I am reading the fantasy fiction novel “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. The book is over 700 pages long. I rarely read the fantasy genre. I like fantasy stories fine, I just rarely have much time to read – in addition to all my other daily reading. I read few long books, not because I don’t read all the time, but rather because I have to exercise a few hours every day to maintain my desired level of health and fitness, and I don’t like sitting still for long periods of time. For example, if I’m going to sit still in a theater to watch a movie for 2 hours, I usually try to exercise right before and after.
Nor do I like overly focusing on small things close to me. As a person, I try to avoid myopia, both literally and figuratively.
So, I chose to “read” this long book by listening to the unabridged version on my digital player while I do my daily walks, chores, cycling, and other exercises. So far, I’ve completed up through chapter 22.
An Introduction To The Book:
This is Patrick Rothfuss first novel. It has been well-received and accoladed by readers, winning the “Quill Award” and receiving over 1400 user reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of over 4 out of 5 stars. More impressive than the high average rating is the fact that over 1400 people took the time to comment and write a review. I’ve read great books and been the only person to write a review about the book on Amazon. So, over 1,400 reviews is a little mind-boggling.
The book shares strengths of other well-known fantasy series. It is a story about a young man, who like Ender in “Ender’s Game,” is exceptionally intelligent at a young age and remarkably gifted at many skills. Similar to the Star Wars series, it is a story of a young man who does not have his parents around to raise him, a young man who is raised by an old wise man named “Ben.” The story appears to be about a young man, who like a Jedi, becomes powerful and well-known by many names. But to point out the story’s similarities to other chronicles and trilogies is a little misleading, because this is a chronicle that is more intent (than most other tales) on transferring wisdom in many areas of study: grammar, vocabulary, social observation, problem-solving in stressful situations, methods of dealing with violence, manners, scholarly pursuits, conversation patterns, descriptive writing . . . on and on. To call this a “coming of age” story would be a disservice. It is more a “coming of wisdom” story (at least up through Chapter 22).
In reading the book, very quickly you realize you’re reading a writer who is well-read, a writer who knows the usual precepts and clichés – and avoids paths that are overly rudimentary or well-traveled. The book would be ideal for a person of any age – but it is of particular value to men from ages 8 to 30.
If you don’t cry while reading the well-chosen narrative words in Chapter 16, titled “Hope,” a cruelly titled chapter, then you may be missing something centrally important to being human.
If you don’t see that the book “The Name of the Wind” is itself a charitable gift from Rothfuss to all future generations of young men, like a pure silver coin to a starving man, like a scholarly textbook about Rhetoric and Logic to a zealous, but uneducated schoolboy, like a treasure of cognitive resources to give a person enough hope to raise their exhausted and broken body up and out of the freezing snow – to struggle back into living – then you may not see the beauty and arcs of this series of chronicles.
Reading this book is not so much about discovering the cleverness of the plot or its twists. It is not a story focused primarily on solving an intricate mystery. It is not primarily an adventure story or thriller. But while it is all those things, it is a beautifully worded book – as much about the art of storytelling as it is about the story itself. The lessons taught are important lessons that lie in between traditional areas of education, lessons a person learns from being a member of the theatrical troupe, more than lessons learned from reading or memorizing the lines in the play.
Even though I have yet to finish the first book in this series, I wanted to get these thoughts and impressions into a post – to get them out of circling in my thoughts, to get them communicated to others, and to keep them from being forgotten and lost.
I recommend the book. And I look forward to seeing if the remainder of the books can maintain the initial high achievements.
On a sidenote:
Fire is fascinating. Reading this fiction tale, set in a non-Earth land that is analogous to a magical Europe in the Middle Ages, I was reminded how fire is very difficult to start if you lack the proper tools, conditions, or chemistry. With the proper tools, conditions, and chemistry, fire is easy to start – but it is still a challenge to keep within healthy boundaries and maintain at healthy levels for long periods of time.
A characteristic of fire that is often less appreciated is that it is a good thing that fire is difficult to start. If fires started at temperatures only 10 degrees lower, then countless more things would accidentally catch fire and be destroyed.
There is beauty in fire’s difficulties, intensities, dangers, complexities, and fragilities.