These are two of the covers for this excellent fantasy book Jon gave me as a reading gift. It took me a while to get to it but once I did I loved it. I'm not a fan of fantasy and would tend to pass by these 2 covers on the shelf - reject them solely because of their outside jackets and genres. Glad I read and reviewed this one.
“The Name of the Wind”
Patrick Rothfuss is a new fantasy author – and he is fantastic. I do not use this adjective carelessly but intentionally. “The Name of the Wind” is his debut novel and winner of the Quill Award among other prestigious awards for excellence in writing. Rothfuss engages us in a story that feels familiar yet magical. We know that this world has never existed but we believe it did. Characters and props like an inn keeper and his roadside tavern place us comfortably in a well-known setting. We can visualize the ancient wood beams blackened by nightly fires in the hearth. We can smell the musty wool cloak of a traveler as he is refreshed by a pint of bitter ale in a pewter mug. And when the inn keeper tells us he is not what he seems to be, but a hero with hidden magical powers, we believe him.
“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make minstrels weep,” explains Kvothe, now known as Kote the owner of the Waystone Inn. Kvoth is in hiding with his equally mysterious associate Bast. When Chronicler arrives, Kvothe is persuaded to tell his life story for the writer of legends. He promises to talk for the rest of the day, if Chronicler will not interrupt with questions. And so the tale begins.
Changing from third-person to first person narrative is a very effective style for the reader to understand the main character and his motives. Most epic fantasies are not told through the eyes of only one character but I enjoyed this constricted perspective. The author now takes us to Kvothe’s childhood as the beloved son of a troupe of traveling actors and musicians. He is (according to his own description) a talented mimic and quick to learn dialogue and music. When a mystical conjurer joins their band of travelers, Kvothe is tutored in magic and legends and demonstrates an amazing ability to understand this new art form. Tragic events soon set the young boy on a path of despair and revenge. Since this is the first book of a trilogy we are necessarily left hanging at the end of the day and the end of the book.
Rothfuss is adept at weaving humor and pathos into his fantasy tale. His hero Kvothe is brilliant, but deeply flawed. Consequently his youthful escapades cause us to laugh and despair at the same time. The author confesses to a love of Tolkien, but generally it is a work of fresh and original fantasy fiction from a fantastic new author.