The Name of the Wind is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss. It is oddly subtitled “Day One” for reasons that become clear later in the novel. The Name of the Wind is the most engaging and unique epic fantasy that I have come across. I found it to live up to its hype.
That being said, the story starts out kind of slow. Though not clear at first, the book (and series, really) evolves into being a chronicle of the life of Kvothe, or as he is known in the beginning, Kote the simple innkeeper. In reality, he’s not so simple. He’s a brilliant man, a prodigy in almost anything he attempts. When he finally sits down and begins telling his story (after a couple of fights with some demon spider things called Scrael), the real meat of the story begins.
Kvothe’s education began early, when he was part of a traveling performing caravan. He is content with his wondering life, especially after befriending an alchemist named Abenthy, who teaches him science and the “magic” of sympathy. Kvothe’s life and happiness are destroyed when he returns to his caravan one day to find that everyone had been slaughtered. It is then that he truly begins his journey to become a legendary figure. He quests to find out more information about the Chandrian, the group of mythological, demon-like figures who are responsible for the murder of his parents.
Weighing in at over 650 pages, this book is an epic fantasy to its core, but the story itself is quite unique (at least it is in the first book in the series). There’s no long journey or quest. It’s simply a coming-of-age tale, an origin story of sorts. There’s magic, bullies, and even a drugged, vegetarian dragon. There are many, many quotable passages. Rothfuss is a genius when it comes to wordplay and story weaving. (Someone in my book group even said that Rothfuss was the Nabokov of epic fantasy; I’m inclined to agree.) The Name of the Wind is a must read for any lover of fantasy, exquisite writing, or entertaining story-telling.