Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

An inn in a small village has had a new keeper for a while. He seems somewhat strange, a detached but friendly man. He seems to know a lot of things, but tries not to attract any attention. Tension has been rising for some reason -– the highway robbers are more common than before, there are tales of something strange going on and strange creatures have attacked villagers. A scribe arrives at the inn. He seems to recognize the innkeeper. He apparently is the greatest hero there ever has been, Kvothe, and the scribe wants him to tell his story. And he does –- starting from his childhood. He was born into a traveling actors' troupe, but his parents and everyone he knew were killed by a strange man with a group of soldiers who disappeared into thin air. After much hardship, he joins a magic university, where he learns about magic and about what passes for science in his world.
The beginning of the book was excellent: well written, smooth and tight. Unfortunately, the writing and plot went badly downhill at about the point when Kvothe got to the university / magic school. People weren’t behaving very logically, and Kvothe was often extremely stupid for someone who apparently was supposed to be very bright. There were all the tropes of a magical school: teachers who inexplicably hate the hero, other teachers who are sympathetic, good friends and bad bullies, who torment the protagonist apparently just because they are bad people. The end of the book seemed to go in a better direction, and there is hope that the next one might be better. At least it seems likely that not all of it will take place in that damn school any more. And perhaps more space will be devoted to the tensions which are raised in the framing story itself. That story seems more interesting than the story inside a story (and often there is a story inside a story inside a story, as when Kvothe is telling his story, he is often telling stories of other people telling their stories).

722 pp.

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