The Name of the Yawn: A Review

It’s my second go-around with Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of The Wind. Once, about seven years ago, I gave this novel a shot. I didn’t finish it. It was too…boring. Or maybe I was too distracted to give the novel its due attention.

Now, it’s 2017. A friend recently raved about this book. And I keep reading about how this Rothfuss fellow is poised to become the next George R.R. Martin. Admittedly, I have never read a single Martin novel. But this isn’t about The Game of Thrones books. This is about The Name of the Wind, a book given accolades by no less than Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, and Orson Scott Card (all of whom, I might point out, are also published by DAW).

I am a huge fan of many books published by DAW. Sadly, The Name of the Wind is not one of them. For the most part, the novel reads like a character sketch for a prolonged Dungeons and Dragons session. Don’t get me wrong. I love fantasy novels, I have played my fair share of D&D when I was younger. It’s almost as if Kvothe (pronounced “Quothe”), the main character, is something Heinlein would have dreamed up, and then subsequently aborted. Ditto for the guy who chronicles Kvothe’s tale, a writer who goes by the rather lackluster moniker Chronicler.

The writing is flat. The story goes nowhere. We meet Kvothe who goes by the name of Kote now (clearly, there’s no witness protection program in this universe; otherwise, old Kvothe might have picked a more suitable alias to avoid detection). Kote runs a tavern. One night a guy from town comes in all bloodied up, claiming that his horse has been killed. You will have to read this book (or not) to find out why. Not long after, the Chronicler shows up. And Kote/Kvothe, who apparently has been seeking to avoid recognition, gives in to the quill-toting writer (okay, maybe it’s not a quill he writes with) and his request to put down on paper the mysterious Kvothe’s story.

Moving forward, the narrative shifts to the first person as Kvothe spins his yawn…sorry. I meant yarn. Apparently, there’s just about nothing that old Kvothe hasn’t experienced, from battling evil spider-like demons (there seems to be some debate within the novel about the nature of these creepy crawlers) to shagging a goddess.

In the end, however, the novel is a flat read with next to no conflict and even less character development. In all good fiction, regardless of genre, a reader needs to connect to the main character on some level. This novel did not provide such an experience for this reader. Perhaps if I had been an adolescent boy with no knowledge of sex or good storytelling, for that matter, I might have been duped by this train wreck. But I am not. So, I am off to rid myself of the residue of this book with some Tolkien.

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