This is a coming of age story of the powerful mage Kvothe, which also tells the truth behind the legend that will grow in later books in the Kingkiller Chronicles. The Name of the Wind is Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel, and it is a very solid debut for a heroic fantasy. I am not a fan due to the theatrical writing and the predictable plot and shallow characters, but I think it is still a solid debut and worth reviewing.
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This novel is divided into two stories in different times, much like Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. It is a story within a story. Part of the book is set in the present time, with Kvothe narrating his story to a man known as the "Chronicler" (this is my favorite part of the books, with its baroque writing, dark atmospheric setting, and the quiet introspection and conscious brand managing that we see in Kvothe as he narrates his own story to the Chronicler. The Chronicler is writing down Kvothe's story, which forms the second "part" of this novel: the actual coming of age tale from the past. In the present, Kvothe has already achieved fame for his skills as a fighter and as a magician, and he is believed to have caused the war that is going on in the present.
Kvothe's story begins in his nomadic childhood. His parents were performers who were a part of a traveling troupe of actors. A magician and scholar named Abenthy gets picked up by the troupe, and he and young Kvothe become fast friends. Abenthy educates Kvothe and teaches him the fundamentals of magic, such as how to manipulate and control objects.
The traveling troupe is soon destroyed by mythical beasts known as the Chandrian, leaving Kvothe traumatized, alone and destitute. His mind shattered, Kvothe lives as a child beggar for 3 years in a distant city, where he makes new friends (and begins to fall in love with a woman named Denna) and slowly begins to gain some confidence and direction back in his life. Kvothe ends up enrolling in the university - the only one in the kingdom - where he excels due to his genius despite his absolute poverty. At the university, Kvothe is one day provoked to demonstrate his magic by summoning the wind as he had seen Abenthy do as a child, which makes the Master Namer of the university, Elodin, take Kvothe on as a student. Around this time, Kvothe also begins to hear tales, especially of blue fire, that make him suspect the Chandrian have returned. However when Kvothe and Denna follow up on leads, they do not find the Chandrian, though it is clear that there are other dangers in the world.
And this is where the first novel ends, at least in its "past" story. Back in the present, the first day of narration has also ended and the Chronicler anticipates two more days of narration, as Kvothe has told him the full story will take three days (corresponding to the three novels in this series).
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked the narrative structure (past story and present story) and I liked that we couldn't tell if Kvothe was embellishing his story or hiding details or just finding ways to portray himself well, since he is telling the story.
Best scene in story:
Kvothe and the Chronicler sitting down in the quiet inn to do this, after Kvothe saves the Chronicler's life. It's a very introspective and quiet scene, but filled with mystery.
Opinion about the main character: