The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

July 14, 2011 Book Reviews, Books 12

“My name is Kvothe…you may have heard of me”.

I just can’t seem to sit down and review this book, even though I desperately want to. So I’m going to sit here and not get up until I DO IT. (Yeah right. You don’t really believe I did that, do you? It was more like about 5 times sitting here making myself write this.) (Or maybe 10.) (20?) (Yeah, okay, I have no idea.)

It seems like it’s been forever since I fell so completely, so totally, so helplessly in love with a book. Or, rather, with a character. It has happened though. With this book. The Name of the Wind is my latest book crush and I hope I can do it some measure of justice as I attempt to tell you why you need to go out, buy this huge, mammoth, monster of a book and give it a chance. Now, yes. It’s huge. It is gargantuan. It is, like, the biggest book in the whole known universe. At least it looks that way, right? Believe me though, it’s worth every minute it takes… every hour… every week! The narrative is so strong, so quick, so amazing… oh heck, I need to stop or I’ll just gush on and on. Let’s get down to what it’s about.

The Name of the Wind is about a guy named Kvothe. That is pronounced rather like “quothe.” According to Wikipedia:

Kvothe: Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as “quothe” with the “kv” sounding as in the Yiddish word “kvetch.”

In my own mind, I said something like Kothe, so I was obviously wrong, but that’s what I did. ANYWOO. The Name of the Wind is Day 1 of his 3 day story about himself. (So yes, this is a trilogy).  Kvothe has had many names, but when the book begins, he is going by Kote, so I’m going to stick with that one for easiness sake. Kote is something of a myth, a legend in his own time, if you will. Some people don’t believe he really ever existed, even though he still lives, hidden away in a small inn, on a small road, in the middle of nowhere, hidden from enemies we, the reader, know nothing about.  So when a traveling storyteller stops through and recognizes Kote, the storyteller, the Chronicler, is beside himself with excitement, for he wants Kote’s story. At first Kote refuses, but then reluctantly agrees. He will tell his story and it will take three days.

And what a story it is! Kote starts with his childhood in a troupe of gypsy-like traveling performers, to the years he spent as an orphan struggling to survive the streets of a city where it was hard to find a scrap of bread and a warm, dry place to sleep. He recounts his years in a difficult and very dangerous school of magic, where he swindles his way in to learn all the secrets of magic he will need to avenge his beloved parents. Kote becomes an accomplished performer and musician, a smooth pickpocket and escape artist, and an infamous magician. And a notorious assassin. Yet this story is so much more than that as Rothfuss begins to introduce what promises to be one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.

I can’t imagine how hard it was coming up with all the mythology around this story. I’ve read it took Patrick Rothfuss seven years to write this book and I can believe it. The intricacy of this book is breathtaking. There are stories within stories within stories and I stand amazed that not only did Rothfuss accomplish such a feat; he did it without making it the least bit confusing. And the characters! All the characters are great, but Kvothe is something special. I just instantly LIKED him. Then I almost as instantly LOVED him. His character makes the book into something more than just another door-stopper of a book. He makes the pages fly. He is the heart of this book. And he makes this book something not to be missed.

A note on the genre: Yes, it’s science-fiction. No, I don’t read a lot of it. That’s why I want to say, if you shy away from sci-fi, but have ever been…curious…this might be a good one to try. To me at least, the sci-fi isn’t extreme. Rothfuss did make up a lot of mythology to surround his story, but, I don’t know, to me it just made the book more interesting. And at it’s core, as with all stories, it’s a very human tale of a very human life. Also, I gave it to my 64-year-old mother-in-law and she loved it. She loved it so much she went on and plowed through the second one and is sad the third isn’t out yet. She doesn’t read sci-fi either and now that she has finally given me my book back, I’ll be reading it very soon.

EDIT: As Carl so kindly points out in my comments; this is actually FANTASY. I was confused. Just another reason why I find myself detesting genre classifications anyway. I am beginning to think it really hinders me, and others, as a reader because of the basic prejudice of “I don’t read science fiction” or “I don’t read fantasy” and that is such a shame.

Other favorite passages:

“It is a word. Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself”.

