The Name of the Wind – A Review

Three days ago I finished The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I wanted to try to review this book. This is a difficult thing because I didn’t like it.

I think a negative review requires more than a positive review. If a friend tells us that a book is great we might just read it on their recommendation. If something is good we don’t want too much information – we don’t want spoilers.  On the other hand if we are told a book is bad we’ll want details.

Speaking of spoilers there will be some in this…

I read this book after seeing a review, of sorts, on You Tube.

While I would love to share Little Book Owl’s infectious smiling love of this book I just didn’t get on with it. I’m not going to tell you not to read it though. I would never say that. Actually that’s not true there are definitely books that I would tell people to avoid. In fact I’d encourage you to read The Name of the Wind so you can explain it to me!

The Name of the Wind is a fantasy novel that revolves around the character of Kvothe. Kvothe is telling his life story to a chronicler. The book switches between first and third person narrative. This was quite effective. Kvothe talks in first person when telling us his story – third person is used for the in between parts in the present.

The story takes a little while to get going. When the narrative begins proper it is well told. We start with Kvothe with his family and then disaster. I don’t think I’m using hyperbole when I say that my jaw dropped and I brought my kindle closer. This part of the story was great and really ratcheted up the tension.

From this incident Kvothe is on his own. Money is continually an issue for him; however I never really felt the struggle. He always seemed to land on his feet. He always seemed to find a way to get money.

When he arrives at the university he negotiates his entry. He actually gets the masters to pay him rather than the other way around. Although the story shows us repeatedly that he is so much poorer than the other students he never seems held back by it. Some might say this makes him even more the hero but to me it was tedious. Since Kvothe seemed unphased by his setbacks they didn’t interest me either.

After getting to the university the story reads like someone going to school. He has his friends and enemies but to me none of them felt like complete people. There is very little characterisation, with a couple of exceptions, and all the Masters at the university basically merge together. The only thing to tell them apart is if they generally like Kvothe or dislike him.

It is perhaps the first person narrative that hinders the novel. It means we are unable to get into the minds of the other characters. We don’t even get much of a feeling for Kvothe. Even when he is whipped he just shrugs it off.

While I hesitate to make references to Harry Potter – The Name of the Wind is like The Philosopher’s Stone without Voldemort. I’m not saying that The Name of the Wind needs to have a villain. It is actually quite refreshing to see a fantasy novel without that. What I’m saying is there needs to be a pay off. Just some small sign that something has come together for the character. Even if we just here that he won a large amount of money – even if he loses it in the first chapter of the next book it would give some closure. It could be said that this lack of an ending is to be expected as this is the first in a trilogy; but generally each part in a trilogy has a satisfactory ending in and of itself. In the end Kvothe stops his narrative, there is some inexplicable disagreement between the Chronicler and Kvothe’s assistant, Bast, and the characters make for bed.

Maybe, sometime is the future, I might read book two. For now though I was disappointed with The Name of the Wind and have started reading The Book Thief.

Addendum: As I only have my eyes and my brain I can only give my opinion. I will admit that there were times when I was confused by this book. I had to read over a couple of sections. I got characters mixed up and I got taverns mixed up. So some of this may be me. When book three comes out I might attempt Name of the Wind again. Perhaps as one story it will work better.

—–

Vila: I’m entitled to my opinion.
Avon: It is your assumption that we are entitled to it as well that is irritating.
Blake’s 7: “Bounty”
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