I’m doing the Goodreads challenge for 2018, and I’ve committed to 30 books. I’d have done more, but since my 2018 reading project is an epic novel every month and those generally take a while to read, I figured adding 2 more books per month, attached to that 12 was a good way to still challenge myself.
As a way to keep myself honest (and keep some updates going here! Hooray!) I figured that I’d write up a bit about my thoughts on each book.
First up! The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles, which I first got wind of because there’s a TV show in development (or was? I dunno) that has Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to write the music. Since I am at a point in my cultural consumption where if someone said, “Hey! Lin-Manuel Miranda is walking off that cliff,” I’d do it, here we are!
As for the book…I liked it a lot. It’s beautifully written, full of lovely passages and interesting turns of phrase, and it’s even a different take on epic fantasy, focusing on a storyteller who works his way to become a magician and eventually (I would assume) a hero, and a killer of kings? (He has not yet killed a king, but I imagine it must happen at some point in the story…)
I generally liked the protagonist, Kvothe, and while it appears a large portion of the story will revolve around his love of a woman named Denna, I’m not as interested in that portion of the story. Which is really unusual for me, as you all know, I often focus on the love story of a thing, sometimes to the detriment of noticing other things about it.
And it’s for a really simple reason, because the story is told from Kvothe’s perspective, and he’s idealized her, I find myself rolling my eyes a lot. But there was one passage in particular that really, really bugged me.
There’s a lot of talk, as it’s the first book and Kvothe is in his teens for the main action, about how he doesn’t understand women. Which is fine, he doesn’t, and frankly, most of the women he encounters, besides Denna get treated as full people. (Not always the case in genre fiction penned by men about men.) But there’s one passage where another one of Denna’s lovers and Kvothe discuss the way she lives her life. There’s no judgement there (the fact that she’s not a virgin nor is anyone trying to “save a fallen woman” is also refreshing) and they discuss that other women hate her because she’s not like other women.
My eyes nearly got stuck in the back of my head.
If there were ever a narrative short cut for isolating a female character I’ve hated more than “she’s not like other girls,” I can’t think of it.
That is not, in my experience, how female relationships work. Women, as a whole, tend to only be set against each other like that when men pit them that way. Left to our own devices, we’ll circle the wagons and protect one another, even when we don’t particularly get along. (Why do you think so many women loved Big Little Lies so much. That was like, the entire point of that book and show!)
But other than this tiny annoyance, I really liked the book and I look forward to book 2, which I will be reading when I finish War And Peace, which is the first epic I’m tackling.
I like Kvothe, I particularly like the framing device of him telling his life story, with his mysterious faerie companion, Bast, and a character known as Chronicler. And Rothfuss is clearly a very good writer, I can put up with some little bits of casual misogyny for a good turn of phrase. (Seriously, Sorkin in my favorite writer.) (I also realize this makes me part of the problem)
And if there are many more nuggets in this series as good as the one below, I’ll be fine:
The three boys, one dark, one light, and one—for lack of a better word—fiery, do not notice the night. Perhaps some part of them does, but they are young, and drunk, and busy knowing deep in their hearts that they will never grow old or die.
That’s really beautiful. Just, stunningly constructed.