• The Name of the Wind (Book 1 of the Kingkiller Chronicle series) by Patrick Rothfuss
• Hardcover: 662 pages
• Publisher: DAW Hardcover, 2007
• ISBN: 075640407X
• Genre: Fantasy
• Recommended For: fans of epic fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings and/or A Game of Thrones, yet this novel would appeal to non-fantasy fans as well.
Quick Review: Highly recommended as the first entry to what promises to be an amazing fantasy trilogy.
How I Got Here: After reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, I have been craving another epic fantasy fix. The Name of the Wind came highly recommended by other serious fans of the genre, so I put it at the top of my TBR list this summer and went out and bought a copy of my own in October.
The Book: Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Note on synopsis: Whaaat?! Spoiler alert: “his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king”–this never happened in the novel I read! I don’t remember reading this. Thanks a lot Goodreads for blowing a major plot point in the next book!
My Analysis and Critique: First, a concession: I don’t really like biographies/autobiographies. The Name of the Wind is essentially the autobiography of a fantastic character. So, if I don’t sound enthusiastic for this book, which I do highly recommend, it is due to this hang-up. Surely if I didn’t have such an aversion to autobiographical narratives, I would be raving about how awesome this book is (as most reviewers of The Name of the Wind do).
With that said, I really enjoyed this novel, though I found it slow and hard to get into when Kvothe first begins telling his life story. It was at this point (about three chapters in) that I was already getting into the story unfolding in the present time, when Kvothe stops it by telling about his earlier years. I reacted like an impatient listener- “Hey! Wait! I was getting into that other story!” I was bummed to find that the present day thread doesn’t get picked up again for a quite a few more chapters later, and it was only for a page and a half, and then Kvothe went back to telling his life story. I guess I’ll have to wait a while to see what is happening at the present day inn.
But, it will pay off in the long run. There will be two more books after this one (The Wise Man’s Fear has already been published as the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series), and I suspect I will be far more enthusiastic about those two (my reasoning will be explained in a bit). Rothfuss’s writing is very strong and I liked the familiar, easy voice used for narration throughout. My favorite parts of The Name of the Wind were: the mysterious, intriguing opening, when we first meet Kvothe the innkeeper, as well as all of the interludes in which he stopped telling his story and the reader returned to the present time; the mystery and unfolding mythology of the Chandrian, Kvothe’s Big Bad(s); the logic and magic of Sympathy and Naming, which is what Kvothe is learning at the University; and all of the characters and plot lines that begin and develop while Kvothe is at the University.
Overall, I know I will love this series. Sometimes, it’s hard to get through the set-up of an epic story, and The Name of the Wind is the set-up novel. Similarly, when I read Tolkien, I wasn’t enthusiastic about The Lord of the Rings, but once I got to the end of The Two Towers and had met Shelob, the huge spider, I was flying through the pages and at the end of The Return of the King, I had nothing but enthusiastic love for the entire series. I know this will be the case for Rothfuss’ series as well. I look forward to seeing Kvothe’s story being further revealed and I can’t wait until his life story catches up to the present!
Patrick Rothfuss website (includes his blog, which I now subscribe to and highly recommend to fans of all things bork- and geek-related)