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.

Hungry like the Hydatid: A Review of Nick Cutter’s The Troop

I have found a novel that creeps me out almost as much as The Stand did decades ago when I was a teen. Nick Cutter’s The Troop is that book. Nick Cutter, in case you’re interested, is a pen name for writer Craig Davidson. 


For the most part, the characters are fleshed out enough. What’s intriguing about this novel is that Cutter intersperses news and magazine articles, blog posts, transcripts, other tidbits to help propel the reader along. Where this method fell short for me so far is in finding out how many of the characters survive their ordeal (spoiler alert: not many). 

The story centers around a small group of boys and their Scoutmaster on a camping trip in the Canadian wilderness. Throw in a diabolical scientist, a genetically engineered product of secret research, a vile nasty that causes its victims to become insatiably hungry before their hosts consume themselves, and the natural elements of the wilderness, and Cutter provides all the fixings for a horrorific tale.

If I have one fault with the characterization so far (better than three-quarters of the way through the novel), it is the way Cutter provides a seemingly cardboard cutout of a police chief and his bully son. Such characterizations have become a trope of sorts; one, sadly, we have seen again and again. Still, the rest of the boys and Tim the Scoutmaster round out a rather convincing cast.

Cutter acknowledges Stephen King and his novel Carrie as being “a great inspiration” in his writing. It becomes apparent while reading the novel where King’s influence has left its mark. 

The Troop is one of those novels perfect for a summer read; unless of course you plan on vacationing in the Canadian wilderness. If you do, beware hungry strangers. Whatever the case, if you like a good horror tale in the vein of The Stand then try The Troop; even if you are creeped out by the prospect of contagions.