Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind.

NY: DAW, 2007.

I’ve been hearing good things about this author’s first fantasy novel, the first third of a trilogy, but I was delaying until the whole thing had been published so I wouldn’t have to wait between volumes to see what happens next. But the third volume has been very slow to appear, so I finally gave up and jumped in, and I’m glad I did. It’s an amazing book for any author, but even more so for a first book.

It’s the epic (and I use that word deliberately) life story of Kvothe (“Sounds like Quoth”), now a middle-aged innkeeper in a small, nowhere town, but in his earlier life the literal stuff of legends — the man known as “Kingkiller.” He’s mostly hiding out these days, aided by Bast, his nonhuman student, assistant, and acolyte. Except that the demons — the Chandrian — are reappearing and there aren’t many who can fight them successfully except Kvothe. But then the Chronicler tracks him down, and he wants a story. Kvothe’s story, specifically. And so the innkeeper decides it’s time to tell the storyteller who he really is and where he came from and how he got there, beginning with his earliest days as part of the Edema Ruh, a Gypsy-like troupe of entertainers. And then the destruction of his family and his world. And then his several years living on the streets of the largest city around. And then his entrance into the university at the age of fifteen. And his meeting with Denna, the woman around whom much of his life will revolve. But mostly it’s the story of Kvothe’s off-again-on-again training in the Arcana and in the deeper magic of Names. Because that’s where the power is. And more than anything, Kvothe wants to gain the power to revenge the murder of his family.

The author throws in enough foreshadowing that you know at the end of this first lengthy volume — Kvothe is still only about seventeen — that there’s much, much more to come. I’m ordinarily a fast reader by nature, but this is one to take your time with. Every single page of the story is absorbing and you’ll want to take it all in slowly. Rothfuss’s skill at worldbuilding is also superior and internally consistent, so Kvothe’s world will surround you and suck you right in. And the next volume is waiting.

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