Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
There’s a cleverness about TNOTW that isn’t in many fantasy novels. It’s almost like the tongue-in-cheek darkness of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians/The Magician King, but without Grossman’s urban/subversive take. The first in a series, Rothfuss’ novel features self-discovery and a coming-of-age story. Kvothe is a unique character: he’s confident despite years of loss and struggling; he’s got natural talent and intelligence, and his journey involves understanding the value of hard work and humility – when, of course, his silver tongue and quick wit need a boost.
I was surprised to learn this is Rothfuss’ first published work. One of the funny takeaways from a writing event I attended (and can’t remember which!) is that your first book is your worst. Rothfuss, however, crafts each chapter like an expert: the pacing works, the dialogue fits the characters, and the personalities are unique and realistic. The next book is set up well. Enough questions are answered. and new mysteries are set up for the second book. I’m eager to read about Kvothe’s shift from scholar to warrior and learn more about the fey. I’d strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy and wants something a little different.