Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Name of the Wind

I finished reading Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind yesterday, and after a mere 2 hours or so picked it up and started reading it again. Now why in the world would I do this? I asked myself that question a few times and my answer is:

It’s damn good writing.
But it’s also a riveting story.
And the characters are absolutely believable.

I guess that’s three answers.

In his most recent blog entry, Patrick Rothfuss writes,

True, all authors use words, but not all authors focus on making them beautiful. Shakespeare loved words, so did Roger Zelazny and Angela Carter. Ray Bradbury also has what I consider a poetical turn of phrase, by which I mean that the language itself is beautiful, regardless of content, character, or cleverness.

Some authors just don't play that word game. They care more about story, or plot, or character, or... I dunno, unicorns or making money. I'm not being critical here. Those things are important. Those authors can still write good stories, there's no denying that.

But my favorite authors love words AND character AND story... and sometimes unicorns, I guess.

If Rothfuss could somehow read his story for the first time, it would be exactly the type of novel he loves. Which shouldn’t be surprising since we all strive to write the kind of books we would love to read. The language Rothfuss uses is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I found myself rereading sections simply because they were so delightfully and beautifully written. He has a poetical turn of phrase, and there are passages that simply sing. If my novel is half as beautifully written as this, I’ll be overjoyed.

As for the characters: Kvothe is a living and breathing character who practically leaps off the page—unruly red hair, eyes bright green like new growth grass, and all. He is absolutely believable, especially to anyone who remembers being a boy and the awkwardness that comes with growing up. And the story . . . well, the story pulled me in, immersing me in Kvothe’s world so much that I half expected to see the scrael scuttling through my backyard (a truly terrifying thought for anyone who hates spiders as passionately as I do).

I hate reading teasers and spoilers because I always find the story slightly less surprising, slightly less magical when I have an idea of the shape of things going in, so I won’t give you a synopsis or anything here. I’ll just tell you to run out and grab this book. Grab two. It’s that good.

The verdict: 10/10

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