Kvothe is the hero of a hundred tall tales, a larger-than-life figure with power, intelligence, and bravery to spare. So why is he pretending to be an innkeeper in a rural village in the middle of nowhere, while everyone thinks he’s dead? And why are there creatures straight out of the old tales, creatures that no one believes in anymore, coming after him?
Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, Day One of the Kingkiller Chronicles, is a story within a story. The past unfolds from Kvothe’s own mouth as he relates his tale to a bard who’s tracked him down, and the present frames it. In the present, a few clues gather, but only days pass—and in the past, Kvothe’s life spins out from idyllic childhood as the son of traveling players, through tragedy and madness as an orphan on the streets, and into the University, the great school of knowledge and magic. Rothfuss uses Kvothe’s self-awareness and background in drama to explore the gap between reality and legend, hero and man.
Kvothe the younger is brilliant, precocious, and deeply scarred by his losses. Kvothe the elder is a cipher, a bit two-dimensional, and not all that engaging. Fortunately, we see very little of the elder. I’m hoping that as the tale progresses in books two and three, he will come into clearer focus as his past catches up with him.
Our library system has books one and two, The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear. Book three is due for publication in March of this year.