Posted on September 22, 2008 by Flames
The name of the Wind is the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles. The story revolves around an owner of a backwoods tavern named Kote. He is a man previously known as Kvothe, and for the most part he just wants to be left alone. Yet, Kvothe is a man of mystery and legend. A man that if some people knew where he was, would be killed. A man that has does extraordinary things. A man tracks him down and for the first time, Kvothe is willing to have his story told.
This is one of the better fantasy novels I have ever read and definitely the best I have read in quite some time. I can barely believe this is his first novel, since some people can go years and never write something this well. From the moment it started I was hooked into the story and the he told it. I am normally not a huge fan of stories told in first person, but this was masterfully done.
The story revolves around the life of Kvothe. In the first book it deals with his childhood and the after effects of his parents being murdered by the Chandrion, demons of legend. His life is forever shaped by this moment and he spends a lot of his childhood trying to find information about them.
As I said, the story is about Kvothe. His life. His triumphs. His love. And eventually his fall, I would imagine. Told from his perspective it was a very interesting story. Nothing felt left out of his childhood, or at least it felt that way. From how he was in shock after the death of his troupe (this includes his parents), to him living on the streets and barely managing to survive. I always felt like I could really understand what he was going through. I really connected with the character and his struggles.
The story goes on to where he eventually joins the University and all that entailed. This includes making friends, making an enemy of Ambrose, his love interest, and his everyday life at the University.
The good. Kvothe. He was very well written. As I said you really got to see his life. From the exceptional things he could accomplish, to the childish things he would do because of his age and inexperience. It was nice to see how music was such a part of his life. That (at least to me) is not something you see in the “hero journey” that most fantasy novels take you on. It was different and that really helped in a lot of ways.
His relationship with Denna was interesting. It was the oddest love story I have seen in a while, because nothing ever really happens. It is obvious they are both into each other, but Kvothe is so inexperienced in this regard that he never really can make a move. She is a mystery as well, since she comes and goes like the “wind”. He can never really find her, and when he does, she is normally with another man. It is hard to really tell where her part of this is going, but at some point I think they will definitely be together and it will be explosive to say the least.
I especially enjoyed Kvothe when was a small child. He was part of the traveling troupe that entertained the country. His father was a singer of some fame and as a child; Kvothe was learning the trade as well. This all changed when the Arcanist joined the troupe. He was a man of magic and Kvothe saw him call the wind and it answered to scare off a constable and mayor of a small town. It was then that Kvothe knew he wanted to learn the magic of the arcane. He learns from the Arcanist, as much as he can before the Arcanist moves on. Then the entire troupe is killed because Kvothe’s father was writing a song about the Chandrion and asked too many questions.
The writing style has such a sense of flow to it. I want to say it was almost lyrical in the way it was written, but I am not really sure if that is what I mean or not. It is a pretty good size book, but one you got going, the pages flew by in such a torrid pace. People do not write first novels this well. I read this in three days and am disappointed that I have nothing else of Kvothe to read.
Back to Denna. I really liked how it was the un-romance story. It never truly happened. That is so different from most fantasy novels. You keep thinking, maybe they will finally get together….and no. It was a bit frustrating and very cool at the same time. It is nice to see someone do different things in their novels. Denna is awesome.
The feud with Ambrose is good. He is such a jackass and I want Kvothe to beat him senseless. But he also has something that Kvothe cannot really fight against. Money. And A LOT of it. That is a trump card in a lot of situations and one that gets him out of trouble on more than one occasion.
A different look at magic. It was a bit confusing at times, but the magic in this world was very cool. I especially liked it when Kvothe made his teacher look bad when he first joined the university (in his defense Hemme was a jerk and just wanted to humiliate him). By linking the magic to the teacher’s hair, he was able to “burn” him a bit. He got in trouble for it, but it was funny.
The bad. I really had to think on this one. But I have a few small things.
I would have liked to see more of his friends at the University. So much was spent on his search for information on the Chandrion and his relationship with Denna, that it would have been nice to see more of his friends.
As much as I liked Denna, when he went to Trebon and found here there, the story did get a bit slow for a bit. There were some interesting things that happened there, but it did drag a bit.
The ugly. The barbaric act of lashing the students if they broke the rules. Ouch.
My rating. Pushing the cusp of greatness. 9.5 out of 10. This was one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read and I have read quite a few of them. It was engaging and thought provoking and I am damn excited about the next volume that comes out next April. Read this!
Review by Stacey Chancellor
Look for more fantasy fiction at DrivethruFantasy.com.