Review: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best fantasy novel I’ve read in years.

The highest compliment I can give a work of fantasy is that the world feels real and lived-in. Rothfuss clearly took his time, approaching the world from a bottom-up perspective: what do the common folk do? What songs do they play, what stories do they tell? After just one book, I feel like I get this world–and while it’s not an idyllic place, it’s one I’d love to visit.

How magic works, too, is extremely refreshing because it’s so damn tactile. Not a lot of wand-waving here: there are hammers and chisels and metal and sulphur. Magic is work and you need to get your hands dirty. Magic is about discipline and careful study.

This is also a perfect book to study if you want to understand how conflict works. Kvothe–our protagonist–is brilliant, talented, and charming…yet NOTHING comes easily. He struggles. It’s pretty clear the author spent most of his time asking, “What’s the worst thing that could happen to the hero right now?” Because the worst thing ALWAYS happens, usually in wonderfully unpredictable ways. Kvothe NEEDS to be brilliant and talented, because nobody else could possibly survive what the story puts him through.

I could talk about this all day, but I’m already neck-deep in the second book. Highly recommended, both as a great fantasy story and a REALLY wonderful example of how to keep old fantasy tropes exciting and compelling.

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