Bookmarks Issue: 

A-The Name of the WindPatrick Rothfuss’s debut, The Name of the Wind, recounts the life of Kvothe, a mysterious figure highly skilled in the useful arts—acting, wizardry, music, thievery, and killing, among others. The world has become a restless and violent place, and Kvothe’s family, members of a theater troupe, are murdered by demonic creatures known as the Chandrian. Alone and seeking revenge, the young man raises himself from the mean streets to a position at the university. There, his powers flourish. Working incognito as an innkeeper, Kvothe narrates his story to the Chronicler, who knows his true identity.
DAW. 662 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 075640407X

Strange Horizons 4.5 of 5 Stars
"[The Name of the Wind] is a refreshingly different epic, the mostly first-person narration creating a sense of intimacy and comfort, reminding us that you don’t necessarily have to dig down into the raw neurosis of a character (or an entire cast) in order to find yourself deeply moved. By the end of the story, the rousing exploits of Rothfuss’s hero have earned the Copperfield comparison a hundred times over and Rothfuss himself, with his poetic prose and deeply empathetic vision of a world out of time, a legitimate comparison to Tolkien." Hannah Strom-Martin

Sacramento Bee 4 of 5 Stars
"The Name of the Wind is book one in a trilogy that reminds readers of what great storytelling can be. By the time the third book is published in a few years, the trilogy could well join the prestigious company of the above-named [J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Jules Verne]." Allen Pierleoni

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Because the first-person narrative is framed by scenes of Kvothe working incognito as an innkeeper, Rothfuss tips his hand that this will be no ordinary fantasy full of pointless quests and overblown drama. … The Name of the Wind runs a little too long, and Rothfuss relies too heavily on the ‘had-I-but-known’ gambit to end his chapters on a note of suspense." Michael Berry

SFFWorld 4 of 5 Stars
"When the publisher, Elizabeth Wollheim, uses as the cover of the advanced reading copy a letter proclaiming the book the best debut she’s read in thirty years, comparing Rothfuss to George R. R. Martin and Tad Williams, then you know you might be holding a special book in your hands. … The book is very good and has all the elements of greatness—characters with which the reader can empathize, a fascinating backdrop where these characters live, and the key ingredient: leaving the reader wanting for more." Rob H. Bedford

Critical Summary

Fantasy readers—a notoriously discerning group—tend to dole out praise judiciously, which makes the reception of The Name of the Wind, the first volume in Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle, that much more remarkable. Critics are already throwing around comparisons to some of the biggest names in fantasy, including George R. R. Martin, Tad Williams, the recently deceased Robert Jordan, and even Tolkien. They praise Rothfuss’s fresh take on the genre’s conventions, particularly a shifting narrative that keeps the action moving. At nearly 700 pages, The Name of the Wind isn’t meant to be knocked off in a weekend. But readers who pick up Rothfuss now—and, according to critics, that won’t be a small number—can say they knew him back when.