20 February 2011

REVIEW: THE NAME OF THE WIND

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
UK Publisher: Gollancz
UK release date: 2007
Genre: Fantasy

Summary (from Amazon): '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'.

Review: The Name of the Wind is the first day of three in which Kvothe recalls his life story. A legendary figure, tales of him are told across the lands.

"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'."

At the start of the story, however, we find him settled in a backwater village posing as Kote, an innkeeper. As his few regulars tell stories of the Chandrian, one returns bloodied and cut, carrying a dead spider like creature known as scrael. Whilst out hunting for more of its kind, Kote meets Chronicler, a famous storyteller. He is later persuaded to recollect his life story starting in his childhood where he sees an Arcanist do magic by naming the wind, and follows the events that lead him to encounter the Chandrian, fight for survival in Tarbean, and then go on to study at university and learn sympathy (otherwise known as magic).

The start of the story is steeped in mystery. If the stories about him are true then what happened to Kvothe that would make him go from legend to unknown. What exactly are the scrael? And who are the Chandrian: are they real, are they demons, or something else? Whilst we learn a little about the Chandrian through Kvothe’s determined search for information, the mystery of the scrael remains unexplained.

Whilst the story is very plot driven, detailing a large portion of Kvothe’s childhood and adolescence, the character development isn’t as strong. With Kvothe telling his own story from his perspective, the other characters are lacking in any real depth. Again mystery surrounds Denna, a wild and flighty young woman that Kvothe falls in love with. Even Bast, who we learn is not human, we still know very little of. 

I love maps that accompany books, however the one featured with this novel adds little to help understand the events that happen. I really hope that as the story progresses and develops in the following books, the map will help give a real spatial benefit.

I couldn't write a review of this book without mentioning Patrick Rothfuss' magical way with words. His writing style creates fluid flowing plot as well as imaginative and poignant descriptions. The novel is also filled with rhymes and other stories, to relate fairytales, myths and historical events. Through this we gradually learn more about powerful rulers of times-gone, the Chandrian, and the power of magic. 

The Name of the Wind was an enjoyable, gripping read, although it did feel like a conquest reaching the end of this mammoth book. Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel is steeped in mythology and magic. This first installment sets the groundwork for the other books, and certainly leaves you waiting to find out what else happened to Kvothe in his younger years and what might happen with the scrael.

Rating: 4*

1 comment:

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Sounds pretty solid. Any book with a deep and rich mythology usually grips me. Shame about the lack of development in the secondary characters, but hopefully that is rectified in later books. Thanks for the review :)