I like a little sugar in my tea, a smidgen of cheese on that cracker, some garnish on a salad (but not too much) and ... (running out of food metaphors)... something novel in a novel.
Five Stars are inadequate - If I could, I would light up all the stars the universe has to offer for this book!
Before I read 'The Name Of The Wind', I was under the impression that fantasy authors had a secret rule-book squirreled away in the depths of an enchanted forest, where a hidden door had been carved into a magical oak tree, which was under the protection of a powerful sorcerer. Only those worthy enough to find and retrieve the book unscathed were granted the power to create a successful fantasy novel - but adventurers beware, break the rules and you'll pay through humiliating failure of epic proportions. Fortunately, nobody seems to have told Patrick Rothfuss about the book and like every great, accidental, fantasy hero he has beaten his own path to glorious victory - and it really is glorious!
Don't get me wrong, 'The Name Of The Wind' is not unrecognisable as fantasy. It doesn't just level fantasy-ville and build something new and terrifying in its place, rather, it is a sympathetic, re-imagining of the genre; the well-travelled and worldly-wise stranger who rolls in to town with new ideas and exciting tales of distant lands.
The writing is exquisite; it is precise, refined and nimble but has an almost indefinable, effortless quality. I am quite sure that it wasn't effortless for Mr. Rothfuss, unless he is actually Kvothe (the comprehensively talented main character of the book), but that is how it feels. This is the first thing that sets it apart from the other greats of this genre; no matter how good they are you can always tell that the masterpiece has been built on an unhealthy amount of blood, sweat and tears but not in this case. The writing is so natural that I'm half inclined to believe that he wrote it on the back of some beer mats (ok, thousands of beer mats- this is not a short book), whilst a bit tipsy, down at the local with his mates, woke up the next morning and thought, holy **** this is pretty good. Not pretty good Patrick – it’s downright magical!
The narrative is unfalteringly clever and witty without being obnoxious. On occasion, when reading other books I have actually heard the author's voice invade my mind and say, "Ha, you see what I did there. I got you there didn't I? That's because I'm terribly clever!" at which point I invariably tell them to b***er off - but I never once swore at Sir. Rothfuss).
There is a plethora of wonderfully diverse characters to love or loathe as you will. I never warmed up to Denna, the elusive object of Kvothe's affections, but the writing was so good (did I mention that already?) and there was such an assortment of vivid characters to choose from that it just didn't matter. I imagine that you could, possibly, even get away with disliking Kvothe and still enjoy the book.
The story is breathtakingly wonderful. Since childhood a book has not been able to induce such joyful awe; I think I probably read the whole thing with a goofy, perma-grin, except for the sad bits and the tense bits and the scary bits - but I am sure they were accompanied by suitable facial expressions too. I say probably, because, I was so swept up in Kvothe's story that any worldly concerns vanished - a good thing too as I must have been quite a sight.
I would have added my favourite quote here but, honestly, it would have been 250,000 words.
My final offering at the altar of Rothfuss is this; I took this book everywhere with me, and I mean everywhere (pre-kindle). I hauled it around London whilst 'sight-seeing' (the inside of that coffee shop was delightful and on the tour-bus the seat in front made an excellent book-prop), I took it to the pub (I shit you not - my friends were not amused - they made me put it away, the rapscallions!), I took it to work, I read it as I did our weekly food-shop, I even took it into the shower once (it's an art) - you get the idea. I mention this because this book is an epic fantasy in three parts; in other words it is a tome. Greater love hath no reader than to swap her little and beloved handbag for a sports-bag so as to never be parted from her 'Name Of The Wind'!
P.S. I realise that I may be doing a disservice to this book by being so effusive. I intended to play-down my gushing praise, just in case anyone ever reads this, so they could be as pleasantly surprised as I was, but this is one of my most favourite books of all time and I just couldn't reign myself in. I have since thrust my dog-eared copy into the arms of relatives, friends, friends' relatives... strangers and without exception it has been well-loved (and they weren't just saying that because they were afraid of me - you can always tell. It has even converted a couple of die-hard, anti-fantasy lunatics- Yes, Dad and Gareth's Dad, I am talking about you!
Oh and P.P.S. my boyfriend listened to the audio-book version as he is not an avid-reader (they do say opposites attract) and now he is so spoilt that he cannot listen to audio-books anymore. Three actual quotes: "Why don't all the audio-book readers do the voices?" and "Why doesn't Rupert Degas do more audio-books" (he has done at least 84 that I can find, poor chap!), and "I don't want to listen to this anymore. It's not as good as The Name Of The Wind one".
So there you have it. Please read it (or listen to it) - It will make the world a better place!