Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Heroic Fantasy, Magic, Realism
“Name of the Wind” conveys the story of a gifted young man, Kvothe, whose past struggles and encounters earned him a reputation only worthy of legends.
This wasn’t an easy read but a very engaging one. The writing was lovely and intricate. It is apparent how much thought and effort Mr. Rothfuss put into materializing his thoughts into this book. I enjoyed the world building, the side characters but the main lead was difficult to get on board with at times.
The book’s main theme is “coming of age,” as Kvothe shares his experience of the one vital source of happiness ripped away from him as a child. Witnessing the remains of his parents and troupe who were family to him stole every essence of his childhood. What added fuel to the fire was seeing the murderers; the “mythical” forces called the “Chandrian” before his very own eyes. Downright trodden in sadness, he stopped pursuing his love for music and by obligation made ends meet by begging. Time went on and he realized that this will not do anymore. When he needed a rope to pull him out of his extreme state of poverty, he realized that the knowledge and wisdom that was partaken unto him by Abenthy, the arcanist, has never left him and this in turn became his saving grace. In his clairvoyant state, and ironically, a heart full of vengeance, he became determined to achieve his goal of learning more about the “Chandrian” and prove that they did not merely exist in the pages of myth and folklore. His only way of doing this was through attending the University (as advised by Abenthy during his childhood). Kvothe’s intelligence and wits knew no bounds as he passed the entrance interview and earned a scholarship. The rest of the story covers his lessons in magic, encounters with enemies, his struggle to hide his poverty, reigniting his long lost love for music, and romance.
The story felt like it abruptly ended and there wasn’t much of a payoff but what bugged me the most was Kvothe, the legend this series is based on. I didn’t enjoy the narcissism and arrogance in the way he confronted an obstacle or a challenge. I get that in story writing there are predictable outcomes at times of confrontation but in this book I didn’t like that he was very much aware that the outcome will be in his favour without having built up the expertise to back up his claim. The author continues to rub this notion in, by clearly stating that Kvothe was an intelligent person of a high yet rare stature. I found this irritating since I don’t think it was intentional for me as a reader to feel distanced by this. It felt burdensome to acknowledge this trait throughout the book and it didn’t help that the pace was slow and dragged on.
From the start of the main arc, when Kvothe began to narrate his story to Chronicler, I felt a sense of unfortunate security, as it reassured me that no matter how dangerous and tragic Kvothe’s past was, we knew that he was alive although subtracted from happiness. It would have been more tolerable if the majority of the book wasn’t fully narrated via first person but I wonder if it would have reduced the unbearable narcissism and arrogance in Kvothe’s character and added depth to the supporting characters and the lack of story in some arcs. The story itself was rich with arcs and nuances but much to its own detriment, the pace and the first person narration made it seem like not a lot has happened.
Negative points aside, I will keep reading the rest of the series as I’m invested in the writing, the world building along with the turn of events, although my excitement towards picking up book two: “The Wise Man’s Fear” is quite lukewarm.