The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
Published in 2007 by Gollanz.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: high fantasy.

My rating:

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.

You may have heard of me.

zmaj-desno

You guys, I finally re-read this monster of a book (this is the third time I read it!) and it’s still fantastic. It’s still one of my favourite books ever and I’m super excited to finally review it here – the other two times I read it this blog didn’t exist yet. If you’re used to listening to audiobooks, I can’t recommend this one enough – it’s really good.

So. This is the story of Kvothe, or Kote, as he is called when we first meet him. He is my favourite fictional character (apart from Locke Lamora, it’s a tie between them) – a sarcastic know-it-all, a broken man, a wonderful singer, a mysterious arcanist. His story is funny and heartbreaking and heavy and warm, all at once.

The book has a peculiar structure, a bit like One Thousand and One Nights in the sense that Kote, the innkeeper at The Waystone Inn is telling his own story to the Chronicler, a famous scribe that has come to search for the legendary Kvothe. Contrary to One Thousand and One Nights, we only get three really long days – one of which we’re still waiting for as Doors of Stone, the third and final book in the series, has yet to be published.

Apart from Kvothe, who is apparently one of those characters you either love or hate, depending on your liking for smartasses, the best part of this book is undoubtedly the writing. The beauty of Rothfuss’s words is unparalleled in the world of fantasy, I think, and this is one of the reasons the audiobook works so well – it’s like music, really, and every word just seems to FIT. Kvothe himself is an amazing singer, he grew up in a performing troupe and has an incredible talent for singing, speaking, and playing. His word duels with obnoxious enemies are nothing short of masterful and his descriptions of the things he loves – his parents, Denna, his music – make my stomach clench painfully every single time. I am always wary of hyping up books too much – you may go into the book with incredibly high expectations and be disappointed as a result, but I can’t not rave about Rothfuss’s writing.

What I enjoyed in particular is Rothfuss’s attention to folklore. Kvothe goes to the University to find out more about the mysterious Chandrian, the songs his troupe sings are fabulous, the history gets turned into legends. It’s like catnip to a fairytale lover, I tell you. And if I remember correctly, The Wise Man’s Fear (book 2) is even more folklore-heavy – in a good way.

The world of The Kingkiller Chronicle is extremely well thought out and if there’s one criticism I have about this book is its dogged attention to detail when it comes to the magic system. It is incredibly complex and while I always complain about shoddy worldbuilding, there are instances here where I felt we could have done with less explanation. But this is a really minor issue, at least for me, and does nothing to lessen my enjoyment of the book (even the third time around).

As for the other characters, I have to mention Denna, Kvothe’s lady love. She’s one of those girls/women that every man seems to love. And covet, most of all. It’s impossible to doubt Kvothe’s descriptions of her when he’s so clearly infatuated – this is one of the criticisms I’ve heard most often when it comes to this book, that Denna is unreal. But I am of the firm opinion that Kvothe is an unreliable narrator and that all his prowess and all descriptions of Denna should be taken with a pinch of salt. But we’ll have to wait for Doors of Stone to see if that proves true.

Kvothe’s (extended) family, his mentor Ben, his friends at the University – they are wonderfully rounded up characters if you think about how little time they actually spend “on page”. But my favourite – apart from Kvothe, of course – is Bast, the innkeeper’s helper and pupil. I won’t go into details of his appearance or character because I’d spoil something for you for sure but let me just mention that he is a master at making threats (so is Kvothe – it’s poetic, really). My favourite is probably “I’ll string a fiddle with your guts and make you play it while I dance.” Pure gold.

As this review is slowly getting out of hand, I’ll leave you here with a hearty recommendation that you get yourself a copy of this book as soon as possible and then come back to thank me when you’ve finished. ;) I’ll try to re-read The Wise Man’s Fear soon and I’m hoping (against hope) that Doors of Stone will soon get a publishing date.

zmaj-levo

Have you read The Name of the Wind? What did you think?

Do you prefer your fantasy worldbuilding-heavy? 

What about narrators? Do you always trust them?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I really should get round to this one, but for some reason I’ve always been reluctant…

    • Well it has received an enormous amount of hype + we’ve been waiting for the final part FOREVER, so I understand your reluctance. That said, you’ll never know if you don’t try it. ;)

  • 3rd reread and here my brand new copy is judging me from my bedside table…I WILL read this one this year, I swear it Kaja! If anything, your lovely review here has got me even more excited to do so :D I will be sure to come back and thank you once I’m finished ;)

    • Haha, NOOO, I’m sure it’s not judging you, it’s calling you with its siren voice: “Micheliiiineeee, reeeaaad meeee, reeeaad meee!” ;)
      I hope you enjoy it once you get around to reading it!

  • Maraia

    I’m so jealous that you’ve read this three times! (Yes, I know that is a silly thing to be jealous about, because I could just read it myself.) I’ve been waiting until there’s a publication date for the last book before re-reading, but I’m getting impatient. I may have just found a library copy of the audiobook, though. *crosses fingers*

    …there are people who hate Kvothe? HOW? (Also, I’m still unsure how to pronounce his name, haha.)

    I never really thought about whether or not Kvothe is an unreliable narrator, but it seems obvious now. I am way too trusting of narrators in general. I will definitely be paying attention to that when I re-read. XD

    Gahhh, I just want to re-read now after reading this review! My dad read the first book and didn’t like it because it was too dark/sad, which I understand, but THE PAIN IS WORTH IT. (I say now, hah.)

