Monday, December 03, 2007

The Name of the Wind

It's been dead quiet on the MindBlizzard blog for a couple of days. This was first and foremost due to a short holiday we had with family and secondly because of the Name of the Wind.

Next wednesday, December 5 we celebrate Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, the original non-coca-cola invention that commercialized christmas. On December 5 we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra. That means we get our presents a little earlier. Since we were with family, we celebrated it last saturday resulting in a sort of catatonic state for me.

One of the presents I got was Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel "The Name of the Wind". Here's the introduction:

"My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.

"The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.

"The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.

I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.

My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.

But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know."

I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me. "

In this genre it is hard to be original, and there were several things that triggered memories, like the Waystone Inn (Wayward Inn, Dragonlance Chronicles), the main character (orphaned like Elof Valantor in Winter of the World), the bad guy reminding me of the Nine Riders (Tolkien) or the Myrrdaal (from the Wheel of Time series). As I said, it's hard to be original in this genre. A lot of fantasy writers spin tales that are just shades of Tolkien's Middle Earth or another classic. Others spin superficial tales without real depth or mystery.

Only on rare occasions you encounter gems, great tales that are heroic and intriguing; tales that have an original approach to magic and evil, tales written in an excellent style; tales which need to be read non stop. The Name of the Wind is such a tale. I read all 600+ pages within 24 hours barely taking time to eat or talk to my wife. It is a very promising debut and I can't wait for the other parts to appear.

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