Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2018
This is one of the worst books I have ever read.
I went into it optimistic: I like fantasy, I’m intrigued by magic systems in books, and I had heard good things. I especially heard good things about Rothfuss’s prose.
The story lacks narrative tension; the breaking up of chapters is inconsistent and distracting; the main character is poorly developed; the prose is obtuse. I truly believe that there is almost nothing of redeeming value in this book.
The story follows Kvothe, a fabulously talented musician, accomplished actor, master magician, and astute fighter. He is also handsome, has a great baritone, and knows how to survive in the woods. He is romantic, fierce, brilliant, and wise. Kvothe is not bad at anything. Kvothe excels at whatever he does. And it is not just that he does well --- he does well quickly, much to amazement of others, and he does well with little effort. There is no real struggle for just about anything. Even tragedy is essentially just a stepping stone to Kvothe's brilliance. When he falls in love, it is not just with a beautiful woman. It is with the most beautiful, most brilliant woman. He is clever to the extreme, and all others can recognize this. As a reader, you start wondering what the point is -- why should I care about this character? Why him? What flaws make him relatable? What does he accomplish, if everything is so easy?
Rothfuss is described as a poet by some reviewers. Maybe this is true, but it is very bad poetry. Adding modifiers doesn't make a sentence beautiful, and not every scene deserves an extended description.
Rothfuss relies on a number of odd plot devices. I counted at least four instances of a character falling, hitting his head, blacking out, and waking up a few hours later to then be filled in about what happened. The world of The Name of the Wind is populated by people with chronic head trauma.