The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
Pages: 662 pages
Release Date: Mar 27 2007
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 Lynchâ€™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 wasnâ€™t let down.
The most striking piece in the tapestry woven by Rothfuss is Kvothe (pronounced â€œQuotheâ€), the main character and narrator of the story. Kvotheâ€™s story unfolds slowly through an interesting mixture of both Third-Person-Narrative (Kvotheâ€™s present) and First-Person-Narrative (Kvotheâ€™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. Itâ€™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 â€œFour Cornerâ€™s of Civilizationâ€ (the fictional world created by Rothfuss). â€œKvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkillerâ€; 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 doesnâ€™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 havenâ€™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 whatâ€™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