Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Yes, this is a fantasy novel.  Yes, this is a plant blog.  Yes, I will find a place where the two coincide to satisfy my love for a good story and my appreciation for plants.  Right on page 425 our hero Kvothe is comparing the elusive Denna to a flower, as she is tired of receiving  perfect red roses from her suitors, and wants to know of which flower she reminds him.

“Daisy is a good one…tall and slender, willing to grow by roadsides.  A hearty flower, not too delicate.  Daisy is self-reliant.  I think it might suit you…But let us continue in our list.  Iris?  Too gaudy.  Thistle, too distant.  Violet, too brief.  Trillium?  Hmmm, there’s a thing.  A fair flower.  Doesn’t take to cultivation.  The texture of the petals…smooth enough to match your skin, just barely.  But it is too close to the ground.”   Finally he decides on the fictional (I think) Selas flower.   “It is a deep red flower that grows on a strong vine.  Its leaves are dark and delicate.  They grow best in shadowy places, but the flower itself finds stray sunbeams to bloom in….There is much of you that is both shadow and light.  It grows in deep forests, and is rare because only skilled folk can tend one without harming it.  It has a wondrous smell and is much sought and seldom found.”

A botanical reference can actually be found in many fantasy stories, as the characters usually end up traveling through forests and over mountains.  In this book Kvothe chews on willow bark as a natural pain reliever  (willow=salix, aspirin=acetylsalisylic acid).  Regardless of the plant references, I loved this book!  It kept me up late and left the dishes piled in the sink, it was that kind of story.  Similar to Harry Potter, the 15 year old Kvothe is attending the University, making friends and enemies and learning magic.   He also has an interesting run-in with a dragon near the end, but who wins?  You’ll have to read to find out.  The words in this book take you on a mysterious journey, revealing tantalizing parts about the characters and their world, yet holding back information, leaving the reader wanting more!  Fortunately, the second book in this series was just published this month:  The Wise Man’s Fear.  I can’t wait to get my hand’s on it.  Happy reading!

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