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Book Review: The Name of the Wind

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

It’s been a minute.

Losing my brother Rick was the hardest thing I’ve experienced in my life. So I took a lot of time away. I muddled through my work, did my best to hang on through the holidays, and spent as much time as I could with family. I took a lot of walks. Did a lot of yoga. Hunkered down to heal, and part of that healing came from reading and specifically NOT writing. Writing, at least for me, requires a connection to my emotions, and I just could not go there.

Rick had three books on his bedside table. I picked them up when we gathered his belongings:

The Lord of the Rings

Duncton Wood

The Name of the Wind

The first two I have read, but I was unfamiliar with the last. So, one evening a few weeks after his death, I opened it, perhaps to connect with him, with who he was when he died, with something that he’d touched and looked at and given his attention to.

The Name of the Wind is by Patrick Rothfuss, an American writer from Wisconsin. Published in March 2007, it won the Quill Award and made the New York Times Bestseller list and received some high praise. The story follows the main character Kvothe and takes place in a fantasy world of magic, rivalry, and mystery. This book is the first of what the author touts as a trilogy, although only Book 2, The Wise Man’s Fear, is currently available.

Kvothe narrates his life story, which begins a member of a traveling troupe of poets, musicians, and performers. His father is a master musician who, early in the book, composes a song about a legend that hits too close to the truth for some members of the magical world. They murder the entire troupe (except for Kvothe, conveniently gathering wood or something), and Kvothe is forced to scratch out a living as a best he can. We follow his journey as a thief, a musician, and eventually a student at, you guessed it, a school for magic. There, he hones his magical skills and gathers knowledge about the Chandrian, an elusive group who Kvothe believes killed his family. For the most part, his drive is revenge on those who destroyed his childhood.

The book is a good read. Rick and I often disagreed on fantasy; he adored Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and read every single one of the 14 books in the series.

I struggled to get through the first book and gave up at Book 3, The Dragon Reborn, after Rick assured me I’d done enough.

Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind reminded me a bit of Jordan. His world building is intriguing, and his world’s mythos is an interesting play on some familiar territory. Like Jordan, Rothfuss also tends to repeat himself. For example, Kvothe naturally falls in love with the Most Beautiful Woman in the World™, and we are reminded of this MANY times. He’s also a bit of a Mary Sue. When he was a child, Kvothe was an AMAZING musician. When he had to survive on the streets of the Big City, he was an AMAZING thief. When he interviewed for a coveted position in the university, he was AMAZING. If Kvothe has flaws, I guess it’s that he’s just TOO AMAZING. I also don’t think Rothfuss writes women all that well, and in this case, he could take a few cues from Jordan.

No matter. I was almost reluctant to finish the book; I believe I put reading the last few chapters off. I didn’t want to let it go. I looked forward to holding it in my hands, turning its pages, remembering where it sat next to where my brother slept. It’s just the type of book he would enjoy. It was very Rick.

Reading it gave me some peace during a pretty dark time.

While I wouldn’t count The Name of the Wind as any breakthrough addition to the fantasy genre, it will always hold a certain place in my heart among the many artifacts of my brother’s wonderful but too short life.

3/5 stars

Purchase the book through the Author's website:

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