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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. monyo

    monyo Scribe

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    I'm on chapter 18 at the moment. Honestly the book keeps sucking me in and then losing me, then sucking me in again. I think I'll have to wait longer to form a solid opinion of it.

    1. I liked him better as Kote at first, when he was still more of a mystery. Have to agree with the comments that he's less interesting as an all powerful character, rather than when he's being more humble and only occasionally showing who he really is. As fun as it is to watch him do cool stuff, he makes me think of how Achilles gets remembered more for his heel than for anything else. Think I'll like him a lot better by the end if Ankari's analysis (i.e. real trials, tries and fails, etc.) is accurate.

    2. It occasionally does things that turn me off a bit, but otherwise yeah, I'm pretty anxious to finish it. I think the parts that turn me off are when it goes into some of the romance/women-chasing stuff. Personal preference, I guess, same as how someone said they didn't like Fae and demon stuff. I wish he hadn't explained the meaning of the cryptic title on like the fourth page.

    3. No complaints. Chronicler and Bast are interesting, imo, and so far I think I've enjoyed the parts in the inn more than the rest.

    4. Particularly like the magic system. Mainly the naming and the conservation of energy, thermodynamics stuff mixed in with the sympathy. Finding the stuff with the scrael and Chandrian to be among the more interesting parts.

    5. It's good, though occasionally seems like it could have been better (not that I could have done better). The stuff with him being trained in various disciplines is pretty cool, and sort of reminds me of Dune, though I think was better done there. None of it is bad or dislikeable, it just seems like parts are really good and then other parts are more typical fantasy trope stuff.

    Opinions likely to change as I keep reading.
     
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    OK, all of you are way ahead of me. I'll just avoid this thread until I get caught up. :)
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'll chime in when I can. I've decided not to re-read it. I'm swamped at work right now, and my time for reading is already limited. I don't want to be re-reading books except when I have more spare time.

    I liked Kvothe well enough. I think "May-Sue" is a term whose meaning has changed, and that also gets thrown out as a general criticism when someone doesn't like a character who exhibits certain characteristics. Of course, literature is full of successful examples of characters who might be considered "Mary Sues," under the later definition. There is nothing wrong with them; it's when the author blunders into creating one unintentionally that you have trouble.
     
  4. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Finished the book last night. Compact review: excellent.
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Wow, that was super fast. I'm just now getting to Chapter 14 (so I'm pretty well behind schedule). I guess I just have to accept I'm a slug at reading.

    That said, since I'm sort of caught up, I'm interested to see the conflict between Bast and Chronicler. I kind of suspected something was up with Bast, but I wasn't sure. I've gotten further than I did the last time I tried reading it. Last time I only got up to the point when Kvothe was listening to his parents talk with Ben about his aptitude for pretty much everything.

    I guess I don't see Kvothe as a Mary Sue or overpowered at this point because I haven't read far enough. But I tend not get bothered by characters like that as long as they're still engaging to me. Hearing about fae and Chandrian early on makes me wonder what's going to happen later. Lots of blue flames I'm guessing. :)
     
  6. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Inkling

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    I've just finished the book and it's definitely in my list of favorite fantasy novels. I was hoping to pace myself, but once I get into a story it's just really hard for me to put the book down. I can sort of understand where people are coming from when they say Kvothe is a "Mary Sue," but I read fantasy for all the traits he's shown in the story. There were a few times that I was jutted out of the story and world, mostly when they did the story within a story within a story, but it helped me to understand a bit of their lore and mindset in the world. I'll be buying the second novel tonight, so then I can be caught up to the complete story so far, and then I'll be anxiously awaiting the final volume.

    (I apologize for how short my answers to any questions about the novel will be, but I mostly type on my phone. I can't stand typing too much without the feel of the keyboard under my fingers, so it leads me to get frustrated with trying to get thoughts across.)
     
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    It's good to hear we've had a couple of people zip through the novel so fast. Without posting any spoilers (I'm on Chapter 15 or 16 now, again I'm a slow reader), can you say what made you enjoy the novel so much that you couldn't put it down?

    I am finding that I'm enjoying this one a lot more than I expected since the first time I got hung up on one part, but now I feel like it's going at a nice pace and I'm enjoying it a lot. I can't say it's in my favorites of all time as of yet, but it is interesting to hear this is another one with pretty divergent opinions.
     
  8. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    There are several reasons why this story sails:

    1) Patrick Rothfuss cheats. He baits you with a believable threat, then switches to the past.

    2) His prose is poetic enough to allow for some consideration. He's not overly poetic, but there are some lines/pages.

    3) The prose is easy. I can't think of a better example of "making the writing invisible." This may sound like a contradiction to point 2, but it's not. I appreciate the thoughts a sentence generates. That I consider them from Kvothe, rather from Rothfuss, makes it that much better.

    4) Rothfuss keeps Kvothe away from the true prize.
     
    SM-Dreamer and Kaellpae like this.
  9. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Inkling

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    Ankari just put everything into words that I just couldn't. The first point is probably the main one that kept me turning to the next page and starting the next chapter. I'm horrible with pacing myself with even the minute cliffhangers that are found in some books at the ends of chapters.

    I just got the 2nd volume and didn't realize that it was 400 pages longer, in the epub version, than the previous installment.
     
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Well, got to the parents getting killed part, which I assume most of you saw coming from a mile away. I didn't feel like it hit me emotionally in any way because it seems to happen a lot in fantasy fiction. However, I think Rothfuss handled it well with the introduction of Haliax and the other Chandrian (I'm assuming since they had the black eyes and everything). I'm curious to see how this plays out later.

