Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

(I originally wrote this review in January of 2011. This remains one of my favorite books and I'm always surprised to find there are people who don't know it. I'm reposting in case you are one such person. Please remedy that immediately. Thank you.)

I am a fan of fairy tales - always have been. Partly because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool romantic, and nothing makes a romantic's heart weep like the will-they-won't-they relationships found in fairy tales. Partly because I was taught quite early in my childhood to always root for the underdog (Let's go, Mets!), and the heart of all fairy tales is the path of an underappreciated, misunderstood youngster who faces poverty, injury, loss, illness, and certain death in order to defeat evil. Mostly because I am drawn with every fiber of my being to a good rhythm, and there isn't a genre within the realm of the written word that can influence the tide of one's heart-blood like a fairy tale.

A well-written fairy tale makes you feel like you're sitting around a campfire that is just barely staving off the darkness and wilderness of night, going over the events of the day with people whom you can implicitly trust to have your back. It speaks to your mind's ear in the voice of a road-weary story-teller. It finds the right balance between the expected - the magic of threes, the foreshadowing, the black hat-/white hat elements - and the unexpected - the surprising twists that fling our hero(ine) into and out of trouble with such abandon. Fairy tales leave you wrapped in a patchwork quilt of emotional aftermath: elation, melancholy, fury, and of course, hope.

Mr. Rothfuss looks like someone who
can spin a good yarn, doesn't he?
There are a great number of fairy tales written specifically for adults. One of the best that I have come across is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I would guess that this book is officially considered a 'fantasy', but it felt very fairy tale to me. Imagine Harry Potter (exceptionally bright hero chafes under limitations and rules of youth) meets The Princess Bride (an innocent yet smoldering, star-crossed romance) meets DragonLance (feudal setting filled with burly peasants who gather at inns to discuss the nearby forest's potential for evil). It has adventure and science and magic and beggars and mead and candles and headmasters and maidens and copper coins and lutes and jealousy and keys and a maybe-dragon. In short, it is exactly the kind of story in which I want to immerse myself for hours upon hours at a time.

I have only a few complaints about this book. The first is that it was a mere 722 pages long. I devoured it in the course of several unintentionally late nights, and I am now slavering for more. The second is that, in the fashion of many great fairy tale/fantasy stories, this book is really just a large part of the whole story. It ends rather abruptly and leaves the many threads of the story all loose and dangly. This would be fine, if not for my third complaint. Thirdly, the second book in the story has yet to be released.  (Update: The Wise Man's Fear was released in March of 2011. It was also wonderful and some day I should review it. I'll have to reread them both first... isn't that a tragedy? ;-) We are now desperately waiting for the third book to finish the series.)

I am in agony. If you have any affection for fairy tales or fantasy stories, you should get your hands on a copy as soon as you possibly can. My misery needs some company.


  1. I'm sold. Now I just have to see if the book is available in my libary's ebook collection. Thanks for the suggested read.

  2. Me too, but do I want to go ahead and read the first two books, or wait till the 3rd comes out. Hate waiting to find out what happens.

  3. I poked around a little and I didn't see a publish date for the third book...or even any discussion of it being in progress. In fact, there are a lot of people who are quite upset about it and convinced the third book won't happen. So... maybe you want to wait? I dunno. I think I might reread it anyway just because his prose is a thing of beauty and I find it inspiring.

  4. Okay, you wrote me into it. I will find and read. I can wait for the 3rd installment, hopefully it will be forthcoming. It'll be like Games of Thrones......still waiting.