Wow! What a fantastically enjoyable novel. I found there to be so much profound subtlety woven into the story I was compelled to listen to it twice in succession. About a month after reading The Name of the Wind (The King Killer Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss I still feel breathless. I haven’t been this observed by Epic Fantasy in a long while. I’m so happy that one of my engineering friends recommended it to me.
A WriterAlina Book Review
The Name of the Wind (The King Killer Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss
The most profound theme of the novel is the use of silence and its various feelings, uses, and meanings. The story begins in silence and ends in silence and silence is mentioned at poignant moments throughout. The silence is poetic and reminds the reader to pay special attention; there is more to this moment than first read.
The writing is lyrical and vivid. The story’s flow is unexpected and unorthodox in its telling. The characters are complex and ignite the imagination. The story is a strange combination of satisfying and leaving you wanting. I was so drawn into the storytelling that I was left feeling like the story was only partially told. Of course I know this is supposed to be a trilogy and this is only act one, but I still feel that there is so much more to this world and the situation than what is written in this first book.
This is a story that is a bit too complicated to summarize well, but I’ll give it a try. The story is about an arcanist named Kvothe who has done great and terrible things in his short life. He has battled demons and angels, fallen in love, and changed the world. He is strong, humble, and waiting to die. These are all things that you learn early on in the story, but any specific details are left unclear, even at the end.
The reader is tantalized by the eloquence of the introduction telling us that there is a special kind of silence in the tavern that Kvothe now owns. Primarily this first book is about how Kvothe grew up, becomes an arcanist, and how his legend begins. There are many mini stories of growth, hardship, and love that happen along the way, but that’s the basic summery.
The Story and It’s Delivery
The storytelling is very unorthodox; it’s a clever combination of first person and omniscient storytelling. The “present day” is told in omniscient narration whereas Kvothe’s primary story is told in his colorful first person narrative. The two narration so compliment each other well and give the story a compelling structure. Because the omniscient narrator shows the present the reader is teased with on overarching story problem that is never actually resolved in this first book and potentially acts as the glue between the books in the trilogy. Since I haven’t actually read the second book yet and the third isn’t published, this is all theory. But the reader is definitely left with the impression that there is a greater story beyond the chronological story ding told by Kvoth. Only time will tell whether the style will work in the author’s favor.
What I found most interesting about the storytelling of The Name of the Wind is the fact that it’s slightly false advertising in the first six chapters. One story begins and yet a second story begins in chapter seven, which takes over the bulk of the story until the last three chapters or so. You’d think that I would find this immensely irritated considering a ranted quite a bit about this very topic when reading through Red Mars. But I reacted quit differently due to two factors: 1) I was so drawn in by Kvothe’s character that his story coaxed me into forgetting that there was a present threat all together, and 2) as a writer, I understand that the present day story must connect the books of the trilogy together. The present day story is, in fact, the culmination of Kvothe’s story that we are only just being introduced to.
By the end of the book I realized that what really brought me to the end of this book and set my desire to continue reading the second are the dynamic characters that appear: Kvothe, Denna, Bast, Chronicler, Devi, Ambros, and many more. The descriptions and reactions of the characters are attention grabbing, deep, and natural. Each character has a set of problems and interact with the main character, Kvothe, in a lively manner both as friends and enemies.
There are many who complain about Kvothe’s character: he’s too perfect! He’s smart, talented, savvy, and some would say lucky. Some of his weaknesses are initially seen as being more external than internal: he’s young, he’s poor, he’s inexperienced. But from reading other’s reviews very few people seem to realize that Kvothe’s biggest weakness is impatience; sure he has concrete reasons for being impatient, but his impatience causes him more problems than anything else. He’s impatient to gain the knowledge of magic, he’s impatient to be able to make his own money with his sympathetic skills, he’s impatient to gain access to the greatest library in the land, he’s impatient to gain information about the people who killed his family. These are all very poisonous desires that lead him from one hardship to another.
I can’t really explain what makes the other characters in The Name of the Wind so intriguing. Most of them appear briefly in Kvothe’s life, but there are always a handful of characteristics that differentiate each person from one another and help create the atmosphere of a diverse cast. The most important secondary character, Denna, is shrouded in mystery even though she gains a lot of screen time. We still don’t quite know who she is, but, as the reader, I enjoy her interactions with Kvothe and understand his enamored attitude toward her. My writer’s brain fires up with all kinds of potential uses for her character beyond the love interest, but I’ll have to wait to read the second and third books to see if anything actually goes beyond that.
Kvothe has friends and enemies and, at least in the beginning, each of those lines are clearly drawn. Again it will be interesting to see in the second and third books whether or not these lines will blur.
If you enjoy epic fantasy I highly recommend reading The Name of the Wind (The King Killer Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s full of beautiful prose, well rounded character, action, intrigue, a bit of scientific magic and other magical creatures.
If you are looking for an over abundance of magical creatures and “strange” sights, then this might not be the book for you. And I may think twice if you are prone to being agitated by false beginnings. But given these facts, I suggest taking the risk because the richness in realistic world building and character development is worth the journey. At least give it the first eight or ten chapters before you put the book down. You might surprise yourself and find yourself just as emerged as I was.
Have you ever read The Name of the Wind? Did I inspire you to pick up Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind yourself? I would love to hear from you.