Book Discussion: The Name of the Wind ~CAUTION ~ Contains SPOILERS
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Away out here, they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire Joe,
And they call the wind Maria
There was a lot of potential for annoyance in having the plot do the jumping back and forth from the present (the bar situation) to childhood.
One of my questions is whether people consider it to be too wordy? One of my hesitations was that it's written in a kind of mellifluous, lots of words, adjectives and adverbs are great style. Apparently this is quite out of fashion in the literary world. It worked in this case, but other authors would have annoyed me half to death with it.
Scott Lynch used the switching between past and present as well (more so because his books are half and half) and his books seem popular too. I think it's something translated from narrators in books to flashbacks on TV back to an expanded narrator role in books. If you can stand Lost or The Nine and have read books in the past with a scribe introducing the story it just seems natural progression for the story to be interrupted by the present every so often.
When it flashed back, it got soooo predictable. Still a good read, but I was one who found the character insufferably arrogant. Being part of the story, that came in stride.
I know there is more coming in the sequels, but I felt completely cheated at the end...all the stuff that so tantalized in the early chapters was made so mundane - and the sawn off chapter just irked me - lots of writers do this. My view, it's just bad planning. A series can have endings that leave more coming - but also satisfy as a pause point.
Then the repeat of the opening premise - with no development, YET, with the resounding WOW, this is gonna be SO deep and powerful...no substance to that, as yet.
I WILL run straight out and get the sequel - I truly want this author to pull it off! Lots of fantasy can SEEM predicatble - it's all in how it resolves. This book was sweetly readable, had a solid cast of characters - but it left so much untapped. We know a rather mysterious character's quite (?) unmystifying kid and "college" years....I want to see where it moves to.
The quite unexpected start of the story - seen in 3rd person, where the character was TOTALLY burned out - and yet still going - was gorgeously mysterious. I liked beginning where it did, with the idea of this towering mystery.
The first person view tore off that veil, and I had a bit of a bump, disappointed, that the close of the volume didn't cure.
I have kept this book - absolutely - (I read a lot and pass them away) - on the trust that this author who wrote that massively amazing beginning will deliver in the course of the series.) If he can pull it off, I'll be on my feet applauding.
It's a first volume well worth the ride, in any event.
He's a smug, arrogant genius.
I kind of like that. A somewhat unlikeable hero, who's intelligent in an intellectual way, but dense when it comes to human relations. I want to smack him as much as admire him.
This trend of narrative-through-flashback puts me in mind of timeslip literature, or a version of it. Traditional timeslip emerged in fantasy writings for children - having one child in one time period 'meet' another from a different time period. I can see a bit of an evolution in today's writings from Lynch, and Rothfuss and others.
I like it!
More when I am awake.
#12 - Musereader - in the author's favor, I had heard something on the rumor of that background history, too.
The hair-curdling yell I raised over the ending was just pure frustration, that the next bits surely must be positioned to establish the connection with that oh-so-brooding and mysteriously powerful opening, and the meat behind the changes in the character's growth are quite likely about to start to happen. Because the character, opening 3rd person, here, is NOT arrogant. He's not young kid, anymore, or blindly rash. He's changed!
Just when this volume starts to unveil the looming promise and show the serious meat - we hit the cutoff. I swear I yelled aloud.
Wasn't prepared for the slamming stop, mid-motion, is all. I was flipping, reading over hours for that very shift....arrrgh!
If the proof in the pudding's in the oven, still, it'll be worth the bleeding heart wait.
As a first novel - the very brilliance makes the frustrations shout out. Don't mistake my passion for less than edge of the chair enthusiasm - I want to see the whole spread of this tale, more than anything. The kid was fun - but now where will this story take us - -
If Rothfuss was going for a bumbling genius type, he wasn't very successful, imho. It just seems like sloppy character building to me. I just finished reading Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World; now there's a well executed bumbling genius (the old professor who lives behind the waterfall).
If I sound hypercritical, I just want to say that I really did enjoy this book, despite the negative comments I might make. They're of the "you are a good writer, you can do better than this" type, not the "oy, vey, you suck" type.
Waiting impatiently for The Wise Man's Fear...
Is he almost too perfect, maybe, but it does make his subsequent falls and short sightedness all the more spectacular and obvious in hindsight. Also don't forget as much as he is being 'honest and accurate' he himself is still telling his own story with his own biases of himself fully integrated.
I can't wait for the next one in the series. I also think this is an incredible first novel.
