“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon.
I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me”.
Patrick Rothfuss’s debut novel explores the life of Kvothe, the greatest wizard of his age, who vanished mysteriously at the height of his notoriety. At first glance The Name of the Wind seems unremarkable; another fantasy novel featuring a cloaked protagonist with striking…hair and Strange Powers. It’s bad form to judge it so, but even the cover of the paperback smacks of the by-the-numbers design that seems to have saturated the modern fantasy market; vines encircle the covers edge leading to an embossed title which in turn looms above a forest framing a cloaked figure. The cover is by no means terrible, but it does give completely the wrong impression as to the sort of story lying within; because Rothfuss’s novel is anything but conventional; it deftly subverts tradition and tells a story that is not only complex, but deliriously entertaining to read.
It’s not just that The Name of the Wind boasts a plot that is utterly compelling; fully rounded, fascinating characters; or writing which completely outclasses its contemporaries, no, for me, The Name of the Wind’sbrilliance lies in the way in which the sophistication and eloquence of its prose entices the reader into a beautifully composed fantasy world. The Four Corners is an inventive, dangerous land where everything feels essential, by which I mean nothing feels superfluous to the plot. However, conversely, this integration of story, world and character is completely seamless; for all my love of Rothfuss’s intelligent use of language, poetry and song I barely noticed these things when I first read The Name of The Wind; I was simply too absorbed by the story. The reader never feels bogged down by the subtext.
At its heart The Name of the Wind is a book about storytelling, in every sense of the word; within the bookends of the narrative a character of legend tells the story of his life to a chronicler, and within this framework countless other tales are told. The very nature of linguistics and the art of storytelling informs the style of Rothfuss’s work, creating a book which lends itself to multiple readings; that even inspires multiple perspectives of its own narrative. Talking to others who have read The Name of the Wind I quickly found that, while there were many similarities in what we took from the book, there were many more things which I simply didn’t pick up from my first read. Anyone who loves the fantasy genre, or just appreciate an engaging, intricate narrative, should read The Name of the Wind. And hell, at least the German version of the novel has a decent cover.
guest review by Tom Graves