5 Star Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as “quothe.” Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I’ve had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it’s spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.

“The Flame” is obvious if you’ve ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it’s unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.

“The Thunder” I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.

I’ve never thought of “The Broken Tree” as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.

My first mentor called me E’lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.

But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant “to know.”

I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.

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 the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe’s legend.

Hold on a sec….I gotta breath for a sec. Too many damn emotions.

Dear Patrick Rothfuss, thank you for writing a fantasy novel that I’m able to read over and over, without being bored in the slightest.

Dear Patrick Rothfuss, thank you for writing a fantasy novel with women that I can admire.

Dear Patrick Rothfuss, thank you for writing a fantasy novel that doesn’t feel like a repeat of every other fucking fantasy novel out there.

Dear Patrick Rothfuss, curse you. You have ruined all other epic fantasy novels for me.

Now, for all of you fellow readers out there:

If you haven’t read this book, let me make things clear for you: Walk over to your book shelf. Pick up the largest fucking book you have. Make sure it’s a hardcover. Now, hit yourself on the head with it. There you go. All fixed. Now you realize your past mistakes, right? Nod your head. GOOD.

See, there’s this magical world. Only it’s not what you would imagine at first. It’s dark, mysterious, disgusting, weird, and completely interesting in every way possible.

There’s also this guy. His name is Kvothe. He’s an innkeeper. You know that cool guy that serves you beer and tells you stories? Yeah. He’s that guy. He’s quiet, but badass. He’s quick with the words and interesting in every way possible.

He’s not what he seems. He’s just a cool dude who’s a little down in the dumps. You know, past grievances and all that. He tells us his story. How the kid who once had the most loving family ended up an orphan on the streets. How the orphan with no money got into a University. How the foolish boy became a man.

Many readers may argue that Kvothe is too perfect. But really? I’d disagree. The dude messes up again and again and again and again. I like that fact. Because Rothfuss makes it very clear that this is the story of a genius boy. It’s made very clear the type of story Rothfuss wants to tell us, or rather the type of story Kvothe wants to tell us.

He’s the type of guy I love to read about: witty, smart, constantly distracted by hilarious things, bookish, snarky, and interesting. He’s fascinating to me. The way his mind works makes me want to read more just to know how that brain of his ticks. He’s very detail oriented. He focuses on things no one else would ever think of focusing on. Tiny little things that make all the pieces come together. He’d figure it out in a couple minutes whereas someone else would be staring at that damn puzzle for days.

He even came up with a song after his own personal epic bully:

“He’s a well-bred ass, you can see it in his stride!
And for a copper penny he will let you take a ride!”

I rarely laugh out loud while reading. It happens….NEVER. It says a lot that I was falling over my chair laughing when I read this scene. Snorting. Chuckling. Eyes watering. YEP.

There’s just something completely fucking hilarious when Kvothe says or does something funny. Most epic fantasy heroes I read are….very serious. Boring. And generally speaking, uninteresting.

Now, since this is the story of how a boy becomes a man, it should involve areas of the heart. HELL YES. But the great thing about the romance-parts in this book is that they don’t dominate the book at all. Yes. Thank you. No insta-love. No insta-lust. No beer goggles. Kvothe and Denna are fucking wonderful. They’re so stubborn and clueless with love. It was even more fun to watch their friendship build, the second time around.

Some readers hate Denna. I don’t. I love her. I think she’s a great example of a woman in epic fantasy who isn’t one dimensional or a stereotype. She feels real. She doesn’t shy away from being a girl. But at the same time, she’s completely baller. She deals with life as she see’s fit. She knows the reality of her situation and does what she has to. She knows that sometimes in order to survive, sometimes you can’t be the kind damsel in distress. And she’s no damsel. She’s no blushing virgin either.

“Why would I wear a knife?” Denna asked. “I am a delicate blossom and all that. A woman who goes around wearing a knife is obviously looking for trouble.” She reached deep into her pocket and brought out a long, slender piece of metal, glittering all along one edge. “However a woman who carries a knife is ready for trouble. Generally speaking, it’s easier to appear harmless. It’s less trouble all around.”

I’ve been talking so much about the characters because that’s what I love most. But the world…geez. Makes a lot of fantasy books look obsolete in comparison. The thing about this world is that the magic is kind of imagined in a way a chemist or an engineer would think magic would work. The magic and all the details are explained. The author makes it very clear to the reader without boring you or giving you too much information. There are different parts of the magic. There are words for magic, of course. But there’s more to it than that. It’s not just the word that makes it work. There’s a certain science to it, almost. You know what? Screw it. Patrick explains it so much more than I ever could. No doubt. I am not a writer and I don’t want to be. That shit is hard to do.

I know that some people argue that this book has no straight plot. But that’s not really a valid argument because the author makes it very very clear that this is the story of a hero. He’s telling it to us. We switch from third point of view, to what Kvothe is telling us. But more than that, in real life we don’t have things happen to us in a straight cut line. It’s not an organized thing. It’s not that the book is scattered. It’s not. It’s just that he’s telling us what happens to him in the oder that they happened. In order to understand the real gut of the story, we have to understand how he got there. We have to see the painful backstory. But, it’s not boring. Not in the slightest. The ride there is a roller coaster. It’s fast paced, complicated, sad, and endearing. I loved every word.

Oh! There’s even this creature that blows out blue fire…for mating purposes. HEHEHE.

The first time I read this book, I…I…..I had no words for the power this book had over me. But this time, I felt so much more. I learned so much more. I could pay attention so much more. I felt like this:

“…I will slit you open and splash around like a child in a muddy puddle. I’ll string a fiddle with your guts and make you play it while I dance.”

The first time: I was an incurable fangirl…still am.
The second time: I’ve been gutted.

Now since I’ve read this book only once and I’ve read the second zero times, I will go on to that one. Truthfully, I’m a little scared. I’ve heard very sad things about that one. Let the tragic times commence.

3 thoughts on “5 Star Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

  1. Desperado says:

    Great review my friend… I absolutely loved this book. Some people indeed hate Denna, especially other women I have noted but I don’t. I love her too… And despite all her flaws, I think she is perfect, just like our Kvothe.

    She is very real like you mentioned, unlike other female characters we see in stories. She is right for all the wrong reasons.

    I would suggest you read the second book as soon as you can so I get another Brilliantly written review. 🙂

    • Brigid says:

      Thank you! I definitely have a problem with how a lot of female characters are portrayed in the genre, as much as I love the genre I have my rants and rages about it. But sometimes you find a fantasy author that realises what the genre has done by following Tolkien’s footsteps, and I have found that in Rothfuss. I like Tolkien’s work, but the dude was not known for writing female characters.

      2ND BOOK WILL COME. I fear it. Yet, I will read and review it.

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