A Fantasy Series Book Review
Genre: Epic Fantasy, 13+
Publisher: DAW Trade (April 7, 2009)
Paperback: 672 pages
My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.
"The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
"The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know."
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
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.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to 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. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.
I can see why this book has received so much praise, it is evil! Evil you ask. How in the world is it evil? Well, I will tell you. It sucked me right into the book, transported me into another world, and held me captive there for over 700 pages. I forgot to eat, I forgot to sleep, I fell behind on my housework, and my cat is no longer speaking to me, (we all know how much they love being ignored!) And, I loved every minute of it. This book also drives home why I hate starting a series until all of the books are in print. Now I have this irritating itch that I am not going to be able to scratch until this trilogy is complete.
This is the life story of a man who is either a hero or the worse villain you will ever meet, depending on who is telling the story. This is also a story about a man who has given up on living, but before he dies, he wants a record of the real story of his life. He tells this tale to Chronicler, a traveling scribe and collector of stories. Told in first person by Kvothe, he begins his story with his life as an inquisitive young boy and carries it through until he 15-16 years old. There are a few asides, pieces of occurrences that are happening in the present, but for the most part, the book centers on Kvothe's tale. It is a fascinating story to say the least.
Several things strike me as I contemplate the feelings I have about The Name of the Wind. One thing I noticed I mentioned previously but I want to expand on it. The immersion is total. Imagine if you will, a typical medieval style tavern, three men sitting at a table, one of them telling the story of his life... Now forget it... Every single time the story stops due to some present time distraction, customers coming in and the like, I felt like somebody threw cold water on me. And this was not a jolt into the events occurring in MY life, this was a jolt back to what occurring in the book itself. It amazed me every time it happened. I will say one thing, I am glad for those infrequent interruptions, otherwise I would have never been able to find a good stopping point so I could do things like eat and sleep. (Granted I still did not do much of either until this book was finished.)
Now if you have not figured this out already, the pacing in this book is as smooth as silk, the characters are both vivid and real, the world is well drawn and even the magic system, though complicated, is meticulously crafted. There is a priceless unrequited love interest, hints that dark times are upon them, a protagonist with an indomitable will, staunch friends, and bitter rivals. Content wise, this book will easily appeal to teens as well as adults. Might send a few wrong signals about what is acceptable behavior for a 15 year old but more on that later.
Now that I have gushed and bubbled all over the place, let me be fair and point out the few insignificant flaws I did not enjoy so much. The big one was the cliffhanger ending. To be fair, there was not any other way for the story to end. The whole trilogy will take the space of three days, or atleast Kvothe's telling of his story will, and this book is only day one. My other gripe is how easily everything comes to Kvothe. Granted he has plenty of other challenges to keep him busy, but when it comes to learning things, he is every teacher's dream pupil. The final minor complaint is that he never really feels true to his age. I kept forgetting, repeatedly, that he was still in his middle teens. As a result, it was always a shock when his age is brought into play. For example, maybe it was common back in those days for a 15 year old to sit around a tavern with the older boys getting drunk and discussing their love lives (or lack thereof) but it just did not feel right to me. Minor but irritating at times.
This is an extremely easy to read, character driven fantasy that should please fantasy fans for generations to come. It is also one of those books that you will read, reread and pick up for another look later on with the same pleasure you experienced the first go round. That, for me, is the highest praise I can ever give a book. The phrase "a gift that just keeps on giving" comes to mind. I am in awe of Patrick Rothfuss and have a feeling that I will continue to be so for many years to come.
Note: For those of you who enjoy trade editions, one is being released in just a few days, on April 7th. My version is the mass paperback but the purchasing links are for the new version. Enjoy!
Shelfari Rating 4.5/5
Librarything Rating 4.41/5
Amazon Rating 3+ out of 5 stars
(452 Customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: The Name of the Wind|
Audio CD: The Name of the Wind (KingKiller Chronicles)
Buy Book: B&N - Powells - Abe Books
Amazon: US Canada UK
ALA Reading List - Best Fantasy 2008, Alex Award 2008, Quill Awards (2007), Publisher's Weekly Best Books of the Year (2007) - Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
Read an Interview with Patrick Rothfuss From: OF Blog of the Fallen
Part One - Part Two
Other Reviews: (Some with mild spoilers but more plot detail)
A Dribble of Ink - Book Spot Central - Grasping for the Wind
Author's Web Presence
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