The Name of the Wind
I’ve just finished reading this novel. It’s a first by author Patrick Rothfuss, and I must say he did quite well getting started. There are a few things about thist story that I find are still nagging at me in the back of my mind. I thought this was an entertaining read, so I try not to dwell on these things. Especially since this novel is a first try.
Let me tell you about the story. We open in the Waystone Inn where innkeeper “Kote” meets a man named Chronicler. This man will record the story of Kote’s past, a time during which he was still known by his real name “Kvothe.”
The book jumps from third person point of view into first, as Kvothe is now telling Chronicler the story from his own mouth. He tells of being a young boy in a troupe of the Edema Ruh, bards and entertainers. He talks of his love for music and theatre and how these things affect him all through his life.
Along the way, Kvothe meets a man affectionately referred to as “Ben.” This man turns out to be an Arcanist who travels along with the Ruh for a short while. He teaches a very young Kvothe all manner of things from Chemistry to Alchemy to Sympathy, the form of magic in the world. Ben puts the notion of attending the University into Kvothe’s head.
Soon, Ben leaves the troupe and settles down. Kvothe undergoes a traumatic experience that leaves him alone, begging and thieving in a big city to survive. He lives as a street rat for years before deciding to head out for the University. At 15, he is admitted to the University, one of the youngest students to ever gain admittance.
From then on, Kvothe’s reputation practically builds itself. He begins studying many things and getting into all kinds of trouble. Including trouble with a girl and later with a Draccus, the closest thing they have to a dragon.
In the end, Kvothe survives everything from whippings to burning towns to a few serious encounters with his rival at the Unversity.
All in all, the book is very entertaining and I would highly recommend it to anyone. At first I was sure the switching between first and third person would be irritating, but it seemed quite normal once I was absorbed in the story.
However, the small things that nag at me: The story begins with an adult Kvothe. Just outside of the town where he maintains his inn, the people face the threat of strange, giant spider-like creatures hard as metal. They begin attacking and the superstitious townsfolk believe they must be demons. This seems like an extra insert to keep you reading until the real story about young Kvothe begins.
The spiders are mentioned in the beginning for maybe 50 out of the 661 pages. And never again. It seemed unncessary. But for the first two hundred pages or so, I kept wondering when they would fit into the story again. It was distracting to a very small degree.
The real story is not about metal spiders attacking a town and a hero that will fend them off, but rather a story about a young boy-musicians studying magic at a University.
Likewise, once the story came to an end…there was no real closure. I imagine there will be a sequel. There must be a sequel. But I wish this particular volume had more of the loose ends resolved. Everything ends quite abruptly with something of a promise for more. After 600 pages of reading, you almost expect to come to a conclusion of some sort. I feel that Rothfuss might have let go of this one too early.
Despite these small things, Rothfuss has a distinct writing style. It’s very different from books I’ve read prior. And if you won’t call it different, you’ve got to agree that he’s definitely flavored all his own. The story telling is captivating and intriguing. Characters come to life and are easy to relate to in this story.
I give this book a 4 out of 5.
I think it would be a great novel to pick up if you’ve been looking for a fresh fantasy writer. Rothfuss seems very promising and I look forward to his next installment.