My reading this book was a long time coming. I originally purchased The Name of the Wind vol 1 of The Kingkiller Chronicles three years ago. Well the first time I bought the book that is. Then I left it on a train to Seattle after having only read about 30 pages and that so ticked me off I avoided it because it irritated me so. Then last week while looking at book reviews I noticed one by the author for Door of Stone his third, as yet unpublished, book in the series. After reading that awesome review how could I not read the book? Although since I just noticed that the review is five years old and Door of Stone is still not out maybe I should have waited. Then again The Name of the Wind was published ten years ago, so it’s not like I am rushing to read it.
The book’s main setting is set in a small town inn and has a character named Kvothe, locally known as Kote, reciting his amazing life story to a chronicler and his student, in between some interesting events at the pub. Kvothe was an orphan and his life has centered around learning enough: about history, magic and a set of semi mythical characters, to get revenge on those who were responsible for making him an orphan.
While still a young man while relating his history his life is one of legend, and as he recounts it you see that some of the famous events that he is known for are tremendously overblown, often with his help, but not all. He also underplays some of the events as well.
The overall story telling is very interesting. There is the history of the main character, which is peppered with hints at other great and important events that he has performed. Then there is the current world, where some past action of his has caused problems that are plaguing society. There is also sinister events occurring new the inn that may or may not be related to his actions
I have generally disliked stories where the main characters are youths and they stubbornly do stupid things. It often feels like a cheap horror film where everyone in the theater is thinking,” Don’t go in that room!” That was not the case here. While Kvothe made mistake after mistake, they had the feeling of reality. Lack of understanding of women, unable to keep his mouth shut, picking fights he should not have etc…
I really enjoyed how magic is used in the book. Students need to understand energy transfer and mathematic ratios- there is a lot of science intertwined with the magic. No throwing balls of energy around, not that there is anything wrong with that. However the magic that is used by most practitioners is pale in comparison to those who can use items real names, such as the wind. I think that some authors do not put enough effort into the magic that their characters use and it greatly detracts, at least for me, from the overall story.
The book ends with a number of unanswered questions. It is supposed to be the first in a trilogy and the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear has been out for some time. I will be interested to see how Rothfuss managed to tie up all of the loose ends in just two more books. I read somewhere that George R.R. Martin originally intended A Song of Ice and Fire to be a trilogy and look at the series now. It looks like Rothfuss plans to still do it in three, but with The Name of the Wind clocking in at over 700 pages I can see how that is possible.