Who is Kvothe and how did he become the most notorious wizard of all time? Is he a hero or a villain? Dead or alive? Everyone knows the stories, but nobody knows the truth. Nobody but Kvothe, now hiding in the small town of Newarre, while trying to live inconspicuously as a bed and breakfast owner named Kote.
He seems content with his new peaceful life, but trouble is brewing all around him. Demon attacks are growing rampant. The war—which he may have directly caused—continues to ravage the land. How long can this exceptional swordsman, wizard, and musician remain anonymous? Not much longer if his companion Bast has his way.
Bast is Kvothe’s assistant. He is also a demon, a prince of the Fae who is hell bent on restoring his master to his former heroic self.
Fortunately, Kvothe stumbles upon and saves Chronicler, a famous traveling scribe, from a couple of demon spiderlings. Chronicler has traveled far and wide in search of Kvothe, so he could record and publish the wizard’s life story.
“The best lies about me are the ones I told.” – Kvothe
As the scribe records Kvothe’s story, Bast works behind the scenes to rekindle the fire that once made Kvothe so great.
The Name of the Wind is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. It follows a twofold narrative structure, featuring a third-person narrator narrating the present, and Kvothe talking about his past.
This fantasy novel is many things. It’s a school story set in The University where Kvothe and his companions study magic. It’s a love story between Kvothe and Denna, an irresistibly attractive woman with wealthy suitors lining up to court her.
The Name of the Wind is a story and poem entwined. Kvothe, exceptionally skilled in music and theater, is a former member of the traveling troupe Edema Ruh. Music plays a major role throughout the story. It also helps Kvothe, mired in poverty, earn some badly needed money.
“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.” – Kvothe
The entire troupe—including his parents—were killed by The Chandrian, a group of seven being commonly regarded as mythical characters steeped in folklore and superstition. Kvothe has been struggling to survive on his own ever since. He’s also been seeking revenge against the Chandrian.
Learning more about his parent’s killers and a means to destroy them is the main reason he enrolls in the University.
“Someone’s parents have been singing entirely the wrong sort of songs.” – Haliax, leader of the Chandrian
I loved reading The Name of the Wind. I find the novel well written. It’s a pleasure to read Patrick Rothfuss’s lyrical prose. Sections of poetry and music that I would normally find distracting, even boring, were beautifully interwoven with the main narrative.
The tension between Kvothe’s being skilled in music and wizardry versus his being poor and unlucky, keeps the story constantly fresh. The way he is forced to face the realities of life is visceral and down to earth.
“My parents danced together, her head on his chest. Both had their eyes closed. They seemed so perfectly content. If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you’re lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day. The image of them gently swaying to the music is how I picture love in my mind even after all these years.” – Kvothe
The first novel is essentially a very long prologue. It leaves many questions unanswered: How did Kvothe get expelled from the University? Did he get his revenge on the Chandrian? How did he end up a fake small town bed and breakfast owner? Who is Bast, really?
Still, The Name of the Wind is an exceptional story on its own. I want to read more!
Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:
5 out of 5