“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.”
Today, Kvothe is an innkeeper of a nondescript inn in a nondescript village. He once was a magnificent man, called a hero by many. He is now in hiding, living as an innkeeper to hide his true identity. One day, a man called Chronicler, tracks Kvothe down at the Waystone Inn and claims that he wants to write Kvothe’s story. After some convincing, Kvothe agrees and tells Chronicler it will take him three whole days to tell everything properly.
Kvothe starts the tale of his life beginning with when he was a youngster. He was part of a group of traveling entertainers, of a folk called the “Edema Ruh”. One day, his troupe meets Abenthy, an arcanist from the University. Abenthy, or Ben for short, decides to travel with the troupe and eventually becomes Kvothe’s mentor, teaching him everything he knows about sympathy (a form of magic) and many forms of science.
Kvothe’s father, leader of the troupe, is writing a song about the Chandrian. The Chandrian is a mysterious group that has always been a part of folklore, but Kvothe’s father wants to find out what about them is rumor, and what is truth. In doing so, Kvothe’s father invokes the wrath of the Chandrian, and Kvothe finds himself alone. He spends a long time alone in the woods, and then finds his way to a city named Tarbean, where he lives as a street urchin. A few years later, Kvothe finds a storyteller in an inn. He is inspired and some of his lost memories returned to him. He decides that he will go to the University and study to become a true arcanist and to find out everything he can about the Chandrian and how to beat them.
Life at the University
For the majority of the book, Kvothe tells about his life at the University. Many of the adventures he has could seem far-fetched and even a little ridiculous, but Pat Rothfuss has written the story in such a way that all of Kvothe’s endeavors make perfect sense. In one instance, Kvothe is nearly expelled from the University, but something entirely serendipitous happens. In a way, this section is predictable, but it is still so unexpected that when this happens, you’re totally baffled.
This book is called “Day One: The Name of the Wind”. As mentioned, Kvothe intends to tell his story in three days. This story covers the first day of the telling. Many of the interludes (the moments where we follow Kvothe in the present) hint at a far greater story. Day One is only the beginning, and it is very far from the end. After finishing the book, you realize this, and crave the rest of the story.
Kvothe is by far one of the most thought out, interesting first perspective characters I’ve read. Everything he does and thinks is rationalized so nothing he does seems random. Likewise, the entire story is extremely well thought out. Many parts of the book were very realistic, and Kvothe isn’t some cliché hero. He is actually much like any one of us, albeit much, much smarter.
The following quote from an interview with Rothfuss illustrates perfectly what I’m trying to say. He was asked what he wanted to avoid in his story: “No prophecies. No goblin armies. Nobody trying to destroy the world. No elves with bows, dwarves with beards, spellbooks, or fireballs. No irritatingly stupid protagonist. No wise-cracking sidekick. No loyal animal companion. Just to name a few.” (Find the interview here)
This author is very aware of what stories are and what make good stories. He knows the clichés and knows how to avoid them. The Name of the Wind is an original and exceptional story that will leave you wanting more. The talent of Pat Rothfuss is promising and I am already desperate for the next part of the trilogy: “Day Two: The Wise Man’s Fear”. It is scheduled for release in March 2011. I’m glad I didn’t get to read Day One before now, because the four year wait between the two books would have been excruciating.
After reading The Name of the Wind, I am going to follow Pat Rothfuss’s every step, and I am going to get my hands on everything he produces. I’m usually not so quickly convinced that a writer is worth that kind of devotion (and there is only one other author I follow diligently), which says a lot about the high opinion I now have of this writer. And that’s quite an accomplishment, after having read just one book of his.
Why should you read this book?
Just read it. You owe it to yourself if you enjoy the fantasy genre.