As far as Kvothe and his character, he didn't bother me a bit. Perhaps because I've been in very close relationship (my sons and their friends) with very bright boys the age he is in this book (15 for the most part), who can be very socially naive and very arrogant about their skills, etc. One minute you want to sing for all their potential, and the next you want to smack them upside the head! I thought his character very believable, especially considering the emotional, mental and physical trauma he had endured.
Like others, the end left me agonizing, but I wasn't surprised. When I had less than a half inch left to read and he still had no sword skills, I knew we were only dealing with the childhood here. I loved his two friends in the college, many laugh out loud moments there. I like, with reservations, the Masters at the college, loved the whole idea of Sympathy and naming things.
Bast intrigues me and I am dying to get to the part of the story where he meets Kvothe! The back and forth in time didn't bother me a particle. I needed the breathers too, and wanted to know what was happening in the present, why is he hiding in an inn, apparently without his magical powers? Sometimes I felt interesting people were just dropped, such as Skarpi and Abenthy, but I have a feeling we will meet them again.
I had to put the book down when he took the candle into the Archives. I couldn't stand the possibilities on an empty stomach. I was quite relieved when he was only banned, the thought of all those books going up in flame made me sick.
Yes, Kvothe is a tad arrogant, but only because he deserves to be. I have met people who appear to do just about everything well, and lack many (all?) social skills. Half of my friends in mensa fit that bill.
Anyone else keep picturing Luna Lovegood from the Potter films whenever the girl from the Underthing shows up?
I love the way this guy writes. It's almost Guy Gavriel Kay-esque!
#20 - Haven't watch any of those yet.
I finally finished, as well. It took me forever and I'm not sure why. Kvothe didn't overly annoy me. Having recently been a teenager, I know how boys (and sometimes girls) tend to think they're invincible, brilliant, and meanwhile have absolutely no skill with the opposite sex. By the present day chapters, you can tell he's obviously grown since then, and I really really want to know how he got there.
On the other hand, it did frustrate me that every time something good happened to Kvothe, it got taken away almost instantly with even worse repercussions. I hated, hated, hated his conflict with Ambrose. The foreshadowing bothered me. I spent the whole second half of the book wondering and worrying about what bad thing was going to happen to him next. I knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when.
I really liked it though, I'm eager to read the next installment.
I really enjoyed the character of Bast, and can't wait to find out more about him.
I definitely enjoyed the book - but I read it months and months ago, so can't recall too many specifics to contribute something more worthwhile to the conversation.
Looking forward to the next volume.
I still chuckle over what I think was the BEST line in the whole book, describing the teacher with the mouth like a cat'sass...classic. I had a math teacher who looked exactly like that...!
I mostly agree with previous posts; very good work for a first book, a little predictable, great world building. The world building was particularly strong. The basic premise of the boy losing his parents to the evil villain(s), suffering as a neglected orphan, having to make his own way in the world to learn what he needs to get revenge/get over it/make his own life has been done and done. (Didn't Charles Dickens do it well?) The author handles it pretty well but it's not very original. I also found the long section at school bogged down a bit; a sharper editing pencil would have helped. How many different ways do we need to be told that Koveth is too brilliant to believe and is twisting Ambrose's tail to make a powerful enemy? OK, we got it.
I don't think Auri is so much like River as like Luna; an observer who see what others don't and not at all threatening (not like River; kicking ass, stabbing Jane, etc). And I don't think she'll turn out to be Bast, he seems very obviously to be born whatever fey creature the author will reveal him to be in some sequel, not a damaged student. Would the University have admitted a demon? Where would he have gotten his recommendation? Anybody else wonder about the similarity of the name to the ancient Egyptian goddess? Or have I just read too much Gaiman? Auri is so clearly a plot device to get Koveth into the Archives. At least we weren’t asked to believe he was so brilliant that he figured everything out for himself. Plus she gave him a chance to show his quality; being kind to this waif even before he has a selfish motivation. Of course, it’s nice if plot devices are also decently developed characters so the author gets points there.
I didn't hate the ending but I was a little disappointed. I generally don't like series books where each does not stand alone to be enjoyed without reading the rest of the series. I think authors owe readers a complete tale; it can be connected to the rest or a subpart of a larger tale, but I think it needs to be more independent than this one. Seems too much like just a commercial tactic to get readers to buy the next book so they can finally finish the first book. But that didn't ruin the book for me. I will probably read the next book when I happen to find it but I won’t obsessively check for the release date. This was a good group read selection and I’m glad GD introduced me to this work.
Did anyone else think the belief system that was mentioned, at least the stories of the god there, had strong ties to Roman Catholicism? I think that, and the world building reminded me the most of Tolkien. Not that Tolkien was as straightforward in his tales of origin as this author, just the feel of it.
