Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Name of the Wind

I recently finished the book The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is a tough book to put into a genre or category because while strictly it’s a fantasy novel, at the same time it’s so much more. It doesn’t read like a traditional fantasy novel. There’s a social system rivaled by few other than Tolkien and Rothfuss has this amazing ability to blend things from this world with things from the world in his own imagination so well that you can’t see the seam.

The story is told on two layers. The first layer is that of the third person narrator. It is the story of an innkeeper in a small village. Strange things are happening in the surrounding areas and the superstitious townspeople are growing worried. They’re harkening back to traditions and fairytales and nursery songs in order to fight against things they cannot understand.

The second layer is told in the first person. It is the story of the innkeeper told to a man known as the “Chronicler.” He tells The Chronicler that his story will take three nights to tell. The Name of the Wind is night one.

There are only two complaints (or perhaps warnings) I have about this book. The first is that the first three chapters or so are a little on the confusing side. This is the part of the story told in the third person at the beginning. I sat there thinking “What’s going on?” most of the time. However the person I borrowed the book from warned me that she had the same problem, so I was prepared for it, though, and that helped. In some ways this confusing is good, because it means that Rothfuss throws you right into the story, with little time to get acclimated to the new surroundings. In any other genre this is the way you’re told to write, so it really shouldn’t be any different in this case. And don’t worry, the confusion doesn’t last long.

The second warning is that this is the first book in a trilogy, but it’s the only one that’s out yet, and it sounds as though it will be some time before the second book is out. So if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to wait… you probably won’t want to start this trilogy, as good as it is.

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