Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of The Wind is a generally well written fantasy novel. It follows the story of Kvothe, a brilliantly clever, naturally talented magic user now living as an innkeeper. The novel follows Kvothe telling a scribe his life story, so most of it takes place in the past, with a few present-day scenes. Overall, it wasn’t a bad book. There were a few parts that lingered too long, and a few parts that really didn’t need to be there, in my opinion. The entirety of the tale was interesting, but Kvothe is arrogant and makes the same mistakes again and again, despite his impressive intellect and cleverness. The book ends incredibly abruptly. If you’re looking for a standard fantasy tale with some interesting magic, I’d call The Name of The Wind a READ WITH CAUTION.
Here, There Be Spoilers
Kvothe is a man of legend, but he’s living as an innkeeper named Kote. A scribe stumbled upon Kote and his student, Bast, quickly recognizing the man as the Kvothe of legend. Drawn by a rumor, the scribe bargains with Kvothe to take down his life story. In this book, we hear of Kvothe’s beginnings as a trouper, horrible time as an urchin in Tarbean, and adventures at the University where he studies magic. Above it all lingers the tragic, unnatural death of his parents and entire troupe, committed by the mysterious, mystical Chandrian.
The major driving force in Kvothe’s life is the death of his parents and troupe, murdered by the mythical Chandrian. He is spared, but vows to search them out and destroy them. As a reader, this was a very good hook, yet it fell short as you go for about 80 percent of the book with almost no more information about all of that.
After this happens, he loses himself and eventually becomes a street urchin. While he spends three years starving and homeless, it seems that he remembers none of his magical training, stage training, or even clever survival techniques. In short, it seems all too convenient and long of a time to have him destitute in a city.
Rothfuss has a very nice writing style, in that he adds elegant descriptions to his prose without it seeming like he’s trying too hard. That being said, he picks out certain phrases that he seems particularly proud of and uses them again and again, making them lose their poetic charm. Some of his descriptions are wonderful, yet in other places he seems almost lazy. He repeatedly has the main character say that those listening to him couldn’t possibly understand something, as they have not experienced it, and then only briefly describes the person or thing.
Kvothe is arrogant, but with good reason, as he has natural talent, a sharp mind, and is really quite brilliant. This brilliance only seems accessible when it is convenient, though, leaving Kvothe making some awful, repetitive mistakes throughout the book. Rothfuss lingers on certain chapters of Kvothe’s life far beyond what I feel he should have, making them seem to drag a bit, rather than giving you a good picture of what happened and then moving on.
The storytelling fell short of what it could have been, in my opinion. Kvothe constantly deals with poverty, yet when he gets money, he always seems to find a very stupid way to lose it or spend it. He then laments this and regains money, only to lose it stupidly again. His pride and arrogance constantly contribute to his problems and poverty, yet he doesn’t seem to learn from these instances at all. He is hopelessly involved with a girl who shows up in his life randomly, yet he keeps getting into odd situations relating to her without being suspicious.
My favorite part of the book was a completely unnecessary part, where the author seemed to say “let me throw some fantasy in here!” As a single part of the novel, I quite enjoyed it, but overall, it was quite superfluous and mattered little to the story. In short, I liked it but would have liked it more had the book ended sooner.
In short, I’m not too keen on continuing the series. Rothfuss failed to hook me with his clumsy storytelling, through his writing and story elements had a lot of promise. This is a READ WITH CAUTION. Plenty of folks might like this, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.