The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One) is the first fantasy book of the Kingkiller Chronicle fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss.
This fantasy novel was recommended to me by a number of sources. After doing some research on my own, I found this book among many of the best fantasy novel lists on the web.
Inevitably, I got around to picking this book up to see for myself if it lived up to the hype and deliver you The Name of the Wind review!
If you’re not familiar with how I conduct my book reviews, I typically just deliver the general gist of the book to give you an idea of whether or not this novel might be to your liking. I refrain from analyzing specific plot details that would spoil the reading experience for you.
The Name of the Wind review is meant to be a preview trailer, not a plot summary. I only include spoilers for previous novels if the novel is a sequential installment in a series.
In short, The Name of the Wind review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers for the plot of The Name of the Wind. Enjoy!
What reading genre is The Name of the Wind?
The Name of the Wind fits the mold of the heroic fantasy reading genre.
Who is the main character of The Name of the Wind?
The story follows a young renowned magician named Kvothe in his unorthodox upbringing from traveling troupe player to university student extraordinaire.
Kvothe is an intriguing protagonist in that he is not the perfect storybook character.
He is not the shining prince charming that comes to save the day in the fantasy novels of old. Although Kvothe is good at heart, he makes immensely reckless decisions that not only endanger himself, but his close friends as well.
His flaws are undeniable and are the very thing that make him human and thus easier to relate to as a reader. His questionable decision making and unpredictable behavior over the course of the novel is what really sets this book apart from other fantasy novels.
What is the perspective of The Name of the Wind?
The narrative is told in an unorthodox way. The perspective of the story alternates between the first perspective of Kvothe and an omniscient third party perspective.
The Name of the Wind is narrated in this manner because the story constantly flips from the past to the present. The structure of the story takes on a flashback approach.
The Kvothe in the present time is explaining his journey to fame to another individual. Thus, the story takes on a first person perspective as Kvothe recounts his memories to this individual.
The present times are not told from this first perspective. Rather, the present times take on a third party telling. Therefore, the happenings in the present timeline do not involve the use of “I” or “we” as compared to the flashback storytelling.
How is the plot structure of The Name of the Wind?
As for the plotline, I really enjoyed that it progressed naturally without any semblance of Rothfuss bulldozing ahead just for the sake of change.
There are brief interludes present, which helps break up the monotony of the storyline and reminds the reader of the dichotomy of Kvothe: his current self versus his younger self.
Although the story felt slow at moments (such as the descriptions of Kvothe playing his lute), the book is 662 pages long so there are bound to be at least a couple of slow sections. Overall, I considered the storyline to be paced uncommonly well taking into consideration that this was a debut novel.
How are the fantasy elements of The Name of the Wind?
The fantasy component of The Name of the Wind is without a doubt one of the most alluring features of this novel due to the complex yet comprehensive nature of the magic system.
The magic system is a prominent element to consider in this novel, but Rothfuss employs it in moderation to prevent it from dominating every aspect of the story.
Did the magic system complement the plot well?
This disciplined employment of magic in the plot empowered the characterization of Kvothe and the framework of the plot, permitting each to blossom in their own unique ways.
If the characterization and plot elements were heavily dependent on the magic system to stand out, this novel would not have reached the level of stardom it was able to achieve.
Magic merely guides the plot… it is not the plot itself.
The magic system is similar to a pipe serving as a conduit for water, where water is the plot, controlling the flow of the water to help it get to where it needs to go. The pipe and the water complement one another, just like the magic system and the plot complement one another.
How does the magic system work?
There is not one single, specific magical discipline described in this novel, but multiple. These individual magical disciplines include naming, sympathy, alchemy and sygaldry.
The most formidable of these magical disciplines is naming, as you can probably guess from the title. It is the greatest ambition of Kvothe to pursue and uncover The Name of the Wind. Whether or not he accomplishes that mission is for you to find out!
How long of a read is The Name of the Wind?
The Name of the Wind is on the lengthier side when it comes to fantasy novels.
The Name of the Wind has a total word count that is slightly above 244,000. The average reader will take around 16 hours to read this story start to finish. So this novel is several hours more than a typical fantasy read.
How is The Name of the Wind different from other fantasy novels?
In all of the fantasy novels I have read in the past, I cannot remember a novel that dives so deep into a protagonist. The Name of the Wind uncovers everything a reader can ever desire to know about Kvothe.
The story begins with Kvothe as a child. This is not the short, typical run down that we are used when it comes to the upbringing of a protagonists. Rothfuss delves into every major event in the adolescence of Kvothe.
