The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
It was felling night, and the usual crowd had gathered at the Waystone Inn.
I’m only a month or so late with starting into this year’s Once Upon a Time challenge, but I have to say that I picked a great book to start off with. The Name of the Wind begins in an inn, with an almost traditionally epic fantasy feel to it. Kote the innkeeper is a stranger to the area, and the inn, The Waystone, isn’t doing great business. But one night the smith’s apprentice bursts in the door, covered in blood, and with a strange spider-like creature that he claims killed his horse. Kote recognises this, but then again, he has seen more of the world than the farmers, tied to the land. But Kote is much more than he at first appears. He knows there must be more of these creatures, and when he goes, alone, to look for, and deal with them he comes across Chronicler. This scribe has been lured to this backwater searching for a rumour. And the rumour is Kote, or, Kvothe, as the stories know him.
Kote makes a deal with the scribe, he will tell him his story, but no scribe will alter a word of his, and it will be now or never. And it will take three days. The first days telling gives us The Name of the Wind.
This book was first published way back in 2007, and I’d heard plenty of praise about it. But I’d never read a review, or even the blurb, but then the second book came out, and I heard yet more praise, so I yielded and bought this.
And I’m so glad I did. It makes for a wonderful read. Rothfuss really knows how to write a story. Kvothe begins his story at the beginning, Pip would have approved, although he doesn’t quite start with his birth, but with his childhood. And in many ways he ticks all those stereotypical boxes you might expect from a bog standard fantasy book, a gifted child, quick learner, suffers tragedy and loss. Fights his way through and comes out stronger and revenged in the end. Well, we haven’t gotten to the ending of his story, but we know that while he may tick some of those boxes Kvothe’s story is much more than one boys adventure tale. It is told in a clever and entertaining way. You really want to keep on reading, and it is a long book, but it never feels it.
The book has some wonderful touches, aspects that make it feel real and solid, and yet magical. Kvothe is a real person. Some of the supporting characters aren’t quite so well drawn, but that is to be expected, this is Kvothe’s story, they merely provide additions. And even when they are the expected rival like Ambrose they are never treated as cut-out characters. Other characters may not star in this story, but you get the distinct impression that that is because they are busy off-screen living their own lives.
Also, and although this is a minor point, I have to make it, Kvothe actually rides a horse in this book. By which I mean he doesn’t get on an animal’s back and treat it like a car. He knows what an animal is capable of, and how a horse should be warmed up gradually before being galloped. This is the sort of touch that makes the world of Kvothe come alive.
I’ve just bought book two, so I’m going to stop writing, make myself a nice cup of tea and get started. Although part of me says, slow down, you’re only going to have to wait years for book 3 to come out. But I get the impression that these are books that will reward a reread, so I’m going to go on ahead.