The Rothfuss Factor

Posted: March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I haven’t been posting here on Axolotl Ceviche as much as I’d like. It’s because I’ve been so incredibly busy all this month of March that I haven’t had much of the spare time to even sit down and write, much less make musings on my lame blog.

But this last week has been Finals week. And, strangely, I haven’t been very busy.

I do have a Spanish final tomorrow. But I know Spanish like the back of my hand. So I’ve been hanging out in my dorm room, watching LoadingReadyRun videos…

…and rereading the Kingkiller Chronicles.

When I first read Name of the Wind, I must have been sixteen or seventeen. I think the first copy of it that I read was the one in the Santa Cruz County Public Library, which was also the place that I first read the Elric novels, as well as a lot of other things. I read Name of the Wind in about three days, blazing through the story, reading the book every spare moment I got.

When Wise Man’s Fear came out in 2011, I bought the hardback immediately. I even interrupted a date so that I could go to the bookstore and get a copy on launch day. (Yes… smooth, I know.) It was another of those times where I snatched spare moments to read the book… in class, in the dining hall, on the bus, wherever. Both books are intensely beautiful, well-crafted pieces of fiction. And I don’t use the term well-crafted lightly: Both NotW and WMF are built, as solidly as a sailing ship. When I first read Name of the Wind, the whole time I was thinking, Merciful Tehlu. I want to write a book like this when I grow up.

Looking at the Kingkiller Chronicles now, when I have a bit more experience with storytelling, I see it as a kind of intricate machine, some vast clockwork automaton, all gears and oiled wood and shining brass, like an Analytical Engine: a marvelous, wonderful machine, each cog and cam perfectly shaped, each one fitting into the next, wheels whirring and gears grinding in a blur of frantic motion to produce something wonderful. I look at the books now, and I see how perfectly each chapter fits into the next, how everything is set up and lined up perfectly to create beautiful moments later on. The casual references thrown into NotW, which lead into the strange, magical happenings in the later chapters of WMF. I was surprised to find references to Felurian and the Adem from near the beginning of NotW. And knowing what happens later gives me context for interesting moments in the earlier chapters: like, for example, I marveled at Kvothe’s boldness in comparing Denna to Felurian, in their second meeting in NotW.

But when I read NotW when I was in high school, it was something difference. Instead of looking at the books as a marvelous machine, I saw them as a storm: a frenzied rush of wind and rain coming in from the sea, the waves blowing salt spray in your face as you look out onto the thunderheads, and occasionally there’s a bolt of lightning so sudden and so bright that you can’t help but wonder. Some of those lightning moments still exist for me: like Kvothe’s first performance at the Eolian. Or the moment that Kvothe first calls the wind. But then, some of the moments where lightning happens are different. When I first read NotW, I had much more of a shock at the moment that Kvothe’s family is killed. But now I feel something much deeper, and much sadder, when I read about young feral Kvothe in the forests of the Commonwealth, learning to play emotions on his lute. There’s something magical about that moment (and it’s not the fact that Kvothe is probably playing Names). Any writer can write about wizards. But for a writer to write actual wizardry– that’s something rare and special.

Wow. That last one sounds like a blurb.

Pat, if you ever need a blurb for your books, feel free to use that one.

Call me.

~ Ian

  1. Fleer says:

    i couldn’t agree with you more. one of my two favorite writers, and such an amazing eye for detail! both Robert Jordan and Patrick Rothfuss have inspired me to write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s