It is not a mere couple of chapter to skim over. A massive chunk of the novel is devoted to the juvenile history of Kvothe, leaving nothing up for interpretation.
I found this to be something very intriguing and different from what I was used to. It helped tremendously with my emotional relatability to Kvothe as a protagonist.
Seeing where he was and how he raised himself up firsthand to become the man he is gave character insight that few other novels have offered in the past.
Kvothe is the main reason I read The Name of the Wind. I attribute much of this adoration for Kvothe to this original story structure and phenomenal characterization.
What are the predominant themes in The Name of the Wind?
The prevailing theme in The Name of the Wind is the power of names.
As the title suggests, the centerpiece of the novel is naming. Naming is a key concept in the overall magic system.
Individuals that hold power over the true essence of names possess unbridled power as a result.
Names are not simple markers to label an individual or object. The essence of naming is much more than that. In The Name of the Wind, names hold power over people and society. They change the course of history and shift the tides of a family’s fortunes for generations to come.
Names expand the limited perspective of individuals such as the main protagonist of the story Kvothe. The power of names grants him power, happiness and misery over the course of this adventure.
If you are curious as to the extent of the power of names, read The Name of the Wind to discover for yourself!
Another major theme in The Name of the Wind is quest for discovery.
In this case, the quester is Kvothe and the object of discovery is knowledge. Kvothe wants to uncover the knowledge behind the secret workings of naming.
Few individuals know of this sophisticated magic art and even fewer know how to wield it. Thus, Kvothe sets out on his own, abandoning everything he has ever known to learn knowledge that has escaped the minds of many.
There is no shortage of obstacles along the way. Kvothe is faced with enemies from his childhood to his teenage years. Each foe attempting to thwart his persistent efforts. Not all of these foes have faces.
Some of the most formidable foes that Kvothe faces are poverty, hunger and isolation to name a few.
With every quest, there are high moments and low moments. The internal and external conflicts that Kvothe faces shape the overall direction of his quest for discovery. Conflict is what makes his story interesting.
Will Kvothe prevail on his difficult quest or fall short of his goals? That is ultimately for you to find out on your own.
What sort of emotions did you feel while reading The Name of the Wind?
I actually felt a deep connection with Kvothe as the story progressed. Consequently, with every high and low Kvothe felt, I felt as well. During the somber portions of his narrative, it took an emotional toll on me.
This is especially because Kvothe experienced these hardships at such a young age. No child should have to go through what this protagonist went through.
It is not just the gravity of the harsh memories of Kvothe, it is also the way that he recounts it. Kvothe describes these memories that has happened years ago as if they were yesterday. He illustrates the agonizing emotions that plagued him as if the memory happened yesterday.
These subtle details make the hardships of Kvothe all the more believable to the reader. It is for this reason that I felt so emotionally distraught when the more depressing moments of his background were revealed.
This is not to say every recollection was a sad one. There were multiple times where I was elated to witness Kvothe break through and enjoy a brief moment of happiness.
These cheerful moments were placed perfectly into the storyline. Whenever I felt that the story was taking on a bit too much of a depressing route, a turn of events would work out in the favor Kvothe.
The depressing events informed the uplifting ones. This compelled the reader to hop on the emotional rollercoaster and enjoy the ride.
The Name of the Wind Review Recap
After writing The Name of the Wind review, I can say with certainty that this novel is deserving of all of its praise.
Kvothe is a top tier protagonist that is marvelously characterized. His narrative from child to teenager is alluring from start to finish. This novel is a staple in the fantasy genre because of this character.
I would recommend this fantasy work to any fantasy book fanatic! I would even suggest this novel to the casual reader that just wants to enjoy a good story.
Visit Amazon if you are looking for a low priced physical copy or audiobook version of The Name of the Wind.
Want more praiseworthy novels like The Name of the Wind? Browse through My Top Fantasy Books to get a glimpse at some of the best novels I’ve personally reviewed.
I will be continuing this series with The Wise Man’s Fear for my next read and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you on this sequel.
“We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”
“You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.”
“There are two sure ways to lose a friend, one is to borrow, the other is to lend.”
“Fear tends to come from ignorance. Once I knew what the problem was, it was just a problem, nothing to fear.”
The Name of the Wind Review Rating: 8/10!
Back of the Book Blurb
My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as “quothe.” Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I’ve had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it’s spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.
“The Flame” is obvious if you’ve ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it’s unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
“The Thunder” I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
I’ve never thought of “The Broken Tree” as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
My first mentor called me E’lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant “to know.”
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I 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 day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe’s legend.