Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I have a beautiful story to tell you about. If you have not yet had the chance to read it, however, this review contains spoilers. Be forewarned and continue reading at your own risk. 

This innkeeper’s name is Kote. No one else knows, but Kote is really Kvothe, among many other titles that were awarded him for his heroics, and he deserves each and every of those names. No one knows, in fact, until a scribe shows up at Kvothe’s inn and prompts the innkeeper to tell him the real story from the hero’s own lips. The true story of how Kvothe studied magic, killed dragons, chased demons, played music that made others cry, saved a whole village, and survived poverty as an orphan whose parents were killed by the Chandrian … and revenge against the Chandrian is Kvothe’s most important motive.

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The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve ever read … it was amazing, in fact. The worldbuilding was stunning: it had more of a medieval or ancient British Isles setting, similar to Lord of the Rings, which I love. The character development, particularly with Kvothe, was probably my favorite thing about the book, besides the writing style. What struck me interesting about Kvothe’s character arc is that Kvothe, while telling his story to Chronicler, doesn’t approve of his past. And nor should he. Before he became an innkeeper, Kvothe was rash and arrogant, making stupid decisions right and left, but none of them decisions that didn’t make him heroic. Not to get me wrong: there were beautiful things about Kvothe’s character, and there was also his dark side: and that is what made Kvothe’s character so well rounded. There are things to admire as well as things to learn from Kvothe’s story.

Let’s talk about the writing style: It was beautiful, almost poetic. The prologue, as well as the last chapter, talked about silence, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so beautiful in a modern, bestselling fantasy novel. It’s a single page of incredible picture painting and feeling conjurations with words. The very last chapter tied together with the beginning, wrapping up the whole novel like a neat little package. It was so cleverly done I just wanted to close the book and sit and cry: not just because of the ending, but because I finished such a beautiful story. It was overwhelming, but just for a precious second.

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Photo by S. M. Metzler

The unusual thing about this book is that I didn’t find myself falling alseep or skimming any words at all. For nearly every book I’ve read there are several times where I just want to hurry up and finish it, or I get bored and my mind wanders off. Maybe it’s because I’ve hit a monontonous spot, or some words don’t make sense to me, even if it’s a good story. But in The Name of the Wind, every single word was interesting, contributed well to the story, and made sense. It could also be because the pacing was well done or the story and characters were fantastic, or maybe a combination of all three. And usually I don’t do well with 500+ page books, but this one is 660 pages and it did take me a month and a half to finish it, but every single time I picked it up to read, it was hard to put down. I’m one of those unusual bookworms who rarely gets so involved in a book that putting it down is out of the question. Therefore, I’m giving Rothfuss a very special kudos that I don’t give to most other authors. I wish I could write like that.

Fanart of The Name of the Wind

I loved how music was weaved into the story. The Chandrian arrive and destory all the members of the Edema Ruh (the traveling group of actors and mucisians Kvothe grew up in) including Kvothe’s parents. The Chandrian rob Kvothe of all that life is worth living for, except one thing they leave him with: his father’s lute. For years, it is his precious, sole belonging, playing it until the strings break. Throughout the story, as Kvothe’s character is developed, so is his relationship with music and the memories it gives him of the good old days he had when his parents were still alive and he was acting with the Edema Ruh. There is a scene in the middle of the book where Kvothe plays the song “The Lay of Sir Savien Traliard.” It is one of the most beautiful passages in a novel I have ever read. In the scene, he makes the audience cry with his song and he too weeps at the end for Sir Savien and Aloine, the characters in the song. Somehow, Patrick Rothfuss captured that emotion from the music in the story and made it real by writing that emotion from a fictional story onto the page with words. Because that was the only part in the book where I also cried. Just … too many feels.

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Photo by S. M. Metzler

The University (The Arcanum) reminds me a lot of Hogwarts. There are students and classes where magic is taught, but not magic from wands. The magic is called sympathy and is a lot more technical and scientific than the Harry Potter magic. It’s actually very interesting.

“The law of sympathy is one of the most basic parts of magic. It states that the more similar two objects are, the greater the sympathetic link. The greater the link, the more easily they influence each other.” – The Name of the Wind

There was romance. *bored sigh* Fortunately, it was well done and not as annoying as romance usually gets. Denna, the love interest, was an interesting character, and we don’t even understand her background and personality after we finish the book; In fact, there are too many things that the book ended without, thus making the first Kingkiller Chronicle a cliffhanger. There is much more to the story, as was noted pages before ending, and Kvothe hasn’t even managed to encounter the Chandrian except for the one time they kill his parents towards the beginning. So I’m hoping that all the questions I have and the unfinished story will be satisfied when I pick up the sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear. Anyhow, Denna was an okay character, but Auri, a former Arcanum student who lost her marbles and lives underneath the university, is such a sweet, innocent little character. Yes, I ship her and Kvothe. It seems like the only way.

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I’m also excited (and very, very nervous) to hear that there will be a movie and TV series coming out soon-ish on The Name of the Wind. How will they be able to capture the depth of the story and Kvothe’s character and the gorgeous words all in one movie? They can’t. So I’m hoping that if there will be a TV series, it will be well done. And please, please, please, make it must be accurate. Don’t mess up the important scenes, because it seems like every movie adaption does. Also, get Bast right. He’s the character who you think you understand until the very last chapter and you don’t even know who he is and oh, who am I kidding? Who am I talking to anyways?

So, to sum things up, I loved this book and am glad I own it. As a fantasy writer, I look up to Rothfuss, a master of words and a professional storyteller. Have you read The Name of the Wind? What did you think?

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

  1. Love this review, Susannah! I’m so glad you liked the book. And YES! BAST! That last chapter, man. That last chapter. I read this book several months ago and I still get the feels just thinking about it. 🙂

    Like

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