book this morning, and it's probably going to go up with my favorite fantasy books. To me it's on the same level as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, or Neverwhere, or The Book of the Dun Cow, and just a hair behind Tolkien (who is honestly always going to rule the roost). But I think it's the only "high-fantasy" book I've ever read that was even in the same ballpark, as most of those others differ from the medieval wizard and warrior genre.

Even though I love Tolkien, I usually shy away from high fantasy, for one reason, because of the way they always seem to be written as part of a never-ending series. One thing that I appreciate about The Name of the Wind is that it seems to be written with the series end in mind already. Considering the ending of the first book that kind of teases what's going to be in the next one, I'm guessing there will be two or three more books that comprise Kvothe's story, and then one more that focuses on the frame of the story ties up this conflict with the scrael, and, I expect the

Chandrian

— or maybe that conflict will be dealt with piecemeal as it is in the first one and by the end of the last book it will be taken care of, though it seems to be to be bigger than can be dealt with in that amount of narrative time — it's not going to be real plausible for Kvothe to be dictating to the scribe for more than three or four days. I also like the fact that it's not going to pass through generations of characters, but rather follow this one hero through his story.

One thing I wish I'd known as I started it was the it is a frame story. I got really into the "frame" and when the actual story wanted I kept wanting to come back to the frame. Not that the story wasn't good too, but I'd gotten myself psyched about the story that surrounded it. If I'd known a bit more about what to expect from the book's structure I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more during the first quarter or so, until I caught onto the way the story was going to be told.

But even in spite of this nit-pick (which was more the fault of my expectation than the author's work), I really enjoyed this book. I flew though it. It's hefty, but I read it in only three or four days, and I'm really looking forward to the next in the series to come out (though there doesn't seem to be any buzz about it, so that could be a while...) Has anyone here read it?

edit: I did some actual research after writing this and see that it's planned to be the first book of a trilogy, and as of February book 2 had been edited to about 90% of what Rothfuss wants it to be. So it's still a ways off, but still moving forward.

Edited by Cunningham

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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I read this last summer and really enjoyed it. Like you, I found it to be a very fast read in spite of its length; Rothfuss' writing is incredibly breezy without being shallow, and with just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. I love the hints at the larger mythology that are dropped here and there, be it the history of the primary villain, the explanation for the book's system of "magic", or the true nature of Kvothe's companion. At the same time, Kvothe is such a fascinating character in and of himself -- flawed and broken yet also fiercely proud and even arrogant.

Suffice to say, I'm looking forward to The Wise Man's Fear as much as I'm looking forward to George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I was also swept away by this book and am very much looking forward to vol. 2. In the meantime, Rothfuss's blog is quite entertaining.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Rothfuss has just announced that the second book -- The Wise Man's Fear -- will be out on March 1, 2011.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 9 months later...

Publisher's Weekly has posted a short review of The Wise Man's Fear:

This breathtakingly epic story is heartrending in its intimacy and masterful in its narrative essence, and will leave fans waiting on tenterhooks for the final installment.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 3 weeks later...

Yesterday on LiveJournal, I saw someone describe this book as follows: "Had Gandalf gone to college, this would have been the story of his freshman year." Intriguing. :)

(I complimented her talent for description, and she responded: "There are dorms and classes and a bad cafeteria and I swear to you, there are even wizarding pub crawls. WIZARDING PUB CRAWLS. Sadly, no wizarding keg stands.")

Edited by Gina
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Yesterday on LiveJournal, I saw someone describe this book as follows: "Had Gandalf gone to college, this would have been the story of his freshman year." Intriguing. :)

Ha... that's actually pretty brilliant.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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My pre-ordered copy of The Wise Man's Fear arrived from Amazon last Friday. I started reading it Sunday (had to finish another book first). So far, it is well up to the first one, which I wish I'd had time to re-read, but I seem to have lent my copy to someone--what was I thinking?!

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Very tempted to pay the shipping/import duties that having it sent to Bolivia would entail. Only problem is that I started Infinite Jest about three weeks ago, and so am far enough in that I've made a substantial investment in it, but not so far in that it will be any short length of time for me to be done...

Oh, well, I've waiting several years - a few more months won't hurt.

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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  • 2 years later...

Rothfuss has just announced that he may contribute to the writing for Torment: Tides of Numenera, the spiritual successor the acclaimed Planescape: Torment.

Also, he's written a short story about Bast for some upcoming anthology. And he's still working on book three.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 1 month later...

