REVIEW: "The Name of the Wind", by Patrick Rothfuss.

Title: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher: Orion
Narrated By: Rupert Degas
Audible Release Date: 6th March 2012
Runtime: 28 hrs and 9 mins  
[Dead-Tree book release date: 2007, by DAW Hardcover]

Taken from Audible
'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. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me'
So begins the tale of Kvothe - now an unassuming innkeepter - from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In part one you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin.


It is a rare thing to encounter a perfect book, but when you do it's a double edged sword. On the one hand, you've discovered a story which consumes you and characters who seem so real that you half expect them to walk into your living room, pour themselves some tea and muddy your carpets with the dirt from their adventurous boot-heels. On the other hand, when the story ends, you miss these perfectly-drawn characters as much as you would a friend. The perfect writing is so delicate and so clear that all other prose seems clunky and unrefined. Therein lies the rusty edge of the sword. 

I suppose a perfect book is much like finding a perfect lover. While they may ... ahem... rock your world while you have the means to enjoy them; while they may inspire you, fill you with joy and show you what perfection means, once the torrid affair ends, all other lovers seem rather lacking by comparison. As far as this metaphor goes, listening to the audiobook recording of
 The Name of the Wind is like spending a long, languorous evening with Apollo. However, since finishing this book, I've read several others and, now that I've enjoyed perfection, I've found that other books seem awkward, elbowy, brief and... unsatisfying.

The narrative of the book is largely in the retrospective first person, from the point of view of Kvothe, the protagonist of the tale. There are also interjections of third-person narrative which focus on the events of Kvothe's immediate life. Both perspectives have much to offer. In the first person, Kvothe's story is a
bildungsroman which details his humble beginnings and fellows his life through to his fame and notoriety as a hero of legend. In the third person, we see Kvothe as a man who is still young in years (he is described as being in his twenties), but who also seems aged and worn. He hides behind an alias and has assumed the life of a small-town inn-keeper. But there are still hints of strangeness and otherworldly goings on in his new, quieter life of obscurity. 

The plot is dense and brilliantly crafted. The world is believable and its magic (known as "sympathy") is so excellently imagined that I'm almost surprised that it isn't a reality! The wealth of characters are all intimately drawn and unique. Even the more subordinate characters come to life in Rothfuss' pages. 

As well as praising Patrick Rothfuss' superlative writing, I just have to give a shout-out to the narrative skills of Rupert Degas. He takes the vibrancy of Rothfuss' characters and gives them the final breath of life. He makes their hearts beat and gives each their own unique personality and voice. Even great books can be ruined by bad narration. Thankfully, Degas takes an already great book and manages to make it even better. 

The Name of The Wind
is book one in the Kingkiller Chronicles and its narrative details the first of a three day discussion of Kvothe's life to Chronicler, a historian sent to find out about the hero of legend. Book Two (detailing the second day) is also available and my review is coming soon! Unfortunately, there's no publication date available for the final part of the trilogy and I have no idea how I'm going to cope with the agony of waiting for news and for the book itself!

There are just some books in this world which must be read and I can't believe how long this one eluded me. While the fantasy genre comes with some stigma attached, please do
not let preconceptions put you off. This isn't just a great book "for it's genre", but a great book full stop. If I could give it a million stars then I would. As that would leave my rating system otherwise meaningless, however, I'll settle on five stars!

1 comment:

  1. I have never heard of this book, but your review has me very intrigued. I can't wait to pick up this book after all the fantastic things you had to say. Thanks for sharing. :)


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