Assigned Reading (#2): The Name of the Wind

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 C9D43980-203A-40E7-B63F-87359C5E1FCCRothfuss (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.

6C58C46D-2E22-4674-9A34-23A1730F50F5In 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.

What did you think of The Name of the Wind? Which parts did you love or hate?

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16 thoughts on “Assigned Reading (#2): The Name of the Wind

  1. Well, where I was in complete agreement with Mr NW in the SF is Cool post, today I’m switching sides.

    But let me give you a non-Rothfussian length bit of history. I read this book when it came out. Pat had been going on for quite some time on his blog about this wonderful trilogy he had ALREADY written and just needed to polish and publish. First book came out, read it, enjoyed it and waited with baited breath. My lungs aren’t that expansive. YEARS later the second book came out. Then the excuses and lies started about why book 3 wasn’t ready, wasn’t written, etc, etc. Rothfuss lied like a russian communist when he stated that the trilogy was already written.

    And now, 10 years later, some people are still waiting. I gave up long ago and as you can tell, am a bit bitter. I wouldn’t be reading it if it came out tomorrow in fact. I don’t think it will come out tomorrow though. Nor do I think it will EVER come out.

    Now you know where I stand on the “Rothfuss Issue” 😀

    So when I say this is overhyped, bloated and a dream killer, you have a bit of context.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s interesting that the inscription in the cover is “And to my father, who taught me that if I was going to do something, I should take my time and do it right the first time.” Perhaps his advice wasn’t the best. Maybe an 80% effort would have sufficed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved The Name of the Wind. Yes, it was probably a bit longer than it needed to be. But it kept me interested. It was definitely set up in a way that left me wanting to know about how the Kvothe we left at the end of this book becomes the man telling the story. I haven’t read The Wise Man’s Fear yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think I would have been more ok with the pacing and length if I had realised it was only the first third of the story at the outset. I was about 3/4 of the way through and thought there was going to be an action packed final quarter to finish up the story. It felt a bit deflating when it all came to a sudden halt. Are you intrigued enough to read The Wise Man’s Fear or is it at the bottom of your TBR list?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Whoa 260000 words!? I honestly didn’t realise it was that long. I guess it’s testament to how well it was written. That said I didn’t enjoy the second book at all- maybe it was that extra 40,000 words- but I think it was mostly that it felt like a rehash of the first one with a few additions I wasn’t crazy about- I hope you enjoy the second one more though! (although seriously don’t expect a resolution)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good to know. I think I will enjoy the second one more now that I understand Rothfuss’ style. I think my expectations of what the book would be like weren’t helped by Mr NW’s never ceasing praise of it.

      Like

  4. I loved your review! It’s great to hear a bone sci-fi/fantasy fanatic’s opinion. I think if you are inclined to like these you will probably like the book anymore. Although it is off-putting that it’s missing the finale. I had invested myself in the whole Game of Thrones series (those books are nearly 1000 pages each, I think) and have also given up hope of a resolution in writing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha no worries. It’s a bit frustrating you can’t edit them after you’ve hit send. I keep spotting terrible typos in my comments on other people’s blogs. Like putting though instead of thought…uggh.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We are really far behind of Game of Thrones. Mr NW has read up to book 3. I haven’t read any (yet). I think we’ve only seen the first two seasons of the tv series. We stopped watching so Mr NW could read ahead but he always has some other book he needs to read first.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh man! How do you guys avoid spoilers?! I think they are taking a break and won’t show the finale until 2019 so you guys have time to catch up! Although the show is already further than the books.

        Liked by 1 person

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