I have to admit, I’m super excited about the new book club. I’ve had a lot of positive responses from friends and family members, and I’ve had plenty of suggestions for upcoming book club books. Even if none of my readers comment or join in the discussion, I’d say this book club has already been a success based on current participation.
Anyways, for this month’s discussion and review, I chose The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve only ever heard positive things about this book, and even Amazon.com gives it high 4.5 out of 5 stars.
If you haven’t read the book yet, The Name of the Wind is an adult fiction fantasy. Though the content is tastefully written, it does have some violence, minor language, and sexual innuendos, so I wouldn’t recommend it to younger teen readers.
The second book, The Wise Man’s Fear takes the sexual aspect up a notch (nothing pornographic, but it’s not as subtle). So if you feel squeamish about the material, I suggest avoiding the first book entirely so you don’t have to face any cliffhangers.
But if you think you can handle PG-13-level material, here’s what I thought as I read the book.
The Book Had Its Own Rhythm
Reading The Name of the Wind was a bit like watching a musician play on stage. The book starts slow, tripping a little around characters and details in the same way that a performer tunes a violin or plucks out a few guitar chords to test the sound.
But after a few chapters in, the book settles into a comfortable, yet unique rhythm. It bounces along as we meet the main characters, speeds up during intense action sequences, and slows down when explaining important concepts and details. And sometimes it does the opposite, just to see if you’re still paying attention.
However, the book is also just the first act of the series. Rather than the author wrapping things up and taking a bow at the end of the story, The Name of the Wind simply comes to a sudden stop, almost mid song. It didn’t feel like a cliffhanger per se, with characters’ lives hanging in the balance. But it did feel like I had to move on to the next book simply to get that sense of resolution that normally comes at the end of a story.
Only a Few Characters Had a Chance to Shine
Kvothe acts as the narrator of the story. He describes characters and events from his point of view, which gives us a unique perspective into the world Rothfuss created. We see his thoughts, we pay attention to details he thinks are important, and we form opinions about other characters based what he tells us.
While this gives the book a certain degree of depth, it also limits how we see things. Most characters only receive a passing mention, and only a select few characters receive any quality screen time, so to speak. Because of this, many characters phase in and out of the story without any particular arc, and several of the main characters lack the opportunity to grow and develop.
I Would Have Liked a Few More Details
I read a lot of fantasy fiction, and I’ve noticed that the authors tend to devote a great deal of time developing the world and establishing the setting.
In The Name of the Wind, however, the author skims the surface of his creation and often skips scenes and details entirely. This light touch makes sense, in a way, as Kvothe is telling the story to those living in his world. They wouldn’t need the extra exposition and explanation like I would.
But though the writing style fit the character, I found some sections a little confusing. I often had to grasp at the details that I picked up later in the book in order to make sense of sentences dropped in the early chapters.
I had committed to finishing the book for the club, but I could easily see more casual readers growing frustrated with the setup and tossing it aside completely.
I Still Loved It Despite the Flaws
The Name of the Wind is a far cry from the best book I’ve ever read. Some of the characters lacked depth and personality, and some of the poetry felt a bit awkward and out of place. The climax petered out, and I felt unsatisfied when I turned the last page.
In fact, when I finished reading, my first thoughts were: “That’s it? That can’t be the end. I must have missed something.”
Yet despite these little nit-picky issues, I still found myself liking the book anyway. Rothfuss pushed the boundaries of storytelling and left me hungry for more. I couldn’t stop at just the first book, so I plunged into the second book not long after. Now I eagerly await the third book in the series, and I’m excited to see what Rothfuss has in store for Kvothe.
Some Questions for You
Since this is an online book club, I can’t chat you up directly and ask you what you thought about the book. And because I want to keep the discussion fairly spoiler free for future readers, I don’t think breaking down certain scenes or chapters would be a good idea.
But I do have some questions that could help get the comments rolling. Feel free to answer these or simply tell me what you thought of the book in the comment section below:
- Kvothe lies constantly. Do you trust him anyway?
- No spoilers, but how do you feel about the ending?
- Did you relate personally to any of the characters?
- Did you think the poetry and songs added to or detracted from the story?
Or think of your own questions! I’m open to suggestions.
The Book for Next Month
I’ll be reading the English version of the book, though it was originally written in French (for you multi-lingual readers out there). If you’d like to read the book for free, I suggest going through your public library or through the Overdrive Media website (which also relies on your public library).
But if you want to buy the book, you can find a new paperback on Amazon.com for about $10, but used copies sell for much less ($3 or so).
I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts! Remember that you can comment on these books anytime, long after I’ve posted my review.