Review of THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss (see his website)
KINGKILLER CHRONICLES #!
DAW, March 2007
He's a humble inn-keeper--despite his red hair. Or so he tells the world. But Chronicler knows better. Kote was once Kvothe, a mage and hero. With monsters on the prowl again, the world may need Kvote the hero rather than Kote the innkeeper. But first, he's got to awaken himself--and maybe telling his history is a good start. The bulk of the story in THE NAME OF THE WIND is just that--Kote recalling his life for Chronicler.
Kvothe has had an interesting life--starting with his childhood in an acting troop, his studies under a mage, the destruction of his dreams by forces supposedly out of fairy tales, his living on the streets of Tarbean, and finally his attempt to gain admission and success at the University and its famous archives.
Author Patrick Rothfuss delivers really strong world-building and a fascinating story of a young man's attempts to survive and to find his place in the world. With a full range of mythology, a host of monstrous creatures, plenty of plants that pay off through the story, and a consistent magic system, I had a hard time doing anything but read this story.
Although THE NAME OF THE WIND makes fascinating reading, in many ways it feels like a prequel. We know that Kvothe is the Kingkiller, but we don't actually get to see him deal with any kings. That, perhaps, is reserved for the follow-up volume. Also, although telling the story from the standpoint of the older and more cynical adult Kvothe adds poignancy and sets up a powerful scene at the end, I really wanted to know more about why we needed the hero Kvothe back--and why he refuses to emerge from the shell he's created for himself. Finally, while Rothfuss did an excellent job with his male characters, his female characters seem one-dimensional.
I'm amazed that Rothfuss was able to pull off such a complex and compelling piece of story-telling in his first novel. I'll definitely be looking for the sequel--with the confident hope that it'll provide a great payoff for all of the (wonderfully written) setup through THE NAME OF THE WIND.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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