Saturday, February 23, 2013
The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher: Daw Books
Description: The tale of Kvothe (pronounced nearly the same as "quothe") from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more-for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend. (Slightly edited bit from the end of the book jacket description.)
Review: This is the first book in a trilogy, the majority of which tells the back story of Kvothe, now running an inn under the name Kote, as he relates it to a passing scribe.
Despite the full title of the book ending with "The Kingkiller Chronicles: Day One" the book actually takes place over several days before the scribe arrives, and we get signs that Kvothe's story may relate to events that occur in the present day of the story, around where he is currently living.
However, the majority of the book is back story. Whether that works depends on how likable a character Kvothe is. While he does have several moments of sheer idiocy, I found his story to be mostly engaging. And given his age, sixteen when this book ends, it's easier to overlook the fact he doesn't always think things through. Day one's recounting ends at a reasonable place, but doesn't wrap up any major story threads. If you're looking for a stand-alone book, this isn't a good choice, however, it motivated me to want to read the sequels.
The big question I came away from reading this book with was, is Kvothe a Mary Sue? After some thought, the answer I came to is no. While he seems to be phenomenally gifted and able to master pretty much anything he sets his mind to, he screws up enough and has people dislike him for actual reasons beyond "he's so awesome, I must hate him!" Plus, we really only have his word on these events. I suspect he may be a talented, but somewhat unreliable narrator.