Friday, April 22, 2011
Book Chop: The Name of the Wind
Title: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: High fantasy
Verdict: Name of the (long)Wind(ed) but still intriguing.
Can't even begin to tell you where I should start with this. It's a beast of a book, and a proper Chop would be a similar beast. Let me run down the facts:
1) A number of authors I like/read/follow on Twitter have all had great things to say about this book, so I checked it out at the library on audio.
2) It was published in 2007. The sequel, THE WISE MAN'S FEAR, just came out last month.
3) Rothfuss really took his time with it. In the preface he thanked his dad for teaching him to take his time and do things right.
4) It's the story of a man named Kvothe, an apparent hero-turned-outlaw who's hiding from...something. Kvothe meets up with a scribe who's operating under the name of Chronicler. Chronicler wants to write Kvothe's story. After appropriate deliberation, Kvothe agrees, saying it'll take three days.
5) The series is a trilogy. Each book is one day of the story being told.
6) Kvothe tells his story from the beginning. As a young boy he traveled with his family. They were very dedicated performers and storytellers. One of the guys traveling with them was a magician who'd trained at an as-yet-unnamed-but-highly-revered "University." The guy teaches Kvothe tons of stuff about magic, and Kvothe is smart so he picks up quick.
7) Kvothe's father is working on a song about some fabled demons called the Chandrian. The song calls the Chandrians' attention, and they show up and slaughter everyone except Kvothe, who was wandering in the woods.
8) Kvothe spends the next three years as a homeless Dickensian urchin, learning to survive on pretty much nothing.
9) When he gets his act together, he heads to the University and BS-es his way in, based on the stuff he learned from the guy traveling with his family.
10) From there, it's a lot like Harry Potter, but I don't say that in a derogatory way. It's a lot more grown-up though, including everything from public lashings to loan sharks to raucous drinking to powerful upperclassmen crapping on the little guy. All of it was well-done and enjoyable, thorough and detailed without being overly attentive to irrelevant things (like, for example, how clothing is made.)
11) After a few semesters of rivalry and schooltime whimsy, Kvothe hears of an attack at a wedding 70 miles away. The details of the attack are similar to how the Chandrian killed his family, so he goes to check it out. Whoops! Not Chandrian, just a drug-addict dragon. (Spoiler alert.) Kvothe kills it.
12) When he comes back, he has a showdown with Ambrose, the "Draco Malfoy" of the story. Kvothe uses magic to break the dude's arm, instinctively summoning the wind. One of the professors sees him do it, and offers to teach him how to refine his talent.
13) The end of book one.
14) There are frequent interludes where Kvothe and Chronicler are talking to each other, before Kvothe goes back to telling his story.
15) The magic was really well thought-out, almost to the point of being a science. Imagine everything you read about Allomancy in Sanderson's MISTBORN series. It's even more detailed than that.
16) The humor was spot-on.
17) As a stand-alone book, I don't think it accomplished much, but it established a whole ton of stuff. We get a lot of detailed backstory on the main character, including anecdotes and pivotal moments of learning. On their own, these individual experiences make great stories. The book is almost just a collection of them. I'll have to read the others to see what the result is.
18) It's 662 pages, or 27 hours on audio. Good luck.
19) I don't personally believe that a book needs to be this long. But I guess Rothfuss, his agent, his editor, his publisher and his friends disagree. To an extent, maybe I do too, because I liked it well enough. Still.
20) Profanity speckled here and there, including sensual references. A soft PG-13 on this one.