Who tells a hero’s tale?
We’ve had heroes since the dawn of time--from Achilles and Odysseus to Frodo and St. George, they’ve always been around to kill dragons and fight evil. But telling their own stories has never really numbered among their feats (almost as if storytelling were not a heroic skill, though Scheherazade would probably beg to differ). A blind bard sang of Odysseus’ peregrinations, Virgil paid homage to the founder of Rome, and, in our day, Tolkien told of Frodo and Bilbo. How different would our favorite stories have been if Luke Skywalker had been the one narrating his battle against the evil Empire? If Odysseus had been the one to brag about his deeds?
Kvothe, however, is an exception even among heroes. The man who’s talked to Gods, made the minstrels weep, and learned the name of the wind has managed a feat that few other heroes succeeded at: telling his own story. And, as a result, we get The Name of the Wind, which Patrick Rothfuss likes to call a hero’s story told from backstage.
The tale begins–insofar as one can say that something begins anywhere, because, as Rothfuss has made abundantly clear in his book, the beginning of a story is really hard to find–in a darkened inn, in a nondescript town in an unnamed magical land. An enthusiastic Chronicler, the one who’s debunked the myths about dragons and wants to find the truths behind legends, finds the red-haired man they once called Kvothe now hiding as an innkeeper by the name of Kote. Over three days (one day per book, with The Name of the Wind being the first of three), Kvothe tells his story.