Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Name of The Wind by: Patrick Rothfuss


    With much recommendation, raving reviews--- "It grabbed me by the throat, threw me down and had its way with me", Ana from the Book Smugglers saying "it may well be the best book I read since The Book Smugglers’ inception"---and a whole lot of "Here, take it, take it!" I knew I had no choice but to pick this one up and give it a go.

My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "Quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to.
    The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean "The Flame," "The Thunder," or "The Broken Tree."
    "The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. when left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
    "The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
    I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
    My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My girst real lover called me Dulator because she like the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, LIghtfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
    But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it ment "to know."
    I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
    I have stolen pincesses 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 people 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.
    You may have heard of me.

       The Name of the Wind is Patrick Rothfuss 's debut novel, one that has washed in on a tidal wave of much praise and love. The book begins with an innkeeper, his inn, and three types of silences. The innkeeper Kote, is known by many names, none of which the small town is aware of, yet still important all the same. Kvothe (Pronounced Quothe) is one of the more important names of note, and is the name in which the story is told.
    A Chronicler, making his way through the forest to the nearest town is almost caught up by demons, demons in the shape of big spiders the size of wagon wheels, known as Scrael. Yet the Chronicler is saved by a curious figure draped in a heavy black cloak with unmistakable flame-red hair. When Chronicler wakes it is to find himself in an inn. The innkeeper to his surprise, is the mysterious figure who saved him in the forest. However the mysterious-ism is slowly fading as Chronicler's growing suspicion of who the innkeeper might really be is made stronger as he recalls the events that happened the night in the forest. Chronicler, being a recorder of stories begs Kvothe to record his story. A story that has been recorded time and time again, whispered and rumored about, sung and praised about, yet all varying in facts, circumstance, and detail and never---never before told from Kvothe's own lips. Kvothe finally relents and tells the Chronicler that the story will take three days, nothing less. And so our story,  and the Kingkiller Chronicles begin. . .

    Kvothe, born to a traveling performing troupe was brought up in a world of art, happiness and love.  He finds an endless spring to his rabid thirst for knowledge in an old meandering tinker, an arcanist to be exact named Ben who joins their troupe after Kvothe spies him doing the most interesting thing with the wind. When fate takes a hard turn Kvothe finds himself beaten, starved and alone in the hard part of town where he scuttles around doing anything to get by.
   Remembering what once was and could be, Kvothe gambles and makes it in to the prestigious university where magic is learned.

    This first installment covers the first day of telling. Kvothe speaks while Chornicler writes and Bast, Kvothe's assistant and students sits in and listens. The story is switched between first person and third person narrative as the story switches between the life sketches Kvothe paints and the present time of the inn where three men sit.

    I'm definitely in the minority on this one, which surprised me because I am always down for a good fantasy read. And when it comes to widely appreciated books I'm usually in the green. The hype for The Name of The Wind got me all puffed up like an inflated happy balloon flying high, only to leave me squeeking out spent anticipated air. It wasn't horrible mind you, all those raving reviews have to stem from somewhere right?  I didn't hate the book, I actually liked it fine, but unparalleled is not a word I would use to describe this one.

   Kvothe's childhood was infused with love, song, and dance. It was wrought with the richness of someone who is loved and cherished.  The love between his parents and the love they had for him made me feel all cozy inside. I felt him, the genuine curiosity of a little boy relentlessly asking for more problems, puzzles, and questions from a chuckling gray haired Ben. The troupe was like the fabled gypsies. Moving along, performing, singing and dancing, acting out plays and sonnets, always on the road moving from place to place. I also enjoyed the songs, the little nursery rhymes, the love story between Lyra and Lanre and the myth and story of the Chandrain, they were all interesting and left me wanting more. His night time meetings with the not-all-there Auri and the surreal banter left me smiling. However, I must say the book to me felt like each and every one of it's 662 pages.

