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The Name of the Wind

My seventh and final book for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's also my book fifteen for Bev's Mount TBR 2015.

The innkeeper of the Waystone Inn, situated in a very remote forested area, seems like just an ordinary sort of chap. Nothing special, just your run of the mill inkeeper. A writer of stories, the Chronicler, knows better and arrives at the inn hoping to get Kote - alias 'Kvothe' - to tell him his story. He knows that Kvothe is anything *but* ordinary. Eventually Kote agrees but tells Chronicler to set aside three days because his story is a long one.

Kvothe started life in a troupe of travelling actors and singers. Until he was eleven his life was idyllic. Particularly when an arcanist (a sort of wizard, very educated) joins the travellers for a spell. Kvothe is devastated when he leaves but the arcanist has taught him much and left him with a desire to attend the university.

Sadly, Kvothe's life is changed forever, one day, when he strolls into the woods on an errand. It takes a while and on his return his whole troupe, including his parents, have been viciously murdered. The culprits are still there but disappear in front of his eyes. Who or what are they? Kvothe is now a penniless orphan. He makes his way to one of the big cities, Tarbean, and becomes a child beggar, living on his wits, barely surviving. How is he supposed to get to the university this way? Something has to change and eventually it does. He makes it to the university which is of course where he discovers that your heart's desire is not always what it's cracked up to be...

Yet another book I feel rather ambivilent about. To tell the truth I actually wonder if I'm getting a bit bored with long fantasy novels. Or perhaps I'm just not finding the right ones. I did actually give this four stars on Goodreads as the writing is very good indeed and I didn't really have too much trouble finishing it. And parts of it were excellent... the section at the beginning where he was with the troupe, and the last 150 pages where I felt the book - 660 pages of it - really took off.

My problem was how formulaic it is. Life at the university was at times interesting but he gets banned from the 'most' interesting bit... the archives... so we didn't actually get to read much about that at all. Instead we get reams about his feud with a rich student, Ambrose, and I just felt like I had read that in so many other books. Harry Potter for one... Trudi Canavan's books... and I'm sure there are more. Why are none of these kids' school lives ever normal?

The other thing which made me sigh deeply was yet another male author for whom women seem to be an afterthought. You'd never think we make up fifty per cent of the population. His mother hardly figured at all and all the other women in the book were required to be beautiful and potential girlfriends, or fancied Kvothe rotten, thus suffering from unrequited love and so on and so on. I know I'm perhaps not the target audience of books like this but I do get very tired of this male sexual fantasy type of writing. How are we ever supposed to educate boys to change their attitudes towards women when grown men keep churning out these books that exclude ordinary girls and women? Where every women has to be stunningly beautiful or she doesn't exist. Sorry to rant but it annoys me. I'm now wishing I'd given it a three instead of a four on Goodreads. LOL!

All that said it's not a bad read if you're not ultra-sensitive to this kind of thing. Most people adore the book and it has one of the highest ratings on Goodreads that I've ever seen. It had enough about it that I can't decide whether or not to read the sequel, The Wise Man's Fear. On balance I think I probably won't. It's around 1,000 pages long and I'm not sure I can stand to be irritated for the amount of time it'll take me to read it, despite occasional flashes of brilliance.

I'm hoping one of these days I'll find a fantasy series by a male author that I really love. So far Robin Hobb (female... in the UK Robin tends to be a boy's name) is and probably always will be my favourite fantasy author. Her Liveship Trader series has some fantastic women in it, 'all kinds' of women too with actual characters! Just love it.


I think there's probably a lot of fantasy out there that's basically a Harry Potter rehash. Something new (!) comes along, and dozens of writers follow it like lemmings. But it's that way in about every genre. Sorry you had to run into it here.

It's been years since I read them, but have you tried Terry Brooks' Shannara series? I seem to recall that at least one of the books had a strong female protagonist.
I think you're right about Harry Potter rehashing. If it isn't HP then it's Tolkien rehashing. This one was kind of mix of the two. Yes, you're quite right about it being that way in every genre but for some reason my tolerance for it in fantasy writing has hit an all time low. LOL! Oh well.

Terry Brooks has been on my radar for years and I'm not sure why I haven't got around to his books. I will.

Blimey - when I think of the Shannara books, I think of female characters with swords in scanty clothing and great open-mindedness about sex! Granted it's been decades since I read them... *g*
Lol, and I don't remember that at all. Of course, I only got up to the 8th or 9th book.
I've seen Rothfuss around, and wondered whether to try him - sounds like it's not worth it for the frustration that would ensue.

I've got a Robin Hobb on my shelf though, and people keep recommending her, so... *g*

I must must must make a finished-Once-Upon-a-Time post, because I did, even if I didn't post over at the website, so that it only counts for me (if you see what I mean...) I keep hoping that this intro-to-madness-work will slow down, but it's taking a while...
I'm sure you must've seen his books around, a couple of years ago they were everywhere... I always am late to the party. *G* I think we're on the same wavelength with some of these issues so maybe this might not be for you. On the other hand loads of people love it...

Robin Hobb is so darn readable.

I haven't done a wrap-up post myself and am not sure if I will. No one I know seems to have done one either.

I hope life slows down a bit for you very soon.

Re: women as an afterthought in TNotW - Keep reading. It's from Kvothe's perspective, and it becomes pretty clear later that Kvothe was an arrogant, self-absorbed brat. TNotW was I think up to his 14th year, and he was insufferable to that point. He gets an awful lot of comeuppance for it in the second book (I think that one covers 15-17 years old). That one has a lot of fantastic female characters.

Edited at 2015-06-25 11:54 am (UTC)
I may give it a few months and see how I feel. I am curious to see what happens to him but at the moment I feel like a need a break. LOL! Thanks for commenting.
Ever since the market for Fantasy and Science Fiction really took off, there have been people writing in the genre who shouldn't... some of them, I think, are truly fans, but inept writers. But others are skilled at writing, and only write F&SF because it sells so well, and their hearts are simply not in it.

It wouldn't surprise me to find out there was a "Writer's Guide" for prospective authors, the way I've heard there are for romance novels and porn: i.e., minimum number of pages, stock character types, how many fights or romantic encounters, and so on.
I think you're spot on with both points. There's definitely a guide for romance writers so it seems only logical that there's one for fantasy.