After I read the first few chapters of this book, I let it lie on my shelf. It was during one of my visits to a London bookstore in the Angel area that I had bought it. I had asked the staff if they could recommend a relatively recent book which they had enjoyed and they told me to try The Name of The Wind, adding, “You will not be disappointed.” Months later, I decided to give it another try. Once more, I found the first few chapters a hurdle, but forced myself to keep going. The main reasons why I did not give up on the book are:
- I’m a firm believer that a novel cannot be judged by the first chapters, even though this is the method almost all agents are forced to use to decide whether they will represent an author or not (they get so many submissions everyday they need to draw a line). However, let’s face it, there’s only so much an author can give to the reader in the first 50 – 100 pages. How are you supposed to make people love the characters, understand the plot, settle down and enjoy the story in so few pages? I’m not saying some authors don’t manage to do this—perhaps their storyline helps—but most of the great books I’ve read take their time to get you hooked. I would compare the development of a good book to cooking a great meal: the pot must boil first before the juices start flowing, releasing a hint of the aroma and a taste of the genius locked within. So, in the case of Mr Rauthfuss, I’m glad his agent asked to read the entire novel before passing judgement.
- Another reason why I did not give up is that I kept telling myself “so many people can’t be wrong about it: just look at the tonnes of ratings—over 400,000! And such a high average rating on Goodreads: over 4.5!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that just because everyone else seems to like a book I have to too, but, generally speaking, it’s a good indication.
- I never review a book unless I have read it from start to finish: I respect authors and the effort they and their team of editors, agents, marketers, publishers etc. put into a novel too much to sell them and their work short. The right to criticize or praise is a very serious one and I can only earn it if I am willing to put in the TIME.
Rauthfuss uses Kvothe as his frame to narrate the protagonist’s life story in his own words. And it is this point in the novel, when the author switches to first person narration, which draws the reader in and sets the wheels in motion. I’m not saying that first person narration is the key to Rauthfuss’s success—No! I am saying that his story begins to gain shape and becomes interesting once Kvothe starts to relate his life experiences. I give this book a 4.2 which means that it kept me turning the pages and engaged me. Rauthfuss has that quality which all good writers need: he is a storyteller. I know some people have ranked him poorly for making his protagonist too perfect. Some readers do not like the way he has treated his female characters. Others have said that there is not enough world building with engaging viewpoints from the rest of the ‘cast’: I think this is almost impossible to achieve with first person narration, which is why writers like Sanderson and Marc Turner, to name a few, use third person multi viewpoint narration.
I will sum up what I enjoyed most about the novel: the storytelling ability of the author that made me want to read on, the scenes with music, lute-playing, tiptoeing around love, having to deal with poverty, the fact that Kvothe is made to suffer, the counting of coins in his pocket to see if he has enough to make it through the next term at University: we mustn’t forget that characters in a book need to face real issues like how to earn enough to clothe and feed themselves etc. Also, the scene with the purchase of a horse and what follows was satisfying in more ways than one (those who have read the book will understand).
In Kvothe, Rauthfuss has built a character you either love or hate, and the same goes for the descriptions of the female characters, the antagonists and the friends and foes. One thing is for certain, whether you like his debut or not, it is a very much talked over book, and this in itself marks it as a success story.