The most notorious wizard the world has ever seen, famed dragon-slayer, feared swordsman, his tale is part myth, part hearsay, part wild speculation… but Kvothe himself has vanished, taking the truth behind the flamboyant rumours with him. The world has settled without him, without a catalyst to bring change and innovation, into a quieter, darker, more dangerous place. But his story still lives. And, for the first time, Kvothe is going to tell it…
Okay, I stayed up until 3 A.M. to finish this book, so it’s safe to say I liked it. In fact, I loved it. The characters were interesting and the story just whisked me away. Even though The Name of the Wind is a hefty book at over 600 pages, the writing style isn’t heavy at all; in fact, it’s very effortless to read. Rothfuss doesn’t go for long descriptions, and he writes a lot of dialogue.
The book was certainly very different from what I expected! I was expecting the legendary adventures of a fully grown hero. Instead, the story starts with Kvothe’s childhood, and goes through his teenage years, delving into how some of the legends about him got started. This storytelling style reminds me of classics – the way that Jane Eyre starts with the main character as a little kid, or the way The Count of Monte-Cristo spans a long period of time. It was unexpected, but it’s something that I really love with classics. It helps to separate the book from other fantasy books, while also being a great way to make the reader emotionally invested. When we learn what is important to the character early on, later developments pack more of a punch. For example, we quite quickly learn that Kvothe loves music, so everything pertaining to music, be it happy or tragic events, had a stronger impact on me later on. I got so emotional over some scenes that wouldn’t have been as touching if there wasn’t such a strong history of the character to back it up.
The characters were very interesting. I liked how Kvothe differed from the usual “hero” type by being willing to lie and cheat to get ahead. Still, there weren’t many times when these unethical actions felt unjustified to me – most of the time I was on Kvothe’s side.
Other memorable characters include Master Elodin and Bast. The bit crazy, happy-go-lucky, yet very intelligent Elodin, a master at the magic University Kvothe attends, had some of my favourite lines in the book, and might even have been my favourite character! The mysterious and protective Bast was very intriguing, and while we didn’t learn much about him in this book, I hope the next one delves more into where he came from and how he met Kvothe. I also had a penchant for Master Elxa Dal, who is described as looking like the archetypal wizard villain with his lean face and trimmed dark beard, but who is in fact a quite fair, if strict teacher. I just kept imagining him looking like Jafar, one of my favourite Disney characters, which was a lot of fun for me!
For most of the book, I was captivated by the story, but there was one side plot that didn’t quite work for me. It only lasted for about 50 or so pages near the end. I think it sidetracked the plot a bit and could have been dealt with quicker. It definitely slowed my reading down by taking me out of the story, because I just wasn’t that interested. As fast as that side plot was done, though, I was eager to read on, and back to loving everything.
The Name of the Wind was a great start to my 2014 High Fantasy Challenge, and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I can definitely see myself rereading this in the future.
“Noble’s sons are one of nature’s great destructive forces, like floods or tornadoes. When you’re struck with one of these catastrophes, the only thing an average man can do is grit his teeth and try to minimise the damage.”
Next up in the challenge
So, as I’m already caught in the Kingkiller Chronicle net, I think I’ll just continue to the second novel in the series. The next book on my challenge list can wait for a while more – it isn’t like I’m straying from my chosen high fantasy path by reading The Wise Man’s Fear. After that, I’m done with this world for a while (since the third book isn’t out yet), and perhaps will feel more ready to move on.
(Also, welcome to the 100th post on this blog! I just had to mention it.)