The Name of the Wind

I saw The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One by Patrick Rothfuss referenced several times among my Goodreads friends with positive ratings.  The reviews at Amazon were also overwhelmingly positive.  The summary of the book seemed up my alley as Fantasy is one of my favorite genres.

The riveting first-person narrative of a young man who grows to be the most notorious magician 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- ridden 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 is a high-action novel written with a poet’s hand, a powerful coming-of-age story of a magically gifted young man, told through his eyes: to read this book is to be the hero.

This summary has more hyperbole than accuracy though.

In some ways it has a story arc somewhat similar to Harry Potter.  A talented young man whose parents get killed eventually goes off to be a student at a legendary school of magic.  His quest is to uncover the secrets of what happened to his parents. A secret that kills anybody who uncovers it and everyone around them.  Though it doesn’t have the involved group dynamics of the Harry Potter series and mainly concentrates on Kvoth life in a traveling troupe and his later slide into an life as an orphan in a big city and then his entry into the university.

The story is told by Kvoth as he relates his life to a chronicler and explains the stories behind the many elaborate myths surrounding him.  The story is multi-leveled in that there is something serious happening in the present day which is alluded to and the story of the life of Kvoth up to then.  This novel concentrates mainly on Kvoth history and just hints at the events occurring now which obviously will become more important later.

There is much I quite enjoyed about this novel along with some things that annoyed me.  The character of Kvoth is a bit arrogant in his abilities since he so quickly masters whatever he takes on.  There is both a selfishness and an kindness towards others in him.  His arrogance does not make him an unlikable character, it is obviously part of the character development.  Thankfully is is not an anti-hero more of a flawed, but not seriously flawed hero.  He tends towards virtuousness.  What I find annoying is his easy lying which really stands in contrast to the rest of him.  More annoying though is that there never seems to be any consequences for his lying – at least so far.  This was one of the things that also annoyed me in the Harry Potter books where lying seemed to go well.

The plotting and the story are good enough and the magic system is solid enough, though not as imaginative as a system tossed off by Brandon Sanderson. What mainly sets this novel apart is the writing.  The prose is not quite poetical, but close.  I quite enjoyed the way he used words and how descriptive he could be.  The writing really draws you into the story.

So I will definitely be reading the second book in the series and the yet to be published finish of the trilogy.

About Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is a former atheist who after spending forty years in the wilderness finds himself with both astonishment and joy a member of the Catholic Church. A retired Navy Chief who now makes his living as an application developer.

  • http://www.runetree.net Mike

    It’s been a few months since I read the book, but I don’t remember Kvothe’s lying bothering me. In fact, I had to rack my brain to remember him lying at all. What I came up with, and let me phrase this carefully so as not to spoil anything: He didn’t lie for personal gain. I remember a certain subject which he would continuously lie about, but in reading the story, his reasons are obvious.
    I loved the books. I found the magic system extremely satisfying… comparitable to the Force of the Jedi ;) I almost picked up a couple of sticks and tried it myself… Can’t wait for book #3. We reviewed this book, and others, on http://www.runetree.net as well.


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