Book Review | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (UK cover)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (UK cover)

Meh. I will now write a soap-boxy rant review about this book; that I imagine almost no one will read, but it will at least make myself feel better.

This book has over 700 pages. I’ve read a good armful of 600+ paged fiction books. After thinking about it for awhile, I decided that about five of those 600+ paged books made good, crucial use of all of those 600+ pages. Gah. Most books I read that are over 600 pages, I find myself thinking, ‘Who the heck edited this book? They did a terrible job; at least a third of the words in here could be axed.’ Get to the point people (namely, authors). We are not living in isolated early 19th century where the only thing we have to fill our time is a description of a mountainside that takes five lengthy paragraphs to get through. (Okay, that was a slight exaggeration, but only slight; they are usually four paragraphs that lead into another four paragraphs describing something else.) Are you suddenly thinking of the ‘classics’? I’ll get to that later.*

The Name of the Wind. I had more problems with it than just its length and dragging along from point to point. I had major problems with Kvothe as a character. He’s written to be this incredibly smart, keen person, and yet, he is always making incredibly stupid choices and missing incredibly obvious clues. I get that teens make stupid choices. But Kvothe rarely learns from his bad choices and the traumatic things that happen to him as a child would undoubtedly make him mature for his age — which he is often portrayed to be, except when he’s not. He is just all over the place and not in a consistent, make-sense way.

Another problem I had with the story is that the same bad things happen again and again. Kvothe, due to his keen sense and gifted abilities will now have all the money he needs to live without fear of not being able to pay tuition or have a decent set of clothes… only to have it stripped away five minutes later. How many times did this same scenario happen again and again and again?

This entire book happens in one day. Well, kind of two because the first 50 pages happen before Kvothe tells his legendary story. I listened to the audio version of this book. It is 27 hours, 58 minutes long. I listened to the book on double speed, but in real life, Kvothe would not be speaking in double speed. Which means that it is not humanly possible for this story to be told in one day. Plus, they eat, have some non-story conversations, have to deal with tavern patrons, a bad guy, and then sleep at the end of the day. I’m guessing it would actually take about 3-5 days to actually tell this story. Do editors not think about these kinds of things?

As I was listening to the book, there were such abrupt transitions at places that I thought I had mixed up and missed a track. I’d listen two or three times, look at my playlist and finally would look at the actual book to find out that the chapters actually ended so poorly as to make it seem like I had missed a track on the audio version.

Sooooooo many unexplained, random things happen, especially at the end. Dan (my husband): “You have to account for the fact that it’s a trilogy and there are supposed to be unexplained things.” I get that about series books, but I should want to know more about the unexplained things than being completely confused and, out of the middle of nowhere, run over by them. For example: Bast. What is he? I honestly don’t know if Rothfuss even knew what he was while writing almost all of this book. Actually, I do know what he is: a manic, bi-polar, not-human. His obvious mental health problem is made clear in the last five pages of the book (scratching head because that revelation came out of nowhere.)


*Sidenote rant and questions I have about the ‘classics’ that may infuriate book elitist and high school English teachers. Are most of the ‘classics’ actually surviving our generation? If almost everyone has to either force themselves or be forced in a classroom to read them, are they really classics? I legitimately wonder if many of the ‘classics’ have the power to withstand the test of the upcoming generation who is reading less than any generation before it. Does this mean that generation is dumb or less sophisticated than past generations? We can look at a book and identify why it was considered a classic in the first place and why it was revolutionary for its time, but I don’t know that it is necessary for us to read all 600+ pages of it. If some of the first books we are giving to our students to read are the hardest to get through (for various reasons) then are we helping create a new generation of readers? We can be critical and look down on those not-reading-a-lot millennials and tech-obsessed teens all we want, but we cannot deny that in the last 20 years, our access to information has changed dramatically. I think that has changed how we read and what information we are willing to consume. If the information coming from ‘classic’ books is not interesting, or engaging enough to even half of the people in our culture (probably more than that), then I seriously question its status as a ‘classic’ or as necessary reading in order to be considered smart and sophisticated. Blah. End rant.


The Name of the Wind Book Cover The Name of the Wind
The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1
Patrick Rothfuss
Fantasy
DAW
March 27, 2007
662

DAY ONE: THE NAME OF THE WIND

My name is Kvothe.
 
I have stolen princesses 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.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

  • I read this rant. 🙂 I also don’t see myself picking up anything by Rothfuss, particularly because it is long, about a boy, and written by a white man. I have had quite enough of that in my fantasy reading past.

  • Well….what am I gonna say. I enjoyed it, but I do get what you’re saying about how if Kvothe was so smart why does he keep blowing it and ending up just one step removed from abject poverty.

    As to the classics, well, that’s a discussion we will be having for years to come. I think you’re doing a little bit of stereotyping. Not all classics are created equal, nor do they all belong in the same category. I mean, it really sounds like you’re focused on those that are roughly the size of a small gun safe, such as a Tolstoy, Dickens, or Hugo…but Hemingway is generally fairly short. Would Steinbeck be too long, or too descriptive?