Looking back over the last month or so of reviews, there has been a whole lot of mediocre-to-negative. My review of The Blade Itself was particularly nasty - amusingly JD finds the dichotomy between my review of the book and the rating on amazon so great that he's decided to hold off on reading my review until he can digest the book for himself and see if it's really that bad, or if I let my knit picks get the better of me. Hopefully he'll come to similar conclusions and not take my credibility as a reviewer down -too- many notches.
Regardless, I decided that after so many bad reviews I'd better pick something I liked to review next. I thought about waiting until I finished Prachett's "Guards! Guards!" to write my next review (as that's basically guaranteed to be a glowing report) but then Pat Rothfuss friended me on Facebook and inspired me to get off my lazy toosh and write a review of Name of the Wind. Really this book deserved a review as soon as I finished it - but like I mentioned in the previous sentence, "Lazy Toosh." So, let me remedy that here.
Name of the Wind is a story told in the first person by an gentleman named Kvothe as he recounts his history and the events leading up to Some Mysterious Huge Thing that sent him into hiding in a remote, rarely frequented town. All in all, Kvothe recounts 14 or so years of his childhood in one day, thus how Name of the Wind is "Day One of the Kingkiller Chronicles." I'm not quite sure why, but I found this storytelling style very interesting, and it added a nice flare that helped spice up the story.
As for the story that Kvothe relates, it falls loosely into two categories: Kvothe's life before going to Magic School, and Kvothe's life at Magic School. I'm going to begin with my review of that second half, because as you might be able to guess from my (slightly belittling) terminology, that was my less favorite part of the book. Over all the book definitely gets a thumbs up, so I'd like to end it on an up note, rather than with criticism - thus let me get the bad out of the way early.
The trouble with the second half of this book (other than the fact that it dragged a bit) is that... it had all been done before. Many times. Especially if you've ever read Mercedes Lackey (who is kind of the gateway-drug into fantasy for teenage girls). Kvothe's story is just kind of the generic: kid goes to school and is so amazingly brilliant that even though he's young he excels everywhere, but of course there are both certain professors and students that have it out for him because he's so amazing. Unfairness and angst ensue interspersed with other accomplishments and triumphs. Heh, screw Mercedes Lackey - when I put it that way it kind of sounds like Ender's Game, too. Like I said, could have been a little more inspired. That said, the characterizations, dialog and interactions were very interesting, and the magic system original and intriguing. Also - the first half of the book was really excellent...
...So let me jump back to the beginning. The first half of the book is Kvothe relating his childhood before school. There was absolutely nothing hackneyed, predictable, or over-done about this part of the book. It was very fresh and interesting - not to mention I was very sympathetic to the characters very quickly. I had read maybe a couple of chapters before I turned to JD and said "Gah, this book is going to be trouble... I'm already emotionally involved." Particularly noteworthy was how incredibly well written Kvothe's parents were. I know - that's kind of an odd thing to comment on, but I think it might have been the most impressive thing about the book. I'm not sure I've ever read a happy pair of lovers done so damn well... it's just so easy to miss the mark when writing something to involved and emotional end delicate, but Patrick Rothfuss got it spot on. Also worth mentioning was the introduction of some intriguing and elusive Bad Guys, a fantastically developed Mentor, and the first peek into the interesting magic theory I mentioned above.
Really the bottom line here is this: over all, Name of the Wind is an excellent book. I had a gripe or two, but when it comes right down to it I very much enjoyed it, and I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel.