In an attempt to educate Mrs. NW, who is not exactly an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, Mr. NW each month assigns a classic novel. If you missed the first instalment, you can find it here.
Spoiler warning: I will potentially give away massive spoilers about this book. However, you’ve had 10 years to read it. I can also tell you what happened at the end of Friends…
So this month’s classic novel assigned by Mr NW is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (The 10th anniversary edition is out soon). Now, first up when I started reading The Name of the Wind I thought it was a stand alone book [I skipped page 3 that showed the other books in the series]. I mean how can a book that is soooooo many pages long just be the first third of a trilogy. No way. And by the way, in case you were wondering, it is roughly 260,000 words (I googled it when I was three-quarters of the way through and dying). Your average novel is 80-100,000 words. I know there are probably longer novels out there, War and Peace comes to mind but all I can say is that Pat Rothfuss probably struggled to keep under the word count for his essays at university. 260,000 is a tome. If he carries on like this the trilogy will be getting up towards a million words (EDIT TO ADD: oh dear, I shouldn’t have looked but I did – the next book The Wise Man’s Fear is just shy of 1,000 pages and over 300,000 words). Now don’t get me wrong, Pat Rothfuss writes very well, he just also writes a lot. I’m beginning to discover this is a bit of a common theme in the science fiction/fantasy genres. I’ve suggested to Mr NW that if he wants to keep his wife happy he will pick a much shorter novel for the next assigned reading.
The book opens in the present with Kote the innkeeper, whom we quickly find out is actually Kvothe, a legendary figure. Rothfuss sets up the book as Kvothe relaying his life story to the Chronicler. The Name of the Wind covers the first day of Kvothe telling his story. Rather than give an outline of what happened (you can look it up on Good Reads) I’m going to discuss just a few of the bits I liked or didn’t get. I’m interested to hear what you thought of this novel, so make sure to leave a comment below.
- The Scraeling – from the way the novel started out I envisioned these were going to be a much bigger problem. Big freaky spiders with razor blade legs – terrifying! However, we basically never meet them again after the first couple of chapters.
- Kvothe learning sympathy from Ben the archanist and accidentally sucking all the air out of his lungs. Rothfuss explains the sympathy in a really interesting way and certainly captures your attention.
- Kvothe’s time in the city – looking back this part didn’t really seem to add much to the narrative other than to meet Skarpi and hear more about the Chandrian.
- I loved all the descriptions of the university and the way Kvothe gained his entry. The library sounds absolutely amazing. There’s no doubt that Rothfuss is able to create a world in your mind.
- Looking for Denna – I found all this back and forth particularly tedious. JUST GO FIND HER – how hard can it be!
- The episode with the dragon was quite exciting. The idea of a drug-addled dragon on the rampage was quite thrilling and it was a good way for Kvothe to show his skills in using sympathy.
In a sense I think Patrick Rothfusss has done a good job, I’m not ambivalent about this novel. At times I’m amazed by the poetry of his words, others I’m frustrated and angry, I’m intrigued by the magic but all the while I want him to just hurry up and tell me more about the Chandrian and why this is called the Kingkiller Chronicles.
I think a lot of these things that seem unexplained may have a role in tying the books all together at the end and that’s why some of them are still a bit confusing. My major gripe with this book is that you reach the end of the 260,000 words and the thanks you get for your troubles is: that’s enough story telling for one day – now you will have to read the next book to find out what happens. How many plot threads had resolved by the end of this first book: 0. Every single thread was still left hanging [Mr NW disagrees and cites the adventure with the dragon, Kvothe’s debt to the money lender but I think these are small scale and not that satisfying]. He couldn’t have resolved just a couple in case you had thought to yourself, “well, that was a nice book but I’m not sure I can be bothered reading any more”. Nope. If you want to know what happens, you will have to read the next book. Which I will because 1. I want to know what happens damnit, and 2. Because I’m invested now. I’ve spent a good portion (well, a week) of my life reading The Name of the Wind. However, I am highly suspicious that there will be any true resolution in the next book either. I suspect that is why everyone is getting frustrated waiting for the third novel to come out. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, as I say, I’ve only read the first book.