Published by DAW on April 2009
Source: my shelves
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Kote is the owner and innkeeper of the Waystone, located in the small, country village of Newarre. He and his helper, Bast, don’t get much business at the inn during the day and their evenings consist of listening to the locals tell stories of the great heroes of the past. Life in Newarre is pretty routine; the biggest worry there is the health of the village’s crops and where the villagers will get the money to pay their taxes to the king.
Then–in the midst of a little unexpected excitement–a man named Chronicler shows up. He is looking for one of those great heroes of the past in order to write the hero’s story. Chronicler’s self-proclaimed mission is to chronicle the real stories behind the fables that are told by villagers such as those in Newarre. This is when we find out who Kote really is…
MY NAME IS KVOTHE.
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.
And so begins the story of Kvothe the Arcane.
The Name of the Wind, Day 1 of the Kingkiller Chronicle, is the story of Kvothe as told to Chronicler by the hero himself. Kvothe tells Chronicler of his childhood as an Edema Ruh, a people who live their lives and make their money as traveling performers. He tells the story of his time at the University where he hopes to learn about the Chandrian, a group of seven evil beings who will kill and destroy for seemingly no reason. The Name of the Wind is the story of the first part of Kvothe’s life—the real thing, not the silly fables told around campfires—and it is quite a story.
I found Kvothe to be very reminiscent of Harry Potter, although that is certainly not a bad thing. Kvothe has had a less-than-joyous childhood; he is essentially broke; he goes to the University, where he learns magic of sorts and gains the friendships of two people who will become his best friends; he has a student arch-nemesis at the University; and he has to continually battle to stay at the University and uphold his character and status there. There are other, smaller similarities as well. But for all that, there are big differences, too: the magic learned at the University is not really magic and Harry Potter certainly didn’t know how to play the lute or write songs. Potter also didn’t have to scrounge to find the money to pay for his education and living expenses. I would say that Harry Potter had a much better time of it than Kvothe. I have read the second book in the series (review coming soon), which takes Kvothe away from the University for a bit and helps to get rid of the whole Harry-Potter-goes-to-college feeling of the story.
My favorite character in the story is Elodin, the Master Namer at the University. He is thought of as off his rocker, but I don’t think he’s insane and his quirkiness is the very thing I liked about him. I think there is much more to Elodin than meets the eye, and we get a few small glimpses of that throughout the book. My least favorite character is Denna; there is just something about that woman that rubs me the wrong way. Most of the main characters are very well written and interesting, though. There are only a few whom I think Rothfuss could have done more with in order to give them a little more heft.
What I liked most about The Name of the Wind is that it is much simpler and to the point than most fantasy stories. By simpler, I mean that there isn’t a whole lot of adverb use and fluff when it comes to describing Kvothe’s surroundings and adventures. Many fantasy authors just love their adverbs and grand, pages-long descriptions of the lay of the land, and sometimes the story starts to feel very weighted down. Not so with Rothfuss, and it made the story flow much better and move along much faster. The Name of the Wind is a good story and a real page turner. It is interesting without being dense, which makes it much easier on the mind where visuals are concerned.
The Name of the Wind was very enjoyable to read and I’m glad I had the second book in the series on hand to start reading right away. I would recommend this book to any fan of the fantasy genre or to anyone who might be looking for their first fantasy read, as it is easier to read and keep up with than many other fantasy tales out there. I can’t see any reason why there should be an age limit on this book, other than maybe vocabulary and a little violence, so I would recommend it to young adults and adults alike.
(To learn more about Patrick Rothfuss, please visit his official website.)
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