by Patrick Rothfuss
The Fantasy genre comes in many different flavors, much of it aspiring to the label, “Epic”. For many of these books, Epic comes to mean long, spread out, and poorly paced. Usually it means enough p.o.v. characters you need a primer or signpost chapters to keep them all straight. When it’s done right, you can really enjoy this kind of book. You can get lost in those big multi-volume stories; the kind of experience only books can provide. Examples such as George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Steven Ericsson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen spring to mind.
Fantasy can also deliver shorter, sleeker stories that blend convention and technique. Stand-alone novels in all types of settings with all manner of cross-genre blending. I’m a big fan of such books. I like being able to pick-up a novel and know the story will come to a reasonable end after 300 pages. Some recent examples here include: Territory by Emma Bull and the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher.
With The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss provides a taste of both flavors. It’s long (700 pages in paperback), with a deeply developed sense of history, and obviously the first of several such volumes. So epic. It’s also told chiefly in 1st person p.o.v. and tightly written. So shorter non-conventional fantasy. Of course a comparative structure like this is artificial and eventually breaks down, but it can give you a glimpse at the strength of this novel. For me this is an epic feel that’s also intimate. It’s a a long book in 1st person. Continue reading