The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Review by Joshua S Hill
When friends hand me books to read, I am always suspicious of whether the books will be any good. Maybe it is my own great arrogance (or maybe one of many), but I just figure that – unless they are of a special few – I am the better judge of books. Thankfully, twice this theory has fallen by the wayside.
The book is called The Name of the Wind, and it is written by a new author, Patrick Rothfuss. This also had me a little worried, as I am becoming more and more wary of new authors. But my fears were groundless. More than groundless, they could even be called vaguely offensive to Rothfuss who proved himself in his first mass market literary outing to be nothing short of a genius.
The Name of the Wind, Day One of the Kingkiller Chronicles, quickly made its way into my top fantasy series list. The book, which is essentially an autobiography of a once famous now reclusive musician, arcanist and adventurer named Kvothe, is revolutionary – to my eyes at least – in its storytelling method. Autobiographical for the most part, it starts, finishes, and occasionally reverts to a narrative telling of the interview from whence the autobiographical information springs.
The story wraps around Kvothe’s life just as you would want, exploring his journey from childhood into adolescence, and a little of the way into maturity. The universe in which this story is set is beautifully and articulately created. This includes everything from a more academic style of magic then is normally employed all the way through to making storytelling and music a large part of the story.
Storytelling, in fact, seems to be a thread that will soon be picked up in the sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear (to be released sometime in 2009). Kvothe is not only relating his life story in a tale to the Chronicler (book one is Day One of the storytelling), but spent his early life as an Eduma Ruh; a travelling and performing group of people, gypsy-like in their lifestyles but with much more focus on their literary and musical talents.
There are a few tropes found in The Name of the Wind, but none are exploited to the point where you are remembering other stories. Kvothe is left as an orphan after his father’s study into the Chandrian unwittingly brings their attention down upon his family. From there Kvothe must make his way as an urchin, before he manages – miraculously – to gain entry into the University of the arcanist that had travelled with his father’s family so many years ago.
Kvothe’s life is very much split into sections, and we will no doubt see this continue as the succeeding books are released. The second section of Kvothe’s life depicts his life at the University, and his re-entry into music. His love for the beautiful Denna is a heartbreaking yet funny story, while his deeds and misdeeds at the University make for compelling and sympathetic reading.
But throughout the novel we are given hints at the greater parts of Kvothe’s life. The series is called the Kingkiller Chronicles, yet we don’t know which king Kvothe killed or why. His talents are obviously well known throughout the lands, yet he has only made himself known in the city of Tarbean. And revenge must be taken on the Chandrian, given his fervent attempts to regain entry into the University library after he was banned for life from ever entering.
Patrick Rothfuss is, in my opinion, one of the better storytellers around at the moment. Too early in the game to give him full marks or list him amongst the nobility of fantasy, but his place there is almost assured. Rarely do you find yourself taken out of the story, and no serious lack of writing skill can even be guessed at, let alone found.
If you haven’t already, make sure you pick up Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind in time to read The Wise Man’s Fear in April of 09.
Troy from USA
I wanted to say first that this book was well written. It's an easy ready with many different interesting events. There is a lot of creativity that is involved, and often it kept me reading. Though these are huge pluses when I read this book, there are many events in the book that made me roll my eyes repeatidly. The main character, Kvothe, seems ridiculous as he is able to do anything. Basically Rothfuss made this character seem like a god who can do anything, has many jealous of his intelligent, and has many women wanting him.
Yasmin from Netherlands
I love both books! Can't wait for the third one :) but i have to say that the bar is pretty high now... difficult to like other books..:P
Jeff from Mexico
The main character is completely unbelievable and totally disconnected. He's simply the best at everything. He's literally too cool for school. Every girl wants him, all his friends want to be him and the world is just in awe at how awesome he is. He saves women from burning buildings, saves entire towns from huge dragons is the wittiest person you've ever met (and the most handsome), all at age 15. Yet what really makes him feel like a hero (despite all he's accomplished in this book) is when he teaches a little girl a foreign saying to make her feel better. Of course, it's even more amazing when the saying is said in the deep, baritone voice he admits to having. Just incredible indulgence in character development. Absolutely ridiculous. Could really learn a lot from Mr. Martin.
Kael from Canada
This book is amazing; as some have mentioned, it draws you in. Specially for those who have gone through tougher times, or less than ideal circumstances, who may be able to relate to Kvothe's pain and poverty; it really engages and enthralls you. Those people that get tired of Kvothe alluding to the fact that he's poor have probably never gone through similar circumstances. All I got to say on that.
Tomas from England
For me this was the worst fantasy book I have ever read! Boring story from the start to the finish! I cannot believe all the positive reviews it has got! There was nothing happening on those 600 hundred pages, the whole story (600) pages seemed to be the only start for another book... well could be the trick to persuade readers to buy another book but I surely won't. So glad I finished reading it... wasted time reading this rubbish when there are plenty more of good books to read.
Cedric from Netherlands
Amazing book, but sometimes repetetive. There are so many things in the books which aren't being written but you have to figure out yourself if you can, but does not matter much if you cannot. Great read for everyone!
James from Canada
How often do you find a story that is most likely going to be a tragedy so entertaining. It's also rare to have such a personal and intimate connection with the protagonist as the reader has with Kvothe. The writing was poetic and flowed so well even a dull section of the book (a rarity!) feels smooth. Kvothe's interaction with everyone around him was wonderful and even minor characters seem fully developed and important to the plot. A unique take on magic, heroism, fantasy writing and a must read for anyone who likes reading.
