This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for. I am in the process of truly posting these here on my personal blog. While they will be edited for any prior missed errors, I will not be really updating them beyond that so some information could potentially be outdated, erroneous, or defunct.
This is the review of the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle Series. The review of book 2.5 can be found here.
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. The story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
“The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
Patrick Rothfuss’s novel The Name of the Wind follows the tale of Kvothe, a man who holds his silence as readily as he keeps his inn. Like many a mundane character, Kvothe is far more than what he seems and this is the story of his life told in the frame of Chronicler’s dictation for the world to finally know. The world of Name is currently as tumultuous as the innkeeper whose tale is revealed. Set in the quaint villages and towns of that amorphous medieval age, demons and fell things are afoot, and in the midst of this Kvothe’s story is laid out and somewhere in between they entwine.
Drawing both reader and storyteller back into the past, Kvothe recounts his earlier years, and the events that led him to the great university to study the truth behind the mythical and mysterious Chandrian, a race of beings once thought legend in this word now wreaking havoc in both story and meta story. Through his adventures and misadventures, he manages to make a dangerous enemy, both impress and annoy the university’s masters, rise through the ranks of novices, prove himself a master musician, navigate life through the heavy veil of poverty, and find infatuation with the opposite sex. A good portion of his time is spent of pursuit of one woman, but despite all of his talents, Kvothe seems positively defective when it comes to that.
This novel has a quiet beauty hidden in each syllable. I’m very much in love with the flow of the language and the taste of every word. It is the first in a set of three entitled The King Killer Chronicles, but I will say that we have yet to learn what king was killed or why.
As the innkeeper, Kvothe is a man with a quiet danger about him that he keeps as tightly locked as the chest near his bed. The only person who has any idea what he truly is is his elusive servant Bast whom I’m hoping we find more about in the next or subsequent books. His tale is being revealed to Chronicler, a man devoted to collecting stories and finding out the truth behind the fancy. In the laying of the tale, we discover that Kvothe is far too clever for his own good. He’s a precocious child and even more precocious teenager with an added forced worldliness beneath his skin. He seems to be good at nearly everything he tries his hand at, and I’ve heard some negative critiques to that paradigm, but really, he’s just an excellent improviser. He definitely has talent, but most of the time, he’s just thrown into a situation and has to make the best of a very raw deal. He is is not saved from suffering, and often references the “great” stories to remind us (and him) that’s he’s not living in one. He muddles through relationships, barely scrapes by, and lives hand to mouth for a good portion of his life.
I had some issues with the pacing, but not until near the end. This is a long volume at around 700 pages, and to make matters worse there’s no resolution. Most novels, even if they are a part of a larger set ,are still able to stand alone, but with The Name of the Wind, the story is nowhere near complete.
Close to the conclusion Kvothe hears news that takes him a good ways from the university in order to investigate. This seems to be the climax of the tale, but after he gets back there’s what I thought was denouement, but it went on far too long to suffice as that. It made the story seem to linger longer than needed, and threw a wrench into the pacing. However, I believe Rothfuss is writing this as just one long continuous novel, and he decided to stop the first one at an acceptable place before it became too much of a door stopper. Even though I was a little waylaid by the odd pacing, I must say I’m impressed that he was able to pull this off. Most first time novelists (I think this is his first foray into fantasy, but I could be wrong) must still write a volume that can stand on its own even if it’s part of a series, but NOTW is not remotely complete, none of the plot coupons have been cashed in. It’s a clever ploy, because stopping at the end of this novel is unsatisfactory for anyone wanting to know how the story plays out.
I highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for a good tale. Special bonus if you’re a lover of language like I am. This will not disappoint.