Wow, wow, wow. Once in a while a book comes along that is so good that it's difficult to describe what makes it fantastic.
This is one of them. When I started reading it, I was prepared for a typical fantasy. Scary things attack people, the innkeeper turns out to know about the monsters but keeps it a secret because it's something to do with his past, eventually you find out about it, etc etc. Pretty much your regular fantasy fare.
What makes this book unique is that Rothfuss provides us with a totally engaging story without surrendering to the inevitable cliches that are so prevalent in fantasy today. I've written some short fantasy stories myself and it is very hard to keep from falling into the trap of rewriting someone else's tale. Here's an example of how he does it:
"If we're asking questions," Bast said sheepishly, "I was wondering why you didn't go looking for Skarpi?"
"What could I have done, Bast?" Kvothe gave a brief humorless laugh. "They'd taken him on heresy. All I could do was hope he truly had friends in the church."
Kvothe drew a deep breath and sighed. "But the simplest reason is the least satisfying one, I suppose. The truth is this: I wasn't living in a story."
"I don't think I'm understanding you," Bast said, puzzled
"Think of all the stories you've heard, Bast. You have a young boy, the hero. His parents are killed. He sets out for vengeance. What happens next?"
Bast hesitated, his expression puzzled. Chronicler answered the question instead. "He finds help. A clever talking squirrel. An old drunken swordsman. A mad hermit in the woods, that sort of thing."
Kvothe nodded "Exactly!" He finds the mad hermit in the woods, proves himself worthy an learns the names of all things, then with these powerful magics at his beck and call, what does he do?
Chronicler shrugged. "He finds the villains and kills them."
"Of course," Kvothe said grandly. "Clean, quick and easy as lying. We know how it ends practically before it starts. That's why stories appeal to us. They give us the clarity and simplicity our real lives lack."
Rothfuss also uses a first-person and third-person approach to narrating which works very well. I've said in other reviews that I hate it when the reader is pushed into the point of view of so many different characters that it gets really confusing. In "Name of the Wind" we stick to one character in the first-person, and detached impressions of what's happening in the third-person viewpoint - just as it should be.
This is a book that I had to hide from myself in the evening because I knew I'd stay up all night reading, wanting to see what happened next.
As I said at the start of this review, it's so hard to describe this book - so I resorted to a quote from Rothfuss himself.
It's the myth of the Hero seen from backstage.And that's something I definitely want to see more of.
My advice - stop reading this review and get a copy of "The Name of The Wind" now.