Hiya listeners! It’s Blog of the Wind, the official blog of the only daily Name of the Wind podcast, Page of the Wind. But you probably knew that. Nick here today, replacing poor Jeremy. His fingers are chafed and bleeding from his time toiling in the Content Mines, so I’ve stepped in to write a few blogs and give him a break.
This week we’re looking back at pages 244-250, in which Kvothe gets his first look at the University. A young orphan, with a special history, makes his way to a school for magic… sound familiar? The comparisons between The Name of the Wind and JK Rowling’s legendary Harry Potter franchise come easily. How many times have you tried to pitch The Kingkiller Chronicle to friends, only to find yourself saying “well, it’s like Harry Potter but different… an orphan goes to a wizard school…”? In fact, a certain brain genius over at Goodreads has this to say:
the whole plot and story is an allegory to the Harry Potter series. There are rumors that “Patrick Rothfuss” is just another one of J.K Rowlings pen names. Robert Gailbraith, Patrick Rothfuss..see the pattern??
While I can’t speak to the (extremely likely) possibility that Rothfuss is just a Rowling in a big rubber suit, I can address the equivalence between NotW and HP. Many of the similarities occur because they are tropes of fantasy. There are innumerable stories where orphaned children find their way into realms of fantasy as a means of empowerment or escape (eg Pan’s Labyrinth, Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon etc). Oftentimes they meet a rival (Ambrose/Draco Malfoy), gather close friends (Wil & Simmon/Ron & Hermione), take on a ward (Auri/Ginny) and battle a dark force (Haliax/Voldemort).
While the broad strokes are similar, I would argue that the core difference between NotW and HP lie in the way the two works approach their tropes. Harry Potter tends to take the tropes at face value. Name of the Wind takes on a trope knowing it’s a trope, and plays with our expectations. For example: Voldemort, the dark lord, is evil from page one. We know right away that Voldemort is a villain to be vanquished, never question it, and never need to. In Name of the Wind Haliax and the Chandrian are presented as the dark lord, the villains to be vanquished, but close readers will notice clues that perhaps things are not as clear-cut as they seem.
It’s unfortunate that Wizard Schools play such a central role in both books, because the equivalence it draws between the two books is easy to make, and not entirely fair to either. Harry Potter is, at its heart, a simple story that doesn’t demand much of its readers. It’s meant for younger readers but can be enjoyed by anyone – it might even be the first novel you ever read. (That’s not to say Harry Potter is bad! It’s great! Don’t hurt me!) Name of the Wind asks a little more of its readers, and while it can be enjoyed by anyone, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you’re aware of tropes.
Thanks for reading! As always, you can hear our most recent episodes at the Page of the Wind SoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts.
P.S. We at Page of the Wind wish to retract our statements regarding Voldemort’s “Taboo” curse. After being corrected by dozens of listeners we understand that we were incorrect to assert that Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix practiced poor operational security by allowing their members to speak Voldemort’s name aloud, as the Taboo curse was only placed during the events of the final book and after Dumbledore’s death. Now please stop emailing us about it.