Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss

Date finished: 02 July 2011

Rating: 4.5 stars

Format: eBook

Source: Bought

Genre: Epic fantasy

Published: by Golancz in June 2008


The Synopsis

‘I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me’

So begins the tale of Kvothe – currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeeper – from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin. The Name of the Wind is fantasy at its very best, and an astounding must-read title.

The Review

Since the release of the second book in this trilogy, there’s been a certain degree of hype surrounding the works of Patrick Rothfuss. As always amongst those of us who read and blog, books such as these are often approached with trepedation. Sometimes the hype is borne out and we find a new book/author/series to love; sometimes the hype ruins an otherwise acceptable book, be it because you’re sick of hearing about it and never read it or because it might have been good had you not been told to think it’s the most amazing experience ever. This experience was one of the former.

I had read a lot about Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy since the release of the second in March of this year. After some favourable reviews of The Wise Man’s Fear by bloggers whose reading tastes seem similar to mine (Dee’s review @ e-volving books springs to mind..), I decided to take the near-700 page plunge. I was also yearning for some epic fantasy so this one won out on all counts!

Everything good you have heard about this series is true.

The story starts slowly. It doesn’t take long to realise how well this works for this book. The level of detail in the world and in the characters is absolutely superb! The pace is perfectly set for a trilogy and allows time for everything to develop wonderfully. It isn’t always the most action-packed story but that just makes it all the more involving. I was completely drawn into Kvothe’s exploits and felt more than just the usual investment in a story that 700 pages will develop.

Told in two time periods, the novel splits between the present and the history of Kvothe. The use of the present is always extremely well-timed; rather than interrupting the action, it manages to enhance it. Partly because Kvothe’s tone as a narrator is wry and entertaining but with layers of more raw emotion and the present serves almost as “light relief” from the intensity of Kvothe’s youth. Despite growing up with travelling performers and learning to love music and theatre, there is some serious tragedy coming Kvothe’s way and, believe me, you’ll feel every bit of it!

One of my favourite characters is Bast, Kvothe’s present-day student. One of the fae and Prince of Twilight, no less. I loved him for his fierceness and utter devotion to Kvothe and for the fact that nothing is quite the way it seems. I can’t wait to see how his character develops in the remaining books!

One of my favourite things about the novel was the sense that I was watching a myth being born. This is what fantasy should be about – magic, ancient creatures, love, history and spectacular characters and scenery. The quote in the Synopsis sums it up perfectly – Kvothe is already a legend and this is just the story of how he came to be that legend. Or rather, how he came to be so many legends to so many people….

Overall: To fans of epic fantasy, I would recommend it in a heartbeat – it’s a fabulous representation of everything great about the genre and a terrific read! To all other readers, I’d recommend it as an introduction to the genre – it’s everything that I love about fantasy tempered by some gritty and emotional realism.