The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I bought this book directly from Patrick the year it came out, at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY. He had kindly given me a lift from the airport in his rental car.
A chance meeting; I didn't know him (his name was only just beginning to be elevated to the first ranks of fantasy authors); we found some common ground in that both of us were teaching college English at that time (Patrick has since been able to quit his day job, as you know if you follow his blog). That was my first convention, and Patrick graciously shared some tips on convention etiquette that served my friends and me in good stead. By way of thanks, I bought his book (I believe he also bought something of mine that I was hawking at the time, so it was really a sort of swap). I set the book aside, intending eventually to get around to it (it is an intimidating doorstopper of a tome). Over the ensuing years, I noted the swelling praise and reputation as his star continued to rise. Last autumn I sat on a panel with him at another convention, something on world-building. I still hadn't read his book, though, and it was clear I would not again get an hour-and-a-half of Patrick Rothfuss to myself--he was now firmly ensconced in the rank of authors who cannot go anywhere without a mass of followers and fans vying for a moment of his time. I did not try, but I did give him a copy of my humorous little fantasy parody that was published last year, his name in the Acknowledgments for the advice that he shared with me on our first encounter those several years ago.
Okay, so that's how I came to have a copy of THE NAME OF THE WIND. Finally, this summer, I read it. What I have to say about it won't really matter a whit after all the great lights of the genre (and not a few from the mainstream as well) have weighed in, but this is just how it is when you read or hear or watch a work of art that is so good, that gives you such pleasure--you have to babble a bit. So here I go:
A couple days ago I walked from my home to the park downtown, my nose buried in THE NAME OF THE WIND. I may have done that at some time or other back in my younger days--walked and read at the same time--though I can't recall when. So when I say I could not put it down, I am not being hyperbolic or cliched. I literally could not put it down. Massive book that it is, I had it finished within a week, and I wished it were longer: tomorrow cannot come fast enough for me to procure a copy of THE WISE MAN'S FEAR.
Dickensian in its rich, full story and its colorful, unforgettable characters, it also has the verisimilitude of first-rate world-building and attention to detail. If you've read it or even a synopsis, you know that Rothfuss is not up to anything "new" here, and that is his great secret: he tells the oldest, most familiar tales with such a sure, deft hand that he sets a new standard. The book is nearly impossible to put down once you have fallen under the spell of its masterful storyteller (as a neighbor of mine can attest, who called out to me as I walked obliviously past, "Careful you don't walk into something!").
The story of Kvothe may be a type of tale that is as old as GILGAMESH; his stint studying magic at the University may remind you of A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, but this enthralling account of a hero's rise sets the new high water mark.
Patrick Rothfuss the man once took me to the Saratoga Springs Convention Center in his rental car. Patrick Rothfuss the author can now take me anywhere. View all my reviews