My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree...
"The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
"The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know."
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.
Rothfuss creates interest and drama in the present day portion of the story that had me salivating for the next book as much as wanting to hear the rest of his story does. Like any story, he starts at the beginning when he is a young boy. We follow him from when he was part of gypsy camp (well, this worlds version of what seems like gypsies to me) to his years as a young man studying at the University. Rothfuss does an excellent job immersing the reader into Kvothe's world, we discover more and more of the world as Kvothe grows up and learns.
The magic is this story is very understated. Superstition and the supernatural play as big a part, or bigger even at this point, than any actual magic use. Readers that enjoy fantasies without heavy magic will love Rothfuss' work in this area here.
As for the plot, he doesn't follow the familiar acts and arcs some readers might be used to. Antagonists consist of students and teachers at the school and other smaller or individual challenges, though we do get a glimpse of what will probably be the main antagonists for the overall trilogy in a few places. It doesn't jump around to different points of view. The reader simply follows Kvothe's story and life as he tells how a boy became a legend.
I can't recommend this story enough. If you like George RR Martin's work or just love good fantasy in general, do yourself a favor and get hooked on this saga.