Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Normally when I do a book review, I would dive right in. But this book has… a unique place in my heart. The Name of the Wind and I have somewhat of a history. Long story short, it was lent to me by someone I trusted, who turned out not to be as friendly as thought. When I cut him out from my life, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Because, despite everything, it’s a fantasy book. So it sat on my shelf until quarantine hit, and I became desperately starved for content to read. Hence, I reopened The Name of the Wind.
And I fell in love with it. Honestly, I was definitely a little intimidated, too, because it was Patrick Rothfuss’ debut novel. Vastly different to my own.
When I opened it, I was instantly transported to a different world. One of quiet, simple, rustic taverns and halls. Rothfuss’ worldbuilding is extraordinary. But the story flicked back and forth between the wilderness, sprawling cities, and the almost-sanctified University. Each one had its own sense of place and power.
But, most importantly (at least in my mind), the magic. And oh, the magic. I love hard magic systems. The more rigorously enforced the rules are the better. And sympathy is one of the best magic systems I have come across. It took some explaining, but he did us the courtesy of not dropping a bucket load of exposition on us. The simple idea of linking two things together, yet the number of crazy shenanigans Kvothe pulls is very entertaining. For me, one of the things I like most about a magic system is how it influences the world. Because a magic system doesn’t sit in a bubble. Just one of the interesting devices I’ve seen, sympathy lamps, creating flames that last for days on end. I love seeing how magic isn’t just something a hero uses, but it affects the lives of everyone. In the story I’m working on at the moment, I’m exploring how a magical event that occurs once per year could lead to a massive gambling culture across an empire.
Speaking of Kvothe, it is so interesting to see the quiet, yet immensely knowledgeable innkeeper, contrasted with the precocious and arrogant boy he often describes himself. Yet it never comes across as irritating (at least to me). I think that’s balanced by the horrible things that happen to him.
A book is never truly perfect, though. I think for me, I would have liked to see a bigger resolution in The Name of the Wind. It sets up very well for The Wise Man’s Fear, which I have just purchased. To my mind, a great first book in a series has two main arcs. It needs to kick off the long-running series arc, yet also have a real sense that something was completed here. I think the particular point in which the book ended was not the most ideal section of Kvothe’s retelling to finish up. However, I absolutely loved Bast, and his fierce devotion to Kvothe. I hope it plays a bigger impact in The Wise Man’s Fear.
I guess I should wrap up things here. No longer does this book remind me of fear and some not-fun times. Now I’m ready for the sequel!
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