The book that made me envious
By Gemma Watson
It was called The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, and if I told you I picked it up and couldn’t put it down again, I’d be lying. Genius creeps up on you. Kvothe creeps up on you. He stands, in a supposedly innocent pose within the first few chapters, red haired and secretive. He throws you a few sneaking glances, turns his back and then… sits down right in front of you demands your attention.
He is the perfect hero.
But the perfect hero has faults, has done bad things, has a history. So yes, my attention was all on him by chapter eight. But the strength of the writing was most apparent several chapters later when I was horrified by it, when my stomach churned because something so powerfully and vividly awful leaped off the page at me, that I had to shut the cover over to contain it, put it down and try to process what I’d just read. This is a book you put down as often as pick up. And when the last thing I read was sickening or sad or terrifying and I needed to push it to one side, the remarkable thing was that a time came when I felt the overwhelming need to pick it up again.
My addiction to fantasy novels started when I was very young and I doubt there will ever be a time that I don’t read fantasy. But Patrick Rothfuss is different. It feels familiar to read, as though its existence was inevitable, but it’s also entirely new, completely original and you can never guess what’s about to happen. It’s as though it’s the book that someone forgot to write. As though thousands of writers have been trying so hard for so long to capture this and then Rothfuss came along and got the job finished.
It’s also the book that has everything. It’s a tragedy, a drama, a rags-to-riches story. There’s fighting and adventure and long journeys and romance. There’s even magic. How do I accurately describe this book?
I suppose its the story I wish I could write.
I’ve got to be honest here, not a lot of the fantasy that I’ve read has good prose. When I was at school, I was addicted to anything Arthurian. I wanted swords, I wanted Kings, I wanted magic. I loved Isobelle Carmody, Kevin Crossley-Holland and J.K. Rowling. In my family, J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit was a favourite. I was addicted to the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It would often distract me from my homework.
I discovered Kim Wilkinson, Joanne Harris, Neil Gaiman, Ian McEwan, Douglas Adams and Trudi Canavan. I lived off history, magic, dragons, wizards and hero’s. I lived off sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction. And some of it is really well written. And some of it is not.
So the combination of brilliant prose and brilliant fantasy is a treasure to add to the bookshelf. I admire it. But as an aspiring writer, this book has that something that I can’t put my finger on. Something that I want so badly for my own writing, it hurts.
It is the book that made me envious and is still making me envious. I am reluctantly (and also desperately) reading The Kingkiller Chroicles: Day Two, The Wise Man’s Fear. And my reading mind is in heaven, while my writing mind is seething.
Gemma Watson is a twenty year old obsessive writer whose current pen-friend is also her city. You can find her honest words at The Strange New Friend. She asks very politely that you take your shoes off at the door and wants to know if you prefer tea or coffee?