The Name Of The Wind was another book that intimidated me because of its length, but after rereading the whole Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke and making my way through The Final Empire I was feeling more confident about my ability to stick with a book for more than two hours, so I decided to give it a go.
At first, I wasn’t sure about this one, largely because of how the narrative is structured. Kvothe, the main character, is telling this story from some point in the future (although I don’t think we know exactly how far at this point), and as a result there are frequent interludes as he talks to his listeners, the Chronicler and his friend Bast.
This meant it took me a while to get into it, because I felt slightly detached from the story, but by the time we reached page 120 or so, I was thoroughly invested in Kvothe’s story, as seen from my Goodreads update that simply read, “Kvothe, my child.”
Kvothe’s story is tragic (murdered parents, living on the streets, and those other staples of the woebegone hero), entertaining (university shenanigans, even more exciting when there’s magic involved), exciting (death threats, dragons, mysteries) and, in an odd way, believable. Despite the fantastical setting and nature of the plot, Kvothe and his friends feel like real people.
He’s much younger than me, despite being a university student. The blurb tells us that he was expelled from university at a younger age than most people were allowed in, and so we’re dealing with a sixteen year old here, but after everything he’s been through, he seems older. At the same time, the banter and the way their relationships work seems very normal and human.
He’s also a musician, which I always like in a character, and unlike many fictional musicians, we seem him practising until his fingers are sore and calloused. A lot of his feelings about music resonated with me, particularly when he talks about hearing music but not being able to join in — after I injured my wrists and couldn’t play any of my instruments a few years ago, I can understand that exact feeling.
The interludes and discussion with Bast and the Chronicler do to a certain extent reduce some of the tension. We know that Kvothe survives long enough to tell this story. However, since he tells his tale in first person, we’d be able to guess that without them. Towards the end of the book, the interludes begin to have more of a plot of their own, and so there are two parallel stories happening.
I got so invested in the book that the last 200 pages seemed to fly by, and I got to the end wondering why there wasn’t more. (I haven’t managed to get hold of book two yet.) I’ve actually been thinking about it since I finished it — I want to hear more about Kvothe’s adventures at university. I want to know why he got expelled, since that hasn’t happened yet. We also don’t know yet how he met Bast, and I’m seriously intrigued by that, for reasons I won’t explain here because of spoilers.
And, as a friend of mine who works in an academic library commented, I liked how the Archives of the university function like an actual library, overwhelming bureaucracy and cataloguing civil wars and all. That just made it a bit more fun to read about.
From what I’ve heard, book three still doesn’t exist, so I’m trying to hold myself back from devouring book two as quickly as I gobbled up this one. I don’t want to have to wait for months and months until I can know what happens next! There are so many questions left unanswered at the end here, and it’s very clearly not a standalone novel, but we still see a huge amount of character development and plot and stuff within this book.
If I’d loved it from the beginning, or it didn’t feel quite so incomplete without its sequels, this would get five stars. However, the structure put me off for a while, and I wish a few more things had been resolved by the time it finished, so I’m giving it four.
Nonetheless, I really liked this book, overwhelming length aside.