The Name of the Wind is the first novel in the Kingkiller Chronicles fantasy trilogy – and what an outstanding first novel it was. The novel is set as a story within a story, and we spend the majority of the novel hearing the first part of the autobiography of protagonist Kvothe, from when he was a young boy living in a troupe of travelling musicians, to being homeless and living on the streets of a huge city, to being admitted into the University, the renowned school of magic, as a teenager. Initially we are introduced to Kvothe as he is now – a simple, subdued innkeeper that goes by the name Kote – and the author has you eagerly waiting to find out how Kvothe has ended up the way he is, at the same time as weaving a beautiful story. This is a brilliant fantasy novel that is exciting and expertly crafted, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
The unnamed fantasy world in which this novel is set is unique and interesting – it mixes traditional fantasy elements with modern day living. It was evident whilst reading that a lot of time and care had gone into creating the world – small details on every page made it seem fully realised. There were so many different aspects of the world that really intrigued me whilst reading – different cities, different aspects of magic, different myths and stories – and I found myself constantly gripped and asking questions, and pulled along. The magic system was a particular highlight for me; it was a unique, more academic form of magic than I have ever read about before, with underlying scientific principles. While there was not much world-building done in this first novel, it lay an excellent foundation for the rest of the trilogy, and I am really hoping the world fleshes out and gets fully explored in these areas. It has vast potential.
Kvothe is one of the best protagonists I have read in a while. Seeing him from such a young age and following his journey every step of the way really made me grow to love him, and I sympathised with his character and was truly on his side all the way through. One thing I really appreciated about Kvothe was that he was a flawed character – he was brilliant and startlingly intelligent and witty, but at the same time he often made mistakes. These mistakes were completely in line with his well-developed character, however, and just made him all the more believable. There is also a broad range of diverse side characters, who I felt myself wanting to get to know better than I did.
I really enjoyed the writing in this novel. While the style was not overly descriptive or flowery – something I generally enjoy – it was skillfully done. Patrick Rothfuss included just the right amount of description, and really delved into the ordinary, day to day scenes as well as the more epic ones; descriptions of the buildings of the University or simple street fights were some of my favourite moments. Because of this, everything seemed real and significant. The writing style was truly perfect for this novel, allowing me to really feel immersed in the believable world, but at the same time making it an exhilarating, fast-paced read.
Overall, this was a fantastic, gripping first novel of a trilogy that has so much potential. I thoroughly enjoyed following Kvothe growing from a young boy into a young man, and I highly anticipate following him grow even more in the next two novels. This is wonderful, epic, satisfying storytelling.