Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1
Publisher: DAW Hardcover, 2007
Read for: Alex Awards Challenge, Chunkster Challenge
When Chronicler finds himself in an isolated tavern one night on the way to a scribe assignment, he doesn't expect to meet one of the most legendary people in the land. He also doesn't expect to be offered the opportunity to hear the man's story from his own mouth. Kvothe tells Chronicler that it will take him three days to tell his story. The Name of the Wind is the first day, taking us from Kvothe's beginning as a member of a traveling performance troupe to his experiences in the famed and at times mysterious University in Imre.
I'm a sucker for a good fantasy novel, especially this summer, but I was absolutely blown away by The Name of the Wind. The world-building, characters, and small details made this not only a book but an experience.
One of the first things I noticed at the beginning of The Name of the Wind was that as readers we are thrust instantly into the world Patrick Rothfuss has created. While it was confusing for a few pages, Rothfuss is expert at weaving in the necessary details to make the world make sense without being overly didactic or obvious. The reader is slowly woven into the fabric of Kvothe's world, integrated into the experience without it being too jarring.
And the world itself is fascinating. There are different languages and groups of people, different types of professions. My favorite part, and one that dominates most of the novel, is that of the University, where Kvothe learns the intricacies of sympathy, manipulation of small particles in a way that seems very like magic, fabrication, which is engineering with sympathy, and medicine. As I have been in college for the last six years (and went through seven majors and two degrees), I could appreciate Kvothe's penchant for taking on more than he could handle and not wanting to be tied down to only one subject.
I also fell in love with the characters. Kvothe himself was very relatable to me. I loved how quickly he learned, how passionate he was about the universe around him, how desperate he was to avenge the deaths of his parents. I could relate to his absorption with music (the first of my seven majors was music), the way immersing himself in it was the only thing that could calm him down. I loved getting to know this character and can't wait to learn more about him.
While I'm talking about characters I could relate to in this book, I also have to mention that for the first time in my life, I saw someone else with the same first name and spelling as I do. Lorren the Archivist, protector of the massive library that blossoms from the University, made me do a double take every time his name was on the page. I appreciated that he was an intense book lover as well.
The secondary characters of The Name of the Wind were also vivid and fully developed, something that to me is a deal-maker with an author. If they are willing to devote time and space to create fully realized secondary characters, they are probably creating a story that is rich and satisfying to me. I loved Kvothe's close friends, his first teacher, his love, Denna. I couldn't wait to get to know these characters better, eating up every page.
The Name of the Wind was one of the richest, most satisfying books I've read in a long time. I can't wait to devour The Wise Man's Fear, although I don't want to read it too soon because I have no idea when the third book will be released. I can't wait to see what Kvothe does next.
Warnings: Some language, violence, innuendo