This book has been majorly hyped in my circles, so even though I was excited to pick it up, I did so with a bit of trepidation. It took me nearly a month to finish this 722 page monster. Now that I have I can see why The Name of the Wind is getting so much hype.
I only recently started getting into reading high fantasy, and in this short time I’ve begun to notice a pattern. Typically the beginning is very slow and drawn out. Authors try to give us a sense of the main characters, the world, and the conflict. Once these key factors are set aside, there is usually some gruesome scenes of violence, death, torture: some nobles thinking their better than everyone, a dash of misogyny, maybe a love interest, and magic sprinkled in to give things a little flair. Despite the repetition I am a huge fan of the genre. However, I like a little change every now and then, and Patrick Rothfuss manages to pretty much bypass all of these tropes and produce such a rich and complex story.
The Name of the Wind follows Kvothe, a legendary sorcerer who has been made so either by deeds he did and are widely blown out of proportion, or by complete fabrications. Now Kvothe is setting the record straight and telling his story in his own words. From his childhood growing up the son of troupers, his first teacher, his time spent living in the slums, and his admission into the prestigious University. His voice is eloquent and at times beautifully poetic.
While I'll say that I didn't entirely love Kvothe in everything, I did respect him and was intrigued by his story and the mystery behind his name. He can come off as little full of himself which annoyed me at times. Yes, you're clever, but no need to keep reminding us of that. However, putting that aside he is a very complex character who is so different from any other character I've come across in a fantasy novel. He is the underdog who you really want to win. He has flaws that he doesn't try to hide them He is also giving and kind to those he loves. However, I wouldn't recommend getting on his bad side. This is the first in a trilogy and I'm very interested to see how Kvothe changes throughout his adventures.
The world that Rothfuss created on the surface isn't anything special. At least I thought so at first. I thought it was very standard nothing out of the ordinary in a fantasy novel. However, when you factor in the magic, mythology, and culture you start seeing how much detail was put into this world. I was fascinated by the magic in this book. It has an almost mathematical and scientific quality to it. Also the Fae or Chandrian just made my hair rise thinking about them. The University was interesting and being the huge nerd that I am I couldn't help but just want to be transported there and roam the archives. However, I'm not entirely sure I would like to be a student there. The power trip among the professors is very cringe worthy.
The size of this book can be daunting especially when you factor in its companion novel which is even bigger. As I said it took me nearly a month to get through it. Some of it was because life got in the way, and another part was the slow start. I feel like much of the passages could have been condensed, or cut out entirely because they were more like filler material rather plot development. The plot does have a nice even pace after the initial slow start. The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but it does leave questions unanswered. Question which I am guessing will be answered in A Wise Man's Fear Rothfuss foreshadows and gives the reader an indication of where the story might be headed, but doesn't reveal anything.
Overall I really liked it. It had everything I loved about the fantasy genre, yet it it was in a category all on its own. I can't wait to pick up The Wise Man's Fear