I heard of this book about three years back from several friends and co-workers. Several of them told me it was the best fantasy series since ASOIAF or The Lord of the Rings. I was very surprised that people were saying this, so after a while I decided it was time I took a crack at this series. Now is it worth the hype? sort of, but I personally think ASOIAF is better. Yet Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind comes very close. Right off the bat of the book I was having a hard time reading it. The first chapters were very slow and dull. Nothing made me want to go on. I forced myself to read through it just to see what all the hype was about. Boy was I glad I did. Around fifty or sixty pages something big happens and once it did this book took a hold of me.
The writing in this book is beautiful. There is no other way to describe it. The way Rothfuss writes reminds me of some of the greats such as Hemingway or Harper Lee. It felt like the writing itself breathed in magic to the story. A minor complaint I do have is that Rothfuss didn’t do much world building but he made up for that in everything else. Characters, plot, even the songs he created had me in a trance that I couldn’t shake out of. Overall the writing in this story is absolutely incredible and deserves to be mentioned.
The story itself is very engaging. It uses a lot of clever devices in the framing of the story. Mainly switching between first and third person which I thought was genius. The setting is like a mixture of Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, and ASOIAF. You can see elements and pieces of every fantasy story in this book. And Rothfuss connects them with ease. Then came the character Kvothe, who is filled with attitude, talent and genius in his own way. His character growth is staggering in the story. Going from poverty to a university, then running into bag luck run along the way that eventually leads him to have a few enemies. The pacing of it all was astounding. The character is filled with flaws but he’s so damn sympathetic and charming that you can’t help but root for him.
Then there are the antagonists in the book. Kvothe’s real powerful enemy briefly appears in this book. He sits in more as a background character in this book (and hopefully returns in the later books). The main villain in this book however is a ‘school-boy’ adversary at the university who fills in for the real bad guys. And man…this student is such an asshole. Pardon my language but I really hated this guy. To me he was up there as one of the worst villian’s in Fantasy. Definitely up there next to Umbridge from Harry Potter. But not quite up there with Joffrey in ASOIAF. It’s what this character does that makes him special. The mainly backhanded remarks or just cruel actions that get in Kvothe’s way. And this is what I love about Kvothe he could stop it picking on his adversary as well, even his friends tell him to let it go. But he doesn’t because he’s too damn stubborn. It escalates to the point where both of them do obnoxious things to each other that leads to something awful. I really liked how Rofuss achieved this, it was a real highlight in the story.
The only real complaint that I had was that the story dragged on in several areas for me. Namely the first few chapters and when Kvothe is in the forest with the draccus. The ending of that mini storyline felt tangled and ended very abruptly. I know several people who loved these scenes but for me it was a drag.
Still this book is worth some of the hype. The writing is beautiful, the characters are amazing, and the ending made me instantly buy the next book. May not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s definitely a must read book for fantasy fans