Book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Very enjoyable fantasy novel, first of a trilogy

October 1, 2011

Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind

DAW, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7564-0589-2

662 pages


It is the job of many fantasy novels to be immersive. And it is in the contract of many fantasy novelists that their first novel should be the first of a trilogy. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is, indeed, an immersive novel that’s the first of a projected trilogy. (The second volume, The Wise Man’s Fear was published earlier this year.)

As the book begins, Kote is the innkeeper of the Waystone Inn and he has an apprentice named Bast. Though it’s not completely clear why he should require an apprentice since he isn’t a very successful innkeeper.

But if that were all there were to it, there wouldn’t be much of a story.

Pretty quickly someone from the nearby town is attacked by a monster that’s vaguely supernatural and Kote goes out hunting for more of them. Not the act of your typical innkeeper. He finds and kills five more of them and manages to rescue someone known as Chronicler. Chronicler was traveling to the inn in the hopes of writing down Kote’s story. Because he’s really Kvothe (pronounced like “quoth”) who, it seems, was pretty famous once. And it turns out that his apprentice is human only in appearance.

As he tells his story to Chronicler, Kvoth is an everyman (well, everyone would like to be so smart and resourceful) and his story is immersive. When he was a boy his family was part of a troupe of traveling entertainers. And his father decided to write a song about a particular sort of supernatural monster. Which, it seems, didn’t like hiving songs written about it. At least not accurate ones.

Kvothe ends up an orphan and has various adventures as he makes his way in the world. In this book we follow Kvothe well into his studies at university.

The story that Mr Rothfuss tells feels deeply felt and is, as I said, immersive. It is also either wide-ranging or a bit miscellaneous. I think that Mr Rothfuss’s very good storytelling does just about cause it to hang together, but there’s more than 650 pages here that aren’t clearly taking us toward any particular resolution. Or even in any particular direction. Still, I plan to read the next volume.