In terms of plot, the book is actually highly simplistic. Kvothe Kingkiller, Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, the man of many names will tell the story of his life to the Chronicler, who will write Kvothe’s entire chronicle, starting from his childhood until his present life as an innkeeper in Waystone Inn. Kvothe will tell the entire chronicle of his life within 3 days and Name of the Wind encompassed only Day 1 of it, that’s it, that’s really the basic premise of the story. You could even call this book a memoir high fantasy if you want.
“It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Picture: Present Kvothe, Bast and Chronicler at Waystone Inn
Now, if you haven’t read this book yet, you’re probably wondering why this book is one of the most highly acclaimed fantasy books. Honestly for me, it’s not the best out there, it’s definitely amazing and there are a lot of factors in the book that worked together towards that result. However, there’s one single element in the book that excels above all the other.
Is it the characters?
Could be, I mean, this is a totally character driven book and if the characters aren’t well written the book is pretty much screwed. The whole book is told only from Kvothe’s perspective, it’s written in 3rd person POV for the present frame, shifting to 1st person POV during the flashback sequence which means, you’ll be seeing the 1st person POV so much more than the other. Trust me that they are so well written, Kvothe is a great character and his narrative is so compelling, NotW is his coming of age tale, right from the time when he was 8 years old up to 15 years old.
“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
We will read Kvothe’s struggle during this period of time and yes, they’re an ebb and flow of fortune and disaster. Plus, the addition of great side characters such as Bast, Simmone, Elodin and Auri makes the book more intriguing. However, no, it’s not the characters that dazzled the most for me.
Is it the world-building?
Well, it’s true that the world-building is fantastic and intricate, it even includes its own currency, mythology, legends, songs, an unique magic system called Sympathy and for a fantasy book, somehow all of them seemed so realistic and yet, no, it’s not the world-building.
What is it then, the action?
No, definitely not. Don’t come into this book expecting a lot of actions, war or great climax scenes, you’ll be massively disappointed. There are probably only around 20 pages in total out of 663 pages for its action scenes. NotW will not pull you into this grand tale of Good vs Evil that can be found in the usual epic fantasy stories where the characters struggle against the villains to save the world. In fact, you could even count this book to have zero actions if you want and this sparked close to zero intensity to the story. The scarce intensity is the sole reason why I didn’t rate this book a full 5 stars, fantasy or not, reading a memoir for 663 pages can be a bit tedious when the plot moves at a snail pace with no intensity despite how well written it is. So no, it’s not the actions.
Music, the part that captivated me more than anything else in the book is its depiction of music.
“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.”
There’s a huge emphasis on music right from the beginning of the story until the end and let’s face it, no matter what the genre is, we are all obsessed with music. Music is really integral to the quality of the book, it’s insane how well written the depiction of music and sounds in the book are. The sounds of tavern, the way the fingers and strings dances to form the music and I can hear the tavern cheers when Kvothe played the lute vigorously, I can hear the silence of the crowd when Kvothe stopped playing and most of all, I can feel the emotions oozing out of the audience through the music that were created specifically through words. My favorite scene in the book is every time “The Lay of Sir Savien Traliard”, a tragic ballad was performed. It’s so masterfully written and right now, I have my own perception of how this song should sound like in my head and I can’t wait to see how Lin Manuel Miranda’s rendition of this song for the upcoming TV series adaptation of the book sounds like.
Picture: Kvothe performing at Eolian
It’s really a tricky business to combine the right formula with all these elements in a book, especially with music being one of them but Rothfuss managed to do it.
How did he mix the right mixture of chemistry for all those factors?
Top-notch prose. I can’t stress this highly enough, there’s a glimpse of grace in almost every words you’ll find in the book. Without Rothfuss’s prose, this book would probably receive a 2 or 3 stars rating from me. Patrick Rothfuss is a master craftsman at words and his prose deserves only the highest of praise from me. There are a myriad amounts of quotable (or should I say Kvothable) statements in the whole book that I feel like writing them all down in my notebook. (Yes, I did.)
“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.”
It’s meticulous, beautiful, and poetic. It’s obvious how the 14 years of revision and editing brought fruition to this marvelous result.
By the end of this book, I realized The Name of the Wind has immersed me into an intricate role play situation. Throughout my time reading the book, I am not just the reader who read a book called The Name of the Wind, I am not the Chronicler who wrote Kvothe’s journey, I am not Kvothe’s loyal apprentice, I am the one they called Reshi, Bloodless, Six-String and I am the “I” in the chronicle. My name is Kvothe, you may have heard of me and I encourage you to read my story.
Picture: Name of the Wind by Marc Simonetti