The Name Of The Wind is a complexly woven story within a story--with a rich tapestry of lore, poetry, and lyricism reinforcing every stitch and seam. It is the origin story of a hero and a legend, in his own words...with a sort of 'setting the record straight' sense to the approach. In all accuracy, the book primarily covers a span of 5 years in the life of young Kvothe—with a majority of the tale focused on age 15-16. But while it's most certainly a coming-of-age story in its own right, it isn't specifically catering to the Young Adult audience. There is a raw, medieval-like candor to the world Rothfuss has created--and while he is tasteful in his depictions, they carry all the weight of an unforgiving reality.
I had a love/annoyance relationship with Kvothe throughout much of the story. Just when I thought I'd connected with him wholeheartedly, he'd do something prideful, stupid, impulsive, short-sighted, or otherwise foolish and leave me wanting to shake him senseless...which is a true testament to the author's capabilities, that he was able to capture male adolescence in all of its awkward lack of glory. And beyond that, it's impressive I felt immersed enough to be aggravated by the (completely justified and reasonable) flaws of the hero's younger self.
Rothfuss managed to evoke every emotion one could hope to empathize with an epic of this nature. The imagery is vivid, the prose (while sometimes a bit overindulgent) was cleanly engaging, the characterization is strong and convincing down to even the most minor side-characters... But for this reader, what truly made the book come to life was the music. The passionate, soul-stirring portrayal of music in all it's layers, depth, and mind-bypassing intricacies.
*“I don't know how to begin to criticize that. It practically mocks itself.”
*“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”
*“There are two sure ways to lose a friend, one is to borrow, the other to lend.”
I can't go quite so far as to agree that the author somehow surpasses J.R.R. Tolkien in skill and storytelling. For a debut book, it's a masterful piece. And I can see tremendous potential for this author to mature into one of the literary greats of this generation, leaving his own unique footprint. But I'm afraid those who claim he's already outdone the founding masters of the fantasy genre are doing the author a disservice—setting reader expectations excessively high and drawing more attention to the elements that may ultimately feel more borrowed homage than original conception.