I know that one person in particular will be very pleased to see this post, partly because I borrowed his copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss just over a year ago and have yet to give it back. (Yes, you will be getting it back as soon as I make my way to the post office.)
On to the review. The Name of the Wind, the first of a trilogy, is the story of Kvothe (pronounced roughly “Quothe”), an exceptionally bright and charismatic boy who grew up in a traveling troupe until the murder of the other troupe members. He then takes to the city streets until entering the university at an exceptionally young age. It’s a story within a story; a man known as the Chronicler has convinced Kvothe (who is now an innkeeper known as Kote) to tell his life story, and the majority of the story is Kvothe narrating his life story to the Chronicler with the occasional interlude. At one point the book turns into a story within a story within a story, but don’t ponder this for too long or you won’t get past the fact that the scene is a story within a story within a story.
The characters are well-developed, memorable, and placed in a story that suits them. Kvothe does come off as an idealized character at times, a Gary Stu of sorts, but he is telling his own story. He doesn’t come off as arrogant, just as a kid who knows he’s clever. The character development weaved itself into the plot wonderfully, and some of those instances of character development such as the conversations came back later in the story.
The plot is extremely intricate. As with the character development, little things that came up early in the story were mentioned again later. Kvothe said seven words to the attractive girl he met when going to the university. One of his admissions questions was the seven words to make a woman love you. This seemingly innocent thing wasn’t just a one-off; it came up again and again later, as did many other more important things.
One of the reviews said that not a word was wasted in this book. At this length, this reviewer (Orson Scott Card, it turns out) better be serious. He’s mostly right. Rothfuss is very careful writer, and this book deserves to be as long as it does; still, there were a few instances where I found myself skimming instead of fully immersing myself into the story. Despite this, the story had me hooked from the beginning, and I found myself wondering what would happen next and thinking “Nooo!” when something bad happened to Kvothe.
I do have one mostly rhetorical question. The story is told as if Kvothe is narrating his life story to someone else with the bits in the beginning and the interludes. They will probably be more important in the sequels, but I wonder what would happen if the books were just Kvothe’s story. I’ll have to read the other books to make a final judgment call on these bits.
Overall, this book is well worth a read. Be sure to pick up the sequel on March first.