It seems that what I like in a Fantasy novel differs from what most other people seem to like.
Still chasing that George R.R. Martin dragon, I’ve ventured into four or five other fantasy series. Most of them begin with some sort of dramatic prologue, designed to hook the reader by dropping them into an intense action sequence. That doesn’t work for me. I’ve come to realise over the past couple of months that I’m not an easy date for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy author. You need to take me to dinner and buy me flowers, maybe even have a conversation, before dropping me into cataclysmic battles with Thoragazza: The Lighted Well-Spring Of The Power of The Ancient Ages Of Elder Gods.
After my misadventures with Mozart’s Ladies’ Fellowship sister–which I read to escape from the memory of Jordan’s Wheel of Time–I dipped back into the Fantasy pool and came up with Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name Of The Wind.
Y’all, I am LOVING this book. It starts off like a story should–with some gentle, lulling “Once Upon A Time” that takes you by the hand and walks you into Rothfuss’ world. From there it reminds me a great deal of one of my favourite non-Fantasy works, The Physician by Noah Gordon. We spend time growing in the world alongside Kvothe (pronounced mostly like Quothe, even though I touch my lips a bit around the ‘ou’ for completeness’ sake.)
The funny thing is that when I go to Amazon and Goodreads to suss out the negative reviews, they all seem to have one thing in common.
They complain that “nothing happens.” I’m halfway through the book right now and I’ve lost count of all the things that have happened. But they happen the way things happen in real life. No, black, chittering spiderlike creatures do not attack a poor Carter on his way to the Tavern here in this world. But when most people have a bad thing happen to them, say, a car accident, it’s them and another car or two at a stoplight or in the Kroger parking lot. Not every car accident is an eighty-seven car pileup on the interstate that ends in a fiery ball of death. And that, to me, is what a lot of fantasy authors get wrong. They are so enamoured with having an entire world at their fingertips that they have to get right to the blowing up of stuff. I imagine they’re the ones who destroy their Sim Cities regularly with monsters.
Rothfuss has an excellent feel for story. He has an excellent skill with words. And I believe in his world more than I’ve believed in any Fantastical world since Westeros. Because his world, like Westeros and like ours, works the way a world works. I chuckle at the idea that a Fantasy book has to have giant flaming sorcery battles every thirty pages to be any good. Now, should a giant battle come along at points further in Kvothe’s world, I’ll be up for it. Because i now know that world and the people in it.
And trust me, if Robert Jordan hadn’t passed away, I’d mail him a printout of this blog entry.