– The Name of the Wind

“The Name of the Wind” (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss; DAW Books (662 pages, $16).

“The Name of the Wind” has been the most entertaining fantasy novel that I’ve read so far this year! It follows the story of a man on the run; Kvothe, who’s part adventurer, part mystic, and part musician. Kvothe is on a long and difficult journey to find answers, dig up ancient secrets from long destroyed empires of the past, discover dark forces operating in the shadows of society, and avenge his family, or die trying, with a few failed romances and one gained apprentice along the way.

Patrick Rothfuss has weaved a tall tale with a hearty dose of Tolkien world building and a dash of Harry Potter magic. The story is presented in the style of Interview with the Vampire wherein we take the perspective of a larger than life character giving a retelling of his life to an enthralled biographer desperately penning down each and every word spoken.

Somewhat like the novel John Dies at the End, a few heavy hints are dropped early on as to why the subject of our tale is regarded as such a mythological figure by the society around him, and why he is treated as a living legend by those few who believe he yet lives. To separate the truth from conjecture and folktales, and to learn what dramatic events led this former folk hero to earn infamous titles like “Assassin” and “Kingkiller,” you and the biographer are both compelled to listen to him tell his own story, in his own witty, albeit occasionally rambling, words.

From humble beginnings & childhood tragedy to unimaginable heights and staring true evil dead in the eye, Kvothe faces an incredible journey that he shares with the reader in great and colorful detail for the whole length of his adventure. I was kept on the edge of my seat for the entire reading, and I once found myself actually getting upset when my audiobook temporarily glitched out on me at a dramatic moment in the story. That’s how I knew I was hooked!

Thankfully, this wonderful book is only part one of the Kingkiller series, with a sequel (The Wise Man’s Fear) I’ll be reading soon and a third book (The Doors of Stone) in the works. There are also several other books Patrick has written that take place within the very same fantasy universe in which the legendary Kvothe lives, including what seems like a prequel which called The Lightning Tree. I look forward to seeing how the talented Kvothe’s uncanny journey unfolds further from here on, and what rippling effects his actions will once again have upon his world at large.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone enjoys a good medieval fantasy, magical mysteries, and the steady rise of hard-working nobodies to heroes of mythological proportions. It is anything but cookie cutter heroics in this one! And no matter how underhanded he gets on his hunt to find the dark and blood-drenched truth underlying the world he inhabits, I guarantee that you’ll be rooting for him every sneaky step of the way regardless. Happy reading!

Donavon Anderson is a Library Assistant in the Reference Department at May Memorial Library. He can be reached at danderson@alamancelibraries.org.

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