Sci-fi & Fantasy Month: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
‘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’
So begins the tale of Kvothe – currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeeper – from his childhood in a troupe of travelling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic.
This book has been on my radar for some time now, and the only thing that has kept me from reading it until now is the sheer size of it – at 672 pages long this is no quick read. The sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, has recently been published after a long four-year wait, so when I decided to do a Sci-fi and Fantasy month on my blog I knew I had to include this book and finally give it a go – knowing I wouldn’t be left waiting years for the story to continue!
The Name of the Wind is the first of a three-volume series titled The Kingkiller Chronicle, which was published in 2007, and it won the 2007 Quill Award for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy. It’s not hard to see why Rothfuss has achieved great success with his debut novel, which was 7 years in the making. After reading the first fifty pages I knew I was reading something close to perfection.
Rothfuss has created a magical world with its own history and folklore and it’s the closest thing I’ve come across to Tolkien’s Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. Rothfuss has most definitely been influenced and inspired by Tolkien – as is evident in his beautiful and poetic prose, and the plot the story revolves around. I felt enthralled to be once again drawn into a place that seems so vivid, so real – as though I could step right into the pages and find myself in Kvothe’s inn, and become a part of the events unfolding in the small town in which he lives.
The first part of the novel revolves around some dark and sinister happenings in the town in which Kvothe currently resides. Villagers are becoming suspicious and much more aware of the darker forces that exist in their world. It is a very exciting beginning that will keep you turning page after page. Then, Rothfuss winds the story down somewhat to begin Kvothe’s history. A gentleman known as ‘The Chronicler’ introduces himself to Kvothe with the promise to scribe his story exactly as he tells it – to put an end to the rumours that surround his life and the reputation he has gained.
The rest of the novel now centres on the first day of Kvothe relaying his past and coming to terms with his life as it is now. We see Kvothe as a travelling performer, a homeless orphan, and a student at the University who is studying the art of magic. He makes many friends, many enemies and falls in love with a woman who keeps disappearing without a trace. As you can imagine, Kvothe has a long, and intriguing history – and although parts of it are certainly gripping – it does slow the pace of the novel down somewhat. I became so interested in what was happening in the present – at Kvothe’s inn, that I wasn’t ready to delve into another life just yet. The story does occasionally revert back to the present – which is very skilfully carried out by Rothfuss, and you never quite lose touch with the characters of that time – but at most it is one or two pages and it never seems like quite enough. For me, the novel had started to lose some of its ‘perfection’.
This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it – far from it. I do believe Rothfuss has achieved something incredible – something that will stay with you for a very long time, and for me, it is definitely up there with the works of Tolkien. I am in awe of his imagination and creativity as a writer – and I am more than looking forward to reading the second instalment, The Wise Man’s Fear.