- Title: The Name of the Wind
- Author: Patrick Rothfuss
- Page: 662 pages
- Publication: Gollancz
- Date Published: March 27th 2007
‘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’
I admit I am a bit late to the party when it comes to The Name of the Wind; well, late is an understatement as it was first published in 2007…but, to my defense, I was only 8 then. It also took me a while to finally pick it up because of its intimidating size and my unfamiliarity with the Epic Fantasy genre. Admittedly, it did prove to be a long read but it was its longevity that allowed me to really fall in love with the story and Kvothe. The Name of the Wind was an absolutely brilliant book and I was in awe of both the writing, the unveiling of the plot and Kvothe’s character throughout the book.
The writing was simply phenomenal. One of the best books I’ve ever read in my time as a reader, it managed to convey Kvothe’s mentality and the severity of the situation he was in such a way that I was completely in sync with the story. I was not simply an observer but it felt like I experienced (for lack of a better word) it too. I had the same emotions that coursed through Kvothe, the same anxiety or fear that run through him when dealing with a dangerous situation. The handling of the plot was also incredible. It unveiled slowly but with a purpose. No scene felt unnecessary and every experience felt like it shaped Kvothe more as a character. When he was living in Tarbean, Rothfuss didn’t shy away when describing the cruelty and suffering of an orphan living in the streets or the ugliness of the poverty that prospered in the city. Those were some of the most gruesome and impactful scenes in the book.
I also loved how intricate and complicated the magic system was, if you can even consider it a magic system. In Rothfuss’ universe, people aren’t born with ‘magic’ but have to work and study hard, as well as have a strong and endurable mind, in order to achieve what is considered to be ‘magic’. An Arcanist is as close to a warlock as one can get and the practice and skills needed for the job were fascinating to read about. One of the practices was trying to mentally split their mind into two or three pieces in order to connect an object with something else… how is that not awesome? Everything had a logic behind it, and it was what made more believable and real. The University was a place were people came to learn basically almost everything concerning science; from math to crafting and healing, herbs and names. But it all came down to hard work and dedication
(and money), not chosen ones.
Lately, it seems I’m also really into anti-heroes and Kvothe is what started my obsession. He is not a villain, has committed no villainous deed but he is also no hero, at least not for now. He is merely a kid with a smart mouth and a sharp mind trying to survive. For most of the book, we see him struggling to stay on his feet; from the streets of Tarbean to his time in the University. He is also brilliant. I’m not sure whether it was his cleverness or his sharp wit that first drew me to this character but, nonetheless, they made an intriguing combination. Kvothe is a boy both educated and street smart, has the ability to learn things faster than anyone else and can think fast on his feet; it was fascinating seeing him get out of dangerous situations with a certain grace and cunningness that I’d seen in no other character (except Kaz Brekker). But, what I loved most, were his faults. He was rush, reckless, arrogant, and he didn’t always get away with his antics. He took risks but that didn’t mean he didn’t also meet the fitting punishment when it was due. That made him more approachable and real as a character to me.
At the same time, Kvothe is the narrator of the story; a very intriguing way to tell a story, to let the character recount it for you. I’ve heard people call him an unreliable narrator and, in a way, it’s true because the entire story is told from his eyes and some things could be exaggerated or minimized. Some of the teachers were especially cruel but it’s not sure if that’s an objective opinion or just Kvothe’s view of them; the girls that showed interest in him were also described as especially beautiful.
Denna falls into that category too. From their first meeting, Kvothe becomes enamored with her, continuously pointing out her beauty and grace while others are quick to mention that she, in fact, is not the most beautiful. Yet to Kvothe she is everything. This is a point where Kvothe’s exaggeration of a character’s appearance or personality is visible as we are introduced to them solely from his view; the view of a boy with a crush.
But, mostly, I was completely taken by the worldbuilding. A world with its own myths, songs, gods, and demons. Rothfuss created a captivating, yet strangely familiar world that is begging to be explored. There are demons such as the Chandrian and the Encanis that I’m really hoping we’ll get to learn more about in the Wise Man’s Fear. Throughout the book, a lot of characters took the time to recall myths about monsters and gods that were fascinating to hear about. I loved piecing together the story of this intricate world and didn’t once mind the halt in the storyline. Actually, I would very much read a companion book full of them; Patrick, make it happen, pal. Pretty please.
It is slow paced, yes. But this is not a book to be rushed. There is so much to learn in order to really understand, not only Kvothe’s drive and his character but also the world he lives in. I enjoyed every page, not just because Kvothe’s life is an alluring tale to read but also because Rothfuss’ writing was just as compelling, pulling me in for hours at a time without me even noticing.