The rumours are true, dear readers. Rothfuss is everything the Internet says he is: captivating, enigmatic, and different. The Name of the Wind follows Kvothe, a notorious wizard who has achieved deeds so daring and otherworldly, that he’s already become a legend in his own lifetime. But who is he, really? How did he come by his reputation and powers? How much of the legend is just threads of truth spun through the hands of would-be storytellers, and how much of it is real? Who better to tell us than the Kingkiller himself. . .
The Name of the Wind has Kvothe recount his childhood with his travelling troupe, surviving the streets of Tarbean, and eventually gaining admission into The University. Through Kvothe’s honest (not modest) tale, the readers catch a glimpse of the legend he will become.
Rothfuss’ storytelling flows like soft serve ice cream out of a dispenser. It is rich, smooth, and hard to tear your eyes from. His world building is minimal – what a relief! – yet there is never any doubt that he knows the place in which his characters walk.
The conflicts flow naturally. Once the story is set in motion – it takes a few chapters – the pacing remains unchanged, right till the end. Even the ‘climax’ passed me by, in a way that I can only describe as organic.
Kvothe is different from many protagonists in the fantasy genre. He’s a prodigy, acknowledged by himself and others. He’s not cocky, but neither is he modest. Many things that other characters struggle with come easy to Kvothe (except women). On the one hand, this makes it hard to sympathise with his character. Most readers don’t know what it’s like to have an excellent memory, inbred theatric talent, infallible logic, and a silver tongue (these are only some of Kvothe’s abilities.) On the other hand, I find Kvothe’s honest assessment of himself to be a fresh Point Of View. The tension comes not in knowing whether or not he will get himself out of the pickle barrel, but how.
As a long time fantasy reader it’s nice to see many new authors finally breaking away from the Tolkienesque style of world building and storytelling (I love Tolkien, so don’t hate). Rothfuss is definitely exploring new territory in the fantasy genre, much like George R. R. Martin, and I look forward to following the adventures of the Kingkiller.