The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle Series #1) by Patrick Rothfuss — 9780756404079 — *****
Time to Read: 16 Days
Things have gotten bad on the road. They’ve even begun to feel it in the Waystone Inn, where an innkeeper who is more than he seems is trying to lay-low and remain unnoticed. When a collector of stories called The Chronicler arrives at the Waystone Inn, however, he recognized the young innkeeper for who he is, and calls him by name: Kvothe. He convinces the flame-haired young man to tell his story, which is much greater than one would expect from a man so young. Kvothe agrees on the condition that The Chronicler records his tale exactly as it is given, with not a word different. It will take him three days, no less, which The Chronicler deems excessive. Still, he agrees, and quickly learns that Kvothe’s three-day requirement is completely necessary despite his young age.
Kvothe tells of his life growing up in a traveling troupe of performers. He tells of his years in one of the biggest cities in their world, and he tells of his time at the Arcanum: A University for students of magic. He tells a story of joy, tragedy, challenge, triumph, love, animosity, fear and fearlessness. He tells of himself as a boy with wisdom beyond his years who often displays a youthful folly that gets him in a great deal of trouble despite his cleverness. He tells the story of Kvothe, a hero and a horror. All the while, outside of the inn, trouble is brewing as demons come out to play.
Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind is, by far, one of the best books I’ve read across all genres. Of course, I tend to favor those in the realm of fantasy, but this one holds its own against all of my favorites. Even re-reading it, I had a hard time putting it down. It made me late for work. It caused me to forget where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. It made time fly by so fast that I’d sit down at 11:00 and look up and see that the clock read 1:30 without any warning of time’s passing. In a word: Epic.
Because this book is actually a story being told by its main character, it has a lot of first-person narration that is broken up by third-person chapters that bring us back to “real-time” and tell us what is going on in the inn while Kvothe tells his story. Generally, I have a horrible time getting into first-person, but it is so well done in The Name of the Wind that it feels natural and I forget how much I usually hate the point of view as I’m reading.
The main character is extremely well-developed. He is the perfect hero, and by that I mean he is brave too the point of foolishness, smart enough to be a show-off, and clever enough to use his knowledge and bravery for fantastic feats. Basically, he is perfect, but perfectly flawed. He is, at times, a teen-aged boy who has no idea how to approach the woman of his heart’s desire. At other times, he is a boy who doesn’t know enough to back away from the schoolyard bully. Then again, he’s a young man who has been through a lot in his life and who knows how to handle himself in most situations. Over all, he is driven to find answers to a thousand questions, the most important one involving creatures that aren’t really just fairy-tale monsters, after all.
Patrick Rothfuss must be a juggler, because The Name of the Wind keeps so many elements in perfect balance that it is breathtaking. It’s a laugh-out-loud, edge-of -your seat, love-hate story that is full of joy, sorrow, horror, and so many other conflicting elements that they just shouldn’t work. But they do. They come together in a perfect harmony that flows so beautifully that it’s nearly impossible to put the book down.
That being said, I recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss to anyone who has an imagination and likes to read.
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