Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss (5 stars)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

5 out of 5 stars

Read in September 2008

The story is told by the protagonist years after the events occurred. He’s actually dictating his life story to a wondering Chronicler so there is no real sense of danger when something terrible happens to him – you already know that he survives to tell the tale. It’s almost an autobiography of the main character (Kvothe) from pre-adolescent boy through “college” (as an adolescent). Definitely a coming-of-age tale of a renowned hero and adventurer.

Kvothe starts his story from his early days as a curious contented son of traveling entertainers. But all does not remain rosy, as he becomes an orphan by a tragic and horrific event. Kvothe survives, living on the streets, and eventually attends University to study to be an arcanist. Ill fortune often finds him and his curiosity and pride get him into trouble frequently.

Kvothe is the protagonist and the one relating his story. Denna is the love of his life, who he met on trip to University and keeps meeting sporadically throughout the rest of the tale. Ambrose is one of the annoying antagonists, the rich brat and bully at University who thinks he can put Kvothe in his place through any means at his disposal, including assassination attempts. The Chandrian are elusive terrifying beings who killed his family and the entire entertainer troupe and also wiped out everyone attending a wedding near the town of Trebon. Various Masters at the university both help and hinder Kvothe’s progress through his terms and he has a handful of friends who are fellow students, patrons or musicians.

Because the story is a story within a story, being told from the first person point-of-view, I only really connected with the main character when he was a helpless orphan fending for himself on the streets. Once he liberated himself from those dire circumstances, I could follow his progress through secondary education mostly by shaking my head at his thickheadedness – not over a lack of intelligence on his part but more the lack of experience socially. Typical coming of age stuff.

I would recommend this book to all fantasy readers. Be prepared to wait for the rest of the story, though, as the rest of the trilogy is not published yet.

I updated my rating to match my feelings for this book. It was the best book I read last year (2008) by far.

Book Review: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.25 to 4.75 stars

Five stars is a gift, because parts of this ‘story’ frustrated me to no end, though the novel carries a very strong four star rating for me. Yet the hidden gems I found along the winding road this tale took made me laugh, cry, rage, cry some more, laugh some more, and scratch my head in wonder.

Pros: Exceptional story telling (occasionally, sporadically), often lyrical prose, beautiful deep embedded world building beyond the mere descriptive paragraph. I loved the scenes with Master Elodin, Devi, Bast and to some degree with Denna, a character I had little sympathy for in The Name of the Wind.

Cons: When we finally leave the University (a full one-third of the way through the novel), the action and adventure is quashed in a couple of sentences, at least as it respects the actual journey east. All the chapters seem too short to me, but that might be because I tend to read epic fantasy where the length of the chapters can approach one hundred pages or more. And here we are, back at the University again when we reach the end of the second day.

I plan to re-read, in succession, both novels of the Kingkiller Chronicle, later this year. I decided not to re-read The Name of the Wind prior to reading The Wise Man’s Fear and feel now that was probably a mistake. I struggled to remember some of the characters the author referenced in passing in the second novel.

And now the waiting begins, and if history is any indicator, at least a half decade will pass before the past (Kvothe) and present (Kote) converge in the final (or is that ‘next’) Kingkiller Chronicle novel.

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