Dear The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss,
We have skirted around each other for many years, you and I. Countless friends and fellow bookworms have recommended that I read you. Upon learning that I love The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, people have jumped on the opportunity to recommend you time and time again. I actually started reading you a summer or two ago but had to return you to the library because a new semester of college started. However, I am now happy to say that I have finally, finally read you, The Name of the Wind. And I have many, many thoughts.
Did you live up to your immense hype? Yes. I must admit that you do read like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, in the sense that I think you have the potential to become a classic, enduring work of fantasy. Rothfuss is an impressive world-builder who has created a realm of characters, lore, beliefs, and a magic system that is easy to fully lose yourself in. One of my pet peeves in fantasy series is when magic systems or the idea of magic in general is stereotypical, unoriginal, or just downright nonsensical. In my opinion, the best magic systems are those that have an internal logic to them. When I read about a magic system I want to be able to buy into it easily, and that is precisely what you offer here with the Arcanum.
My favorite part of you is absolutely the way you are written. You are a classic story within a story, but done on a grand over-1000 page scale. From the little inn Kvothe runs to his tragic childhood and surprising journey to find the answers he’s been seeking ever since the death of his parents, you really give us an expansive look into Kvothe’s life. Not only does this framework of Kvothe’s past add great depth to the story, but it also helps break it up and makes you more manageable to read as such a long novel. Most importantly, your writing is beautifully and intricately detailed without being too flowery or over-the-top. I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for good writing. Fortunately, you are no exception.
However, despite all of your strengths, I do have some qualms that I would like to mention. My least favorite part of you is Denna, a woman Kvothe romantically pursues for what feels like forever. I must admit that you fell a bit flat for me as soon as Denna became a more central figure in the plot. I didn’t like how Denna was characterized as the stereotypical token female love interest. One of the only things we knew about Denna’s backstory was that she made her way through life by seducing wealthy men because she had no other way to earn a living. Personally, I feel like you took the lazy way out a bit with this character. She could have had a fascinating backstory with a multifaceted personality, and instead we see another flat, inexplicably beautiful female love interest who only exists to serve the plot. You definitely lost some of your oomph as a story once Kvothe started exclusively focusing on winning Denna over.
Unfortunately, I also thought that your last third was a bit disappointing compared to everything up until that point. Your pace was slower, your focus singular (on Denna), and it lacked the suspenseful, gripping, thought-provoking, meticulously designed feeling that the rest of you evoked. Perhaps a lag like this is bound to happen in a longer book; however, it seemed like you deserved a more climactic, cohesive ending than the one you received.
Regardless, that fact of the matter is that you impressed me, The Name of the Wind. After listing you on my TBR week after week, month after month, and year after year, it is so strange and wonderful to be able to say that I have finally read you. And I am so glad that I did. I can’t wait to read your sequel–and, if it is ever published, your third installment. Countless people recommended you to me, and it is time that I pay that forward here: If you haven’t read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss yet, PLEASE DO.
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