Word Winding

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722 Pages Worth Reading Aloud (even if you’re covered in small children)

I had The Name of the Wind in my Amazonian cart for over a year, ever since a friend glowed about it on Facebook. Reviews lavishly recommended it to lovers of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, two of the best works of fantasy ever. When my in-laws gave me a birthday gift card, one of the first things I knew I’d use it for was this book.

The book arrived, and I vanished.

I have a toddler, a baby, and a job. I do not always find time to shower, have all the laundry you might expect from someone cloth-diapering a then-newborn, and my house generally could use a good vacuum. This book immediately jumped ahead of showering on the to-do list. When I blistered to the 722nd page and looked up for what felt like the first time in days, my bleary eyes spotted Thor. I knew he had to read it, and I was just as certain that he’d never get around to it on his own. It was even worth postponing my attack on the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, just to make sure he came along for the ride.

“This is the best book ever, and we’re going to read it out loud,” I declared rashly.

Thor was a tad less enthusiastic, remembering our lackluster track record at reading aloud ever since Owlet was born, but I knew that was just because he was still living in the real world, whilst I was happily residing inside Patrick Rothfuss’ brainchild. I persisted, and once we began, we were golden. We only get to read during those elusive moments where both children are asleep, but even so, we’ve made it to page 553 already. So far my exhaustion has trumped my longing to sneak a preview of the second book behind the back of a sleeping Thor, but only just!

Rothfuss seems to have an innate literary magic, because in this, his first published novel, you will find a mature, consistent voice, none of the awkwardly childish hokiness of early Rowling. The book begins promptly, with a preface steeped in mystery and drama that leads to a more plain-spoken but no less enthralling narration; a far better pacing, in my sacrilegious opinion, than Tolkein. And yet the humor, charm, and well-fleshed protagonist of Harry Potter are here as well as the epic grandeur and endless depths of implied history of The Lord of the Rings. Yet every word resonates as home-grown rather than pilfered.

Perhaps the reason this is already my favorite trilogy without having read books two or three is the spotlight on music. Music is blood in our main character’s veins. He is raised on it. He is sustained by it through unimaginable loss. He craves it like a drug. His love story is drenched with music and many of the story’s worst moments are made more ferocious by their connection to music-making. With musical literacy lagging ever further behind the likewise faltering “regular” literacy, there is nothing a musician like me loves more than for music to appear center-stage.

And something else, besides. Rothfuss starts late in the story first, and then proceeds to the beginning. So that curious but uncomfortable feeling you get when you read about Joan of Arc, Bill Clinton, or the Wicked Witch of the West? Where you are always trying to connect the dots from your point in the story to where you know things end up later? Yeah, that. I hate and love that. You’ll find that here.

I have tried off and on for several days to find my favorite quotes, pluck them out, and bring them here to you. I can’t do it. They are nestled snugly into their pages like the eyes of an embroidered bird. Not only would it spoil your discovery of the bird to have already seen its eyes, but the eyes by themselves just don’t have the same effect. So, as a friend, I refuse to divulge any further details.

Just trust me, go get the book. Read it, get book two, and read that. Then we can help one another stand the wait until book three comes out!


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15 thoughts on “722 Pages Worth Reading Aloud (even if you’re covered in small children)

  1. Pingback: Spinning My Threads on the Interwebs « Word Winding

  2. Pingback: September’s Haul « Word Winding

  3. For when you get to it, know that there are some potentially inappropriate-for-children scenes in book 2. Followed Pat’s link here and enjoyed your review.

    • Haha, Sean, thanks for the intriguing heads up — no worries on that front, however, since Thor and I hardly get to exchange a sentence or two of conversation when Owlet is awake, let alone read from a non-toddler-oriented book.

  4. Webigail on said:

    I could not agree more with your statements above. I have never in my all of my years enjoyed a book, or books more than these. The not knowing when the third will come out has been torturous. I think I will send the link to this page to all of my friends and family who have yet to read it from my recommendations but surely they will not be able to resist any longer after your beautiful description. 🙂

  5. christie on said:

    The books are amazing, you articulated many things I enjoyed in them perfectly.

    I wanted to let you know that GoodReads has a Rothfussians group and a great forum to discuss the books, fun and worth the time (easy to lose track of time) and spoilers are usually well marked.

    • I’m tempted to plug my ears and say “la la la!” to avoid hearing of more ways to procrastinate tackling the laundry monster… but instead I’ll go look it up. Thanks for the tip, Christie!

  6. Great to hear your thoughts about Rothfuss and his series thus far.

    If you haven’t seen this already, http://www.tor.com/features/series/patrick-rothfuss-reread provides an amazing, in-depth analysis of NotW (and WMF when you get there). Read-through #3? Hah.

    • Ok, I am going to stuff my fingers in my ears for this one (at least for the next week). Don’t you people want my daughter to have a Halloween costume? Thank you for sharing, though — come November, I have a feeling I know where you’ll find me.

  7. I read the Name of the Wind the summer before last. A friend had read me two pages during my Senior year of college and I’d been hooked, but needed to wait until after graduation before I could tackle a tome of that size purely for enjoyment. After reading it, I also ran to my nearest family member (my mother and 15 year old sister in my case) and started reading it aloud. We’ve read other books before, but I have to say The Name of the Wind is pure candy on the tongue. I was struck over and over by how beautiful the language was.

  8. you know this is supposed to end up a series not a trilogy right? it’s been torture waiting on the second book. I put off buying it for a year… then couldn’t put it off anymore. just as good…but so short!

    • Kingkiller chronicles is absolutely a Trilogy and was never meant to be anything longer … Pat’s been pretty adamant about that.

  9. ANewFavoriteBookForJon on said:

    I agree on all points with the original post-er, especially the ones about Kvothe’s relationship with music. I have read through the first two books three times (a big thing for me) and will reread them at least 1 more time right before the 3rd is released. Each time a new thing, that I missed on a previous reading, strikes me as brilliant. The sad portions always wet my eyes ( No books or movies have ever caused me to burst out in tears, but this one came closer than any other).

    As for it being a trilogy or a series… There are so many loose ends and so much foreshadowing in the first two books that I find it hard to believe Rothfuss could finish the whole story in only 1 more book. Hopefully he doesn’t skimp on the details we so love just so he can finish in one book.

  10. In case any of you Rothfuss fans want a new author to love while you wait for book three, check out my review of Debora Geary’s books here: https://wordwinding.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/still-looking-for-the-perfect-solstice-gift-worry-not-dear-friend-your-search-ends-here/

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