This is the riveting first-person narrative of Kvothe, a young man who grows to be one of the most notorious magicians his world has ever seen. 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 legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
It has been a long time since a book has so completely engrossed me that I didn’t want to put it down at any point. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, was one of those books. I blew through this book in just a couple nights and if it wasn’t for having to work and the need to sleep, I probably could have finished it in just one or two sittings. Even when I wasn’t reading, Kvothe’s story was on my mind all the time.
Though I’m generally a little hesitant to read a new fantasy author, before I knew it I was so immersed in the story I forgot that this was the first Rothfuss book I had read and found myself hanging on to every word, dialogue, and plot. On a first read through the story is extremely enjoyable and easy to progress though. It is not hard to see why this is one of the most celebrated fantasy debuts in years. Upon further inspection you may realize just how great a storyteller Rothfuss is. Almost every sentence in the book has a deeper meaning than is apparent upon an initial reading and there is lots of careful foreshadowing throughout.
We are introduced to Kvothe, a legendary figure now living a quiet life as an innkeeper. The wandering scribe Chronicler arrives at Kvothe’s inn and convinces him to tell his story to him so it can be written and recorded. This is the first book in a trilogy and covers the first day of Kvothe telling his life story to chronicler. Speaking of stories, they play a very important role in this book. Rothfuss seems to be a strong believer in stories shaping who we are and how we perceive the world around us. The main protagonist, Kvothe, also has plenty of his own stories to tell and grew up in a community where storytelling was a way of life.
I don’t want to focus much more on the actual plot of the story for fear of spoiling anything, but would like to turn my attention to some of the elements in the story. Let’s start with the magic. “Sympathy” is a form of magic in the book we are introduced to very early on. It is unique for a fantasy book and explained so well that it’s hard to believe it doesn’t actually exist. The basic premise of it is the connection between things, or the sympathy they have with one another. For example, if you have two objects made of the same type of metal, they would share a connection with each other. Create what is called a “binding” between the two metal objects in order to control one and affect the other. The aspect of this type of magic I really loved was that it wasn’t super showy or mysterious in any way. It was intellectual and took lots of effort and intelligence to get a handle on.
Moving on to character growth, the entire story is a retelling of Kvothe’s life by Kvothe himself so we come to know him very intimately. We follow him from a young age through his childhood, homelessness and education. Kvothe is mostly a likable character though he can come off as arrogant at times. The supporting cast of characters mainly includes his classmates and teachers.
Again, this book is extremely immersive. The cultures, geography, languages, characters and details are all developed beautifully. Rothfuss spent a lot of time developing this trilogy and it shows. He knows his world down to the tiniest details. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story, not just fantasy fans. Some parts are reminiscent of Harry Potter and I’m sure fans of that series will get a lot from this book.