With the stunning conclusion to season six of Game of Thrones, an embarrassingly large number of us are now left with nothing to look forward to every Sunday night.
Now that the series has finally, totally and truly eclipsed George R. R. Martin’s books, you can’t even fill the 10-month gap between seasons by reading those. Well, you could, but trust me: at this point, it’s better just to stick with the show. Books 4 and 5 weren’t all that good, and the wait for 6 will just make you angrier than you need to be, really.
Instead, pick up a copy of Patrick Rothfuss’ 2007 novel, “The Name of the Wind.”
“The Name of the Wind” borrows elements from all your favorite fantasy stories: a young protagonist, marked by destiny, learning the ways of magic and finding his way in a large, mysterious world, blah blah blah. You know the drill.
The plot follows young Kvothe as he wanders the world, signing songs, acting in plays with his traveling troupe, and learning the ways of the arcanists, this world’s version of magicians. Eventually the story follows Kvothe to The University, where the story takes on some of the trappings of Harry Potter, mixed with the sterner, more mature fantasy of George R. R. Martin.
It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but the skillful way Rothfuss uses the world to tell more human, emotional stories is quite well done. Lots of moments in this book ring with emotion, without having to rely on the shock value of surprise deaths or out-of-the-blue plot twists, like Martin often deploys.
The book is a coming-of-age story, and it handles everything from money troubles to schoolboy rivalries with a deft touch. The book is full of light character-driven moments mixed in with the work of a master world-builder. Tying it all together is Kvothe, who is used as a framing device. The hero, in a darkened tavern somewhere, recounts his humble beginnings long after he has become a legend in the world he inhabits. Again, I never praised the originality of the premise.
This is a book more rooted in character, and the act of telling, than it is a book obsessed with plotting and epic arcs. As book one of a planned trilogy, perhaps it can take its time, establishing the character’s motivations and setting pieces in motion. As it is, The Name of the Wind is a highly enjoyable fantasy romp, all on its own.
Enjoyable enough that I can’t wait to get my hands on book two, “Wise Man’s Fear.” I hope the sequel will jump the plot forward in unexpected ways, but even if it doesn’t, I’m more than happy to hear a little more of Kvothe’s story, however quickly he is willing to dish it out.
Myself, I’ll probably inhale it in a day.
All I can say for now is, for those of you who are keenly feeling the loss of fantasy in your life, you should seek out “The Name of the Wind.” You won’t be disappointed, at least until you’ve read books one and two, and find that Rothfuss writes just as slowly as Martin.
As always, if you’re interested in buying the book, please do so through my Amazon Affiliate link, so I can earn a few pennies. If you know me in real life, you can buy me a beer and I’ll lend you my paperback.