It is fitting that it has taken me this long to compose a review for Name of the Wind, as it took me much too long to read it. A title that has been a major source of discussion, recommendations and positive reviews, if you have any interest in adult fantasy, then you have heard about The Name of the Wind. It was after hearing/reading many reviews, and a discussion with good friend Ericzor, that last Christmas I decided it was time for me to give myself a gift and open this popular book. I quickly drank it down and before I even had the second installment finished, I had Jenn (who typically does not read fantasy) deep in this world with me.
The Name of the Wind is the first of the Kingkiller Chronicles Trilogy, and debut novel from scribe Patrick Rothfuss. Originally published in 2007, the story is the culmination of years of writing during Mr. Rothfuss’s long run as a University student. Name of the Wind was also lucky, gaining extra promotion after a more established author had missed deadlines, DAW books transferred investment into Patrick Rothfuss and his first novel. Such effort was not wasted as The Kingkiller Chronicles are one of todays most popular reads, with book 3, over-eagerly anticipated. Causing much strain on Patrick Rothfuss, who has a strong social media presence but is met with much harassment over the completion of the trilogy.
Divided into two separate timelines, opening with a third person perspective featuring a seemingly average inn keeper, Kote. When Kote saves a travelling chronicler from spider like creatures, it is revealed that Kote is actually the famous swordsman/magician/musician Kvothe, that is rumoured to have initiated the current ongoing war. After some coaxing the chronicler convinces the inn keeper to recount his tale, and an in depth tale commences. Telling his story over the course of three days (a day for each book in the trilogy) we follow Kvothe’s life story. The first day consisting of his childhood, slaughter of his family and life as a homeless vagrant, to his determination of revenge, training in the ways of magic at University, and an all important love life. All the while being reminded that this is a story about tragedy and failure.
At first glance Name of the Wind seems to lack the panache of other modern epic fantasies. The stories of an orphaned boy growing up to seek revenge has been heard before, lacking the awesome monsters, battles and scale of typical fantasy. It is within the first few chapters that you begin to understand that the appeal is not about the classic tropes but the world and the prose that make the book amazing. Creating a more realistic fantasy world with magic that comes across as almost obtainable. Told from a perspective of someone who has lived the life as oppose to the usual monarch, messiah or warrior point of view. The poetic writing is what pulls you in, with a sense that Mr. Rothfuss does not waste a single paragraph, or sentence, not one word is put in without purpose. In a story about magic, the most magical element is the form and structure that the book is composed.
Kvothe, himself is a unique and complicatedly layered character. The divide between the character of the story and the one telling it seems like they are two different people entirely. Recounting his misery and mistakes adds true sympathy, and a connection to a very real character. Kvothe is not the all powerful, amazing hero that his reputation would suggest, but more of a struggling, fail more often than not, complexly average individual. It is that realism that makes the story so intriguing and the tale of his life so deserving of three, thick, novels.
At times the story seems to drag on at unimportant plot points, and then quickly skim over some of the more interesting scenes. There is a mystery involved to this, as Kote and Patrick Rothfuss are telling only the most relevant pieces. This has added to the major anticipation of the third and final book, as a whole culture of readers try to unravel the puzzle that is the Kingkiller Chronicles. The entire book has elements of a bigger theme that is unbeknown to the reader, causing a dedication to read forward as well as a frustration as the days end and hundreds of questions run through your mind. Months after my first read through, the abstruseness of this novel still nags at me, and, once in a while, Jenn and I will reference and discuss our theories for the hundredth time.
The Name of the Wind is a modern classic, destined to be read and discussed for decades to come. 5/5, if you have yet to read the first two books in this trilogy, put them on the top of your tbr pile and waste no more time. This is a book every booknerd needs in their lives, one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had, period, and at the top of my recommendations for any reader. If you have read these books and the mysteries are driving you crazy, I would suggest the Tor website read through. It is a great recap and adds perspective to elements that you never thought had any relevance, seriously you missed so much more than you think.
Thanks booknerds, if these books are driving you nuts, please comment, I love a good Kingkiller discussion.