The Name of the Wind tells the story of Kvothe, this covering the first of three days in which he details his life to the Chronicler. Kvothe is a hero - a rescuer of women, a speaker of names, a player of songs. We learn about his early life, as he suffers tragedy and overcomes hardships to become the youngest member of the University.
I have seen people say that they literally wept with joy as they read this debut novel from Rothfuss. I have had people tell me they found it dull. I will fall somewhere in between. I waited a long, long time to read this novel and maybe have been influenced by all the hype over The Name of the Wind. On the one hand, I saw the almost-universal praise and wondered if it could possibly live up to the stunning reviews. On the other hand, I felt almost bound and determined to dislike it - just to go against the stream of praise.
Despite this weight of expectation and despite my best efforts, The Name of the Wind did win me over. It took some time to do so, but I found myself awake until late into the night thinking 'just one more chapter', which I only ever do about the best books.
The Name of the Wind is a great book - for a debut novel, it is breathlessly good. It is a diamond among books. But many diamonds have flaws and this is just the same.
I can talk about the fact that the novel is over-repetitive at points, such as when Kvothe continually has to raise money to pay for his university education. I could mention the fact that the secondary cast are rather wooden in comparison to the delight of the main characters such as Kvothe and Bast. I might just dwell on the fact that The Name of the Wind feels similar at points to many other stories - Harry Potter, Trudi Canavan's Black Magician books, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell in terms of the fae and the stories within stories, Tamora Pierce's Tortall books.
I didn't like Denna at all. The fact she takes such a starring role in the story was frustrating - I hated that Kvothe spent so much time running after her and pandering to her odd whims.
The sequence dealing with the village of Trebon and Kvothe's desperate dash to it, followed by lots of wandering in woods, felt unbelievably tacked on to the tale we'd already been reading.
And how often have we seen the sort of enmity that Kvothe suffers with Ambrose - this is incredibly familiar as a story trope.
Despite all this - despite the feel I'd read some of this before, despite the fact it seemed slow at points - The Name of the Wind managed something that few novels do. It made me slow down my reading in order to savour every word. I am a skim reading by habit - I skim a page to gain the meaning rather than reading every single word. With The Name of the Wind I slowed down. I read every word. I savoured the delicious prose: "Her voice was like a portrait of her soul: wild as a fire, sharp as shattered glass, sweet and clean as clover." I simply luxuriated in it.
Kvothe is also a fantastic character - I've seen people complain he is simply too good to be true, but I adore his swaggering arrogance, his quicksilver personality, his gentle humour. I love his true-red hair and grass-green eyes. His hesitance with the ladies is fun. He is a brilliant protagonist.
The fae part of the story was my favourite aspect - in fact, Bast is probably my favourite character behind Kvothe. The sequence right at the end of the book when Bast faces up against the Chronicler and shows his true nature is both chilling and delightful at once. I want to see much more of Bast in future novels.
This is not the best book ever, as claimed by some. It is not even a brilliant, once-in-a-generation book. But it is excellent. Well-written, vividly-imagined and certainly a fantasy novel that will stand the test of time. As people still pick up Magician or The Princess Bride and marvel at the story, in twenty years time people will do the same about The Name of the Wind. Before picking up this book, I was indifferent about the waiting time until The Wise Man's Fear - now, I join the queue of people waiting with feverish anticipation. The sequel can't come soon enough.
Sunday Post #165
4 hours ago