I have to say I really liked this book. I read it a few years ago, and just keep coming back to it. I really like the way that his story is told, and trying to understand how Kvothe went from the boy he was to the man he is in the book's present. I can understand why there are those that feel that the book isn't very good, but I think that for the first book in a trilogy it is very good. It sets up so many things for the next books, and I really love the writing. Read the book out loud, and you'll find that there are some beautiful phrases and placement of words, as if someone used to telling stories really is telling the story. Anyway, I think it's a book that can be enjoyed by many people.
CJ Twice from Atlanta
WOW - I can't imagine anyone saying this series is no good. Dude [Rothfuss] is a frigging fantasy wizard, and both this and book two are full of little clues and puzzles (he actually gives the ultra fan something to do while waiting for the next book). GE-NI-OUS!!! I can't wait for 'The Doors of Stone" - BTW all my guessing had me guessing this title only refers to the two Lackless doors at the Lackless estates and within the university archives. Upon further review, I believe the gray stones have to be included in that. Remember the folklore surrounding them 'they mark old roads/safe places' according to Kvothe, but Simon believes they bad things. Older cultures, who would understand them proper, would probably see them as a good thing [a way of escape from trouble], while those who don't understand them completely would only see them as dangerous, because they probably have learned to associate them with appearances by Fay creatures. Remember, Falurian suggests there are many doors to move between the mortal an Fayan realms for those who know how. I'd be willing to bet that both the University and Lackless estate are build on/around these stones [ we already know that one of these stones exists at the bridge near the university. That door in the archives must somehow lock this passageway. Furthermore one of those two doors [Lackless or university] must be locking away Alaxle 'Lax' the most powerful of the shapers (the one who stole the moon).
Jan from Antwerp, Belgium
I must say this was a very good book. But if I were to give word to one of the flaws in this book, it is that the main character - that is supposed to be a very smart guy - does really stupid things on many occasions. Still, worth reading though!
Daniel from New York
I continued to be shocked that people like this book as they do - so shocked that I had to comment on it if only to banace out its ratings. The intrigue is fairly well set up, but goes absolutely nowhere, and what should be the climax of the first book ends up being an exceedingly long tangent about a drugged dragon. And also, we get it, Kvothe, ylou're poor. You didn't need to say it two hundred times.
Antoine from Canada
Like many read this on a whim. Literally by the time you finish the first page - which was beautifully written - you ask yourself, how have I never heard of this before?
Mira from New Zealand
Patrick Rothfuss' is an incredible writer - these are the best books (fantasy or otherwise) I have read in a long long time.
Joe from Glasgow
I just don't get the adulation heaped on this guy. Narrow focus, no set pieces, little in the way of emotional resonance, and a section towards the end that is completely superfluous. Although written well, it needs more. I won't be reading any more of this series as there are plenty more books to read.
Javier from Spain
Nice storytelling, that's it. I love this book, it is absorbent, easy to read, but at the end it seems to me like an empty book. It is an extensive intro that could be summarized in less than half of the book length.
Ashton from Australia
This is a fantastic novel. Allowing you to escape from your own world for a while is what a fictional novel is, but Rothfuss has taken this to a whole new level as The Name of the Wind actually draws you IN to the book. I laughed and cried with the main character which is something that most authors can only hope to achieve. This novel really is where the ordinary becomes extrordinary and the impossible becomes possible.
Dan from London
One of the best fantasy novels in decades. Engaging characters and a compelling plot. All those I have recommended it to have loved it.
Arham from Pakistan
One of my favorites as a young teen. Really pulls your heart.
Tom from Ohio
This is the kind of book you will read more than once. Great writing and a lead character that will stick with you.
James from Boston
A passionate, delightful book in every way. Perhaps not as technically polished as Martin or Hobb, but their equal for imagination and characterization. More than that, this is just a book that feels good to read on a snowy evening, fantasy in the old sense, a book that will envelop you and let you escape into a world that's just legendary enough to leave you craving more at the last page.
Jan from Germany
I have read it in 2 Languages more than 8 times. Definitely my favorite.
Peter from Netherlands
Best book ever! Couldn't put it away after the first 50 pages. My all time favourite!
Henrik from Sweden
This is nice first try but not a good novel. Rothfuss would maybe have gained a lot by waiting to release this ill-edited, illogical version, then rewrite it and most of all move the last hundred pages to the next installment.
Naru from Indonesia
I truly enjoyed this book, it is amazing. The plot keeps going on without ever failing to make me picture itself. Simply put, I couldn't stop myself reading this book until I finished it, and now that I did, I can't stop waiting and wanting the second book. Buy it, read it, you won't regret it.
Daniel from Tempe, AZ
I honestly come to a loss for words. All I can say is anyone who can even slightly enjoy a fantasy needs to read this book because it truly is fantastic. By page 100 I knew this book would instantly become one of my all time fav's.
Marie from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The language. The main character. The plot. What can I say? To understand the hype, you have to read the book. I've been promoting this book shamelessly among my friends and family. This book has EVERYTHING you could possibly want: romance, scientific facts, amazingly beautiful writing, magic... And, apparently, in the next book: sex. Buy this book. You won't regret it.
Leonie from Cumbria, UK
I bought this book on a whim, and I'm glad I did. The storytelling is absolutely effortless, and continues to engage you from start to finish. For a first book, it's as good as you can get, I only hope that the sequel can achieve as much. I read it cover to cover in under a day and then read it again, the only reason I gave it a 9/10 rating is so the sequel can get a 10/10 if it's better!
Henry from Fitchburg
Well I gave it a 8 because this is my first fantasy book I have ever read. All I've got to say is wow, this book keep my interested all the way through. There wasn't much in the way of epic battles or anything like that, but it was a well writtten story. Can't wait for the next book to come out.
Preita from California, USA
I think this book is just about as close to a 10 star rating as you can get. It's the first book that actually made me cry for the character. The writing is fluid and beautiful and though the story is a little tragic I can't wait for more.
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