A lot of fantasy books are high adventure epics…
They introduce a hero, whisk them away from their comfort zone and tell them they’re the chosen one, fated to do battle with a great evil, etc.
While Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind does borrow heavily from most fantasy stories, it is also very different. There isn’t much adventure in this book. Plenty of legend and world building, a ton of character driven stories, and a lot of characters to keep track of, but precious little adventure. You can tell that the author is building things up to it (introducing the ancient evils, etc) but it doesn’t get there in this book.
I was surprised to find just how much of the book is about the hero trying to get by. There are many chapters about his financial situations and how he works around them. A lot.
When I recently tried to explain this book to another fantasy fan, I found myself saying things like “It’s like Harry Potter, kinda, in the sense that there is a school setting, but it’s also a lot like Ender’s Shadow, because the hero is super smart (but he’s also not because he keeps making horrible mistakes) but very poor and struggling.”
I think I rambeled for a few more minutes trying to explain it.
The author seems to have a little crush on magic but isn’t in love with it. In other words, the magic of the world is extremely limited, and even bound by some of the real-world laws of physics.
In one instance, the hero explains the use of “runes” to bind two materials together, and concludes that brick and mortar would be infinetly faster and more efficient. Stuff like that. It breathes some fresh air into the typical magic you usually run into in fantasy.
In the end, it’s a great read. My favorite thing about this book though is the fact that most chapters are just a few pages long and usually conclude a thought or story. This makes it extremely easy to pick up and put down, without feeling like nothing happened. It’s the first part of a planned trilogy, and I’ll probably pick up the second as soon as I can.