NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss

[me_dropcap]S[/me_dropcap]ometimes a book comes along that is so highly recommended by everyone that you feel obligated to read it. Yet there is also a high expectation of brilliance that comes with it when not only your friends, but trusted authors and reviewers in the genre regard the book so highly. You open to the first page and launch yourself into the next great adventure.

And so it was for me with Patrick Rothfuss’ inaugural book, The Name of the Wind. I was so excited about the book because of the buzz around it. I had high expectations. And why shouldn’t I? Everyone was raving about its brilliance.

In the end, I blame myself. The first time I opened the book, I was excited and expected to get launched into action akin to Scott Lynch. By page 40 the book found its way back to my bookshelf. I was disappointed.

The second time I opened the book, prepared to approach it differently. I made it as far as page 60 and was bored because nothing had really happened. Once again, the book found its way back to my bookshelf. My disappointment escalated.

It was hard to reconcile that this story might be a slower story than the likes of Scott Lynch. I accepted that maybe it was had a slower pace like Robert Jordan. Still, it took years to pull it off the shelf again. I read the blurb on the back carefully so that my expectations were not ill-placed again, and I was determined to get to the end.

Again, the book moved slowly. It wasn’t until page 113 that anything exciting happened. I was excited, hoping that the event would launch the book into the exciting story that the blurb (and influencers) had promised. However, by page 119 the event was over and the main character, Kvothe, wandered into the forest to wallow in self-pity. It takes almost 100 more pages before the book starts to go anywhere. Kvothe suddenly decides he has had enough of being a street urchin and goes to the University to become a student.

From there, the story reminds me a lot of Harry Potter (a comparison I am certain many people will resent me for). But all of the key players are there:

Kvothe : Harry
Simmon : Ron
Wilem : Seamus
Fela : Hermoine
Ambrose : Draco
Hemme : Snape
Chancellor : Dumbledore
Kilvin: Lupine
Lorren: McGonagall
The Chandrian : Voldemort

That isn’t to say that all the characters in the story fit into this mold, but the primary characters certainly do. Kvothe comes to the University with nothing to offer (not even a famous name) except his brilliance.

The book offers a lot of the same style of antics. The biggest difference is that the puzzle Kvothe is trying to solve, he attempts in secret, without the help of friends or teachers. The University brings a substance in that is unstable and unsafe, which of course turns into catastrophe. Students split into groups by skill and class. Teachers hold grudges while others forgive. Kvothe is given more chances than he should be given. All the elements are there.

Then suddenly, nearly 500 pages into the book, Kvothe abandons the University to go chasing a rumor about the Chandrian without telling anyone where he is going. This was while Kvothe established that “absent students were punished with higher tuition” and that he would certainly be missed by more than one teacher.[1] For more than 100 pages (4 days in book time), Kvothe is gone from the University. When he returns, he apologizes for being gone, and is forgiven (much like Harry was always forgiven for breaking all the school rules).

By the end of the book, the blurb on the back of the book was nowhere near fully delivered. While the story was entertaining enough, it was nowhere near as brilliant as my influencers led me to believe. The rave reviews set me up for disappointment. Without those reviews, I would have enjoyed the book more. I would not have expected a grand, epic tale. I would have been more open to what the story actually offered. Instead, I was reading it and waiting for something amazing to happen. And it never did.

[1] Page 484

Tammy Davies

Tammy Davies

Tammy is a fantasy addict with a passion for helping others. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and Publishing from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. Her passion for the speculative genres inspired her to start Metamorphose to help new authors find a home. In addition to this, Tammy also works as an editor for Metamorphose Press, specializing in speculative fiction and book design.
Tammy Davies

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