Mark Lawrence's Reviews > The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
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Feb 03, 2016

it was amazing
Read from September 21 to October 05, 2014

I'll give this 5* with no begrudging. I'm pretty easy with my 5*, they're not reserved for the best book I've ever read, just very good books. I thought The Name of the Wind was "very good". I read it in what for me was a very short span of time - it had that 'more-ish' quality that best sellers need.

Can I see what makes this the single best selling epic fantasy for a generation (apart from George Martin's series)? No. Excepting that perhaps the lesson is that to be head and shoulders above your competition in sales "all" you need is to be better by a nose - after that the non-linear dynamics of the market take over and elevate you to godhood.

I loved the writing, and that's very important to me. Rothfuss often treads the thin line between prose and poetry, and fortunately it's excellent poetry that he brushes up against. The quality of the writing breathes magic into even fairly ordinary scenes, and makes some of the important ones extraordinary.

The story itself is mostly compelling. It uses the reverse of the device I saw recently in Blood Song of a framing story that's not in the first person, delivering up a first person narrative. Our hero, Kvothe has bags of attitude and is a total genius at everything. To balance out his 'all power' we have his poverty, bad luck, tendency to dig himself into a hole, and his powerful enemies.

Kvothe's real powerful enemy sits in the background as a motivator (& presumably story for books 2 & 3) while his 'school-boy' adversary at the university fills in for bad guy for most of the book.

Like Blood Song, and many other really successful books, TNOTW is at its core a school story. Harry Potter, Wizard of Earthsea etc all feature magic schools, for Blood Song and Enders' Game it was a battle school, but the point is that the schools + lessons + masters combo sells bucket loads if you write it really well and plumb it into a compelling larger picture.

With magic the school system also provides a painless way of educating your readers in the magic-system you have (by virtue of it being delivered through formal education) elected to use.

Was there anything wrong with it? For me the whole 'and then I broke another string' and 'I was very hungry and dirty in Tarbean' sections were rather slow and lengthy - I understand their role in the story but they felt overplayed. And at the end the whole business with the draccus felt tangential and diluted the endgame for me. But no, nothing of great significance.

A final observation: throughout the book we (like Kvothe) are constantly aware of money. Kvothe's poverty is a driver and source of tension. He is constantly coming into money, losing it, incurring costs. We almost know the contents of his purse at any time and the price of all his needs. To me this was very reminiscent of Dostoyevsky's work (and to a lesser extent, Dickens) where a similar focus on the number of coins in our character's pocket is maintained and the need to cover their expenses drives much of the story.

In short though, given the impossible level of expectation built up by years of hearing how incredible this book is ... the text made a very good attempt to live up to its reputation.

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Reading Progress

09/21/2014 marked as: currently-reading
09/30/2014 page 160
24.0% "The prologue was magical, the first 120 pages very good. I'm finding the 'and then I broke another lute string' and 'and then I begged on a different street in Tarbean' a little slow." 2 comments
10/01/2014 page 272
41.0% "It really picks up once he leaves Tarbean. A marvellous passage describing his re-acquaintance with the lute, and then some highly readable chapters as he starts at the university. Magic + school really does seem to be a recipe for success (writing it brilliantly helps too)."
10/01/2014 page 272
41.0% "I did notice Kvothe got one of his sums wrong in the entrance exam but the master seemed impressed..." 4 comments
10/05/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Greg Repice Wow, You have not read this yet? You wont put it down. Book 2 is even better.

Daniel Pepper I was a little bit disappointed with the 2nd book honestly. Still good, but I preferred the first one. My opinion only of course.

message 3: by Jeroen (new) - added it

Jeroen Moons Have you read this yet Mark? Seems promising.

T.O. Munro I think Rothfuss's writing is very good, most particularly in the framing scenes in The Wayfarer.

There is a thread here of an imagining of a battle between Kvothe vs Jamie Lannister with GRRM and Patrick Rothfuss both submitting their ideas of how the battle will go. It is interesting to contrast their writing styles and I have to say I thought Rothfuss's version was a much better imagining and delivery than GRRM's

Jeremy Szal Personally I found it good, but very overrated. There was a lot of unnecessary fluff, and Kvothe irritated me sometimes.
Otherwise, it's a very solid fantasy novel. I need to get around to reading the next one...

Josh Guthmiller Very good review, don't miss out on the next book as I enjoyed The Wise Mans Fear even more than TNOTW.

Nuno Almeida "Kvothe's real powerful enemy sits in the background as a motivator (& presumably story for books 2 & 3)"

Sorry to disappoint, but against all expectations, that doesn't happen. I also liked this book a lot, but the sequel stretched my patience thin. I won't say any more so as not to spoil your experience in case you'll read it, but for me Rothfuss went from "promising new author that I must read" with the first book to "I'll check it out if I get the time" after the second.

