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Courtesy of DAW Books

Cover art of The Name Of The Wind, a fantasy story by Patrick Rothfuss.

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★★★★★

The Name of the Wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

DAW Books

March 2007

When I sat down to write this review, I wasn’t sure how to begin. Do I expound on how Kvothe, the protagonist of Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, is one of the deepest and truest characters I have ever seen brought to life with words? Do I extol the plots and subplots that naturally and compellingly guide Kvothe through the story?

Perhaps I should begin by acclaiming the care this wordsmith took in crafting a world so real and immersive that, even as I flipped through the pages, searching for inspiration to guide these opening sentences, I was lost again in the epic tale and had to tear myself away from the words, just to praise them in my own?

Okay, I just finished another chapter, and now I really need to finish this review. Like millions of people, the first fantasy I read was the Harry Potter series. A couple summers ago I reread the whole series, and once again enjoyed immersing myself in J.K. Rowling’s world of magic. One of the best elements of the series is that the readers get to know the main characters as they grow up, facing hardships and making new friends, over seven long novels. In fact, Kvothe’s story is similar to that of Harry’s — discovering magical talents in youth, facing tragedy at the hand of evil forces, and eventually making his way to magical high education.

However, Kvothe faces much more realistic challenges than Harry’s repetitious and predictable encounters with evil, and the character development in Harry Potter cannot hold a candle to The Name of the Wind. In seeking education, Kvothe faces abject poverty, homelessness, lost love, loan sharks, and even the strain of balancing research, classwork, and friends, which MIT students are sure to relate to. MIT readers may also enjoy the far more formulaic and experimental form of magic portrayed in this high fantasy world.

In the realm of fantasy series, I would say that The Name of the Wind is a better series than Game of Thrones, but then again, Game of Thrones unfortunately failed to capture my interest in the first chapter, so I can’t really make a fair comparison. What I can say is that I was hooked on The Name of the Wind after reading the very first page.

The life story of Kvothe is a long as it is deep, and Rothfuss does not hold back in dealing numbing despair and sorrow to Kvothe, but neither does he withhold moments of emancipating joy and sweet revenge. What emerges is a tale like an uncut gem — rough and raw, natural and priceless. Your emotions will soar with Kvothe’s triumphs, and plummet with his follies and failures.