Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle (book #1)
Format: Paperback (662 pages)
Publisher: Penguin Group DAW Hardcover (March 2007)
My Goodreads rating: 4 stars (3.5 stars)
Book Depository: The Name of the Wind
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.
A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. (Goodreads)
Hi there! It’s been a while since I posted a book review, and I’m flying through my library books at a fast pace so I’m playing catch-up! 🙂 I finished this book earlier this month, with high expectations- though I didn’t really know what of. I gave it a moderately high rating, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a few issues with it. Let’s discuss, shall we?
As it says in the blurb, the book follows a man called Kvothe, a powerful magician who the world fears and revers. He agrees to tell his story about how he acquired such great powers, while separating myth from truth. From the blurb alone, you would expect an epic tale full of seriously intense magic, some terrifying battles, and a protagonist who is so powerful that you don’t know whether to root for him or fear him. At least, that’s what I was expecting. Did I get that? Not really, if at all.
The first thing I have to say is that high fantasy is a hit or miss for me. Naturally, I don’t shy away from any kind of story, but the ones where new worlds are created with their own set of histories, backstories, magic, creatures of all shapes and sizes and even languages, require a patience within me to read them. More than likely, I’ll enjoy them. That being said, when a novel is all exposition with no actual plot, or too fast-paced and fantasy-like with no exposition, I get confused and frustrated. This book falls in the former category. The premise was so promising, and in all fairness the book started out really well. We meet Kvothe in his tavern, a seemingly ordinary keeper who is content in hiding his identity. When he begins to tell his story, I was geared up and ready to meet the powerful magician he tried so hard to run away from. And I was still geared up and ready, after the book had ended. The truth is, we never really get anywhere.
Kvothe’s story starts at the VERY beginning, right from when he was a child. And there are some truly terrifying and great chapters describing what he goes through to reach the school of magic. And at this point, the story is still very strong and very promising. But I noticed that it began to dwindle into the menial everyday descriptions of almost every aspect of his life, even the parts we don’t need to know. I was expecting to see his greatness. What do we get? A 600+ page description of him being an angsty teenager in a magic school. Seriously. We barely crack the surface of the “powerful magician” we were promised, it’s really all telling and no showing. I will admit though, it was pretty cool seeing how he starts off, how he overcomes obstacles and how he slowly, but with great potential, picks up his magic. But for such a boisterous blurb, I really would have preferred to be thrown head-first into some epic battle of his, rather than a long description of his childhood days. Granted, there are some seriously cool scenes in which a glimmer of the powerful magician is seen, but they are few and far between.
The writing is the strongest point of the book, and the reason I gave this book a higher rating than I originally would. It’s obvious that Rothfuss is a great fantasy writer, and his descriptions are very well-written and his action scenes are on point.
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.
He also writes characters extremely well, but I have just one problem with this: Kvothe is a bit of a Gary Stu. I mean it. He is extremely intelligent, handsome, thoughtful, resourceful, the top of his class, the youngest person to do X, Y and Z, the whole lot. The only flaws he seems to have are impulsiveness and a bit of a temper, but even those add to his perfect character in that he uses them for the greater good, he always bests his enemies, and even wrong decisions are justified. I wanted to see a more gritty character, rather than just a perfect child, then a perfect but impulsive teenager (again, with none of the excitement offered in the blurb).
So, despite the fact that I enjoyed several chapters and character developments in this novel, overall it felt like the build-up to something much greater. This is annoying, especially after having to get through 662 pages just to know that you’re missing the real excitement, which presumably comes later?? A bit of character backstory is great, but Kvothe’s retelling of his life borders on boring, except for certain parts, and I don’t know how I feel about his narration. I think it would have worked better without having him actually tell the story; the cuts between past and present do little to keep the story moving along. They are essentially potty breaks in which nothing happens. Nope, wasn’t fond of that. If you’re a fan of fantasy, you might find greater enjoyment in this books that is unparalled to any other, according to blurb anyway. I just didn’t see it. I’ll read the sequel and hope that something more will happen then.
And that is it! Thanks for reading, and I realise that this is more of a complaint than a review, despite the rating I gave the book. Like I said, the biggest letdown is that I spent the book waiting for more to happen, but it never did. If you have any thoughts about this book, I’d love to hear them down below! 🙂