I just finished listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, read by Nick Podehl. It was GREAT! Epic fantasy gets overlooked a lot–mostly because it’s nerdy, but partly because people think that Tolkien was a genius and everyone after him is a copycat. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tolkien as much (probably more) than the average reader. I would even agree with that statement, to a certain degree–generally speaking. But that’s what makes me so excited about The Name of the Wind! It’s an epic in its own right and if you love fantasy, Tolkien, magic, myth, adventure, or storytelling . . . READ IT!!
Many fantasy novels spend an exorbitant amount of time on exposition. The author begins with a lot of description, then introduces some old, wise wizard/man to explain the powers that be to an ignorant hero-to-be, and said hero then sets off to save the world. Breaking format (in a good way), Rothfuss just throws you into the world and lets you figure it out. He doesn’t even start at the beginning of the story. Kvothe, kingkiller and hero of legend, relates his own story to Chronicler, who discovers him pretending to be a normal innkeeper named Kote. I am so glad that I listened to this book on audio, because it fits Rothfuss’ method of storytelling so well. Kvothe’s tale is exciting, magical, and incredibly clever. Another reason I loved listening to this book is the clever dialogue. I read so fast that I would have undoubtedly missed the subtle humor and wit throughout the narrative, but Podehl’s voice conveys both excellently.
The story also has multiple layers, as Kvothe is telling his tale in real time and is occasionally interrupted by something happening in the ‘real’ world. The characters in Rothfuss’ novel are multifaceted, mysterious, and real. One of the things I enjoyed most about this story is that Kvothe is frank about what is true and what is legendary about his story. He even admits to cultivating certain rumors and myths about himself for his own purposes. Customers at Kvothe’s inn frequently recount their versions of his adventures without ever realizing that the innkeeper, Kote, is actually the hero of their story–which is very funny.
The book is the first in a trilogy and I am so excited to read what comes next: The Wise Man’s Fear. Lucky for me, it’s already been released!