A legendary folk hero tells the first part of his life story, encompassing his early years as a vagabond and his time spent at University studying alchemy and magic.
It’s not for nothing that The Name of the Wind has been touted as a great fantasy debut. It absolutely is. I am leery of beginning fantasy series that have not been concluded, but my brother was so enthusiastic about this one that I had to check it out. Patrick Rothfuss’s writing has a confidence that makes me reasonably sure that he’s got the whole story worked out. And being that the story is told in the first person–this isn’t a sprawling, multi-character epic–it shouldn’t be that daunting of a tale to complete.
To me, the book most strongly reminded me of Wizard and Glass, the fourth installment in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, though without the horror elements and with a lot more magic. I found the alchemical magic, here called “sympathy,” to be compelling and well-developed. In the world of The Name of the Wind, magic isn’t a power or an answer. Magic is hard work; it’s a skill, like engineering; a discipline like medicine; an entity, like God.
Overall, the writing is exceptionally strong. I did get a little weary of Kvothe’s prideful posturing, and I’m hoping that subsequent books show us his vulnerable side, or at least interrogate the decidedly one-sided nature of his self-aggrandizing mythology. There are some interesting women here, the least of which is the love interest, all sharp retorts and kickass weaponry, but she’s not as bad as she could have been. I was hooked from very early on and definitely lost myself while reading this book.
Fingers crossed that Rothfuss delivers.