The Name Of The Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
So this is pretty much my favourite book ever, I was made aware of it by my friend Mell's review of it, you should read it because it's no doubt more amusing than anything I'll write.
The blurb doesn't give a whole lot away but in my mind would make the perfect narrative for a film trailer: "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 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.
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.
Sounds like a raging egomaniac no? I don't think he's actually as bad as he comes across there but he certainly does have self-belief.
So what's it actually about? Well Kvothe, basically. But for the occasional interlude snapping us back to the present day the book is Kvothe recounting the story of his life or part of it at least, this is the Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One so this is just a beginning, a long one at that coming in at 650 pages.
There's a danger now I'll spend a long time drooling over this book so if you don't want to read that I'll give you the short version; this is a fantastic book, buy it and love it.
I've warned you so don't blame me if you read on and then sit there thinking "Jeez why doesn't he just go marry Pat Rothfuss and have his babies, that'd be less of a show of love than this."
I'll throw you a curveball now and actually go through what I didn't like first. I'm struggling and nit-picking and this is something Mell's review picked up on and that's Kvothe's ridiculous explanations of being underground and being poor; he makes the irritating habit of starting sentences with "If you haven't been xxx I don't expect you to understand..." It's like, okay maybe I haven't been destitute, maybe I haven't been 50 feet underground but I'm pretty sure if you describe it to me I can manage some basic grasp of what it's like, not being a complete idiot.
I don't know if Mr Rothfuss consciously decided to make Kvothe so condescending but it rankles somewhat with me.
That's all I can think of and that's nothing to do with the book so much as the character and even that's just a couple of lines. Oh I have something! I have this in paperback, the next book, due out in March 2011 (for the moment), I assume will be in hardback. I can't have one book in paperback and one in hardback on my shelf, it will look stupid but do you really think I can
wait for it to be released in paperback? This is my biggest problem in life right now...well okay perhaps but it's going to irritate me come March next year.
Let's move on to more positive things; I love the character building in this, some people think Kvothe a bit of a "titbox" but personally I really like him. I think it's common place in stories to have a 'reluctant' hero, someone who clamours for the quiet life and avoids trouble. Our Kvothe on the other hand turns around and takes it head on. You could say he's reckless and hot-headed which he quite possibly is but I found it both refreshing and enjoyable to have a protagonist who refuses to back down and generally goes around kicking ass. That's not to say he's some Jack Bauer-esque invincible who always comes out on top because he doesn't but how many times did you want Harry Potter to just punch that Malfoy square in the face, we have these rivals and nemeses built up and we dislike them just as much as the characters they bully and cause trouble for but they so often get away with it. I am going to make a strange reference here and compare Kvothe to Ace Rimmer (if you've not seen Red Dwarf he's this James Bond type all action hero...what a guy.) Ace Rimmer is kept back a year at school and it's what makes him knuckle down and fight back (and he's been fighting back ever since!) and Kvothe is similar in that he becomes someone who doesn't take anything lying down.
The story itself is excellent too. You could argue that it's a little generic in what happens to Kvothe in the beginning but even with that there's something a whole lot more, the story of The Chandrian and their origins and motives...I'm trying to avoid giving anything away here...basically even if the general events are standard fantasy stuff there's much more complex things at work.
One thing I'm left wondering having read this is how many books there are going to be. As I said it's Kingkiller Chronicle Day One but there's also a story evolving in the 'present day' outside of Kvothe's tale but it doesn't receive much more than 2 or 3 paragraphs so unless that changes in the following books, which would probably get quite confusing, I think there's too much there that needs to be addressed so I'm hoping that when Kvothe is done resting on his laurels spinning stories for pennies (that thieving bloody Ruh) he'll get up and do something in the real world too. Perhaps I just want more books, which I do but I feel like we only get a tiny piece of the world Rothfuss has created in this book and there's a lot more mileage in it than just Kvothe's story.
The thing that makes me hold this book in such high esteem I think is that when I got towards the end I was in two minds; I was engrossed in the story, immersed in the world and wanted to know what happened next but at the same time I didn't want to carry on reading because I knew I was coming to the end and then it would be over. Obviously if I had the next book it wouldn't have been an issue but I don't think I've ever been that into a book. It's something I really want to be able to do; lose myself in a story, something I think is especially important with a fantasy novel. This book ticks that box without a doubt.
I will give this a quantitative rating once I've worked out how I'm going to do it but until then assume it gets full marks, because it's a pretty safe bet that will do. I recommend this book to as many people as I can and I am doing so to you now.