Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Name of the Wind - Opening Chapters

I want to do a "featured debut" of THE NAME OF THE WIND, but not until I'm deeper into it. It is 722 pages and I know it's going to take a while for me to read it. So when I'm about halfway through, I'll make my little widget and throw up all the usual links.

Patrick Rothfuss backs into his novel like a slow-moving semi tractor trailer. The book is large and ponderous, and it moves that way. It even seems to emit a warning that says, "Adventure ahead! Just be patient!" It starts with an innkeeper named Kote, who quickly demonstrates that he is no ordinary innkeeper. He has an apprentice of sorts, named Bast, who appears to know all (or most) of Kote's secrets. Of course, we know from the cover blurb that Kote is really Kvothe, but none of this is revealed to the reader yet.

Lots of things happen while you get this sense of waiting for the story to begin. Chronicler--who is referred to by his title--encounters a band of thieves on his way to Newarre. In the meantime, Kote decides to mount his old sword on the wall of his inn. Then Kote goes out and does battle with a band of demonic spiders--singlehandedly--while at the same time, rescuing Chronicler from the same spiders. Kote takes him home and stitches him up, at which time Chronicler proposes that Kote tells him his story.

They bicker over the specifics of how long it will take to tell the story like two merchants haggling. Eventually, Kote gets his way--it will take three days. Hence the subtitle of the novel, The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One. By the time Kvothe finally starts the story, you are at the end of Chapter Seven, on page 57.

Wow. This was essentially a 57 page prologue. At this point, the narrative switches from third person to first person.

I know from reading other reviews and interviews that it took Rothfuss a long time to sell this novel. According to the bio on his website, the novel was "rejected by roughly every agent in the known universe." The novel starts out terrific, yet it is not one of those openings that grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go. Anyone whose been around this blog for a while knows that I don't necessarily prefer fast-paced novels. I enjoyed Across the Face of the World, which moved about as slowly as the novel's title suggests. When I'm reading a long novel, I expect to be kept enthralled for at least a week. You know how it is when you go to a movie and you enjoy it so much that you don't want it to end? That's the sort of reading experience I want from a long novel.

But a pace this slow seems exceptional. On another blog, I jumped into a discussion about a novel that I often mention here, The Once and Future King by T. H. White. My blog buddy wondered if White would have been able to publish his novel in today's publishing world. THE NAME OF THE WIND proves that he probably could have--but it may have taken a great deal of effort. And judging from how well the novel's doing, I have a lot of company in my enjoyment of slower-paced novels.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about the pace in future installments.


Anonymous said...

I read The Name of the Wind either early this year or late last, and now that you mention it, it does seem to have much in common with The Once and Future King. The slower moments make both books hard to get into at first, but the character insight gives the story so much depth that you can't help but be inspired to tears of both sorrow and joy. Hope you like The Name of the Wind. In my opinion, it promises even greater books to follow.

Tia Nevitt said...

For some reason, The Once and Future King sucked me in right away. I'm not saying that THE NAME OF THE WIND was difficult to get into--not at all. It just doesn't slam you into heart-pounding action on page one. I have enjoyed it greatly so far.

Kelly Gay said...

So glad you're reviewing this one, Tia! It's in my TBR pile, so I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on it. :)

Tia Nevitt said...

Hey everyone, Kelly just sold her first book! Go congratulate her!

SQT said...

You know, I just loved "The Name of the Wind." There's just something about Rothfuss' style that works for me. But like you, I sometimes like the slower paced novels.

I'm glad to hear you liked "Across the Face of the World." I've been debating on whether or not to pick that one up, and now I think I will.

Tia Nevitt said...

At times, Across the Face of the World moves very slowly, but the mix of characters worked for me. Also, the author was unafraid to kill off major characters.

Kelly Gay said...

Hey, thanks so much for the shout-out, Tia! :)

Chris, The Book Swede said...

Glad you're enjoying this one so far :) I'm normally much more in for the fast=paced novels, but, as you said, Rothfuss' book was one that I was able to get properly lost in for days, and I loved that.

It's one of the few recent releases that I make time for, every 5 months or so, to re-read from start to end.

The Book Swede

Tia Nevitt said...

Chris, I'm a book rereader as well, but I usually let a couple of years go by between rereadings. However, I can think of a handful of novels (Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables (abridged) that I have finished and started reading again right away.

I literally turned the last page, turned back to the beginning and started over in the same reading session.