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The Name of the Wind Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 2008
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Amazon.com's Best of the Year...So Far Pick for 2007: Harry Potter fans craving a new mind-blowing series should look no further than The Name of the Wind--the first book in a trilogy about an orphan boy who becomes a legend. Full of music, magic, love, and loss, Patrick Rothfuss's vivid and engaging debut fantasy knocked our socks off. --Daphne Durham
10 Second Interview: A Few Words with Patrick Rothfuss
Q: Were you always a fan of fantasy novels?
A: Always. My first non-picture books were the Narnia Chronicles. After that my mom gave me Ihe Hobbit and Dragonriders. I grew up reading about every fantasy and sci-fi book I could find. I used to go to the local bookstore and look at the paperbacks on the shelf. I read non-fantasy stuff too, of course. But fantasy is where my heart lies. Wait... Should that be "where my heart lays?" I always screw that up.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite books?
A: Hmmm.... How about I post that up as a list?
Q: What are you reading now?
A: Right now I'm reading Capacity, by Tony Balantyne. He was nominated for the Philip K Dick award this last year. I heard him read a piece of the first novel, Recursion, out at Norwescon. I picked it up and got pulled right in. Capacity is the second book in the series. Good writing and cool ideas. Everything I've like best.
Q: How did Kvothe's story come to you? Did you always plan on a trilogy?
A: This story started with Kvothe's character. I knew it was going to be about him from the very beginning. In some ways it's the simplest story possible: it's the story of a man's life. It's the myth of the Hero seen from backstage. It's about the exploration and revelation of a world, but it's also about Kvothe's desire to uncover the truth hidden underneath the stories in his world. The story is a lot of things, I guess. As you can tell, I'm not very good at describing it. I always tell people, "If I could sum it up in 50 words, I wouldn't have needed to write a whole novel about it." I didn't plan it as a trilogy though. I just wrote it and it got to be so long that it had to be broken up into pieces. There were three natural breaking points in the story.... Hence the Trilogy.
Q: What is next for our hero?
A: Hmm..... I don't really believe in spoilers. But I think it's safe to say that Kvothe grows up a little in the second book. He learns more about magic. He learns how to fight, gets tangled up in some court politics, and starts to figure unravel some of the mysteries of romance and relationships, which is really just magic of a different kind, in a way.
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The originality of Rothfuss's outstanding debut fantasy, the first of a trilogy, lies less in its unnamed imaginary world than in its precise execution. Kvothe ("pronounced nearly the same as 'Quothe' "), the hero and villain of a thousand tales who's presumed dead, lives as the simple proprietor of the Waystone Inn under an assumed name. Prompted by a biographer called Chronicler who realizes his true identity, Kvothe starts to tell his life story. From his upbringing as an actor in his family's traveling troupe of magicians, jugglers and jesters, the Edema Ruh, to feral child on the streets of the vast port city of Tarbean, then his education at "the University," Kvothe is driven by twin imperatives—his desire to learn the higher magic of naming and his need to discover as much as possible about the Chandrian, the demons of legend who murdered his family. As absorbing on a second reading as it is on the first, this is the type of assured, rich first novel most writers can only dream of producing. The fantasy world has a new star. (Apr.)
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However, readers should be warned that, at this time, the third book in the series is not yet published and there is no publication date. Apparently Rothfuss is methodical, and doesn't churn out novels at as rapid a pace as other authors, so it may yet be a while before the series is resolved with a third (and possibly a fourth) book. I don't mind that there is more to look forward to, although of course it is hard to wait.
The real star, for me,is the world and tone that Rothfuss has created. He's built a world that feels real, one full of dark actions and characters, with one whimsical beacon where we spend the bulk of our time -- the University. An entire town of aspiring wizards -- we're treated to the same tone and shenanigans that a more arrogant and mischievous Harry Potter might bet himself into, but the consequences are much more real.
The blend of traditional fantasy tones (Harry Potter) with dark, gritty realism (George RR Martin) is what makes this series so incredible.
A couple of points:
1. Don't let the framework scare you or sell you on the series. It's so incredibly un-intrusive that it really doesn't interfere with the reading in a any way. It does set up some unique narration points, but Rothfuss is so tied up on plotting that we haven't been treated to much exploitation of the framework.
2. It may take 100+ pages to get into. The balance between traditional fantasy and gritty realism makes it difficult for some to visualize what's happening. My suggestion would be to think Harry Potter movies with elements of HBO's Carnivale.
3. Kvothe is a tricky character -- not as straightforward as he seems on the surface.
What set this particular book apart for me, aside from the easily flowing writing and the interesting world created by the author, was specifically its handling of "magic". Most fantasy stories lose me here, as there's nothing more deus ex machina than vaguely defined abilities without limits. This book doesn't even refer to it as magic, but instead as a rather limited Force-like connection between objects called Sympathy. The concept allows for much more compelling storytelling, as we don't have to worry about Kvothe or anyone else suddenly having a previously unmentioned get-out-of-jail-free card.
Its not often I read a book and have little to no quibbles with it. Its a testament to the strong writing that my only issue was with Kvothe's love interest, a flighty beauty named Denna (though that may be because I've known individuals like her in real life). Without spoiling too much, she comes and goes so much that I grew frustrated at Kvothe's continued interest in her, if only because she'll leave again in a few pages.
By the time the book ended, I was eager to immediately jump into its sequel without break, something I rarely do these days. Patrick Rothfuss's writings set him apart from the rest of the crowd, and I await more of them.