I finally understand what everyone’s raving about. 4/5 stars.
As ever, click on the cover image to go to the book’s Goodreads page for more information.
The blurb: Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
Let’s take another look at that blurb, shall we? Apparently The Name of the Wind is “a high-action story written with a poet’s hand” which will “transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard”. Now, when I read this sort of thing I’m instantly wary… surely that’s marketing hype? But, in this case, I’m delighted to report that it’s not! In fact, it’s pretty much spot on 🙂
Thank you to all the book bloggers who have read and given this such good reviews. I’m very glad I listened to you. This book tells us part 1 of Kvothe’s life story, covering his early life and the start of his wizard training. If you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, this story has everything you could want: a grown-up version of Hogwarts, drug-addled dragons, deadly rivalry, personal tragedy, music, mysterious magical bad guys, and love (although if that last one makes you roll your eyes, don’t fear, this isn’t a “kissing book” in any way).
This is a long book which does require your patience at the start. It takes a good 100 or so pages to really get going, but the time the author dedicates upfront to constructing Kvothe’s world pays huge dividends later, meaning he can get on with the story without any long explanatory detours.
And, apart from the slow start, the pacing of the rest of the book is practically perfect. Every time I thought, “Uf! I could do with a break soon,” I’d turn the page and find the end of the chapter and the start of one of the “in story” interludes where the characters listening to Kvothe’s tale take a short break to stretch their legs! It made me wonder if Rothfuss read his drafts aloud to an audience to get a good idea of where he should put these pauses.
My only dilemma now is when I should read book 2. The Name of the Wind was first published way back in 2007. Book 2, The Wise Man’s Fear (almost 1000 pages long!), was published in 2011. Some internet digging reveals that there is still no firm release date for the third and final installment of this series. I don’t want to read Book 2 too long before Book 3 or I’ll need a refresher course in what happened previously and who all the characters are. This is the situation I’ve been stuck in with the Game of Thrones series.
Overall: if you’re a fan of epic fantasy, this should be high on your to-read list. I look forward to reading book 2, although I’m going to put it off until a release date for book 3 is finally announced.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul