★★★☆☆: I sort of love and hate this.
I have been reading a lot more intensely recently so I want to start keeping a bit of a record of my book thoughts. I have lots of opinions on this one. Check out the comments for my more spoilery thoughts.
|a lone Cradle of Filth fan strolls through the forest|
[spoiler free, excepting comments]
The Name of the Wind is a fantasy story about a red haired boy who is ostensibly Good At Everything. He has probably even won a toenail trimming contest, the amount of Perfect Angel Brilliance he possesses. It's a trope taken to quite an extreme and whilst at first I found this whole Perfect Protagonist thing grating and laughable (the blurb's posturing fantasy manliness is particularly stomach-churning), I actually came to find it oddly endearing. Kvothe is the best ever at everything, but this is emphasised so excessively that for me it looped back around to being enjoyable. He is legendary and cool. All the girls swoon for him. Even his eyes change colour!
The book uses the myth of Kvothe (because, y'know, the whole world is obsessed with him, naturally) as a narrative device and something about that gels with the ridiculousness of Kvothe's abilities. Like, I feel mostly indifferent towards Kvothe himself. He's quite boring really, but I like the whole mythos feel to it. Like nothing is real, but it's just real enough. Maybe Kvothe is just a great big liar. I mean, seriously, his eyes change colour. Kvothe, maybe you just have different light sources hitting your eyeballs, bro.
The strongest points include the lore of the world (I like the way the rumours and myth and history overlap), the spooky mystery of the book's main villain situation, and the back and forth through time that makes the world feel large. This book has a few sinister moments that made my spine shiver, and enough of a realness to carry that lingering fear (to be fair, I got spooked when Stephen Fry described Fluffy in the Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone audio book, so I may not be the best gauge of scary moments).
The biggest negative for me is the way women are written. Kvothe has sexual thoughts about just about every female character in the book aside from his mother (who is nevertheless relentlessly sexualised). This to me really diminishes the book's attempt at fairy tale romance. Most women are pretty devoid of personality, and exist only to flirt with Kvothe or provide him with someone to ogle or save. The book is splattered with a constant undercurrent of misogyny that makes it quite a difficult read. I became invested in the story quickly, which stopped me from putting the book down in frustration, but I did feel like something of an unwelcome reader.
I am weighing up whether I want to read the rest of the series, as the sexism really brings the book down (and I hear it's more explicit in the second book), but I'm also interested in the plot's continuation and I crave more of the story. It's a captivating book and story in many senses, but unfortunately its negatives are really jarring at times.