    It was a slow beginning, and I mean s-l-o-w. The book also meandered quite a bit, not exactly that he went off on unholy tangents, just that it seemed the book could've told what it had in easily half the amount of pages that it did. I was intrigued by the scrael but they never came back into play in the book. The mysterious innkeeper caught my attention, but the more he told about his story,  the more I felt Kvothes character was suffering from a bit of male Mary-Sue-ism. I wanted to like him so much, finish the book wearing his colors and cheering his name--- but I couldn't. The constant reminder of how brilliant he was got a bit exasperating, only because he was constantly telling me that he was brilliant. And was it just me that besides his two friends all Kvothe met at the university was girl after beautiful girl?

     I understand that this is the beginning of his story, the making of the hero Kvothe is to become--- however it was a bit amusing that here this unparalleled Einstein of a child, who bested scholars beyond his years and street roughened bullies beyond his size, had an arch nemesis that was non other than a cowardly spoiled snooty classmate---who usually got the better of him.
      The book seemed to do a little dance. Kvothe was broke, got some money, but then found himself broke again. Kvothe finds Denna, she runs away, they find each other again, she runs away,--- Wash, rinse, repeat.

   Speaking of His love interest, Denna left me scratching my head. What was so special about her? What about her pulled Kvothe so deeply into her. The only things I gleamed from her was that she was beautiful, and that she liked to travel. Alot.  I felt like I knew Fela (one of Kvothes beautiful friends from the university) better than I knew her, which isn't saying much because I don't know Fela all that well either. Quite frankly all the secondary characters were quite flat, nothing really to hold on to. And to that extent I felt like I didn't know Kvothe all that much either. I mean I know his story, but I didn't feel like I knew him.  Or maybe I just didn't like him. All in all what it boils down to is Rothfuss is a talented writer, there's no doubt about that, and an awesome funny person, have you read his blog? I can see (though not quite understand) the unbelievable praise the book has been given. Yes I'll probably read the sequel when it comes out because I'm a glutton for punishment, no I don't think I'll recommend this to anyone but yes I do have hope that I will like the sequel. And yes I must be somewhat addled in the brain for not falling head over heals for this one, well because, everyone else did.

I looked at the paper, It read:

    I, by signing below, hereby attest to the fact that I can neither read nor write.

    I looked up at the owner. He held a straight face. I dipped the pen and carefully wrote the letters "D D" as if they were initials.
    He fanned the ink dry and slid my "receipt" across the desk toward me.
"What does D stand for?" he asked with the barest hint of a smile.
    "Defeasance," I said. "It means to render something null and void, usually a contract. The second D is for Decrepitate. Which is the act of throwing someone into a fire." He gave me a blank look. "Decrepication is the punishment for forgery in Junpaui. I think false receipts fall in that category."
    I made no move to touch the money or the receipt. There was a tense silence.
    "This isn't Junpui," he said, his face carefully composed.
    "True enough," I admitted. " You have a keen sense of defalcation. Perhaps I should add a third D."
    He gave another sharp, barking laugh and smiled. "You've convinced me, young master." He pulled out a fresh slip of paper and set it in front of me. "You write me a receipt, and I will sign it."
    I took up the pen and wrote. "I the undersigned, do agree to return the copy of the book Rhetoric and Logic with the inscription "to Kvothe" to the bearer of this note in exchange for two silver pennies, provided he present this receipt before the date--"
    I looked up. "What day is it?"
    "Shuden. The thirty-fifth."
    I had fallen out of the habit of keeping track of the date. On the streets, one day is largely the same as the next, save that people are a little more drunk on Hepten, a little more generous on Mourning.
    But if it was the thirty-fifth then I only had five days to get to the University. I knew from Ben that admissions only lasted until Cendling. If I missed them, I would have to wait two months for the next term to start.
    I filled in the date on the recept and drew a line for the bookseller to sign. He looked a little bemused as I slid the paper toward him. What's more, he didn't notice that the receipt read pennies instead of talents. Talents were worth significantly more. This meant he had just agreed to give me back the book for less money than he had bought it for.
    My satisfaction damped itself when it occurred to me how foolish all of this was. Pennies or talents, I wouldn't have enough money to buy the book back in two span. If everything went well I wouldn't even be in Tarbean tomorrow.
    Despite its uselessness, the receipt helped ease the sting of parting with the last thing I owned from my childhood. I blew on the paper, folded it carefully into a pocket, and collected my two silver talents. I was surprised when the man held out his hand to me.
     He smiled in an apologetic way. "Sorry about the note. But you didn't look like you'd be coming back." He gave a little shrug. "Here." He pressed a copper jot into my hand.
     I decided that he was not an altogether bad fellow. I smiled back at him and for a second I almost felt guilty about how I'd written the receipt.
    I also felt guilty about the three pens I'd stolen, but only for a second. And since there was no convenient way to give them back, I stole a bottle of ink before I left.

