Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the WindThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1

Publisher:  Penguin Group (March 2007)

Wendy’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Kote is an intriguing man. To his patrons, he is merely a friendly barkeep, but some spy what lies beneath the vibrant red hair and haunted eyes. But even those who believe they know him best, do not know everything. When the Chronicler arrives, recognizing Kote as the hero of many more names and feats, he convinces the man to tell his story. A story of strange demon spiders, of the angelic woman who stole his heart, of deadly assassins, murdered kings, tragedy and loss, and the magic of the wind.

Well, those are the things I expected this 700 page book to tell me about. Instead, I got Harry Potter goes to alchemy school, but without any focus or the depth of interesting supporting characters and events that Rowlings offers along with her main protagonist.

Chronicler is skilled in shorthand, which is a good thing, since Kvothe seems to have a perfect memory and thus details every moment of his life surrounding his university life. I’m wary of the concept of first person stories that retell their life history in such perfect detail, but in this case, one of Kvothe’s many talents is his genius mind. His recall is superb, and he is a progeny in just about everything he sets his mind to. Thankfully, Rothfuss manages to balance this with tragedy that leaves Kvothe orphaned and starving on the streets, but it becomes obvious early on that Kvothe is going to make it out of anything thrown at him during this coming of age story. Oh there will be scars, both inside and out, but very little drama and suspense for the reader to enjoy. Many of the events and encounters promise of follow up, like carrots dangled before the reader, but then the carrots kind of dissolve into the wind (whose name apparently isn’t all that important).

Then there is the girl, Denna, whose beauty Kvothe takes great pains to describe to Chronicler and Kvothe’s unique companion, Bast. At one point, he likens her unto a selas flower:

“It is a deep red flower that grows on a strong vine. Its leaves are dark and delicate. They grow best in shadowy places, but the flower itself finds stray sunbeams to bloom in. There is much of you that is both shadow and light. It grows in deep forests and is rare because only skilled folk can tend one without harming it. It has a wonderous smell and is much sought and seldom found.”

Like so many things in this story, there is all this build up and promise, but very little pay off. I’m certain Denna was a perfect angel to a young boy in love, but his swooning and her eventual accompaniment on what was meant to be the climactic event of the story were rather dull.

While this book did disappoint me, I will praise Rothfuss on two things: first is the lore interjected throughout, often told by storytellers within the book, or by Kvothe himself. I found myself far more interested in these tellings than in Kvothe’s story, and would love a collection of short stories based on these alone.

I also loved Rothfuss’ obvious appreciation for music. Whether or not he himself is a musician, when he writes about music, his love for the art form fills the pages with the depth that is lacking in the rest of the story.


21 Comments on “Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

  1. I’m in the middle of reading this book now. Kvothe is a clever character and I do enjoy the authors descriptive writing style. But yes, I would like to see more action and danger.


  2. Oh yes I saw another mixed review about this one, I’m sorry that it wasn’t what you expected… Always sad to be disappointed in a book. Maybe the sequel will be better.


  3. I think I also gave 2.5 to this. Some parts of the story are nice and some of the writing is good, but overall I think he needs a skilled editor (or more discipline when self-editing). Oh, Denna… I just couldn’t. I mean the cheesiness was expected given the ages, but I just couldn’t. Not picking up the sequel unfortunately. I don’t get the hype at all tbh, I think there are so many better constructed and better written stories out there.


    • I liked his writing style well enough, but as someone mentioned above, his main character was just too Mary Sue for my tastes. And to have to sit through allllll of that to find little or no connection to whatever was promised in the beginning was very disappointing.

      Hype is a good way to keep me away from a book, but usually when I finally get to it, I can at least find some merit to the story. Not so much here. I have no interest in continuing the series.


  4. When I read this book I felt quite ambivalent about it: the story was a captivating one, but still I felt frustrated because – as you so perfectly pointed out – there was a great deal of promise of things to come, but very little in the way of delivery on those promises. Though I liked it, I kept wondering about the high praise I found online because… well… on hindsight it sounded a bit exaggerated….


    • Agreed re: exaggeration. And I’ve noticed a few reviewers that admit to inflating the rating specifically because of the hype. Few people like to go against the grain, but I’m happy to call things out for what they are. Still, if others truly enjoyed it, then power to them.


      • I did not exactly dislike it, but while it held my attention as I was reading it, once I finished I wondered what the fuss was all about. A pleasant reading indeed (if I could put aside the frustration for the lack of resolution of many narrative threads), but not the masterpiece everybody was ranting about. I guess this is the reason I have not picked up book two yet, and I wonder if I ever will….


  5. Ah well, not everyone will love every book. This book captured me though and I loved it. This is actually one of the books that hooked me on the genre, so because of that, I will always love it just a little bit more despite any flaws it may have.


  6. Huh. Maybe that’s what I liked so much about this book. I do like Potter novels. I did like Denna, but I have to agree that his panting puppy dog mantra was a little much to handle.


  7. Someone else didn’t like this book either! Sorry I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I’ve been struggling with this book all month, because almost everyone likes it and it sounds like my kind of book. The world building is fantastic, but I just can’t care about Kvothe. Nice review. 🙂


    • It’s difficult when lots of people like something and you find yourself alone on the island. Well you’re not alone. There are a few other people here in the comments that struggled with it 🙂


  8. Well at least I have the lore to look forward to. This has to be the most disappointed review of the book I’ve read. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I plan to read it someday but likely not until the series is finished because hey I’m not a rereader and the breaks between books are too long for me.


    • Hey now I had a couple positive things to say. 😛

      There have been a few highly praised books that I have been disappointed in. I don’t mind if a book doesn’t work out for me from time to time, even if others are thrilled by it. Makes for interesting conversation.


  9. Pingback: Tough Traveling: Musicians & Bards | The BiblioSanctum

  10. Pingback: Novella Review: In Midnight’s Silence by T. Frohock | The BiblioSanctum

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