The religion sounds a lot like medieval Christianity, which felt right to me as this is a pseudo-medieval Europe kind of world. (Anyone notice how the end-page map kind of looks like Europe with the main bit just switched around a bit?) One thing that seems a bit off from Christianity was the god's requirement that people had to be punished, so even the ones who repented got wacked. That's not how it's done in the Christian Bible; it's repent and you are forgiven. That seemed to echo something Nordic or some other pre-Christian European beliefs. Certainly there's a fallen angel element to Lanre/Haliex (or however that's spelt) although his motivation and goals are clearly very different from Lucifer’s.
What did I think?
Well, first off - I liked it. Good worldbuilding, I think. The characters did not annoy me the least. It's clear, I think, that the 'present day' Kvothe is not the arrogant young man who attends university, and I've met my share of these young guns thinking they can do anything and get away with it.
So, pretty believable.
I think it's obvious that this will be a tale in three parts. Gigantic clue in the beginning - Kvothe will need 3 days to tell his tale to the Chronicler, and the book is subtitled 'day one'. So we know from the beginning that this will not be a finished tale.
Because of this it figures that the first part will deal with typical coming of age issues, and we see a lot of the standard tropes and archetypes paraded for us. Well handled, in most parts, but when I closed the book I was frustrated by the lack of turning point - a coming of age tale usually has to display how this or that set of events made the protagonist into a grown person. None such here, really. I think the naming of the wind would be 'it', but we don't get to see any of those effects on Kvothe. He just gets to continue university, pays off his debts to the gal in Imre, and are generally lost.
Personally I think this suite of books really should had been published as one volume. The ending is not even a cliffhanger - it's just a lot of loose ends, dangling in the wind.
I will buy part II when it arrives in April, and part III whenever it's going to be published. Holding my thumbs for some nice twists and a clever conclusion...
ETA - And yes, he's far too wordy, sometimes - uses to many words to say too little. And the detour with the dragon? *duh* Kind of a disappointment.
I don't think the magic system was particularly bad, but placed beside Brandon Sanderson's allomantic system from the Mistborn books it looks weak and... well, weak.
(Brandon is also better at pacing is stories; possibly I think this has something to do with him utilising writer groups to tune his tales, but maybe Rothfuss do this as well?)
As for the belief system... I'm no expert on religions, but I think it would be good to remember that that bastard 'christianity' in no way is a single, monocultural, entity. Lutheran protestantism, which happens to be the former state religion here in Sweden, is very hard on penance and thinks repentance is for wusses. In fact, the general view is that because you're human you know you're going to sin, so you better make penance all day long, just to make sure.
So to me the religion as described felt like a christian variation. I didn't stay awake thinking about it, though, as religion wasn't a very prominent feature of the story.
What I did think about, though, was how the magic was viewed by the common people - by distrust and disbelief. It was mentioned in the book that the arcanists better behaved themselves and kept their innovativeness in check or the populace would turn against university and arcanists both. This was first demonstrated in the scene when Kvothe first met Abenthy. This is not far from a theme discussed in my previous read Anathem - just substitute 'arcanist' with 'scientist'.
Is this dread of knowledge, and of people with knowledge, a sign of our times? Is this a recurrent theme because it holds a high relevancy to how we as humans view knowledge and the shaping of knowledge?
btw, I pretty much agree with your entire 2 posts (except I was annoyed by Kvothe) and I think this is a first for us. ;-)
And I think you're right about the allegory. Scary for it to turn up in two subsequent reads - indicates this mistrust is pretty prevalent...
So, yeah, I'd say it's pretty prevalent.
Here's a beer for you!
So, if you want to discuss the election, go to Pro & Con or Outside.
Auri reminded me of Luna too, with her wispy blond hair and vague other-worldliness, that's exactly how I pictured her!
I found the whole dragon episode fun, unexpected. It was interesting to read a different take on dragon behaviour and biological make-up. I love the mystery of the Chandrian, I'm looking forward to learning more about them. And how Kvothe lost his powers and how he met Bast and why Bast is so devoted to him.
I really got wrapped up in this book. Even with the foreshadowing...when Kvothe came back to the caravan I was thinking "No, don't look!" I was wishing something else for him 'cause I knew something dreadful had happened to his parents and the rest of the troupe. And with Ambrose, whenever those two would have an encounter I'd get an knot in my stomach. And the mercenary at the end of the book, when he comes into the Inn...now that had me on the edge of my seat! Whew! Maybe it's a good thing I'm finished the book!!! I don't think I could have taken much more at one time.
But I can't wait until April when the next one comes out! I'm hooked.