I read the first book last week and I'm about 150 pages into the second book. This is probably the best fantasy thing I've read since Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Looking forward to seeing Rothfuss' contribution to Torment: Tides of Numenera. Planescape: Torment is one of my favorite video games.

I wrote this little blurb about The Name of the Wind on Goodreads:

This book must be understood as a subversion of fantasy tropes. It's self-aware enough to clearly be a commentary on the genre, but it never feels like the story is mocking or demeaning them. Rothfuss leaves out cornerstones of not just fantasy, but traditional storytelling. the protagonist doesn't have a call to action or even something he's striving for that he can't reach. Yes, he still has desires, he still has motivations, but they're festering underneath. He's never on a simple direct path, he wanders figuratively (and occasionally literally) through life. There are superficial similarities to Harry Potter, but how Rothfuss goes about telling the story and moving his characters makes the comparison inert.

Going into this expecting a high-fantasy epic will lead to frustration. I found the opening 150 pages a bit perplexing. Beautifully written, a lot of great scenes, but it lacked the drive of the typical fantasy story. Once I realized that was never coming, that I simply had to abide with this character and experience the mundanes that inform him in the moments that make him legend I experienced a rich work that is as much about storytelling as it is a story itself.

THE NAME OF THE WIND is a coming of age story set in fantasy. It'speppered with the kind of small moments where fantasy fails to align with reality, moments where the protagonist's life isn't nearly as bold, beautiful or simple as the stories that surround him years after the real events only exist in his mind. Life is adventurous, but it's not the adventure we tell around the campfire.

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  • 1 year later...

For the past several weeks, I've been revisiting The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear via audiobook. The good news is that they translate well to audio--except the the narrator (Nick Podehl) has an unfortunate tendency to pronounce "gesture" as "guessture" instead of "jesture" and a few other minor quirks. Fortunately, he's better at accents than I expected.
 
The not-so-good news--The Wise Man's Fear seems really long and wandering. Kvothe does have a quest, but he spends seemingly endless times off doing this or that (some of which can perhaps be justified as potentially useful training for something coming up later...apparently MUCH later). The time stages in this world remain unclear to me. I can't tell how long a "span" of days is, nor a "month" in this world. At my present point, K. has spent chapters and chapters doing various things that take "spans" and "spans" and more "spans," (can't figure out spoiler formatting today), not to mention all the traveling in between, yet when he gets back to where he started, he's told he's been away for "two months." That just seems unlikely.

 

The "interludes" in the inn are becoming more interesting than the retrospective narrative, but I'm also starting to wonder how he's going to bring the two together. How old is K the innkeeper? Because K the adventurer seems to be about 17...

 

Bring on book three, please, Mr. Rothfuss!

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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The "interludes" in the inn are becoming more interesting than the retrospective narrative, but I'm also starting to wonder how he's going to bring the two together. How old is K the innkeeper? Because K the adventurer seems to be about 17...

 

I am under the impression that Kvothe the innkeeper/storyteller is in his 20s. 

Edited by Jason Panella
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The "interludes" in the inn are becoming more interesting than the retrospective narrative, but I'm also starting to wonder how he's going to bring the two together. How old is K the innkeeper? Because K the adventurer seems to be about 17...

 

I am under the impression that Kvothe the innkeeper/storyteller is in his 20s. 

 

 

I'd say late 20s or early 30s.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I'm not holding out any hope for book three coming any time soon, but in the meantime there are a few short stories coming out. 

 

The Bast story that opus mentioned is coming out in June as part of the anthology Rogues, edited my GRRM. As someone who thought that Bast stole the show in the first book (there's that brilliantly chilling scene between him and Chronicler in the latter half that is one of my favourite bits of both books), I'm pretty excited about it. And then in November The Slow Regard of Silent Things is set to be released. It's a novella about Auri, and from what Rothfuss said in his blog post about it, it sounds very interesting.

 

Yea, book two really slogged in places. On the one hand, I wish it had been a bit tighter, on the other hand, I'm not sure what he could cut to get Kvothe to the point Rothfuss brings him by the end of the book. 

 

It was slow in moments, but I feel like that's part of the point, the whole man behind the myth set-up necessitates that we are audience to a less than entirely glamorous story. The wandering/meandering nature may be dull at times, but like you, I don't know what I would cut out - it's his life story, there's bound to be a dull moment or two along the way.

"What's prayer? It's shooting shafts in the dark." -- Frederick Buechner, Godric

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