My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Read as a Quarterly Book Club 2015 first quarter read!
I have complained over and over and over about this book throughout the course of my reading even though I tried to be fair about it. I even gave it only 3 stars, but truthfully, it is worth more than that. It is probably very worth the 5 star rating some readers have been giving it. But I can’t give it that. I don’t see the brilliance in this as much as others have.
For me, this book was a strain on my patience, and had me questioning my love of fantasy thrice over. I did not enjoy that.
At the same time, while reading this, I most likely had already hit my fantasy-reading limit, having not read anything but fantasy for a few months now, and believe me, that was quite a lot of fantasy novels. So I was probably already sick of reading fantasy by the time I got to The Name of the Wind, which admirably, was a very well written book with lots of elegant, flawless prose.
First off, this book begins intriguingly, and ends fantabulously–I really despise a book that has a brilliant last page, and by god, I really did like the last page! Okay, the funny thing here is, I can’t tell if I liked the last page because it brings on the intrigue and foreshadows what happens in the next book or because I finally hit the last page and it was finally over. Whichever it is, they both stand true.
Onto the story…
The Name of the Wind is a story written in third person, yet predominantly contains a story that is told by Kvothe the main character of the book, hence why the majority of book is actually told in first person. Normally I love these kinds of stories. I love the feeling of diving into the past and having a life’s story unravel before my eyes. I love it. Hence why loved a number of other stories.
This is where it falls short.
I said this was written flawlessly right? And that the prose was elegant but in my status updates, I said that I didn’t think it was beautiful nor was it poetic. I absolutely did not fall in love with Rothfuss’ writing. There was absolutely nothing to fall in love with. It was, despite the many great techniques I saw being used in here, hardly entertaining. How could it be? I nearly nodded off a hundred times during the course of this book. I am not daunted by the size of a book–this usually does not daunt me at all, in fact, the bigger, the better, the more for me to enjoy, except of course when it came to Tolstoy. However, in bringing Tolstoy up, or even Dickens, I must say, either of them told an even more compelling story (and not just because they’re classics either! The title ‘classic’ does not deter me a single bit).
It is not to say that the Name of the Wind was not compelling. True, there was so much going on, who couldn’t be compelled? If it weren’t me.
I will say the positives first…
~The beginning was my absolute favourite part. I love how it is told in third person and the setting sets up the rest of the story. I also liked how he got into Uni (that was fun, but then after that, other things became gratingly annoying). And I also liked the epilogue page.
~Rothfuss does something with this book. He makes it literary and makes it interesting in some aspects.
~There were some positive moments–some ups amongst all the downs.
~Elodin was probably my favourite character, he was nutty enough to have a personality even though he hardly featured at all.
~I like the way tales were told in this story, and I liked the significance of them, along with the myths and legends accompanying it.
~This book made me realise I have been reading too much fantasy lately.
But that’s all….for me there were a whole lot more to suffer from
This book has been thought about as ‘literary’ whatever. If I strip away that and look at it as a simple ‘book’ of adventure, this these are my thoughts.
I would not entirely recommend it–especially if you’re after some action and something ‘more’.
What I really didn’t like about the whole book is that it is very slow. Yes, it’s a tale unfolding of a hero, but the thing is, it’s a tale told by the hero and doesn’t really sound sympathetic at all. If I’m supposed to feel something for Kvothe, I truly felt not a drop but annoyance. **Spoiler** When he lost his family. I did not feel anything. When he decided to stay on the streets—I agreed with him, but still I cared not. I just did not care! I didn’t care that Ambrose bullied him. I didn’t care that he saved a Re’lar from a fire. I didn’t care that he’d found an answer through every problem he faced. I just didn’t care. How can I care for a character who is too smart for his own good and yet was only given such a simple presentation of his character? Even if he was supposed to have some anguish, to me….it just didn’t get through. If it had, do you think I wouldn’t have loved this more? I would definitely have loved him more. Because it’s not impossible to love some characters like this. It’s just hard to love Kvothe, or even like him anymore.
In my eyes, I did not see the beginnings of a complicated character, I just saw a simple, gary stu, whose true character was swathed in the convoluted, dense story that surrounded him. And by that, I mean, there was so much going on that it didn’t matter that Kvothe was so boring…
I do not recommend this for people after some action because believe me, there is no serious action at all until the very end when Kvothe finally hits a part of his life story where it begins to grow interesting. TOO BAD THIS WAS THE LAST 100 PAGES. And I have to get through 560 pages first! Do you know how irritated I was about that? Screw that this is supposed to be literature, I was expecting an enthralling tale about a man who killed kings and rescued princesses, and instead…this is what I got.
I was disappointed, most definitely.
Kvothe was too much of a know it all for my liking–even though I will say, he has good reason to! But after spending days trying to finish this, I have reached the limit of no return, and can really feel no more optimism about any characters in this book.
It’s funny, the title of this book isn’t really discussed until the end.
Do you know also? Towards the end, we are introduced to the period of Kvothe’s life where he spent it knowing a girl called ‘Denna’–a very beautiful girl. And yes, I would have liked this, if! If by god, I can’t believe it, what was with their conversations? It sounded like I was reading a contemporary and not a fantasy at all. Who uses the the term ‘hooked’ to describe ‘addicted’ if the entire setting of the book is definitely not a ‘modern’ setting? THE SERIOUSLY EFFING BUGGED ME. Just like all the other parts of conversation between Kvothe and Denna. It didn’t feel natural to the world, it also didn’t feel natural and made Denna look like a whore–yeah I said it. It seemed too vulgar, and I feel like it didn’t fit at all!
Not to be petty but I have to mention this–whenever Kvothe talks about a moment when he cried, I never got the feeling he was really ‘crying’. I mean, despite the fact that he had every reason to cry in the moment, as a reader, I didn’t feel his feelings.. And this, I will definitely attribute to the writing style–I said it wasn’t beautiful, right? I also said it wasn’t poetic. This is what I meant. Rothfuss dumps it there. Like a piece of paper reckless thrown out with the expectation that it would actually land in the wastebasket, but instead it bounces off the rim and lands outside. This is what it felt to me. Every time Kvothe cried, that was it. He just cried, but there was no feeling in the crying. It was a hurtful moment, I wouldn’t have minded hearing more about how the tears trickled down his cheeks in reminiscence of tears shed long before, and forever always. But no. There was none. It was just: “He cried” or “He burst into tears”. How boring.
But you know, no matter how I complain about this book, I will say, this book may not be for me, but for others, others will love it. There is an epicness in this book that is waiting to be told, but truth be told I don’t know if I want to follow on to the second book just because it is so damn slow–so slow that not even my patience (and trust me, I have a lot of patience) can handle another 600 pages of irritating, much to perfect Kvothe. Even if the very last page of The Name of the Wind was practically begging me to want to read the next one.
As a suggestive read for Great High Fantasy, you might want to give it a go. Otherwise, steer right away.
**scuse any typos, I wrote this immediately after finishing it because I wanted to finally get to explaining how I felt about this book.