WIRED Book Club: We’re Breezing Through The Name of the Wind

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SOME BOOKS YOU want to read slowly. The Name of the Wind isn’t one of them. You fly through the pages, heedless of hour or other commitments. Let it be known that all seven members of WIRED Book Club finished the assigned reading on time—and now we’re dying to talk about it. Find our musings below, then join us in the tavern brawl that is the comments. For next week, let’s read through chapter 64. If you can help it, don’t read ahead.

How is everyone feeling?
Sarah Fallon, Senior Editor: Is anyone else reading this really closely because of how difficult Ancillary Justice was? I find I’m unpacking every word, perhaps to the detriment of my enjoyment of it. I will stop doing that.
Peter Rubin, Senior Editor: Quite the opposite, thankfully. It seemed early on that this is less an exercise than a tale, so I found myself letting some of the minutia wash by without worrying too much about whether they were breadcrumbs. And so far, so good; even after more than 200 pages, the map in the front of the book has barely seemed necessary. More worryingly, did anyone else find themselves despising young Kvothe? I mean, yeah, there’s that whole comeuppance-on-a-grand-scale before the hero’s journey really begins, but this was not an 11-year-old I wanted to be even kinda close by.
Jay Dayrit, Editorial Operations Manager: I’m with Peter on this one. I read Ancillary Justice way more carefully, searching for meaning in all the details; the language was so dense and nuanced. Comparatively, The Name of Wind is a breath of fresh air. (Ugh, I am terrible at puns!) Rothfuss’ prose rolls along at a nice clip. Subtlety is not his forte, which is a welcome change. It’s too much work to seek meaning in everything. The book’s readability could also be attributed to the familiarity of its constructs, with deference to the Shakespearian band of players and the Dickensian world Tarbean.
Lexi Pandell, Assistant Research Editor: If I never see Kvothe’s hair described as fiery again, I will die happy. Also, if you’re going to start up a new life with a secret identity, maybe don’t have a fake name that’s so close to your real one? There were a few other little things like this that pulled me out of the book (it’s the fact-checker in me). But, overall, I’m really enjoying it.
Katie M. Palmer, Senior Associate Editor: Another little thing that irked: the perfect perfectness of Kvothe’s parents. Yes, of course their love is idealized in his young mind, and it would only become more so over time and in the telling of his story. But it’d be nice to have Kvothe the elder recognize that at some point in his tale.
Fallon: I’m glad to hear you say that you thought they were too Perfect McPerfecty. Because I sure came away from those scenes feeling pretty guilty about how I act around my kids. On the other hand, I do think that Rothfuss is perfectly wonderful at sketching relationships between people, and I really mourned them when they died in a way that I wouldn’t have if they hadn’t been so cute and funny and sly with each other.
Palmer: And it’s all definitely intentional—both of our narrators know exactly what they’re doing to us. Like Skarpi says: “All stories are true … more or less. You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way. Too much truth confuses the facts. Too much honesty makes you sound insincere.” Fact-checker’s worst nightmare.
Jason Kehe, Associate Editor: Which of course raises a key question: How much of Kvothe’s story is … true? This is the story about the birth of a legend, after all, which means it must contain—basically by definition—half-truths, embellishments, distortions, manipulations. As Chronicler says of his book, The Mating Habits of the Common Dracus: “I went looking for a legend and found a lizard. A fascinating lizard, but a lizard just the same.” Is Kvothe more lizard than dragon? I mean, he’s rather explicit: “The best lies about me are the ones I told.” Can we trust him to be true in this telling? Is he, as the English teacher would put it, a reliable narrator? All this said, I must admit I believe every single word Kvothe says. He really is a master storyteller.
Rubin: Guilty. Totally suckered by the story so far.

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