Title: The Name of The Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Published: Gollancz, Orion; June 2008
My rating: 4/5
The Blurb says: "'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'"
"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man's will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself."
WHAT I THOUGHT
If it wasn't clear from that quote, Patrick Rothfuss really has a wonderful way with words.
It's obvious really; really quite simple. It is essentially the story of Kvothe, told by the man himself. Like I said, it's simple; but it is glorious and beautiful. The now unassuming and rather unimpressive innkeeper Kote finds his past life catching up with him; a life he tried desperately to put behind him. With the timely arrival of the great story-teller the Chronicler, Kote decides it's time to tell the story of the man he once was: Kvothe, the Kingkiller. I don't really want to say much more than that; though it may not seem like it, the blurb doesn't really give anything at all away so everything else feels like a spoiler!
The characters are well crafted and intriguing. The young Kvothe is driven and motivated, awkward and naive. Rothfuss' short interludes in the story of young Kvothe kept me intrigued - what happens to Kvothe to make him deny his life of magic and intrigue and become Kote the innkeeper? As a love interest, I was relatively impartial to Denna for the majority of the book. She is most definitely a bitch, there's no doubt about it, but as much as Kvothe tries to apologise for it and excuse it, she very much remains unapologetic and you can't fault her for that. We learn about Denna as Kvothe does and I think, by the end, I was very much rooting for them. I loved Kvothe's school friends Sim and Wil; they sort of popped in and out and weren't around enough for my liking. Bast, close friend and tutee of our central character as innkeeper Kote, is a wonderfully mysterious Fae creature; we have yet to learn how he stumbled into Kvothe's life and why he was so willing to live his life in a mask with his master.
The magic is wonderful. The majority of the magic we see is sympathy and appears to be relatively scientific. Then there's the magic that gives the book its name: The Name of the Wind. I've always, weirdly and with no real known origin, enjoyed the kind of magic that's associated with the naming of things. After a chance meeting with the alchemist Abenthy, who would become Kvothe's first teacher, Kvothe dedicates so much of his future to understanding Naming and finding out the name of the wind. After being inspired by his tutor Abenthy and the tales of the storyteller Skarpi, we follow Kvothe as he battles the streets of Tarbean and becomes one of the greatest, and youngest, students the University has ever seen.
The world Rothfuss has created is well-formed with a well thought out history. It is infinitely clear that Rothfuss has spent an immense amount of time creating Kvothe's world both geographically and historically. Of course it needed to be for the sake of the story perhaps more so than in some other fantasy stories. Kvothe travels far and wide across his world and his motivation is heavily reliant on a well established history as he hunts down the Chandrian and explores the mythic, fantastical history of his world. What is good is that the story keeps moving. Rothfuss doesn't spend heaps of time just establishing his world and its history unless it's integral to the plot. Pat Rothfuss and his character Kote are masterful story-weavers.
The only thing I will say is that it's quite a long book, and it feels like we've barely even scratched the surface of Kvothe's story. Of the things outlined in the blurb it feels like, 600+ pages down and we've failed to cover any of it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's not good, and you barely feel the length of it when you're reading, this book just had a lot of ground to cover and is very much the scene-setter. It's a really enjoyable scene-setter but not enough for 5 stars.
I would definitely recommend this to all fantasy fans. It involves a very different method of world creation than any of the fantasy I've read and Rothfuss does it beautifully. I'm going to hold off reading the second book though, at least until there's a release date for the third book. The Wise Man's Fear is 1000 pages long I don't think I'll be able to revisit it for some time like I normally do when there's a long break in the publications of installments so I think it's best to wait. All I ask is that we find out more about Bast in The Wise Man's Fear. He was my favourite.
Thanks for reading,
Naomi Joy x