If you haven’t read this book, drop everything and go buy it.
Stop reading. Go. Buy. Read.
If you have read it, I hope you’ll share in my admiration. The Name of the Wind captures every magical fantasy you’ve ever had. You want dragon fights? Check. Enigmatic magical schools. Done. A bard/student/genius/sword-master/hero the likes of which the world doesn’t deserve? Nailed it.
My cousin and my brother both recommended this book to me, which is how I stumbled across it. I mean, when two of the biggest readers in my life sit me down and insist upon a book, you tend to listen. And I did. Thank God, I did.
From a young age, Kvothe (our bard/student/genius/sword-master/hero) learns about and becomes fascinated with the name of the wind. Hence the title, in case you didn’t make that connection. After hearing a story about a man summoning the wind to save his life, he becomes determined to learn the name for himself.
I love the concept of name invocation. How the possession of a true name can give you power over the thing that is named. I’d heard of the concept before, particularly in fairy stories (ahem, ahem Rumpelstiltskin), but this was the first time, that I could recall, where there was this air of power and mystery around knowing a concept’s name. To me, reading this book, I felt like the name of the wind was smoke. Something real but nearly impossible to catch. Something you could glimpse, could see, but not something you could ever possess. The wispy elusiveness of the wind’s name made sense–it is the wind, after all–and sparked in me my own fascination with name invocation.
So much so, that when it came time to write a psychic ability for my own heroine based on sound, I picked it. Without hesitation. I wanted my heroine to be able to compel obedience from simply a name.
The wispy, elusive aspect of knowing the wind’s name is something I’ll have to work on. For my own writing, I picked fire as my element of choice. Ghosts and fire seem to go hand in hand, and I hope to convey that wonderful sense of mystery about what the name of fire is in my writing.
I’ve got loads to go–I’m not Patrick Rothfuss–but I hope to one day incorporate a similar thrill when my heroine (hopefully!) learns the name of fire into my own works.
[And a very special shout-out to Marc Simonetti for the picture, titled The Name of the Wind also. It’s such a wonderful work!]