And darn this frame story all to heck. I picked up this book not knowing too much about it except that a) I keep seeing people mentioning it as a pretty awesome book and b) it was published in 2007 and therefore necessary for my Countdown Challenge. So when it started in all epic fantasy with its innkeeper with a shady past and creepy spider things that are not demons but are probably something more terrifying, I was like, “All right. This will be fun.” AND THEN YOU NEVER FIND OUT ANYTHING MORE ABOUT THE SPIDERS.
One of my pet peeves in epic fantasy is this conceit of showing the reader a gun in Act I and then waiting until act, like, XVII to have it go off. This is only meant to be a three-book series, so I suppose there won’t be that much waiting, but UGH.
Anyway, after the whole spiders thing happens, it turns out that one of the characters is some famous scribe who writes down the lives of other famous people, and also that the innkeeper with the shady past is a formerly Very Famous Person now languishing in Do You Remember That Guy land. After the scribe works some psychological magic on the innkeeper, the innkeeper is like, “Fine. I will tell you my story. It will take three days. Hope you don’t have carpal tunnel.”
This book is Day One of the story-telling, and here the story veers away from Epic Fantasy and settles into a more Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire land, with the long rambling stories that don’t really have anything driving them (see: Quidditch World Cup). It is also similar in that most of Kvothe’s story here takes place at an Academy, where Kvothe is like the smartest kid there, but waaay too cocky, and also very poor, and he’s like Hermione and Harry and Ron all rolled into one, with even a vicious Draco to play against.
But… I liked the Harry Potter book. For all the long rambling quidditch and the ridiculous school antics, I at least knew that something was going to happen, and the things that happen generally lead toward that something. The Name of the Wind is just a set of stories about Kvothe’s life, from being a gypsy kid to going to the Academy to trying to track down the thing what killed his parents. But there’s never anything really driving the action, and for all I hoped that there would be spiders in the end, there were not. I’m sure that this is all building up toward something in the second and third books, but I’m the kind of reader who has to have at least some little morsel now, if you’re going to keep me interested for another couple of 700-page books. And I don’t feel like I got that.
Recommendation: Don’t go into this expecting classic epic fantasy, but read this if you have the patience for that sort of story that’s going to ramble on for a few books.
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.