The Name of the WindPatrick Rothfuss

Pages: 662 pages
Publisher: DAW
Release Date: Mar 27 2007
ISBN-10: 075640407X
ISBN-13: 978-0756404079

Early on in the year, while 2007 was still a fresh, new idea, I started hearing buzz about a new novel by a newcomer to the fantasy field. In a lot of ways it felt like Deja Vu: a young, new author with a book coming out of left field, considered by many to be the fantasy-debut of the year, if not the fantasy book of the year.

In 2006 this book was Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, a charming, swashbuckling adventure with one of the most charming protagonists to grace the fantasy field. I picked up Lies with a whole lot of skepticism, not really believing it could be as good as it was lauded to be. It was and turned out to be my favorite book of 2006.

So, when I heard the same types of things said about Patrick Rothfuss and his novel, The Name of the Wind, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it helped that a lot of the praise was coming from some of my favourite authors, but in any case I eagerly picked it up from the bookstore and eagerly dove into the world created by Mr. Rothfuss.

I’m happy to say I wasn’t let down.

The most striking piece in the tapestry woven by Rothfuss is Kvothe (pronounced “Quothe”), the main character and narrator of the story. Kvothe’s story unfolds slowly through an interesting mixture of both Third-Person-Narrative (Kvothe’s present) and First-Person-Narrative (Kvothe’s past), that allows the reader to get to know him on multiple levels, with a depth not usually found in a novel, by being able to see Kvothe not only through the eyes of others, but also through his own eyes. It’s lucky for the reader, then, that Kvothe is such an interesting character. Perhaps not as charming or charismatic as the aforementioned Locke Lamora, but exceptionally compelling in his own ways.

For you see, it is revealed to the reader early on in the novel (and, in fact, even on the dust jacket blurb) that Kvothe is a bit of a legend in the “Four Corner’s of Civilization” (the fictional world created by Rothfuss). “Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller”; these are all names by which the legendary Kvothe is known as he worked his way to legendary status, but when the reader first encounters the legendary Kvothe he appears as nothing more than a simple innkeeper trying to find a place for himself in the world. It is compelling for the reader to know that the young Kvothe they are reading about is destined for great things and it is a lot fun seeing how these great things come together and the ways in which legends are exaggerated.

One concern with The Name of the Wind is that it doesn’t do a whole lot new… but in a lot of ways this is okay. Rothfuss does a fabulous job of taking old archetypes and cliches (an orphan, a prophet, a university, magic, etc…) and using them a way that makes them feel new, fresh and exciting again. Many times while reading The Name of the Wind I was reminded what it felt like when I first began to read fantasy.

In fact, The Name of the Wind is the first book in a long time that kept me reading past my bedtime, something I haven’t done since high school.

The Kingkiller Chronicles (the overall name of the trilogy) has an interesting story behind it. It was originally written as, essentially, one giant book and only when it was finished did Rothfuss realize that instead of one book he instead had three. This, unfortunately, shows somewhat in the ending of the book, as it just sort of… ends without a concrete climax. Sure, there is are several exciting scenes at the end of the book, to be sure, and a few conclusions, but what’s missing is a discernible rise and fall of the action leaving the reader with a sense of accomplishment.

In this way, I felt that the book did not finish quite as strongly as it started. When I finished the book I looked for the rest of it, it felt slightly incomplete and I didn’t feel like it was ready to end. I suppose, though, that this eagerness to continue the story could be a good thing and once the trilogy is completed this will be a bit of a non-factor.

Fans of typical High Fantasy full of sword fighting, action, huge battles and liberal use of magic may be disappointed in The Name of the Wind, but those looking for a deep, character driven look into the early days of a legend in the making, will find something to be excited about.

If The Name of the Wind is anything to go by, Patrick Rothfuss is going to be a name to watch in the Fantasy field in the years to come. In a genre that is playing host to a lot of great new fantasy authors, Rothfuss stands near the top and has nowhere to go but up.

Final Verdict: Thumbs Up

  • Joe Sherry May 21, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    I’ve been mostly avoiding reviews of this book. I know it’s the Big Thing of 2007, but I loathe the cover. Bad reason, but it’s such a turn off. And yet, I know it is supposed to be good.

    What I liked about your review was that it told me less about plot and more about construction and what made the book different (though not necessarily new / fresh)

  • aidan May 21, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks Joe.

    That’s actually one of the big things I want to bring to my reviews. If you want to know about the plot you can read the dusk jacket (or the book itself, for that matter), I think it is much more important to get across the message of how well the story is told, instead.

    A lot of people seem to be down on the cover… I kinda like it! You might like the UK cover a bit better.

  • Joe Sherry May 22, 2007 at 3:30 am

    Better…It’s not there yet, but it’s better.

    I struggle with the plot description thing in my reviews on my blog. As a reader I want to know what the novel is about, what the basic / core storyline is, but I know I need to spend more time talking about the book rather than describing the story. There’s a fine line which I am still trying to figure out how to walk. Some days I do better than others.

  • aidan May 22, 2007 at 5:40 am

    Joe, post a link to your blog.

    I’d love to check it out and if I like what I see I’ll even add it to my links on the left!

  • Joe Sherry May 22, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    I can be found at:

    I need to update my links with a bunch of SFF related blog and stuff, but otherwise the page is pretty well set.

  • aidan May 23, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Thanks Joe! It looks like you’ve got a great thing going on over there. I’ve added a link to you blog on my blogroll.


  • […] fan with lots and lots of related posts on his blog including an interview. Part one is here. His review says: “Fans of typical High Fantasy full of sword fighting, action, huge battles and liberal […]

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  • Wren February 9, 2008 at 6:42 am

    I have to say, I like the style of this book. Though for my mom it was there yet, due to the fact that nothing really happens in the first book. I keep telling her the first book is setting up the whole plot for the next books, but sadly, she’ll hear nothing about it. Though she hasn’t given this book a fair chance, I can’t wait till the next one comes out.

  • Robertk February 22, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Your review encompassed all the related liturgy that one could expect from a dust cover, although without the added details. It was well written and structurally sound. After reading the book myself I have to agree with your responses. A wonderful tale that had a few low points (the ending for sure) yet made me enough of a believer to go and purchase the next one when avaliable. Thanks for the post.


  • […] Other Reviews: My real-life friend John wrote a guest review of this book a while back. Also see: The SF Site, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, The Book Book, A Dribble of Ink […]