This is a book that actually lives up to it's positive buzz and blurbs. Believe EVERYTHING good you hear about it because it's true. I would put this book against anything written by Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Terry Goodkind, Tad Williams or any of the heavy hitters of fantasy. If I was one of these authors I'd be looking over my shoulder at this guy coming up through the pack and learn from what he's writing.
I will do my best to keep any major spoilers out of this review, since the book isn't out until late March, but I will give some insight and talk about the story you will find when you read this book.
The Gist: This is the story of Kvothe, pronounced like "Quothe", the larger than life legend whose life has been told and retold by bards and storytellers. The problem is that the stories have taken on a life of their own. Every story has grains of truth in them, and Kvothe's story is no different.
The main story is told to The Chronicler, who happens upon an unassuming barkeep and recognizes him for who he actually is, the great and mighty Kvothe. The Chronicler wants to document Kvothe's life story, much to the protestation of Kvothe. Kvothe eventually gives in and tells the Chronicler that he will need 3 days to tell his story, the true story of his life.
Kvothe grew up as a member of the Edema Ruh, or travelling performers. After a tragic event, Kvothe spent a part of his early life as a near feral street urchin. He eventually breaks free of the poverty and downward spiral, travelling to become a student of The University, the school of magic.
The Good: Man, where to start. This is simply a great story. It's engaging, gripping, absorbing and just a plain old good read. It's a book that makes you want the next one NOW DAMMIT!
The book is a high fantasy read. The bad guys are bad and the good guys are good. This is the first book so who knows what kind of twists and turns we'll see with the other books in this series. I count this as a plus, since if I wanted something with realism I'd read something from the non-fiction section.
The details that are used to explain how Kvothe learns and does magic, or "sympathy" as it is called in the story, are intriguing. It's a premise that I haven't run across in other fantasy novels or at least how exactly it is done here. I found it to be a better explanation than "It just happens I can conjure fireballs! Eat flaming death!"
The characters themselves are intriguing and you enjoy the tidbits you find out about them even the various bit players in the story. The character of the Chronicler, who has his own little quirks, gets very little story time but was entertaining in his interactions with Kvothe. I hope to see more character development of the bit players in the future volumes but the main focus is always on Kvothe.
The Bad: I have to wait for the next book and the one after that. AUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!!!
The Ugly: Did I mention that I have to WAIT for the next books?!
The story is filled with tragedy, love, heroics, friendships and the peeling away at the grand story of a living legend. There is obviously much more going on then just this re-telling of Kvothe's life story. There is something MUCH larger looming on the horizon, but that is only hinted at in this novel.
I am eagerly awaiting the rest of this series to see where the tale will take us and the revelations of Kvothe's life.
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One), by Patrick Rothfuss
Published by: DAW Hardcover (March 26, 2007)