Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicles #1
"My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me."
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature - the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.
I stumbled across this book while looking for something for my husband and I to listen to in the car (that was essentially kid-friendly for my way too bright three year old), that neither of us were at different places in. We've got a couple of series we're both reading but were in different places in them. We had a ten-hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted something that was about twenty hours. And I stumbled across The Name of the Wind.
The reviews for the quality of the audiobook itself were excellent--the narration was fantastic. I also have to admit being swayed by a quote from Game of Thrones author, George R. R. Martin: "he's bloody good, this Rothfuss guy."
Okay, so the audiobook is twenty-seven hours, not twenty. Still, I agree with Martin's assessment. The worldbuilding in this book is phenomenal. I just adored it. The setting, the magical system, the width and breadth of the cultures--everything feels so real. There's history, things lost, things forgotten, the world feels complete. I want to know more. I'm currently beating down my own tendency towards spoilers. This is a rare occasion in which I just want to read.
It's a different take--the infamous hero's tale from his own mouth. And Kvothe as a narrator is charismatic, magnetic, incredibly compelling. There's humor, tragedy, a real sense of the fragility of life and the emotions associated with loss and poverty. It's also great fun to hear the true stories of what come to be infamous tales.
Not only is the world a masterclass example of worldbuilding, and the narration fantastic, the character building is done with equal skill. Characters long dead you feel like you could know, they're just that well built. I think the synopsis covers the greater part of Kvothe's life, whereas The Name of the Wind really covers from ages 8 to 16-ish, childhood to the cusp of adulthood, when he begins to gain infamy. This allows school-age antics with a group of close friends to provide some levity in what can otherwise be a dramatic and tragic story.
And on top of all of that is the prose--the language. This is literature. The prose can bounce from playful to heart-wrenching, from satire and sarcasm to statements that seem like profound truths.
"Remember this son, if you forget everything else: A poet is a musician who can't sing. Words have to find a man's mind before they can touch his heart. And, some men's minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly, no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”
There is a care and a craft to the storytelling as a whole that is deeper than anything I've read in a good long time. And, it's something I strongly feel will last the test of time. As much as I enjoy contemporary fiction--even contemporary paranormal, I think a lot of fantasy has a longevity much greater because it doesn't involve modern element which can be so quickly outdated. The Name of the Wind, I feel, could definitely become a piece of classic fantasy literature.
So, go read it. It's awesome. I've got some other books on my plate before I can read the second and the third will hopefully be sometime in 2014. I can't wait.
Also, given the time period that most of this book covers, it almost counts as YA and it's pretty clean in terms of language and sex.
"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a woman love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself.”