    Has this series already been translated into Slovenian?

    • Yeah, I wanted to wait for the publication date, too, but hell, that might take a while. I needed a hit of Kvothe. ;) I’ve only read The Wise Man’s Fear once, though, so I’m really looking forward to a re-read. The audio is really good, I hope you get it.

      And YES I know, how could you dislike Kvothe? But he IS a smartass, so there’s that. ;) I don’t mind it but still. Um the narrator pronouces his name like “quoth” as in “quoth the raven” except there’s a V instead of W sound. Does that make sense? It’s exactly how I would pronounce it in Slovenian …

      Ha, I don’t know, maybe my theory is wrong and he’s really reliable – I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens in book 3. Much of his reputation is pure made-up rumours, though, so I think there might be a point there.

      YES the series is being translated – the first part has already been published and the second will be soon. I have the book at home but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet – but I heard it’s a good translation. I would have loved to translate it, but it would have been an enormous undertaking!!

      • Maraia

        It’s on its way! I don’t even want to know how many CDs I’m going to have to copy on to my phone. XD

        But I can still ask…who doesn’t like a smartass? Especially if he’s more smart than ass, haha. Okay, that’s *almost* how I was pronouncing it, except with a German “e” at the end. :D

        Yeah, he definitely likes to exaggerate things, at the very least. His reputation can’t be based entirely off of real events.

        I was hoping you were going to say there was still a chance for you to translate it, but you’re right, that is HUGE. Of course, if Scott Lynch ends up publishing all his planned books, that will be even bigger. :P

        • Well I LOVE smartasses, but probably because I can be a bit of one myself (I think I was pretty horrible during my teenage years, especially, thinking back ten years or so makes me cringe sometimes…).

          Do you think audiobook narrators consult with the author before recording? Probably, huh? It would have been awful if they mis-pronounced half the made up words.

          Oh I hope Lynch gets around to finish the Gentleman Bastard series. Not just because it would mean some pretty great employment for me but because I REALLY want to read those books!

          • Maraia

            Hahahaha, why does that not surprise me? :D I love them as well, I just can’t help it. (You should read Insignia if you like sci-fi at all, speaking of smartasses.)

            I don’t know, that’s a good question. I would definitely want to make sure I didn’t sound like an idiot, but who knows how much contact they have.

            *crosses fingers* I still need to mentally prepare myself to re-read, haha. But I agree, those books are badly needed!

  • Whenever I see reviews of this book I just remember how badly I want book three…all I know is that when it does come out eventually, I may need a reread of this myself. It’s been a while :P

    • Yeah, I’m hoping for a late 2016 release? Do you think that’s plausible/possible? :) I only read The Wise Man’s Fear once so I forgot half of what happens there…

  • I neeed to read this. NEED TO. It’s on my read-this-ASAP list but I want the audiobook because I seem to do better with these type of mammoth beasts when I’m listening? BUT YEAH. My library doesn’t have it. *cue tears* So I’m just waiting and seeing if miracles happen. hehe. :P I loved your review!

    • The audiobook is really good if you can get your hands on it. But I read it in print first and it’s a relatively fast read (compared to Martin, for example), even though it’s long. But it is really heavy so lugging it around can be a pain.

  • OOH I’d like to read this! I quite enjoy fantasy and I haven’t read a good fantasy in awhile. Wonderful review!

    • Well this is just the best fantasy you can possibly get, so I’d definitely recommend re-starting your fantasy reading with this one! :)

  • Soudha Parsan

    I’m adding this one to this year’s TBR! The story sounds so cool and frankly, I’ve never read a bad review for this one yet, at least not on blogs. Cool review Kaja ^^

    • Thanks! :) Yeah, this book has a very loyal following. The worst review I’ve seen was a 4-star, I think – but I’m sure there are people out there who didn’t like it. But it’s one of my all-time favourite novels, so I’d definitely recommend it to you! :)

  • Ricardo L. Walker

    I’m writing because I’ve read this book now 4 or 5 times after purchasing it a few months ago. For the same reasons you did. I like the story but I love the storytelling. I actually have a question. One of the toughest parts to read is when Kvothe learns to play the lute alone after his parents are murdered. I’m an amateur musician, yes, but it is the way he writes grief that is stunning. The heartbreak resonates. Can you recommend other books you love with characters we come to love thru pain so tenderly conveyed?.

    • Hi, Ricardo, welcome! :)

      Have you read the sequel yet? I’m currently re-reading it via audiobook and it’s much less focused on music, though I love it just as much as I did the first part.

      Huh, you know, I’ve been thinking about your question for a while now. And I think this case – where music is really one of the most prominent features of Kvothe’s character – is quite unique. I asked my husband, who reads a lot of fantasy, but he doesn’t remember anything, either. I’ll report back if I think of something.

      There is This Savage Song by Victoria (V. E.) Schwab, where music is very important, but it’s a very, very different concept, so no overcoming grief or anything like that. It’s a fantastic book – if you’re at all into urban fantasy, I’d highly recommend it (and don’t let the fact that it’s young adult put you off).

      As for a book that deals with grief and family and delivers a SERIOUS punch in the gut, I’d recommend Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, one of the most hauntingly beautiful novels I’ve read in the last year.

      I hope this helps at all! Happy reading! :)