The Name of the Wind

Back in August of last year, I went to my first Gen Con in Indianapolis. I was but four months into writing full time and excited to check out the pageantry, the games, and the writers. Upon visiting Author’s Alley, what I found were authors sitting at tables with their books and little else. It was less than impressive.

Unfortunately, I let that shape my opinion of the rest of the writerly things at the convention. Patrick Rothfuss was the guest speaker and I blew it off and thought little more about it.

Now that I know more, I wish I had gone.

Heading into Christmas, a blog buddy expressed incredulity that I had not yet read The Name of the Wind. She even generously offered to send me a copy. I declined, but I did put the book on my Amazon Wishlist and got it for my birthday.

I finished the book about a week ago.

The story was pretty good, mostly the retelling of a young man’s story, although there are events going on that hint at a larger story to come.  The missed opportunities and angst of the young adult relationship wore a little thin, but I still wanted to see how it worked out. He explores the familiar ground of education in fantasy — well traveled by the likes of Rowling, Hobb, and T.H. White — but keeps it fresh and engaging .

My biggest complaint is that it lacked the feeling of depth, of a larger, complex world in which the story takes place. That didn’t keep me from plowing through the story and I’ll read The Wise Man’s Fear when I can get my hands on it, but with some trepidation.

I think if I had found this book on my own, I might have enjoyed it for what it was: a good, fun story that entertains.  Unfortunately, the blurbs on the back cover and the recommendation raise my expectations considerably. Here is an excerpt from a Strange Horizons review that echoes my thoughts on The Name of the Wind:

But here’s the thing: it’s a fundamentally cosy book. It flatters the reader. It winks at her, promising her the real thing rather than some sanitised storybook version, at the same time sanitising anything that might genuinely unsettle, or unnerve, or wrongfoot her readerly expectations. It, like many works of contemporary fantasy, panders to a sort of imaginative tourism, a safe entry into an escapist imaginative space defined by its reassuring familiarity.

I think any disappointment stems more from my expectation of a more complex adult novel than anything else. In truth, The Name of the Wind feels more Young Adult to me. That said, where the story leaves off, there lies the promise of weightier matters. I will read The Wise Man’s Fear at some point and hope that Rothfuss’s writing will deepen. With the work and time he’s put into The Wise Man’s Fear, I would imagine that will be the case.

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