DAY ONE: THE NAME OF THE WIND
My name is Kvothe.
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.
You may have heard of me.
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Upon my 3rd read through of this book, I thought it was about time that I do a review. Now you might think, “wow, he has read this book three times, this is going to be a gushing review.” If you would have said that after my first read, you would have been right. Now don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love this tale of love, loss, trouble, music, and magic, but thinking about it through the past two years has given me some new perspectives that I’m excited to share with you. Also, be prepared for a lot of quotes because this book is very quotable.
“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.“
Speaking of new perspectives, let’s talk about our main character and the one who’s perspective we get for the most of the book, Kvothe (pronounced like “Kwothe” or “quothe”). A lot of the reviews from people who didn’t like NOTW, and even from a lot of the people who did like it, talk about how they really did not like Kvothe. There are things these reviews say that are true. Kvothe is annoyingly arrogant at times, makes stupid decisions, and is a little too “love struck” for his own good. However, in my opinion Kvothe more than makes up for this with his wit, kindness, generosity, loyalty, and determination to be the best at everything he does. Although I didn’t always love Kvothe, I always found him incredibly compelling. I really enjoyed many of the side characters as well. Wilem, Simmon, Auri, Bast, Kilvin, Elodin, Denna, and many others all had unique, well fleshed out personalities that made the story come to life in a way that would have otherwise been impossible.
“Have you ever been annoyed and amused with yourself at the same time? It’s an interesting feeling to say the very least.”
This book is split up into two sections. There are interludes where Kvothe is telling his story to a chronicler of stories. The other and main part of the story is that story coming to life, and boy does it have life. Rothfuss weaves his prose into the story so well that it is nearly poetic. He makes even the most mundane of situations feel musical and full of life. For example:
“I wanted to tell her that she was the first beautiful thing I had seen in three years. That the sight of her yawning to the back of her hand was enough to drive the breath from me. How I sometimes lost the sense of her words in the sweet fluting of her voice. I wanted to say that if she were with me then somehow nothing could ever be wrong for me again.”
While at times the prose is full of deeper meaning and music, Rothfuss never takes himself too seriously either. There are many situations throughout this story where I laughed out loud at a comment or action of one of the characters. Rothfuss strikes a really good balance between the two.
“Are you hurt?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “Especially in my everywhere.”
This may drive some people crazy, but I love how Rothfuss gives us breadcrumbs here and there about the lore and history of this world. There are little to no info dumps here. These breadcrumbs are like a giant, mysterious puzzle that can only be solved by the 2nd book being read and the 3rd being published (hopefully within the next few years). I loved how the author weaves the lore into the story.
“If I seem to wander, if I seem to stray, remember that true stories seldom take the straightest way”
Which is how I feel about this review. This will not be my best review. In fact, as I was typing it I was tempted to just erase the whole thing and just do a post of the incredible quotes that are held within these pages. When it comes down to it, I really enjoyed the characters, plot, and worldbuilding. However, where The Name of the Wind really shines is the unique writing style and in particular Rothfuss’ prose. The most beautiful and relatable prose I have ever read. This may not be a perfect book(I am not sure that one even exists), but it was the perfect book for me.