I know I'm in the minority, though...

malrubius I couldn't get through it, tried four times. Guess I'll try again.

Avivs This is so overrated. Did not like it at all.

Dusty Wallace It's almost like we read two different books. Lots of begrudging on my part. Lots of better books and writing out there, including yours, Mark. I think Pat Rothfuss is a pretty cool guy and really dig his charity work. But I'll not return to the Kingkiller Chronicles. Mildly enjoyale, but if I'm going to read 600 pages it should be better than that.

message 11: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Greg wrote: "Wow, You have not read this yet? You wont put it down. Book 2 is even better."

Uh, false. all the points of weakness ML points out here, become glaring problems for book two. It fails to deliver on any of the foreshadowing of book one. And further the plot is incoherent most of the time.

Kvothe: Hey, I'll think I'll go off on some tangent that makes absolutely no sense in terms of the plot the first book hammered into your skull.
Reader (me): Um, why?

Good review by ML. Still, Name is the best fantasy book I've ever read.

Rachael L Moore Somehow the idea that magic school or being just a smidge better than average is the reason for NoTW's success strikes me as inadequate... though possibly true.

If Rothfuss were really as smart about what he's writing as I occasionally think, surely he could have avoided some of the most obvious complaints. Like his periodic self indulgence in almost purple prose. Or like the tedium of certain arcs. Or like having been evidently too subtle about exposing Kvothe's faults to the readers. Or how repetitive and unnecessarily mundane Kvothe's money worries are. Not to mention that given the plodding advancements in TWMF, the third book will have to be three times as long as its predecessors in order to keep the narrative's promises without being ruinously abrupt.

But here it is anyway: story inception. Here we have a fantasy story about a guy who is both carrying on a story and telling another fantasy story about his past. In the course of both, storytelling features prominently. Men from the village come in and tell stories. Kvothe's father made his living telling stories. Kvothe is inspired to leave Tarbean by a story. Kvothe's main quest is to learn a deliberately occluded ancient story. Kvothe builds his own reputation by exaggerating stories about himself. Kvothe escapes from Felurian thanks to his mendacity. It's postulated by his friend that Kote is weak because he has begun to believe his own story about being an innkeeper. The story arcs are, taking a step back, rather loosely connected vignettes common in the fantasy genre. Songs, legends, and tales punctuate the narrative.

It's always struck me as being a story about stories. It may be a meta fantasy story for lovers of fantasy stories. It is almost certainly a deliberate homage to heroic fantasy (and one not trying to criticize or revolutionize).

Comparisons to very different fantasies as I see made here and there seem to me to be quite wide of the mark. To attempt to rank relative to each other novels that are only superficially similar (being the same wide genre) on any but subjective grounds is spurious. (Though obviously the subjective judgment is each individual's privilege.)

message 13: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Nobody puts tedious sections in a story to make some meta point about story telling - the publisher wouldn't allow it for starters. I suspect most of the meta-genius stuff circulating in some quarters now is an example of exactly what's in the book - post-event chatter building a legend on the more humble truth of an author doing their best to entertain with a story. Now that _is_ meta.

Abhisek Dash Book 2 suffers from the generic second book syndrome...

Abhisek Dash And I believe the third book will seal the deal for the better.

message 16: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam Sanderson I believe this book to be incredible but as Nuno mentioned, we do not see this powerful enemy in book two. This actually didn't disappoint me as I very much enjoyed the second book.
My worry is that the 3rd book is going to be a whirlwind of meeting the enemy, defeating the enemy and tying up loose ends. Something I wish desperately not to be rushed!

Rachael L Moore No? As I say, I frankly don't think PR is likely to be quite as brilliant as all that for a variety of reasons. However, I remain convinced that the fascination with storytelling pervading TKC isn't coincidence, be it consciously selected motif or subconscious personal preference. As unlikely as genius is rank stupidity; isn't the truth far likelier to be somewhere between?

As to the other... publishers absolutely do leave in bad prose, tedious segments--mistakes of all descriptions! As these are demonstrably not cut, that seems a strange assertion. Either (a) publishers sometimes just don't *care*, (b) it's not objectively lackluster, or (c) there was some articulable value.

