The Name of the Wind is a book that I have wanted to read for years, but simply hadn’t gotten around to actually reading it. The reason for my procrastination was… Well, actually, there was no reason. I knew the book is highly rated, I knew I wanted to read it at some point, but I just never put it to the top of the pile of books I was reading. Having now read the book, I feel like an idiot for not reading it sooner.
It is not often books start with the hero waiting out his days as the owner of a tavern in a small town, but that is precisely where this book starts. A mysterious man, who goes by the name Kote, runs an inn with his assistant Bast. The inn, while popular with some of the locals, does not get much other foot traffic. The roads are becoming increasingly dangerous for travelers. Bandits and demons prey on those foolish enough to travel. It is one such traveler that prompts the true beginning of the story, a man known as the Chronicler. He recognizes Kote for who he truly is. Kvothe. A man surrounded by so many fantastical tales that hardly any know the truth to them. Kvothe, after much prompting, agrees to tell his story. He will need three days, he tells the Chronicler. While the Chronicler is surprised it will take Kvothe so long to prepare the story, he is happy to get it at all. Kvothe corrects him; he needs three days to tell his story. And thus, the Chronicler takes up his pen, and Kvothe begins to tell the fantastical story of his life.
While this story, on the surface, is simply a telling of the life journey of the legend named Kvothe, there are many layers to this book. There are many stories woven into the fabric of Kvothe’s life, many of which are not his own. These stories, which show up in songs and tales and books within the book, build the world around the main character beautifully. The reader gets to experience learning about the tales and history of the world as Kvothe learns them. This is only the first part of the story; there is still much to learn about Kvothe and his life. The story breaks for the second book after the first day of the telling, leaving the reader with many questions about Kvothe’s past and present. It is not quite a cliffhanger, but it leaves the reader wanting more.
Kvothe as a character is interesting. While intelligent, he is not unrelatable. His quick wit and sharp tongue make for a unique sense of humor, one that I greatly appreciate. He is traumatized from events in his youth, and it shows. The relationships that he speaks of in his telling of his life, both with his friends and his enemies, are largely affected by his wit and the negative few years before he attended the University. Many of the characters that Kvothe kept company with in his youth are eccentric and mysterious characters in their own right, particularly Denna, who flits in and out of his life like a leaf dancing in and out of the forest on the wind. The reader knows little of the company Kvothe currently keeps, Bast, or of the man who is recording Kvothe’s story, but they show to be fascinating characters from the brief glimpses the reader sees of them.
This book’s many accolades are well deserved. It is a fantastic story that sets you up wonderfully for the second book. I would highly recommend it for its wonderful story, but I’m sure there will be some who don’t necessarily like things like the humor of the book.