Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why You Should Be Reading "The Name of the Wind"

This book. This book.

My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree. 

"The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire. 

"The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age. 

I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.

My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.

But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know." 

I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned. 

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me. 

Are you shivering yet?

That's the back cover of Name of the Wind, the debut novel from incumbent king of fantasy Patrick Rothfuss. I am here to tell you that if you haven't read this book yet, your life is being wasted.

What it is: In Name of the Wind, a man in hiding from his past recounts his life story—from the day his family was butchered by demons whose names men fear to speak to his training in magic to, eventually, his immortalization as a legend living in his own time.

Why you should read it: NotW is a gorgeous piece of writing. Its main character, Kvothe, is perhaps the most intriguing character I've ever read. The prose is so lyrical you could sing it. Its world-building is on par with The Wheel of Time. And the protagonist is a ginger rockstar magician athlete. I won't belabor this point, because praising has been done.

Why you might not want to: There are only a few legitimate reasons not to read Name of the Wind. The plot is a little bit, erm, kudzu-like, and the protagonist is sometimes obnoxious and invincible. However, the more popular reasons not to read it are these:

1) You don't like reading. What on earth are you doing on this blog? May I direct you here?

2) You don't like reading fantasy. Well, I guess we can still be friends. It'll just be harder to do.

3) The trilogy isn't finished. That is technically a true statement; Name of the Wind is the first in a trilogy that hasn't been completed yet. However, if you refuse to read things because the sequels haven't been completed yet, you've got some trust issues to work out. 

4) You hate people and anything that comes recommended. Best of luck paying down the mortgage on that rock you live under.

In conclusion, folks, Name of the Wind is a master class in prose. Seriously. Just go read it.

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