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Book Review - The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - go ahead and get the flatulence jokes out of the way, you'll feel better. Now, a brief review of one of the most promising first novels to come out in the Fantasy realm in many years. This is the story of the hero Kvothe, through his own eyes.  The story begins with Kvothe, many years after his most famous exploits, under personal exile as a tavern owner. He is recognized by a traveling chronicler who convinces him to tell his story and the telling is where the bulk of this story lies. It's an interesting story device since the juxtaposition between "now" and "then" actually works on multiple levels, slowly revealing important points while adding to the suspense since although we know he must have survived the "then" story, we have no idea where the "now" story may finish.

Kvothe begins life as member of a traveling group of actors and minstrels.  He possesses a tremendous gift for learning all manner of things quickly and is well trained in a variety of disciplines by his parents and other members of his troupe. His troupes chance encounter with a former member of the Arcanum (a higher order within the University, the realms highest center of magical and scientific learning) exposes young Kvothe to a wealth of new knowledge, some of which is very dangerous. Partially learning the "name of the wind" is one of the most difficult and dangerous bits of knowledge he is exposed to by the Arcanist.  His idyllic childhood is abruptly interrupted by a tragic event which will shape the arc of his subsequent life. He eventually finds his way to the University and the story concludes with him still a student. Along the way are many trials and tribulations, friends, enemies, arcane knowledge, scientific discoveries, all told in a first person narration style that draws you completely into the story.

This is one those books that you read in a few sittings and decide to skip television and the internet for a few days until you finish it. Sadly, the second novel isn't due for release until March 2011 which means it will probably be 2015 or later before the series concludes. This is just a very satisfying read; Kvothe is a very appealing character who is equal parts brilliant, brave, funny, shy and ultimately is a very convincing, complex character that isn't the typical cutout hero. Fans of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan will eat this up and even J.K. Rowling fans who want something more adult will enjoy this as well. Highly recommended.