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[Reading Group] May 2014: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Philip Overby, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Our May 2014 open themed book will be The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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    Please borrow or purchase the book in your preferred format and begin reading it. We'll start discussion on May 1st, 2014.

    Since this the longest book we've read so far (about 700 pages) I'd like to make the suggestion to allow the discussion to go over to June as well. Of course if most people finish it before then, cool. But I'm a slow reader, so I don't suspect I'll read it that fast.

    So I'm going to say let's try to discuss 15 chapters a week? If anyone has a better idea, let me know. (There are 92 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue).

    1st Week of May: Prologue-Chapter 14
    2nd Week of May: Chapter 15-Chapter 30
    3rd Week of May: Chapter 31-Chapter 46
    4th Week of May: Chapter 47-Chapter 62

    1st Week of June: Chapter 63-Chapter 78
    2nd Week of June: Chapter 79-End

    If you want to find out more about it, check here: Amazon.com: The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One eBook: Patrick Rothfuss: Kindle Store

    Also of note, this book is extremely cheap, so that's a bonus! :)

    Since this book is highly regarded, I'm looking forward to it, but I'm a little more guarded this time around. Because it's so highly regarded, I don't want to be let down if it doesn't meet my expectations. Although what I read of it I did really like (got sidetracked per usual).

    Happy reading! (you can of course begin now if you haven't already).
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
  2. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    Apparently I bought this almost exactly two years ago, and I haven't read a single page of it yet. I've just reached the end of the book I was reading on Kindle, so I can make a start a bit early.
     
  3. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Inkling

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    Starting this today. I just finished reading I Am Legend for another reading group, so now I'll try to pace myself to read this in a month. I'll probably binge read it before then, though.
     
  4. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I'm 135 pages into this book. There has to be a discussion about how flashbacks are a no-no. And when what appears to be a majority of the book is a flashback, the editor should have been fired...

    ...until you read the story and discover how fascinating it is. I'm finding things that would normally throw me out of the loop, things that are normally reasons I don't continue reading a story, and I keep flipping the pages because of how entertaining it is.

    There is one thing I'd like to ask. Keep this question in the back of your mind while you read.

    In our age of information, do you find it offputting when an author hides information from you? This is what's happening in The Name of the Wind. You're given a glimpse of the might of Kvothe, then the curtains come down. You have to earn the satisfaction of who Kvothe is by reading the book.

    I ask this question for selfish reasons. I have a story I'm writing that does much the same, but the world is the mystery, not a singular character.
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I don't mind a certain amount of mystery about a character as long as I get a little revealed at a time to kind of whet my whistle. If it's just like "I'm not going to tell you anything about this character until the end" it feels kind of cheap. However, if I learn something new about the character, then I'll be like "Oh, that's cool." It depends on how it's done.

    I think this novel might be described as using a framing device. Meaning a big portion of the book is what happened in the past, while a smaller portion is happening in the present. Frankenstein, Heart of Darkness and others have used this.

    I'm re-reading the beginning now and remember how much I enjoyed it the first time. I stalled out when it went into the first flashback. I'm not sure why, it just happened. I do like Rothfuss's style a lot. It's not too flashy, but is descriptive enough to give a clear idea of what's happening.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I'm going to bow out of this one. I plowed through a couple hundred pages ... I don't really remember how far ... and could not get engaged at all. Even if I did finish it, nobody wants to hear someone complain for a month!
     
  7. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Actually, I'd like to know what turned you off from the book.
     
  8. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    I've started reading, and discovered that I did in fact begin it. I stalled very early on, though, even before the proper story got going. I've got further this time, so I'll see how I go.

    And I'm not seeing it as a flashback as such, although I'm not gone on the idea that the whole book is effectively Kvothe dictating his memoirs. I'm guessing that Rothfuss decided to do it this way because either the story continues in the present at some point, or the "flashback" would make the story stupidly long. So he can gloss over his family travelling around in a few pages, rather than devoting chapters to Kvothe's childhood. I guess I'll see. I'm prepared to go with it for now, though it's not my most favourite way of telling a story.

    If you hate flashbacks, Ankari, do you not like the Stormlight Archive books? WoK had a lot of Kaladin flashback scenes, and WoR does the same with Shallan. I thought those worked really well. (Although I probably shouldn't divert discussion onto another series. Sorry.)
     
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    The story in the past isn't really as flashback in as much as the scenes in the present are a frame.

    In my opinion, Rothfuss makes a lot of huge promises and fails to deliver on them. He promises that Kvothe is the most awesome and interesting person ever and then spends two books developing him as an arrogant teenager whose main problems are that he's poor and that he makes enemies at school. The mystery of his childhood, who exactly killed his parents and why, is barely touched on. In two books you learn nothing about it. That really bothered me. In addition, he doesn't, in two books, do anything really awesome or noteworthy. Kvothe as a character really disappointed me and Rothfuss did not earn any trust with me. I'll read the last book because I would like to know the answer to the mystery but I'll probably get it from the library and I won't bother to read anything he does in the future.
     
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Just a reminder to anyone discussing the book: not all of us have read it. Please avoid posting spoilers and if you do put them in spoiler tags. We're only discussing the first 14 chapters this first week. Thanks!
     
  11. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I don't mind flashbacks at all. From all the rules that are often touted, they are frowned upon.

    This story is a flashback. Kvothe will tell a part of his story, then we see the three men in the present doing something, and then it's back to this back story.