My daughter bought this book when it first came out, and I was shaking my head at her, babbling about how she should research it first. But, apparently, reading the first few pages while sitting on the floor in Barnes & Noble got her hooked. Turns out she was 100% right, so my kudos to her.
I don't understand the feelings that someone who says they are more intelligent than most people is arrogant. My mom says that about me. To me, it's the same as saying I'm brunette or like to read. It's just something about me that I know and has been backed up by testing since I was in first grade. It doesn't make me of more value than anyone else. And it didn't get my anywhere either. How is that arrogant?
I like how he didn't have horrible childhood. He was loved and cared about. Yes, eventually something terrible happened, but he has a basic foundation of goodness.
I also liked that he didn't end up in a typical situation of being abused by someone who took him in or being adopted by some wealthy stranger, etc. I thought the three years on his own was pretty different. But then I haven't read much Dickens either (sorry, yuck.)
I do think it's an overlong book and could have used some heavy editing.
I give it a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
I don't think I see Kvothe as overbearing. Maybe he is a little presumptuous at times, but that's based on his self-confidence, his intelligence, his experience - things his three years of hardship have trained him to rely on. So perhaps arrogant isn't accurate after all.
Maybe just a bit egotistical? He knows he's very smart and he's impatient to learn everything right now, he doesn't want to wait, nor does he think he needs to wait. That's the impatience of youth/adolescence.
I am looking forward to it!
"I'm sorry, but I've been really sick lately and working under a deadline, (hence the delay in getting back to you.) I'll have to take a pass. Thanks for thinking of me though....
It's too bad he can't join us, but I'm impressed that he took the time to send me a personal email. Nice of him.
But on Denna, I thought she was presented as a pragmatist. She's broke and there are limited ways for a girl of her station and talents to get by. She may end up a courtesan. Not a far step from being the musician with a patron that she's aiming at. Or maybe she will find a patron who doesn't expect to get paid back in sex; maybe a female patron. She clearly likes our hero a lot, maybe loves him. But she needs to eat regularly so she's not throwing herself at him. He can’t even really support himself. Plus she is pretty jaded about guys who adore her (and she knows Kvothe adores her). I can see her as a little like Mary Crawford in Austen's Mansfield Park. She really likes the guy but can't commit to him unless he's much richer! Doesn't love him enough to starve with him. Some might call that unromantic but others may call that practical. Or others may see her as a cold-hearted manipulator who gets what she needs with the tools she has available, including using her ability to get guys to help her like Adela de Otero in Perez-Reverte's The Fencing Master. And all this mystery about her is a much better plot device than making her a simple love interest the hero merely has to impress and win. This gives him a wounded-by-love vib that make heroes appealing. At the same time, it may set up lots of interesting action as he tries to find her, understand her past, help her out of more tight spots, etc.
The practical issues may well just be a ruse. Maybe she's in with the chandrian or the aimar (or whatever the opponents were called)?
I liked it, but it really suffers from being the first volume of a three-volume novel. Not a trilogy, but a three-volume novel in the 19th-century sense; one story published in three physical volumes. I gather that this is true; the publisher chose to put it out in three pieces, but it was written as one. So the ending was a complete let-down.
Yes, Kvothe-the-adolescent is rather annoying; you'd think he'd have learned something by now about dealing with people. He keeps thinking his conflict with Ambrose is over, and getting blindsided with the next attack. How many times does it take? But I don't really find him to be arrogant. His adoption of Auri is pure kindness; he didn't have to do that. (Ignoring the fact that it's a plot device to get him into the Archives.)
I agree with Janny's take on it, by and large. I will definitely get the next installment. And, if we're having a pool, I'm betting the two story-arcs collide about the middle of book three :-)
In my/our defense I have to say when see the name Ash I think of the tree and not the fire residue. I have dozens of Ash trees in my yard and half the streets in New England (and any of the other places I've lived in) have tree/plant names.
I found the jarring transitions back to the pub to not work very well - as an intial opening device, fine, but then stay in that mode all the way to the ending. I was impressed with the dragon scenes - all the foreshadowing from the book, and I still didn't expect it. It was more than a chance encounter, because this was the first time he felt like a hero: not killing the dragon, but removing a girl's fear.
FWIW I think Deanna will be fully normal - Kvothe's soul mate - but he won't be able to save her from the Chandrim, and will be another spur that eventually gives him the will power to win.
I'm very curious about Bast - one of the fae I think, but I've no idea why he's so close to Kvothe.
I hope wise man's fear is as good as it needs to be!
#87 - Definitely agree with you on the discussion format!
Wow. The Dragon has lasted, hasn't it?