I finished "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss today. I think it's safe to say that it has been years since I was last this fascinated by a book. Actually, I couldn't say which was the last one. I remember that the very first one was "The Mystery of the Seventh Judge" by Ralf Isau though. The original title is "Das Geheimnis des Siebten Richters", and as far as I know it isn't available in English. It isn't a Mystery Novel either, as my 12-year-old self believed back when I first saw it in the library after having read all the Miss-Marple-novels the shelves had to offer. It was the very first fantasy novel I ever read, and had the most beautiful cover.
Needless to say, it captured my imagination in such a way that I'm still a lover of fantasy over 10 years later, even though I enjoy a mystery novel as much as the next girl.
What is it about fantasy novels that fascinates us so much? And what separates good fantasy from bad? For me, I think it's the vividness of the world described, the wholeness that sucks me right into a world until I can see it and taste it and smell it and think right along. When magic becomes so true that my fingers itch about using it in an everyday setting, half convinced that it must work, even here.
I've read my fair share of fantasy lit, beginning with the children and young adult novels by Ende, Isau, Holbein and Pullman, touching briefly on badly translated trashy paperback chronicles, finding "The Lord of the Rings" mighty dry for the most acclaimed work of fantasy of all times, skipping along the Harry Potter books right into moderated fanfiction (cheaper and surprisingly often better written than the books themselves), delving through countless Terry Pratchett novels falling in love with Death himself...
Still I can't quite put my finger on what divides mediocre storytelling from great. What makes some characters eminently fleshed out and convincing, while others do little more than deliver their lines. What makes some stories leave a bitter taste (Wolfgang Holbein's come to mind, somehow the stories seem cruel to me even if they end happily) while others act as a source of happiness and giddy feeling.
What I do know is that "The Name of the Wind" is the best fantasy novel I have read in quite some time, and I can hardly wait for the sequel - which seems to be published already but not available on amazon.de. I was going to wait for the paperback anyway, so I'll have a matched set... Number three of the triology is apparently in the reviewing process, and should be published sometime next year. You've got to love prolific authors...
While I'm waiting, I found out that Patrick Rothfuss writes a blog and seems to be similarly funny and geeky as Wil Wheaton. He even also writes about Pennyarcade comics and ComicCons. And he's got a crush on Felicia Day. Ah well, TMI, probably.