    A framing mechanism, if I understand it, would be revealing a scene close to the end of the story, and then telling the story from the beginning. It's meant to set up an audience for one result, but ending with another.
     
  12. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    The Name of the Wind definitely has a framing device, in the form of people in the future telling the story of past events. The example that always comes to mind is One Thousand and One Nights, where the framing device is Scheherazade's story. Or for a fantasy example, The Princess Bride has a framing device in the form of the man reading the story to his grandson.

    I don't mind it as a literary device, particularly when it is an in-universe framing device as opposed to a 'look at this fake story' kind like Princess Bride which frames the story as fantasy even within the context of the book. It works well enough in this book, I think. I don't know if it adds anything - I'll hold off on saying so until after I've finished reading it again - but it doesn't really bother me at all either.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    @Ankari: I did not like the MC. He wasn't interesting. He was on the one hand overblown (all-powerful, etc) and on the other hand was just this kid with nothing especially interesting about him. Then the author introduced a number of standard tropes, such as the wise teacher, who sort of come on stage, say their lines, and exit for no purpose other than to come on stage and say their lines. Nothing resonated.

    And when there are scores of other books waiting in my reading queue, I just didn't want to invest the time. I followed him all the way to the school, saw where that was headed, and checked out.
     
  14. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    OK, just wondering how people are coming along so far with the novel. Up to this point we should be up to Chapter 14. I'm only up to Chapter 7 though. I plan to read more tonight and tomorrow though to get caught up.

    Some questions for discussion:

    1. What do you think of Kvothe/Kote so far?

    2. Do you find the story engaging?

    3. How do you feel about the framing device of Kvothe telling his life story to Chronicler?

    4. What do you think of the world so far?

    5. Do you like the style?
     
  15. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Inkling

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    So far into it I've had trouble relating to Kvothe with him being so brilliant and powerful, but I can't put the book down.
    I've read books that have been a memoir type story, so I've had no problem with the framing device. One of the things I'm really enjoying is his style. I'm used to long-winded storytellers like Jordan and King, so it's refreshing to have the story move along at a bit faster pace.
     
  16. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'm finding I like this one second behind Prince of Thorns on the ones I've read so far. I do like the style mostly, although I'm not a huge fan of "starting the story at the beginning" stories, it works pretty well here so far. I also find I'm not getting too bogged down in the actual writing.

    It's interesting recently that I'm really getting into books that have more readability. That's strange considering I really like some more difficult writers like Steven Erikson or Gene Wolfe now and again. I guess I'm going through a phase when I just want to read something that is slow paced. This may have to do with my current reading lifestyle of basically only reading on commutes.
     
  17. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    I'm more or less up to target on this, I think. Maybe a chapter behind. I started a bit ahead, so I'm slipping back a bit. Need to get a move on.

    1. What do you think of Kvothe/Kote so far?
    I've heard a lot about what a compelling character he is, but I'm not seeing why so far. Hopefully it will start to kick in soon. But if you're trying to conceal who/what you are, then surely putting a honking great sword up on the wall isn't the best way to go about it?

    2. Do you find the story engaging?
    It's engaging without being compelling. I've got this one on Kindle and a Juliet McKenna novel in paperback on the go at the same time, and currently I'm more inclined to pick up the other one. I could happily leave it here and move to something else. Again, I'm hoping I'll get drawn in as the story progresses. Especially as I've already bought book 2!

    3. How do you feel about the framing device of Kvothe telling his life story to Chronicler?
    I've read other books with this sort of structure. One of the Robin Hobb series is done as memoirs or similar IIRC, although I could be thinking of someone else.

    4. What do you think of the world so far?
    Haven't seen much beyond the standard fantasy tavern type setting. Again, I'm assuming we'll see farther as Kvothe grows up and does more.

    5. Do you like the style?
    It's an easy enough read. I haven't found anything that's tripped me up yet.
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'm sure Kvothe is what would be called a Mary Sue or whatever the male equivalent of that is. I don't really care about that kind of stuff. I imagined there's something about this character that has connected with so many people somehow. So far I think he's interesting, but I haven't gotten to the parts where he shows how incredibly powerful he is. It may become tedious once I get there, but so far it's been pretty good and I've liked his character.
     
  19. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I'm neck deep into this story (almost done), and I like the experience.

    1. Kvothe: Many accuse Kvothe of being a Mary Sue, but I'm not sure how they come to that conclusion. Is it because he's talented? I've read many stories where the MC is talented. In fact, I think the more you read of Kvothe, the more you understand he isn't a Mary Sue. He endures real trials, fails at many things, and displays questionable characteristics and judgement. I think the "Mary Sue" tag comes from his intelligence. I'm not sure why an intelligent character is frowned upon.

    2. The story is engaging. If you strip away the fantasy, much of the story is about a boy who goes to university. That I'm nearly done with this book attests to it's quality of content.

    3. I had to look up framing device. Yes, it's a framing device, but I don't understand why. There is a current story that is happening in the background. We see this when Kvothe saves Chronicler's life. Someone on another forum stated only the first book uses a framing device. The second, apparantly, isn't.

    4. The world is what threw me off. I typically don't like stories revolving around fae, demons, and angels. Again, the quality of the story makes such things digestable.

    5. It is an easy read, but with many lines blatantly purple. And I like it.
     
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  20. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    I have to say that Bast is interesting me more than Kvothe at the moment. I have a feeling there's more to him than meets the eye.
     
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