Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Some small-ish spoilers below 
OK quiz time — name this fantasy series: 
A young boy of remarkable ability has his promising life altered when everyone in his family (but him) is killed by evil forces – evil forces that the “regular” world doesn’t really acknowledge anymore. From this tragedy, the boy lives a terrible existence until he is able to enter the famous school for wizards. There, he quickly distinguishes himself with his sharp mind and skills. He makes allies of some of the wizard teachers but there are others that dislike him so much, they seems bent on expelling him from the school. Perhaps worse yet, our young hero makes an enemy of the spoiled rich boy-wizard from a powerful family, who seems to have made it his mission to get rid of our hero, perhaps even to the point of violence. 
Potter, right? Wrong. 
This is actually a description of the early stages of “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. This book was recommended to me strongly by Bookishly Fabulous. I hadn’t really read that much fantasy recently and am always looking for new titles of quality and so I ordered it. 
Not shy at >660 pp, this first book of The Kingkiller Chronicles is the first-person account of Kvothe (pronounced “quothe”) – a legendary figure who has stepped out of the limelight and is now telling his tale. In the beginning, there were enough red-flag fantasy clichés (the gypsy-type people, the classic inn, the old wizard guy that takes a shine to the young boy, the forgotten evil…) that I thought Rothfuss was working from a checklist. When I saw that the story was leading us to his world’s “wizard school”, I rolled my eyes and considered shelving it. 
I’m glad I didn’t. 

After that somewhat dubious beginning, Rothfuss took these well-used pieces of the fantasy genre and began to fashion a tale I wanted to read. More importantly, he did a wonderful job of realizing his characters – especially Kvothe – such that they didn’t seem like they came from Fantasy Central Casting. I read the last half of the book with much more anticipation than I would have thought possible given my early reservations. The story has several “big arc” and “small arc” components that work well together – meshing the narrative together into a taut tale that moves back and forth between Kvothe’s personal stories and action-filled adventures. 
I suppose in the end, my only complaint is that I really wanted the story to keep going. 
4 stars out of 5

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

  1. Great, right up my alley! A bit of fantasy could be soothing these days. How many books in the series? Is it compelling enough to go on to Book 2?

  2. Thank you, Steve! I love to hear about a good book that keeps you reading! I never felt interested in Harry Potter, but this book sounds better. Do you think that it is better…..something an adult might enjoy more?

  3. Great review! Wow – so the book managed to changed your thoughts on it during the course of your reading! That is really wonderful! Will search for it in the bookstore.

  4. FS — yes, at times I thought that this was almost a retelling of the Potter-arc without the "kid" stuff. In the end, it's not really that at all, but this is not a kids or YA book. Fairly serious as fantasy books go.

  5. The book already came into the library for me today. You did not tell me how loooooooong it is :-) Glad it is not a one weeker. I about fell over. I think it is a bit too long for my kids to even be tempted to try reading it but I appreciate the heads up. Always good to know.

  6. LOL…that would be me, unable to fathom how large a book that might be. But, I am not intimidated by large books. I love to read. I was just a bit surprised today because I had two books that same said, and one of them is a one weeker. That would be the 5th one-week book I have right now. I am guessing that I may make it through two of the one-weekers this week and have to get back on the list for the others.

  7. I'm glad you enjoyed it! When Dan explained the plot to me, I was skeptical due to the Harry Potter similarities also. The author is a riot if you ever get a chance to attend a reading. He joked about the length, saying that he was worried it was getting too long, but his publisher told him that as long as it was shorter than Shogun he was OK.

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