It was a grey, wet, dark Friday afternoon just before Christmas 2006 when an agent sent me a manuscript for consideration. It was over a thousand pages long and when printed out, single-sided and double-spaced, it stood almost twelve centimetres tall. It did not, at first glance, look like something I wanted to take home with me. But I did. I can tell you that it takes a certain kind of bloody-minded optimism to drag such a manuscript home with you, especially on a Friday evening. Carrying the thing is a feat, all by itself. Getting it home is even more of an achievement, especially when you begin to tire half way there, walking through the rain without an umbrella and with the sinking feeling that the already heavy manuscript is getting soggier – and therefore heavier and less readable – by the moment.
There is a temptation, at such moments, to put the slightly soggy bundle down and, shame-faced but lighter of step, walk away. There is a temptation, once home, to do something other than sit down to peel the damp pages apart and read the manuscript. Especially since, once you are tired, wet and aching at the end of the week, you are no longer quite so inclined to like the manuscript as you were initially.
But every now and again that long walk with a heavy manuscript pays off. Because, as it was for me with The Name of the Wind, once in a while you discover a book which is utterly wonderful. When I turned that first page Patrick Rothfuss’ words cast their spell . . . “It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts . . .” and I lost an entire weekend to Kvothe and his adventures. It was a magical novel then – when I was one of only fifteen or twenty people in the world who had read the manuscript. Now, with The Name of the Wind published in fifteen or twenty different languages around the world, and I am one of more than 150,000 readers (in the UK and commonwealth alone!) clearly the magic of Patrick Rothfuss’ novels remains undimmed.
So I think it is very fitting that The Name of the Wind has been voted one of the ten Gollancz 50th novels. It’s a collection of books that readers love – and, more importantly, that they love to recommend to other people. So I can tell you that 10,883 people voted to recommend this title to you, because they think you’ll enjoy it. And so do I.
Especially as our Gollancz 50th hardback edition is so much easier to carry home than the manuscript was . . .