Constance March 10th, 2007
I’d like to add a new title to the lists of new fantasy, that may well become classic: The Name of the Wind, Day One in the KingKiller Chronicle, by Patrick Rothfuss, coming out this month from DAW.
I don’t work for DAW. But DAW did send me the galleys to this novel last fall. The story and characters pleased and interested me very much. It was so pleasing that, daunted by the pile of pages, and with so much to do with our New Orleans book, over a continuous period of nights before bed, I read the whole thing and was sorry when it was finished, and wanted the next installment now. I wouldn’t even allow Vaquero to do his usual ‘read Constance to sleep,’ because I gave that time of the night to this novel.
The Name of the Wind presents a new voice and imagination at play in this Big Fantasy sandbox. The author has a deep comprehension of the fantasy tropes, and what their purpose are, and how to best employ them for the weave and exposure of his story, and when. These are Big Fantasy tropes, though the Quest Fantasy ones are not included, at least not in this first volume. (I particularly noticed this, since I, personally, am not an admirer of Quest Fantasy generally, unless it it LOTR.)
FYI — a sense of what I will and do read, in terms of Big Fantasy, here’s a short list of authors I admire:
Kit Kerr, Kate Elliott, Jacqueline Carey (particularly her “LOTR Upside Down” GODSLAYER duology), Robin Hobb, GRRM.
I don’t read that many Big Fantasy novels these days, having not as much time, but The Name of the Wind left me eager for the next installment. Thus if you like the authors mentioned in the previous paragraphy, you probably will like reading Patrick Rothfuss too.
I don’t even like “Prologues.” But –here’s a sample from The Name of the Wind’s prologue. I was caught, just as Peter S. said he’d been, and predicted I would be too.
[ It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.
The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn's sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music ... but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained. ]
Writers and editors will generally agree that describing something in terms of negatives, particularly starting a large narrative with negatives, is a no-no. But this is an example where the author uses the very reasons that negatives are no-nos for his own purposes, which is to get the reader to understand that things are not right, that things are not well, that things are not normal here in the Waystone Inn. It also, from the second statement connects (the lack of) wind to the title the novel.