Before I begin my review, I need to out myself on a few things…
Firstly, I am a Patrick Rothfuss fangirl (that is if a married 41 year old woman with two adult sons can even be considered a fangirl). I first read “The Name of the Wind” a few years ago and was unashamedly captivated by it. I had only just started tentatively reading fantasy (previously I had been a strictly crime/political thriller reader…i.e. James Patterson, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwall, Dale Brown, Sue Grafton) and I had been intrigued by the books title…”The Name of the Wind”. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but to me the cover (especially in the fantasy genre) tells its own story and if it doesn’t interest me, then I’m likely to pass on the book. I have read other books simply because the cover caught my eye (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is one such series, before they changed the covers which is a pet hate of mine, they were made to look like old files…kind of cool…and then there is Joe Abercrombe whom I read just because I liked his name), so with a title like “The Name of the Wind” I was definitely interested. The story that was contained within that cover was even better than the name had hinted at. Mr Rothfuss’s use of words, imagery and world building wrapped around me like a cocoon and by the end of the book I was converted completely to the fantasy genre. I have since re-read both “The Name of the Wind” and book two “The Wise Man’s Fear” (something I had never done until reading these books) a couple of times and have tried to get them into the hands of as many people as I can. So, yes, I am a fan.
The second thing I need to be upfront about is that I am grieving. My beautiful daughter-in-law died two and a half weeks ago (here is her story) and the world just hasn’t seemed the same since that day. Many things in my life seem meaningless (vanity of vanities, all is vanity) and I even considered whether or not to write this post (but I have and I hope by the end of it you will understand why) and so it is under the very heavy grey cloud of mourning that I read this novella and now write this review.
And thirdly, this is not the book three that you are looking for. Mr Rothfuss made it very clear in the lead up to and in the forward of the book that this was not Book Three of “The Kingkiller Chronicles”…this is a novella that expounds the story of one of the characters in it. It is an addendum to the original story, not a continuation of it.
So, with all that out of the way, let me get on with my review.
Quite simply, I loved it…but I know that not everyone will. Mr Rothfuss admonishes us in the forward that this book is not for everyone, and I agree, not everyone will understand it. This story breaks a lot of rules and there are some people that will find that hard to deal with, but again, we are warned of this in the beginning. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone could fully tell this story without breaking the rules. Auri is not a character that can be explained by conventional means, she is an enigma and so too is her story. And, quite frankly, I don’t think everybody should read this book. I think that something like this should only be read by those that will appreciate it; people who get Auri, who are maybe even a little bit like Auri. It almost seems indecent to expose Auri to the unwashed masses, those that only wish to impose their will on the world and are not at all interested in being changed by something or someone else. If nothing else, then this is a story for those of us who have known great loss and have been forever changed by it.
This short story spoke to the part of me that was broken, the part of me that now looks at the world and wonders why. Although we don’t find out the why of Auri, we do get to know the who. In very cold and clinical terms, Auri would be considered obsessive compulsive, but in my bruised and battered frame of mind, I see beyond that. I’m sure that if a psychiatrist got a hold of Auri, they would have a field day and in doing so would destroy her. To me, Auri, through her brokenness, has found a deeper meaning. She looks only for harmony, she desires only for the things around her to be in harmony with each other. I envy her.
You may think it strange to envy a character who is quite obviously damaged, but it is her very damaged-ness that makes her enviable. She is no longer consumed by the trappings of materialism, she no longer feels the need to impose her will and desire on the world around her and she takes delight in the simple things. We have become a world of cynicism and disdain and we have lost the most sacred of emotions…wonder. Where is the childlike wonder of imagination? The powers that be have reduced our lives down to scientific theories and financial facts totally disregarding that part of us that calls to the deep mysteries of life. Children have lost their childhood and adults have forgotten how to dream. Our world has been broken by the very things that we created to fix it and yet we keep trying to fix it with the same things. We need more wonder in our world and Auri shows us a glimpse of wonder and my heart yearns for more.