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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
4.5
Book Name: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher(s): DAW Books
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: March 27, 2007

“God, it’s time for my dick present,” he laughed nervously.

I asked him what he meant, as he handed me the wrapped Christmas present.

“I’ve bought you my favourite book.”

I was baffled. Why that should make him think I wouldn’t approve of the present, I have no idea. I explained I would much rather receive someone’s favourite book as a present than I would a book they’d never read and had no opinion of. Too few of my friends read, to my knowledge. I was thrilled to receive a copy of my partner’s favourite book; we have similar tastes and I knew his recommendation could be trusted. I was not disappointed.

Opening the package revealed The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’d not heard of the title, nor the author, but I don’t claim to be an expert on fantasy novels. I believed him when he added it was one of the greatest fantasy novels of our time; my eager to read it already beginning.

If you disapprove of your life being consumed by a book, then this is not for you. Should you open the cover and read the first few pages, you better be fully on-board to devour whatever you can whenever you have a spare moment. I have no doubt that if you’ve already heard of this book then someone has already sung its praises. However, if, like me, you are new to the work, then do read on.

Rothfuss has, for me, re-introduced the true art of storytelling. It has been quite a long time, if ever, that I’ve been this enamoured with a book. To be honest, even if I hadn’t enjoyed it very much, I would have stuck it out to the end because I would have enjoyed the discussion about it with my partner. Fortunately, committing every spare waking moment of my life to the consumption of Rothfuss’s words was not an issue for me, and by every waking moment, I do mean every waking moment. From the time I have before leaving for work, to the time I sit at my desk when I arrive early; from lunch breaks to the minutes before I go to sleep. Work became an irritable necessity, book-blocking me. ‘Netflix and chill’ became ‘Caution- reading’.

The story opens with an introduction to fiery-haired innkeeper, Kvothe, known simply as Kote to those around him, chosen to conceal his true identity. His patrons give a glimpse into the legend of Taborlin the Great; an early peek into the fantastic world that Rothfuss has created. They speak of the evil Chandrian, demons noted for the blue flame they cause. Suddenly, local resident, Carter, enters the inn, bloody from a savage attack. He heaves the dead body of his attacker onto the table. Not a bandit like listeners assume, this spider-like creature immediately settles fear into the hearts of those who see it. Touching a rod of iron to its corpse confirms the news they didn’t want; a form of demon, the scrael, are nearby. Unlike anything the townspeople have encountered, they begin to prepare with iron as Kvothe plans to deal with the rest of the demons without raising any questions about who he is, or his past. Only his mentee, Bast, seems to have a better knowledge of Kvothe’s past.

As Kvothe bears the weight of this discovery on his own shoulders, heading off to tackle the scrael head-on, a Chronicler unwittingly stumbles into Kvothe’s plan. It is from this meeting that we begin to unravel his history, slowly uncovering the path that led Kvothe into hiding, as he bares all to the Chronicler to scribe, and Bast.

The narrative splits between Kvothe retelling his story, and snippets of current events as he breaks from telling his tale. We learn about his youth as a member of the Edema Ruh, a performing troupe, growing up with a questioning mind, always willing to learn more, hungry for the truth about the world. He tells of the arcanist, Abenthy, that travelled with the troupe for a while, feeding his hunger for knowledge, especially for sympathy, a type of magic. His life would have perhaps been set on a different path, if not for a cruel twist of fate that lures the mythical Chandrian to his parent’s troupe.

As his life spirals beyond his control, Kvothe must learn a few new skills to survive, keeping the dream at the back of his mind that he will one day be able to join the University and hone his sympathy.

Although the book initially triggers our curiosity for the scrael and their background, Kvothe’s telling of his background detracts from this. It takes a while before we’re reminded that his main goal is to learn more about the Chandrian. For me, this was slightly confusing, as we appear to be given Kvothe’s goal at the start of the book, and yet by the end, we’re still nowhere close to getting answers. But it does mean we’re bound to read on to book number two.

As Kvothe successfully manipulates his way into the University, and in a manner like no other before him, he eventually meets his love interest, Denna. For me, Denna is a huge frustration. While it’s clear that Kvothe dotes on her, seeking her out whenever possible, she flits between men, accepting that the deeper their pockets, the more comfort they can offer. Granted, we never learn much about her, or why she’s in this situation. What’s worse is that Kvothe never gets an explanation for this either, and is left yearning, but dutifully accepting of her.

While we’re distracted with Kvothe’s life at the University, the reality of present day is creeping up. Had he handled the scrael successfully and what further dangers do they pose for the townspeople of Newarre?

The first book appears to largely set the scene for what’s to come – we learn about Kvothe’s background and we’re introduced to the Chandrian. Don’t assume the end of the book will tie things up nicely in pretty paper and string. Far from it; you’ll be left hungry for more.

Originally written as one piece of work, The Kingkiller Chronicle has been split into three parts. A Wise Man’s Fear follows The Name of the Wind, and the as-yet unreleased The Doors of Stone (TBC) sees its completion. Considering the series is called The Kingkiller Chronicle, readers will be left wondering when a king gets killed. The edition I was given was first published in 2008, so hopefully you’ll want to join me in celebrating over ten years of success for Patrick Rothfuss. I could say so much more but you’ll have to commit several days of your life to the book, just like I did. You won’t regret it.

Onwards to book two!

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4 Comments

  1. xiagan says:

    Great review but you should’ve tied up what you started with. The reader who hasn’t heard of the Name of the Wind before doesn’t know why it was a dick move to give you the book (everybody else does! ;)). This adds confusion for a new reader.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. Sorry it wasn’t clear, but as I said in the opening, he thought it was a dick present because it was his favourite book! He thought for some reason that giving me his favourite book was a bad thing.

      • xiagan says:

        I (and probably many others who read his books) assumed that it was because Doors of Stone is still not out and likely won’t be in the foreseeable future. So gifting someone an unfinished trilogy where the last book is about eight years late may be considered a dick move. 😉

        • Jon says:

          My thoughts exactly as I started reading this post! I have been putting off reading this series until the final installment had at least been given a release date…but I couldn’t hold off anymore.

          I’ve recently finished The Name of the Wind and have just started The Wise Man’s Fear. Soon I will join the many readers who are “patiently” awaiting The Doors of Stone.

          Unlike Jessica though, I did this to myself. I have only myself to blame haha

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