Sick Days

As far as I’m concerned, being sick is only good for two things: sleeping and reading.  There’s really nothing else I feel like doing.  Cleaning is out of the question. My room tends to get disgusting for a few days.  But reading–I can accomplish a lot of reading when I’m sick.

So since I’m sick right now, I finished a book!  And I’m going to write about it, though I don’t much feel like doing so, because this book was incredible and I want to get my thoughts down while the impression is still fresh in my mind.

The book is The Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss.  And let me say: Mr. Rothfuss, thank you thank you thank you! Your book is a blessing to the fantasy/sci-fi genre for several reasons. 1) It is intelligent, creative, and well-planned without seeming forced. 2) Your sequels to this book are not rushed. I know this book has been out for several years now and no sequel is published yet. While I wish I could read more of Kvothe’s saga right this very moment, I am thankful that your sequels have a better chance of being awesome rather than slapdash and full of suck. I look forward very much to March 1, 2011. 3) You’ve saved the genre for me.  I’m glad to know that there are still authors out there who can come up with a unique idea, rather than ride the wave of popular and best-selling topics (i.e. vampires, werewolves, etc.).

Now, on to the review.

It is a rare thing these days for me to settle immediately into a novel.  This is not to say that most novels I read are bad. Very often they are excellent.  But many authors rely on some cheesy action or suspense sequence to grab hold of their readers.  While this is effective, it is redundant.  Rothfuss’ novel, from the first pages, gave me a feeling of peace and comfort.  It’s not the content of the novel that made me feel this way, for things were certainly very tense from the get-go.  It’s more the way in which he writes. At 661 pages long, the book is a monster and looks intimidating.  But actually, once I opened it and began to read, I discovered a feeling of sinking into a deep armchair with my feet tucked under me and a pillow on my lap.  I felt I could curl up next to a fire and contentedly read this book from cover to cover and not get restless or bored.  And readers, I never feel that way about anything.  I am so freaking impressed by this book.

It is the story of Kvothe, a somewhat mysterious character, told in his own voice.  At the moment he is hiding as an innkeeper under a different name in a rural town, during a time of darkness and fear in his land.  The reader is not told why he is in hiding, though hints are given about his deeds (the name of the series is The Kingkiller Chronicles, so I have a vague idea of what his major crime may have been).  It is this air and tone of mystery that lends suspense and grip to the opening of the novel.  What are these strange, evil creatures roaming the land? What has happened in the more urban areas of the country, and why are “the roads bad,” as so many characters mention?  What is Kote’s (as he calls the persona he is using to hide) history and why must he hide?

Then Kvothe’s inn is visited by Chronicler, a scribe who collects stories, and Kvothe begins to tell his, from his childhood on.  His story is one of magic, tragedy, adventure, and many other things. The relationships he builds with his friends are enviable, and those with his enemies are genuinely frightening enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, waiting for the next strike from his nemesis.  Kvothe himself is a brilliantly written character–from the time he is a young boy he is sharp and quick as a whip, with an intimidating intelligence that defies his age. Yet far from making his character too perfect for belief, Rothfuss also allows him to make mistakes due to his youthful arrogance.  As much as Kvothe is intelligent, he lacks the wisdom and restraint of age.  Still, he is a gifted youth, a survivor, quick-witted, fierce, loyal, talented, and ridiculously funny at times. He manages to weasel himself out of many sticky situations using his quick mind and sharp tongue.  I absolutely love him.

The plot doesn’t drag at all, nor does it race along. It keeps a nice steady pace, suspenseful in many places, tragic and comic in others, but never did I feel bored reading it.

It’s creative! Set in a world much like our own during the Renaissance, there are only slight differences.  First “sympathy,” or magic, is definitely present, but only accessible to a certain few who are known as “arcanists” and are educated in their craft at the University.  There is one especially intriguing creature, the common draccus, who very much resembles a dragon at first, but is tremendously unique from every other dragon ever written about.  I won’t give away its secrets though. That would ruin the fun.

Friends, I urge you to read this book. Even if you’re not a fan of the fantasy genre, it reads much like a historical fiction novel in places, and you would still enjoy it.  Rothfuss’ gifted storytelling allows the reader to forget that this is a fantasy novel, and to become immersed in a story that is so lifelike as to fool the mind into believing this a true story.  Seriously! It’s awesome.


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