Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Rereading | The Name of the Wind

I've reviewed The Name of the Wind before - who hasn't? It's made a couple of my 'Best Of..' lists. But how does it stand up to a reread? This question is, of course, rhetorical: because this post's contents are unchanging regardless of your wish to find 'em out. Anyway, here are some quick thoughts (but no review - I've done that). Rereading a favourite novel is always a worrisome business: it's irritating when it disappoints. Ruins all that nice nostalgia. Thankfully, that's one worry you can never experience reading Rothfuss - regardless of your read-or-reread status, his prose is just as amazing. From the first words of the prologue - even from its title, A Silence of Three Parts - I was drawn in. The prose of this novel is simply fantastic: Rothfuss is an artist of words, and it really shows. It fits Kvothe's character, too - since he's narrating the story as a storyteller, the intimate, reader-addressing narration really works.

Unfortunately, the second thing you notice is how close Kvothe steps to Mary Sue-dom. (Mary Sue-hood? Gah, nomenclature). I won't say he crosses the line, but he comes close. Fair enough, he's naturally talented: but that can only take you so far, and Kvothe is a genius at (seemingly) everything. The factor that saves this from bcoming a mash of cliches is that it's explicitly stated that Kvothe's tales have become similar to legend: he's deliberately a larger-than-life character. That, and the fact that his abilities don't always save him from the consequences. We know how his story ends, not as a hero but an innkeeper. We know something tragic happens, so Kvothe escapes the 'author's darling' category. (On the other hand, his colour changing eyes did make me roll my eyes - when I noticed on reread...)

I also like the University sections more than I used to. Yes, they're a little - well, regular at times. But Elodin and others are fantastic characters, and no matter how much University discipline procedures seem laughable, Kvothe's constant cultivation of his reputation never fails to raise a smile. The 'Bloodless' epithet? Because he drugged himself before a whipping. Brilliant.

With every reaction, there is one equal and opposite: so conversely, his interactions with Denna have begun to annoy me more. Or not, I should say, the conversations themselves - which are witty and occasionally wonderful (as well as convincingly awkward) - but the narration of them. Kvothe is meant to be older; jaded: so why does he narrate each encounter from the perspective of someone newly in love without interrupting? Jars me a little, considering his cynicism. But a minor complaint, all things considered.

Altogether, The Name of the Wind is as interesting on reread as it was originally wonderful - even considering my new jade glasses and cynical eyes. Yes, it has flaws, but Kvothe often lampshades them himself (he is a legendary figure so his genius - generally - avoids being irritating). So onto the Wise Man's Fear. And here's me hoping it's less episodic than I remember...


  1. Man, I love this book! I need to do my own re-read so I can finally read Wise Man's Fear! Patrick Rothfuss is amazing. One of my top favorite authors without a doubt.

  2. Haha, I feel the same way - don't go into Wise Man's Fear expecting another Name of the Wind, though. The prose is still beautiful, but it's much more episodic - and the general consensus is that for book 2 out of 3, the plot hasn't gone far enough. Still, it's a fun read!

  3. So... worth giving it a shot?

  4. Definitely. Kvothe can approach the typical at times, but Rothfuss' writing never dips below extraordinary - and it's worth reading just for that.

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  6. I'm finishing the Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell at the moment, but then I'm going to reread both of these books. I'm super excited! I did a review on my site as well, so it's nice to see what others think of it. I've just started reading what people think after they read Name of the Wind again and I love what I'm hearing (err reading). So thanks for sharing.