Fellow Bluffs:


Allison said...

aww, I'm sorry you were underwhelmed! This is one of my favorites, I'm definitely of the "THIS BOOK IS UNPARALLELED! READ IT IMMEDIATELY!" camp.

Glad you were still able to enjoy parts though :)

KIKA said...

*waves* Alison! I'm so happy this one did it for you :D In all honesty I enjoy reading people's happy reviews about the book, it makes me all smiley just reading how much they've enjoyed it.

It's always good to see you here :)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Sorry you didn't care for the book. I really enjoyed its style and the two stories I got in one. But, Glad you shared all you views and points. :) Hope the hype didn't cramp the reading for you.

Thanks for the great review.

KIKA said...

Melissa: thanks for stopping in, you know I often wonder things like that, the hype of books. Would I have judged it as harshly if there wasn't all the hype about it? No expectations? but in all honesty while I might have expectations I don't think I weigh too heavily on the book hype, I mean if I feel for a character, fall in love with the story, the book really speaks to me then it does, Hype or no hype.

That being said I guess I just didn't really connect with the characters in this one as I wanted to, I do have hopes for the sequel though!

Michelle said...

Oh gosh I loved this book. Too bad it wasn't your favorite, but oh well. Good to hear that you plan to keep reading the series tho, I'm looking forward to book 2.

Blodeuedd said...

I do think we were on the same page with this one. Cos omg what a slow beginning, I was dying, and was skimming, I didn't enjoy the book. And I so wondered what i was missing that everyone else loved

redhead said...

Yes, the beginning was pretty slow and meandering, but I kind of liked that for an opening tempo. And I'm happy I waited till the hype completely died down to read Name of the Wind. I think it's suddenly getting a lot more attention now becuase the sequel is coming out next year. If there is one thing that can completely kill a book, it's hype.

I've loved plenty of books that other people didn't like, and abhorred plenty of books and authors that others just think are the hottest thing. I'm going to wait a few years, and go back and try to read some authors that I didn't care for the first tme around, and see how it goes.

KIKA said...

Michelle: So glad you loved it. I hope I become more enamored with the second one too and am looking forward to it as well :)

Bloduedd: Seriously when I finished it I shut the book, looked it over and flipped it back and forth trying to figure out what I missed ;)

Redhead: You know, I've found myself in the same boat many a time, I wonder too how I'd like a book after a few years coming back to it

Deepali said...

Aww! I really really liked this book too :) but perhaps it isn't for everyone - I think it depends on your mood when you read it, and definitely on you having a lot of time. Its not really a book to pick up in between other books or reading material.

Tiffany said...

Hi! I'm just dropping by via the hop. I love that you reviewed this book. I wish more people reviewed adult fantasy/scifi as well as YA. I really liked it, but I can see your point. Have you read The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie?

KIKA said...

Deepali: I'm so glad it resonated with so many :) it just didn't quite hit that note with me. Hopefully the next one will

Tiffany: aww I'm glad you enjoyed it, and yes I'm a sucker for fantasy all accross the board, I take it you are as well? :) I haven't read The Blade Itself, is it good? I'll have to check it out, thanks for the rec!

logankstewart said...

Oh man. I don't often read unfavorable reviews of this book. I've been on the Rothfuss train since the book's release, back all those years ago. I've read it twice, purchased several copies (gifts!), and recommended to just about anybody I could. Still, to each their own.

As for The Blade Itself, it's amazing, if you like that dark, gritty, realistic sort of fantasy. Nice blog, by the way.

KIKA said...

logankstewart: LOL oh man is right. but I'm happy you love it and have purchased several copies for gifts! that's love right there.

and now I'm headed out to get The Blade Itself and settle in for some good fantasy grit, Thanks for stopping in