The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Published by Gollancz on June 12th 2008
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Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
The Waystone Inn has it’s usual crowd of patrons, just a few locals who gather together to tell stories under the watchful eye of the innkeeper, Kote. But one day one of them brings in a creature so dark, so terrible, so unknown, that the innkeeper’s hidden past begins to surface with memories.
“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. You may have heard of me.”
When the Chronicler comes to town, he knows that the innkeeper who calls himself Kote is actually the legendary Kvothe the Bloodless. With a talent for telling stories, Chronicler wants the best story there is: Kvothe’s. Unable to deny it, Kvothe begins to tell the story of his life; from humble beginnings on the road with his travelling family, to suddenly becoming an orphan when his entire troupe is slaughtered, to living on the street, picking himself up and heading to university, meeting a girl. But every step Kvothe takes throughout his life is for one purpose: find the Chandrian, the creatures that killed his family.
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
My thoughts on The Name of the Wind
This book has been sitting on my shelf for so long that I’ve forgotten where I got it from. I actually began The Name of the Wind in about 2014, but for reasons forgotten to me, I didn’t make it past the first chapter. I suspect it wasn’t for lack of interest – it’s an incredible book! – but probably more likely that I got distracted by another new release or another story and forgot to pick it up again. Until now.
Patrick Rothfuss has written The Name of the Wind in a really interesting way. It begins in third-person, as Kote the innkeeper attends his bar and listens to the stories of the locals who visit, but when Chronicler comes into town and wants to write up Kote’s story, Kote turns into Kvothe and we hear the story in first-person has we follow the events in the man’s life. Occasionally the chapters drop back to the ‘present’, as Chronicler, Kvothe and Bast stop for a bite to eat, or if someone comes into the inn. It made for excellent reading, and was so well written I found myself engrossed in every single word.
“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.”
My favourite part of this book was Kvothe’s time at the university. There’s a big emphasis in this book on Sympathy, which is sort of like magic and alchemy mixed together, and this is brought out at the university so well, and so intriguingly. Kvothe’s friends Wilem and Simmon are brilliant, and Kvothe’s passion and love of music (and his lute) are a beautiful aspect to the story. The name of the book is in reference to the naming of things – everything has a name, and if you know it’s name you can call upon it – and Kvothe wants to learn the name of the wind to aid him in his revenge against the Chandrian who killed his family and troupe.
The ending doesn’t feel like an ending. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely ends, and Rothfuss ends it wonderfully, but the story doesn’t end there in any means. In the present, only a few days have gone by, and the story is just beginning.
I know I’m missing a lot of elements and events that I’m sure I have opinions on, but with a book that’s over 600 pages long, it’s hard to pinpoint the best bits, or really do the story an justice at all with a simple book review. The Name of the Wind was gripping and exciting, intriguing and beautifully written, humourous and heartbreaking, with a little bit of magic. It’s everything a fantasy book should be and more.
If you’re into fantasy then you may have already read this book. If not, I highly recommend it. The next in the series is The Wise Man’s Fear, and I will definitely be picking it up in the near future (again, it sits unread on my shelf). The third book (called Doors of Stone, according to Goodreads) has yet to be published.
Have you read The Name of the Wind?