The Name of the Wind: Why people read fantasy

Patrick Rothfuss The Kingkiller Chronicle: 1.  The Name of the Wind 2. The Wise Man's FearThe Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss book reviewThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Over Christmas break I managed to catch up on some of the books that other reviewers have raved about that hadn’t yet made it to the top of my TBR mountain. The best book by far was Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. Since Greg, Kat and Angus have already reviewed this book, I don’t think much needs to be said at this point about the plot. Instead I want to respond to the other reviews, which I had not read in detail until after finishing the book.

I agree with Kat that Rothfuss has done something special. I can usually spot a Harry Potter knockoff at 20 paces, but even though there are some superficial similarities between the characters and plot devices, at no point when I was reading The Name of the Wind did I think of Harry Potter. Rothfuss has taken the stock ingredients of fantasy and, like a master chef, created something new and surprising with them. For a book of several hundred pages, The Name of the Wind reads remarkably fast, as the story pours out of Kvothe, an autobiography to set to truth all the rumors and guesses.

Like Angus, I had some problems with Kvothe’s development romantically. Boys of that age should be a little bit more hormonal than he is, and I have a hard time believing that someone with his fortitude in other areas — that whipping scene for example — doesn’t have the courage to try for a kiss from a woman with whom he is besotted. I also agree with Angus that the tale would have benefited from more detail about the big baddies, the Chandrian. Right now they are sort of a nebulous evil. The tension would be heightened by knowing more about the antagonist.

Those details aside, Greg is right when he said that books like this are why people read fantasy. I am anxiously awaiting the next installment in the story. If Rothfuss keeps up the quality of this storytelling throughout the next two books, I think the next thing he should write is a letter to Peter Jackson, with the offer of a movie deal. This is epic fantasy at its finest.


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RUTH ARNELL is a professor of political science in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

View all posts by Ruth Arnell

9 comments

  1. I’m going to have to re-read before book 2 comes out!

  2. I get annoyed that so many reviewers assume or think that Name of the WInd is “just another Harry Potter story where some kid goes off to school and learns magical stuff” type story.

    Amazing how after reading it, they all change their minds, and come to believe that this is, in fact, a wholly original and brilliant fantasy story.

    Name of the Wind was a fantasy game changer for me, the way Dune was a scifi gamechanger.

  3. I actually liked that Kvothe wasn’t the perfect ladies man. He’s also completely, utterly clueless when it comes to managing money. The weaknesses made him more realistic. I can’t wait for The Wise Man’s Fear!

  4. Shut up, Stefan. You’re annoying us.

    (Stefan is getting his copy EARLY!)

  5. Hey, I didn’t even mention it! (plus the way I’m backlogged with ARCs right now, I may not even get to it before the end of February… AND I want to reread book 1 first!)

  6. Isn’t it awesome when book not only lives up to hype but exceeds it? The Name of the Wind is what re-kindled my love of fantasy. I found it completely by accident. I just seen it on the shelf and thought it sounded interesting. I’d never heard of it. Boy was I in for a surprise. This is one of the few books I’ll purchase opening day. I kept hoping that WMF might show in my mailbox one day….but it hasn’t happened.

  7. Name of the Wind is what I’d consider the perfect fantasy novel. What I mean by that is; so much of fantasy stories, either by the way they’re written or the story itself, with just a few adjustments, could easily be a story in another genre. A simple example would be like change magic with technology it’s now Sci-Fi or the made-up world and cultures with real-life Earth and it’s now historical fiction. (I’ve said it million times how similar Westerns and Sword & Sorcery stories are.) I think it’s just mainly our love for fantasy elements that draw us to the fantasy books over the similiar stories in other genres.
    But when the prose, language, characters, setting, etc..,is done just right, like how it is with tNotW, the story only really works as fantasy and wouldn’t have anywhere near the same impact if it was written as a different genre.
    @Ruth- I envy you since you are just now reading Name of the Wind with The Wise Man’s Fear coming out soon. That’s one of the big hurdles for me with the big door-stopper epics. Ever since the way things have went with George R. R. Martins’ A Song of Ice and Fire, i.e. the long, long wait between books. it’s really hard for me to maintain the excitement. :(

  8. A’right, a’right, you guys have convinced me–I need to actually read this book one of these days. I think I’ll have a decent stretch of free time in March…

  9. It’s a great book. I have a signed copy of the new one on reserve at my local specialty bookstore. The funny thing is that it’s a specialty mystery bookstore — but they know a good thing when they see it, no matter what genre.

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