PS: I wouldn't use the word genius. One doesn't have to be a genius to write an entertaining book...even a smart, entertaining book. One need only to be clever enough to fake it, have sufficient time, and dedication. Why we feel the need to lionize as genius the result of hard work is rather mystifying to me.

message 18: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence A very large number of clever people put a huge amount of time into writing, the overwhelming majority of them meet with no success - success is not simply a matter of hard work.

message 19: by Marc (last edited Feb 24, 2015 06:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Marc Jones Whilst Pats world building and Prose are both excellent I can honestly and sadly say I didnt give a damn about a single character (well maybe Auri).
I felt pretty disappointed with the second book, just more of the first with added sex ninjas.

Heather I liked the second book better. I really dislike a story within a story. It feels lazy. I consider most epic fantasy writers to be unskilled at writing but often good with ideas. Martin, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, and Lawrence are the only contemporaries good with prose in my humble opinion.

message 21: by John (new) - rated it 2 stars

John William wrote: "Other than your own, this will probably be the best fantasy novel you've ever read."


message 22: by tabitha (new)

tabitha is it good

message 23: by tabitha (new)

tabitha or the bomb

Karola I managed to read about 70% of the first book and yes, it has some good parts but at times I found it tedious. The academy life was way too long for me and I desperately wanted it to finish. But what actually bothered me was not the plot (which I enjoyed at times), not the writing (it *is* well written) but the fact that I just couldn't feel for the protagonist! Even though it's a first person narrative I felt completely detached. It has never happened to me while reading any novel and that was basically what made me give up 3/4 into the first volume :/

message 25: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Karola wrote: "I managed to read about 70% of the first book and yes, it has some good parts but at times I found it tedious. The academy life was way too long for me and I desperately wanted it to finish. But wh..."

3* is a very generous rating then!

Keith I can see why some may find this a little long and tedious but I found it Intriguing. I'm looking forward to what comes in book two and three.

message 27: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick I really enjoyed TNOTW, though it's a little too meandering in places and there were times when I found Kvothe difficult to root for. But that might just be my tendency, as a person who's rubbish at almost everything, to dislike characters who are brilliant at almost everything. Who knows? (Well, I know, and the answer is "yes").
I was a bit disappointed with the second book, it felt a little flabby and there was a section in the middle that, frankly, had a whiff of self-indulgence about it. But I'll definitely be reading book three.

message 28: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Fantastic book, and you have to understand its the man's thoughts being written down if it seems meandering at times. I think it's a good story.

Charles Heather wrote: "I liked the second book better. I really dislike a story within a story. It feels lazy. I consider most epic fantasy writers to be unskilled at writing but often good with ideas. Martin, Rothfuss, ..."
Heather, you have obviously read the wonderful Robin Hobb

Charles Have not read, that's why I an not a writer.

James David Hudnall I liked it and the a second book has a brilliant antagonist that does nothing except tell the truth which destroys people. My problem with the books is a vague kind of misandry that was also present in the Wheel of Time and some other books of these times. But I love the feel of the world and the focus on the arts as the character's other profession. It has a unique kind of flavor of its own.

message 32: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn Rishoff Mark Lawrence - a well thought out, articulate review. Nothing frilly or gratuitous. Thank you for helping me decide my next read!

message 33: by Ben (new)

Ben Ward Were you paid to write that?

message 34: by Dave (new)

Dave I think the legend around this book has grown way beyond what it offers. Was it good? Yes. Was it great? Certainly not.

Patrick sets up such a story that it is interesting but how hard the second book fell leads me to the conclusion that we will get a stupidly abrupt ending in book 3 or another few books to finish it.

I like reading about the mundane, I like how it fleshes out characters but in this book it was taken too far that it became simply boring I was pretty much skipping paragraphs in hope that something would occur.

That being said Patrick Rothfuss is an extremely talented writer but I can't help but feel he fell in love too much with his own voice.

Tyler Caldas I'm surprised at how divisive people are on this series. I think this review does a great job of highlighting what to expect from the book. Personally I don't think Patrick is all that talented, with only middling execution on some really interesting ideas. A lot like Sanderson in my eyes, great magic system and a plot/characters that has you turning pages, but is by no means a work to put on a pedestal. I don't mean to devalue what he has accomplished, but rather to say it's impressive that despite the flaws on a fundamental level, this books can reach so many people and keep most (not all by the look of some of these comments) interested throughout.

Michael Mclendon I think Wise Man's Fear is perhaps even better and little bit surprising.

message 37: by Cj (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cj Lol it's an enjoyable book. Sometimes good books hit a person right, other times not. In a case like this, where a good book is more popular than most, if it doesn't strike a person just right then they feel they have to strike it down. Which is cool, more power to you; but to viley hate a good book because it's more popular than you're comfortable with it being is just dumb. I love this review, because it describes the 5* rating perfectly. It's very good and entertaining, but don't expect godlihood just because it's popular.

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