The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is one of those books I’ve known about for a while, but put off reading for reasons that were mostly a little bit ridiculous. I was intimidated by the size of the book – which at 662 pages, isn’t that long – and the fact that its the first in an adult high fantasy series (I still have anxiety about A Song of Ice and Fire). But it turns out, none of that mattered. Because, despite the length of the book, I managed to finish it in less than a week, and even though it’s grouped in the same genre as A Game of Thrones, The Name of the Wind is an entirely different beast.
Because I love it so much, here is the synopsis from the back cover:
MY NAME IS KVOTHE.
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 the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
First, let’s talk about the characters. Because Kvothe is definitely high on my list of favorite literary heroes. From the synopsis, you might guess that he’s a little bit of a special snowflake (a common trope that I’m not a fan of). But that’s not the case. Rothfuss managed to create a character that is, in fact, better at a lot of things than all the other characters, but he’s also still a fifteen-year-old boy (at least for most of the first book). I don’t want to give away too many details, so you might have to just trust me on this one. Kvothe is, undoubtedly, a hero, but he’s still human. I really enjoyed the dynamic that Rothfuss struck with his man character. The secondary characters are almost as good. We don’t get to know them that well, but they definitely add a lot of interest to the story.
The plot is incredibly interesting. Admittedly, this book lacked the huge, impactful climax I was expecting, but it kind of worked. The events of the novel are more subtly exciting, and I found myself unable to put the book down, because I wanted to find out what happens next. We learn a bit about the ending of the trilogy at the beginning of the novel, so it was fun to see what led Kvothe to where he is now. The setting is really great, too. I loved that there is sort of a magic school involved, but a lot of the book takes place away from the school, so we get acquainted with the world the the book takes place in. Kvothe spends his childhood as part of a group of traveling musicians, which gives us a good idea of the different cultures, something I really enjoyed.
One of the things I loved the most about this book was the writing. Admittedly, I was expecting something akin to A Game of Thrones. Don’t get me wrong, I love George R. R. Martin’s writing (I wrote a whole paper on the language he uses in his books), but I found Rothfuss’s style refreshing. It is far less formal than I’m used to with high fantasy, and I loved it. It was easy to read, and while the imagery was incredible, the writing itself wasn’t overly flowery or embellished.
I’m so glad I ended up reading this book! It became an instant favorite, and I an so excited to read the second book in the series. When does the third come out