|Weird cover clearly designed to attract non geeks|
|I think this is fan art, but whose? beautiful!|
Character: One of the triumphs of The Name of the Wind, is that there are some excellent characters. However, I am of two minds about the main character. On the one hand I find him to be interesting, and humorous. On the other hand, I find his extreme youth to be difficult to relate to, and I sometimes feel like his character has some major contradictions. The framework for NotW is that a famous scribe named Chronicler has found Kvothe the Bloodless, a man of infamous repute, working as an innkeeper in a flyspeck town. He tells Chronicler that he will need three full days to tell his story. So Book One, marks the end of Day One, and so it goes. He then proceeds to tell his entire life story. My problem with Kvothe is that the man in the inn seems to be so completely different from the boy we see growing up. While this is intentional, I do not find it convincing.
One of the things that the critics laud about NotW is that main character is an anti-hero, because his adventuring life ends in ignominy and despair. This is not as uncommon in fantasy as the reviewers seem to believe, but the innkeeper, Kote (he changed his name by two letters for anonymity) is particularly maudlin as compared to the rather flamboyant youth that Rothfuss describes. This is the heart of the story, how a flamboyant boy/actor/musician type, becomes a weary, hardened, and embittered killer. But so what? The Coming of Age cliche frequently ends in the Loss of Innocence cliche.
|Smart lady with the watermark. rohanelf, nice work!|
That said there are a lot of wonderful characters. I, too am in love with the love interest, the mysterious Denna (though their verbal sparring grows tiresome, "I think of you like the dew on a daisy petal at dusk." (not a quote, just an example)). I am also quite fond of the other students at the Arcanum, Kvothe's friends at the University.
|Jordan's Traveling People|
Another cliche might be The University. This is not too common a cliche in fantasy, but it certainly exists, as it does elsewhere in literature. Though the opening pages of the book stress that Kvothe's time at the university is limited, it certainly seems to follow a year per year formula that the Harry Potter saga followed. That said, it is a wonderful and useful cliche and adds a fair amount of depth to the medieval/renaissance world that birthed the concept of higher learning.
|The Real Hogwarts|
|The city of Camorr|
I said in my last post that I wouldn't bother with this in the future, but I think a note must be made on the Name of the Wind's magic system. Much time is spent describing this system called Sympathy, and it is pretty neat overall, described in the link above as pseudoscientific energy manipulation. Overlapped with it however, seems to be various other magics, The Power of Names cliche for one (hence the book's title), the power of demons, and the mysterious powers of the arch-enemy, the Chandrian.
|Kvothe and the Chandrian, by sir-hearts-a-lot|
Completeness: So... you get the sense that the world is indeed a large place, but so much of this first book takes place in one city that it can be easily forgotten. That said, the denizens of the city are quite diverse, and Kvothe's family of friends are all foreigners. Also, his people, the Adema Ruh, are traveling performers, and that in itself is suggestive of a wide scope. More than anything, though the book is written believably enough that even though the world itself seems somewhat hazy at the end of this first book, you trust the author to make amends for this in later books. I'd say it stands up.
However, there do seem to be plot holes, and this is a major flaw in the book as far as I am concerned. The most obvious, and previously alluded to is the Szcherezade aspect of the story, in which Kvoth tells his story in three days. By the end of the first story he's barely 17. If the next book does a full four years (which it doesn't, he'd just barely be 21. Leaving our embittered assassin killer bard a bare 25. I'm sorry, you don't have the right to be bitter at 25.
There are others too: Rothfuss has a habit of telling stories within stories. I love a good flashback, but when a flashback goes forty or fifty pages of a 350 page novel, and then gets interrupted to tell a 20 page parable within the middle of said flashback, enough is enough. For another intelligent review of NotW, read Benjo's Books review.
At the end of the first book we are left with many questions. This might be genius at work, maybe he's setting us up. I'd like to believe that, but I just can't. To me it seems too much like the TV show Lost. Which was pretty much Lost after its first season.