The best way I can describe how it felt like when I read “The Name of the Wind,” the first book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle series, is that scene in William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride” — the one where the sick boy urges his grandfather to keep on reading.
It’s been a while since I’ve found an adventure quite like this — a page turner so engrossing that it consumes me entirely.
It’s broken heart is Kvothe, an unassuming barkeeper with vivid red hair and ever-changing greenish-colored eyes.
Kvothe’s story is illustrated in two parts: the past and the present — nestled inside each other like Penrose steps.
In the present, Kvothe is a haunted man, quietly trading stories to a traveling writer while hiding from the inevitable hellhounds.
But even as Kvothe tries to escape his past, it sweeps him up and defines him.
In the past, Kvothe was a myth more than a man — a thief who survived the cruelest of conditions, escaping caves of cyclopes beneath the bellies of sheep. Kvothe was a candle burning from both ends — a child prodigy who’s lived lifetimes within days.
Now within days, Kvothe narrates the stories of his lifetime: The stories he’s heard, stored and made.
“The Name of the Wind” is a minstrel’s song like Homer’s “Iliad or “Odyssey” — a clever and epic tale promising magic, fighting, torture, poison, true love, revenge, joy, sorrow, songs, heroes, villains, bullies, monsters, women, bandits, knights, patrons, kings, singers, tinkers, princesses, mercenaries, demons, fairies, pain, poetry, poverty, shipwreck, debt, lies, truths, passions, and miracles.
This story more delivers on its promises.