Sunday, 3 May 2015

'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)

Synopsis: The Name of the Wind is the first novel in a high fantasy/coming-of-age trilogy called The Kingkiller Chronicle. The series is set in a world called The Four Corners of Civilisation. Kote is an innkeeper who is living in a rural town called Newarre. He's probably in his late twenties. Kote runs his inn with the assistance of his friend and apprentice Bast. One night Kote saves the life of a travelling scribe from vicious giant spiders called the Scrael. Kote then discovers that the scribe is a man called The Chronicler who has been searching for Kote for some time. The scribe knows his true identity: that Kote is in fact a fugitive called Kvothe (pronounced almost like "Quothe"). Kvothe is a legendary swordfighter, singer, musician and wizard. He's a hero to some and a villain to others. The Chronicler is eager to record his life-story and to find out the truth behind all of the various rumours. Kvothe eventually agrees to this but insists that it would take him a full three days to recount his entire life. In The Name of the Wind, Kvothe recounts his childhood and his first year at university. He describes how he was born into a family of gypsy-like court performers who were then brutally murdered by mysterious beings called the Chandrian (believed by most to be mythological). The younger Kvothe then spends several years living on the streets of a crime-ridden city called Tarbean before making a brazen yet successful attempt to enter into a prestigious university of magic.


'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'

Well, I guess I should start this review off by saying that The Name of the Wind's story is amazing. Amazing! The book is full of adventure and its story is one of the most fascinating and suspenseful that I've come across in a very long time and yet its story reminded me of many of my other favourite stories. It reminded me of David Copperfield, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, Doctor WhoWicked the Musical, Disney's Aladdin, Arthurian mythology and the film The Fall. This book completely captivated me and there was so much that I loved about it! For one thing Patrick Rothfuss's writing is just brilliant. The writing is beautiful, lyrical, vivid, atmospheric, foreboding, funny and full of passion. Another thing that I loved about this book was that it's very much like The Lord of the Rings in that there's a real love of music and quite a few songs in the story. Kvothe adores music and two of the most suspenseful and emotional parts in the entire book are scenes where he simply sings and plays his lute. I guess that might not sound like very much but I found those scenes extremely moving. The world-building in this book is also very rich and detailed (covering languages, currencies, history, religion, folklore, geography, politics and creatures) and its system of magic is extremely unique and interesting. The magic in this book involves thermodynamics and energy manipulation: it's actually much closer to science than what we tend to think of as magic.

Kvothe is also an immensely engaging character. He's brave, sensitive, determined, romantic, inquisitive, witty, self-confident and incredibly talented and intelligent. He has some major character flaws though and is very far from perfect. He has a temper. He's arrogant. He can be reckless at times and surprisingly dense. There are even a few occasions where he's a little bit sinister! But despite those flaws Kvothe has so many positive qualities and I found him hugely loveable. Because of the book's framing device it was fascinating to compare the younger and older versions of his character as well. The younger Kvothe goes through some dreadful things in this story but he still has a huge amount of energy, wit and spirit whereas the Kvothe (or Kote) of the Waystone Inn is world-weary, brooding and lonely. The secondary characters in this book aren't as well-developed as Kvothe but then it is very much Kvothe's story and there are still some very memorable and fascinating characters: Bast, Elodin, Auri, Devi, Abenthy, Ambrose, etc.

Kvothe. A gorgeous piece of fan-art taken from here

If you're a fantasy fan and are a mature reader (as there is a bit of adult content in this book) then I'd completely recommend this one. If my recommendation alone isn't enough to convince you some famous fans of this book are Neil Gaiman, Felicia Day, Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card. I can't say that I thought The Name of the Wind was 100% perfect though as I found Kvothe's love-interest Denna bland and the ending to the younger Kvothe's story a bit weak. But these minor things aside I adored this book and I'm loving what I've read of its sequel The Wise Man's Fear. The final book in The Kingkiller Chronicle is called The Doors of Stone and I think it should be coming out sometime this year...? I hope! A TV adaptation of these books is being developed as well and the show is already being tipped to be the next Game of Thrones. Speaking of Game of Thrones... I think I actually prefer The Kingkiller Chronicle to that show and the A Song of Ice and Fire books. The ASoIaF and Game of Thrones have a wider scope and are more innovative but I much prefer the prose and the pacing of the Kingkiller Chronicle books. Also, these books are just way more fun!

Anyway, I'm going to wrap up this post up now because I want to get back to reading The Wise Man's Fear :)

Rating: 5/5

4 comments:

samara said...

:D

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on Denna as you continue reading.

Also, I totally agree with loving the songs and poems involved here (and not just because the novelist is a failed poet and trying to throw their unpublishable poetry into something else). In fact, some say that the songs in the Kingkiller Chronicles are the most significant parts...

Hannah said...

Cheers!

I've read about 1/3 of TWMF so far and I still don't like Denna very much. The part where she bought Kvothe's lute case was pretty adorable but aside from that... *shrugs* I just can't see what's so special about her. Okay so she's beautiful and mysterious but the same could be said for a lot of the characters in this universe! Personally I think Fela and Devi are far more appealing and interesting characters and I can't help but wish that Kvothe had fallen for one of them instead (although Fela/Simm is starting to grow on me).

Wow, really?! I'll have to look into that! I've been trying not to spend very much on fanforums and online discussions so I can avoid spoilers.

Sarah said...

Wow, all the things this book reminded you of all together sound like a very interesting book! Dickens, Wicked, and Star Wars are not usually related together. :D

I just tagged you for this list of 10 Favorite Screen Characters. I thought it might be something you'd be interested in doing. You have really good taste in characters! :D : http://howtowatchamotionpicture.blogspot.com/2015/05/10-favorite-screen-characters.html

Hannah said...

Hi Sarah! I forgot I hadn't replied to your comment. Thanks, I'd love to do your tag at some point but it's going to take me quite a lot of thought! :)