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”

“My parents danced together, her head on his chest. Both had their eyes closed. They seemed so perfectly content. If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you’re lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day. The image of them gently swaying to the music is how I picture love in my mind even after all these years.”

“I have known her longer, my smile said. True, you have been inside the circle of her arms, tasted her mouth, felt the warmth of her, and that is something I have never had. But there is a part of her that is only for me. You cannot touch it, no matter how hard you might try. And after she has left you I will still be here, making her laugh. My light shining in her. I will still be here long after she has forgotten your name.”


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The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicles #1
By Patrick Rothfuss

Pub. Date: March 2007
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Format: Hardcover , 661pp
ISBN-13: 9780756404079

They liked it too:

Stainless Steel Droppings | Dear Author | Literary Omnivore | It’s All About the Books |

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12 Responses to “The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss”

  1. Eva

    I know I've seen other reviews here and there, but your post convinced me to put this on my TBR! :)

  2. Carl V.

    I am so happy to see that you loved this book as much as I and many of the rest of us did. It is a masterful feat and a wonderful creation and one I started reading it I was sucked in and completely lost in the beauty of the story. It is all the more special seeing how much of a fan/geek Patrick Rothfuss is. His blog is a constant source of pleasurable reading.

    One correction, and forgive me for my nerdiness, but Name of the Wind is not science fiction, it is fantasy. And while it may seem like they should just be lumped together, there are times when they are two very distinct genres and this is one of them.

  3. Carl V.

    Kathy, as Heather points out this is at its heart a very human tale and as such I think many people who are typically not fans of fantasy would enjoy it. It has a historical feel to it and despite its magical/fantasy elements is really pretty grounded in an authentic world. Parts of it reminded me of the work of Charles Dickens, to be honest with you.

    And Heather, I am surprised you haven't jumped on here yet and chastised me for my science fiction vs. fantasy lecture. I'm waiting for my 30 lashes. :)

  4. Heather

    I hope you do read it Eva. I think you would really enjoy it.

    Kelly, we need to talk about reading the sequel together! Just give me that week headstart, umkay?

    Carl, I'll get to you in a minute.

    Kathy, as Carl said, it is a very human tale that I think you would actually enjoy (if you can get past the size!). I agree with him, it does have a historical fiction feel to it. Every fantasy element doesn't feel… well… it feels real somehow. Oh heck, Carl explains it perfectly, I'll just be repeating.

    As for YOU Carl, I already added an edit to my posting that this is "considered" "fantasy". I am really coming to dislike, disagree, distrust such genre labels, especially in this case. I'd be happy just calling them all good books. :D

  5. Amanda

    I've heard this one is amazing. It's on my "I'm probably going to break down and buy it, or beg for it" list. Wonderful review! I have the hardest time reviewing books that I absolutely love too.

  6. Marg

    Yay! Great review! You know that I was so thrilled that you loved this book so much. I read it last year and it made my list of best books for the year! I have read the sequel, and will definitely be reading the third…whenever it might come out.

  7. Heather

    Yay Amanda! I hope you get to it. It's such a great book!

    And Marg, it's all thanks to you I read it. You were the first to answer the "The Name of the Wind or Game of Thrones" question. I *still* haven't read Game of Thrones! LOL

  8. Carl V.

    If everyone were willing to accept all kinds of books as "all good books" the battle would be won and there would be far fewer of the 'legitimacy' arguments that crop up all over the web and elsewhere.

    Oddly enough, it is (somewhat) perfectly acceptable to lump science fiction and fantasy under the 'fantasy' label with the idea that the trappings of both are "fantastical" in nature, but it doesn't work the other way round. Increasingly authors are blending genres so much that the labels don't really work.

    As for myself, I don't mind them because I prefer science fiction and fantasy books, so the label gives me at least a sense that I'm in my preferred genre, but unfortunately those two labels cause so many people to miss out on so many wonderful books that I wouldn't be sad if the labels went away and all novels were referred to as "literature".

    Wait. Did you hear that?!? That was the sound of deceased nobel prize winners turning over in their graves. :)

  9. S. Krishna

    So glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much! It's been on my shelf forever. I'm planning on getting to it after I finish the Song of Ice and Fire series.

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