19 October 2016


Seven different people recommended The Name of the Wind to me.

That never happens.

Which inevitably led me to high expectations.

I haven’t read a ton of fantasy. I love Lord of the Rings. I’ve also read Game of Thrones and tons of Brandon Sanderson. Aside from that, I’m a little unfamiliar with the genre. Oh, I wrote one too.

Anyways. My reading history and all the raving reviews made me expect a sweeping epic about the battle between good and evil. The beginning of the book starts in this direction. There’s some terror on the road, which leads villagers in a small inn to telling stories around a hearthstone. It reminded me of Tristram and Diablo. But the initial setting is simply a frame for the actual story. Kvothe, the main character, starts relating the tale of his life, beginning with his boyhood.

And that story is a more mundane drama. I don’t mean that as an insult, just as the opposite of an epic. (In fact, I rather like compelling stories about mundane, real-life problems.) Kvothe’s main conflicts deal with earning and spending money, social battles with an arrogant bully, and winning the heart of a potential girlfriend. Mundane.

It’s also a relatively slow, meandering narrative. Almost like a D&D campaign, with one conflict rolling along into another without a strong central crux. (I read that Patrick Rothfuss is into D&D, by the way.) All in all, you spend 600 pages reading, and you’ve really just gotten through act I of a much larger story.

That said, it’s still a pretty enjoyable book.

For example, when Kvothe defends himself in front of the nine sages on the university council (something akin to Harry Potter at Hogwarts), I’d just arrived at work and had to keep listening to know how the scene ended. That doesn’t happen to me often.

So, yes, I liked it. And I’m excited to read the sequel. But, just so you know, it’s not on my top 10 or anything.

Oh, and I liked the magic system, how it had particular rules, and how the characters cared to learn those rules and put them to their advantage. (That’s one thing that bothers me about Harry Potter—that these kids have nearly limitless power at their fingertips, so easy to grasp, yet they treat it like it’s a boring history lecture; it would be another thing if it were more difficult than simply saying a magic word.)

A couple small things bugged me, like the fact that no one had heard of “the Common Drakus” before. This creature is too extraordinary and living too close to humans to have been anything less that the stuff of popular legend. Denna and Kvothe’s relationship seemed a little weird to me too, that their only problem is that they never communicate. I hate finding that in stories. It’s frustrating. But maybe it’s more true to life than I’d like to admit.

The Name of the Wind is a good book. A fun book.

I think you will like it.

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— J