Monday, 10 November 2014
Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: June 12th, 2008
'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. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.'
So begins the tale of Kvothe - currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeepter - from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his 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 the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin.
I've been deliberating over this review for weeks since I finished reading The Name of the Wind. My problem is that I can't seem to successfully articulate just how GOOD this book is; it's on another level, and it's not a level I've encountered often. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that The Name of the Wind is one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading, and I would easily put it on my all-time favourites list. The hard part is explaining why.
As soon as I read the prologue of this book I knew I was on to something special. Patrick Rothfuss's writing is unlike anything I've read before, almost lyrical, with a softness that I wasn't expecting to find in an epic fantasy spanning over six-hundred pages. Instantly I was transported to another time and another place very different to my own in both culture and location. I was sucked into Kvothe's story as if I was living it myself, one steady page at a time, coming up for air only when I had to sleep or go to work. Those hours when I couldn't read it left me pining for just one more page, and that's something I've only truly experienced a few times in my whole reading life.
When talking about The Name of the Wind, as I have been doing incessantly since that first chapter, I struggle to explain to people what it's about - not much actually happens when you look at it as a whole. It's Kvothe's story, of course, and it's a slow, steady story that unravels as a piece of wool might. Bit by bit more information is available, Kvothe becomes easier to understand and small throwaway sentences begin to make sense. It ends up like a puzzle with half of the picture still missing, which is good because this is only the first part of a trilogy.
So, what's The Name of the Wind about, I hear you ask? It's about Kvothe, a young, arrogant magician who starts off as a travelling musician before attending the prestigious university of magic. It's about his life - from a very early age to when he must be in his mid-twenties and owner of the Waystone Inn - and how he gets to where he is now. It's about a lot of things, most of which I haven't even scratched the surface of here. It's a big, sprawling story-within-a-story that one paragraph of attempted plot explanation can't possibly do justice to, but rest assured it's as compelling a tale as you're likely to get.
Every single character within this book is memorable, and I've come to love many of them as if they were friends. Whether it be a smaller personality like Ambrose, or Kvothe himself, everyone made a lasting impression and they're often where I find my thoughts wandering off to. I could dedicate a whole blog post to Kvothe and his life, that's how unbelievably realistic he is. He feels sorrow and pain like anyone else, but the way he deals with it, along with many other traits of his, is what sets him apart from other people. He's a magical character to get to know, and I really can't wait to delve deeper into his story.
This book isn't an epic fantasy in the way of fast-paced action on every page. It's a slow burner that shines because of its almost perfect writing and larger than life characters, but it is in no way a fantasy with dragons and dwarves fighting each other in every other chapter. There's something magnificent about how it's written, how Kvothe's story is told, and it's not easy to put into words. I've really struggled with this review because there's so much I want to say and I just don't have the eloquence to say it; I haven't been this stuck since I read The Book Thief over six years ago.
The Name of the Wind is a book I just can't stop thinking about. I want to read it again and again, but first I want to get started on The Wise Man's Fear and see what the future holds for Kvothe. I've never read a fantasy book, or any book, quite like this; there really is no adequate way for me to say how much I loved it. Instead you should just pick up a copy and read the prologue. See how it makes you feel, see if it captivates you as completely as it did me. See if your thoughts are consumed by these three men in the Waystone Inn, sat around a table, telling and listening, while darkness envelops the sky and an epic story begins. Once you experience the silence of three parts, you will never look back.