    I have a question though: why are parents getting killed so prevalent in fantasy fiction? If I was a farm boy I'd make my parents wear disguises and not tell anyone who they were.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  11. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    The hero/protagonist needs to be broken down to be built again stronger, and to toughen him up for what's to come. If he's going to do his heroic acts, anyone he might rely upon to save or protect (or even teach) him, needs to be out of the picture, at least for a while. He needs to stand on his own two feet (answering the call, in hero's journey terms).

    I have to say, though, that although so far this book is well written and an easy read, I am wondering if it's going to bring anything new to the table any time soon. I'm at chapter 33 (31%), and it feels like I could have read this before, except I know I haven't.
     
  12. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I understand breaking down/building up of the main character as a dramatic device, but it seems like parents dying seems like the go to way to do so in fantasy stories. Not that I mind it if it's done well (which Rothfuss managed to do), but yeah, just wonder other ways to break down a character other than just killing someone close to them.
     
  13. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    Yeah, I figured once I posted it that it was a rhetorical question. Sorry. Didn't mean to teach my grandmother to suck eggs.

    But if you've got a young protagonist (Kvothe is what, 12?) then you've either got to kill carers or have them separated by some other means. I've got a story that is emerging all too slowly, where my protagonist is kidnapped. I intend for her to be reunited with her parents, but still wanted her away from them so she can do her own thing.

    It has started me thinking about exceptions, though. Rand al'Thor gets to see Tam again (yes I know, but still carer). Perrin loses his family. I think Mat's survive, though, don't they? In Stormlight Archive, Kaladin's parents are still alive as far as we know, but he joins the army to achieve the separation. In the Hunger Games books, Katniss is put into the game environment. Actually, I think if there's another reason why they are parted from their families it can give them a stronger motivation. Then they are fighting to save people they love, not just themselves. Like Frodo wanting to protect The Shire. Sometimes "saving the world" can be too big a thing for a person to get their head around, and they need to save something or someone that's important to them as their primary goal. Saving the world is just a nice by-product.

    Anyway, I'm getting through this one, gradually. Kvothe now seems to be at Hogwarts.
     
  14. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Inkling

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    I was going to point out that you missed Harry, but the Hogwarts comment was a nice save. It's definitely seen by me with the magical school. I was also going to say for Rand, Tam is his father as far as he's concerned.

    I think a lot of killing parents off has to do with drilling into people's empathy, it makes you feel sorry for the character, so then you feel obligated to finish their story of revenge/acceptance or whatever else.
     
  15. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Yeah, I feel like the 'kill off their parents' part is less for the emotional impact and more for the convenience of giving young characters nothing to hold them back from going on an adventure. Since parents, generally, would. It is a bit tired, but two birds with one stone and all. It doesn't resonate with me on an emotional level, though, so I'd rather see more siblings or best friends get killed/captured instead. Even at 12, there were a lot of people in my life who were important to me.

    It's written well in this book, I can't complain.
     
  16. monyo

    monyo Scribe

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    I second what Ophiucha just said. It seems to avoid having to write complicated parent-child relationships, and realistically most parent-child relationships I've seen involve some sort of protectiveness or parent-setting-the-future-path-of-child thing, which isn't really conducive to going off adventuring.

    I'm nearing the end now (ch. 61), and I have to say that the surprises/twists in this book seem a bit predictable. Very few times has it caught me off guard with anything. Usually I'm pretty bad at figuring out what's going to happen before it does, so I wonder if anyone else notices the same thing. I find myself figuring out what someone really meant or what's obviously going to happen before Kvothe does, which seems a bit odd considering he's supposed to be a genius (though he is only 15, for most of the story, too). No major spoilers in these examples, but just in case...

    The "less three talents" part when he first gets admitted to the University. Again at the part where he first tries to get into the archives, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen just from the conversation. And much later on, I'm fairly sure I just saw someone straight up tell him the name of the wind that he has been searching for, and he just walked off without even noticing. Now it's only a matter of time before that revelation gets unveiled...

    Perhaps those weren't meant to really catch the reader by surprise, but it seemed like they were set up that way. Overall though it's pretty good, judging by the fact that I just binge-read about 300 pages yesterday.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    An interesting thing I was thinking about this novel is that there are extended scenes that might be viewed as info dumping, yet they way they are done makes them interesting and not "get on with it" moments. For example, the origin story of Haliax. I wonder if there have been any major complaints about these scenes. I found them interesting, but I could see how some may say it detracts from the main story. Thoughts?
     
  18. ACSmyth

    ACSmyth Minstrel

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    Confession: I pretty much skipped that bit.
     
  19. monyo

    monyo Scribe

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    I rather liked those two mini-stories, particularly the Lanre/Haliax one. Though they could have been spaced out a bit more... the triple story inception was kind of amusing (I kept wondering if it would go to the fourth level), but I don't remember it happening outside of that one part. Might have seemed a bit less info dumpy that way. My only complaint might be...

    Skarpi's role seems to fit this description. He doesn't really have much meaning to the story or theme except to dump info, and frame the church soldiers as corrupt hypocrits. There's also less of a "solving the mystery" feeling; he just kind of tells you the answer through Skarpi.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
  20. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Oh well...I've been shadowing this group on and off since it got started. Been rereading the book at hand and its sequel lately.

    Without going past the current cutoff (30 chapters?)...a couple things were real clear to me by this point:

    1) Kvothe is what is termed an 'unreliable narrator'. He makes it very clear in the first few chapters with Chronicler that he's not so much reciting his history, but telling stories about himself - tales he takes liberties with. He's good (talented), yes, but not quite as much as he puts forth. Which leads to the next item...

    2) This work is a collection of short stories bound together with a unifying narrative more than a novel. Some of the stories are (embellished) things that Kvothe did or went through; others are stories he's heard.
     
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