Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #10. And, this time, to explore a fantasy series which is hardly well-known enough to have a reputation yet truly, really deserves one.
You know a book is going to be good when it comes with a map in the front. And the more intricate the map, the better the storyline. Take my pet example, Metro 2033, and examine the incredibly detailed map (with a complex key at the bottom) inside the cover of the book. That should be the first thing you notice when you read a book, especially a fantasy as in-depth as this one. The Name of the Wind has a map at the front, depicting a mountainous land divided into fiefdoms and littered with detail. My inner fangirl (yes, I refer to that part of me as feminine) is shrieking at me loud enough to shatter glass.
And the storyline! Amazing doesn’t even cover it. The author has a passion for world-building that high-end videogame artists can’t even begin to rival. The story is so focused on immersing you into the tale told by the protagonist that when the situation switches back to the “present day” you want to pick up whoever is responsible and throw them out the window and into a deep pit, ten by two, and burn them with Ash and Rowan, calling them heretical and jabbing them with an iron spear.
That is, until you use the interludes to start to make comparisons with the Kvothe that you see in the past and the older, more broken Kvothe that you start to see later in the novel. Oh my, this is one of those books. One that you want everyone else to read just so you can discuss it with them. Stop me if I’m babbling on about plot details that you don’t know about, OK? Blimey, I’m not going to stop talking about it for weeks.
The characters are incredible, and the world is just as immersive as an MMO. The strife that the characters get into, and the sheer scale of the massive events that play out are seen from a scale which in the short term just looks naïve. This book is only a couple of steps away from Game of Thrones, in the way that all you need is a few more perspectives and a bit more… well, you know.
Which is surprising, as for a fantasy land setting with a more adult audience in mind, there is little blood, gore or full-frontal nudity. The swearing is all in a foreign dialect, and the only plus that the sick, twisted side of my brain can get out of this book is the knowledge that I can now curse the eyebrows off an echidna in six fictional languages and a lot of jargon. I refuse to believe there is not a hugely successful fandom about this series, as I cannot see a world where Twi… nope, still can’t say it… gets more fans than a true fantasy with a world as in-depth as WH4K. Well, maybe not that far.
The Name of the Wind was published in 2007 by DAW Books and can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear