Read a full summary of The Name of the Wind, book #1 of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Name of the Wind, then you are in the right place!
The Kingkiller Chronicle
#1 The Name of the Wind
#2 The Wise Man’s Fear
#3 The Doors of Stone
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Name of the Wind?
A man who calls himself Chronicler recognizes Kvothe is not just a simple innkeeper and asks to record his story. Kvothe’s apprentice Bast, who’s Fae, also hopes to hear the life story, at least some of which he seems to already know. Kvothe reluctantly agrees and begins to tell the men about his life, beginning in his youth.
Kvothe’s parents were part of a talented traveling acting troupe called the Edema Ruh. They were very much in love and were doting parents on their only child. A man named Abenthy (Ben) joins their traveling party for a while and teaches Kvothe many things, including the beginnings of magic.
One day, Kvothe overhears Ben asking his parents about his talents and genius and how they exceed those of anyone he’s ever met, especially for Kvothe’s age. He mentions the boy should eventually go to the University. It’s something Kvothe has never dreamed of and suddenly longs for.
Ben eventually falls in love and leaves the group. Not long after, all the actors in the troupe, including Kvothe’s parents, are robbed and murdered while Kvothe is spending an afternoon in the woods. He comes across the killers, men from the almost mythical country of Chandria, when he leaves his dead parents and friends behind.
Kvothe wanders in the forest with barely enough to eat for months. He’s obsessed with playing his father’s lute, one of the only personal possessions he left with. When the lute’s strings begin to break, Kvothe travels to a city called Tarbean to hunt for replacements. He stays in Tarbean, continues to nearly starve, and has run-ins with local children. He also experiences small kindnesses from strangers here and there.
The kindest person he runs into is Trapis, a middle-aged-looking man who cares for those in the city who no one else will. When Kvothe has nowhere else to go, he knows he can count on Trapis. This is with whom he seeks refuge when he contracts a fever so high he can’t care for himself.
When Kvothe recovers, he hears from passersby that Skarpi the storyteller is in a local tavern. When Kvothe recognizes the men who mentioned Skarpi as possibly Chandrian, he follows them. They are coming to arrest Skarpi for the stories he’s told about them.
This sparks a memory Kvothe had buried: The Chandrian he’d found in the forest said his parents’ acting troupe was murdered because of a song his father was writing. It was taking longer than any other for his father to write, and, with his wife’s help, it was going to be his masterpiece. The song must’ve conveyed some long lost truth about the Chandrian because many people know a part of the Chandrian myth but are never harmed. Kvothe longs to ask Skarpi to tell him what he knows about the Chandrian, but Skarpi is arrested before he gets a chance to ask all of his questions, including those about Lanre, the leader of the Chandrian who Skarpi has referenced.
That night, Kvothe sees the inscription in the book Ben gave him—Rhetoric and Logic—about going to the University and not forgetting his father’s song. He determines he must study the Chandrian and then find those who fight against them and lend his help to defeat them. He must trade his last valuable possession—the book from Ben—for enough money for food, a bath, clothes, and everything he’ll need to try to get into the University.
Kvothe is fifteen at this point, and he pays to travel with a group which is going to an area close to the University. He meets Denna in this group, a beautiful girl with whom he enjoys talking. She’s the first girl he’s ever liked. But when they get close to the city that houses the University, he leaves her behind to begin his mission.
Kvothe finds the University grounds in the middle of the city, and finally he has a stroke of luck. The day is the last one in which he can apply for entrance for the next year’s studies. Kvothe eavesdrops on some of the other applicants and then nails his interview, promptly answering questions from professors of every discipline. He knew the answers to all the questions anyway but knows his tuition will be based on how much he impresses the team of educators: the more impressive Kvothe is, the less his tuition will be. So he eavesdrops to be able to answer quickly because most of the questions are variations of the same ones asked of other applicants.
Kvothe makes one last appeal in his closing remarks for cheap or free tuition. After a lengthy, quiet discussion, the masters assign him negative three talents. This means Kvothe will get paid to go to the University with one stipulation: They must be able to verify what he’s saying about Abenthy being his first instructor. One of the professors is traveling to the town where Kvothe pawned the book to check on its inscription from Ben to Kvothe on the title page.
Classes begin, and Kvothe offends Master Hemme when he says his class is great for beginners, indicating he already knows the material. Master Hemme has Kvothe teach a lesson on sympathy magic during the next class period. Kvothe does so by demonstrating on Hemme.
Because of these actions, Kvothe is soon brought before the Chancellor and the eight masters for a trial of sorts. Master Hemme hasn’t told the whole story. When Kvothe reveals he acted at the teacher’s request, the charges against him are changed to lesser ones. He’ll still receive lashes, but not as many.
Kvothe boldly asks for permission to enter the Arcanum now based on the abilities he demonstrated. The masters vote on it, and the measure passes. He’s admitted much earlier than he could’ve ever hoped. The flipside to this victory is his public lashing.
Kvote secretly took an anesthetic before the lashing to help with pain and bleeding. When he goes to the physicker for wound treatment, the man realizes what Kvothe took but decides to remain silent about it.
Kvothe goes to the library wanting to get into the Archives that only Arcanum students are allowed to see. He wants to research the Chandrian and Lanre. A student worker named Ambrose tricks him into taking a candle into the Archives, and Kvothe gets banned from the library for an indeterminate period.
At dinner, Kvothe’s friends say he’s crossed the wrong student in Ambrose. He’s the firstborn of a wealthy lord. He seems to be a lifetime student bent on making certain people’s lives miserable.
Kvothe takes a trip to the crockery with Elodin, who he wishes would be his patron. Elodin begins to test him, at one point tempting him to jump off the balcony and trust he’ll help Kvothe land softly. He also says he’ll answer three questions, the third of which Kvothe uses to ask Elodin to be his patron. Elodin won’t, so Kvothe ends up studying at the Medica and working at the Artificery (Fishery) instead.
Kvothe has made two true friends: Wilem (Wil) and Simmon (Sim). At this point in the story, Kvothe mentions during the interlude that he’s getting ready to start the part of the story with the woman.
So Kvothe starts telling about his second term at the University. He did well his first term, including on his exams, and he isn’t paid to go to school again; this time he’s charged three talents. He doesn’t have this kind of money, so he has to go to Devi in Imre for a loan. He doesn’t want to pay the 50 percent interest every two months and especially doesn’t want to leave his blood as collateral. So Kvothe leaves, but then he lusts after a lute in a pawn shop next door. He then goes back for the loan, which will cover tuition and room and board for the semester as well as the cost of the lute.
Kvothe is very busy with his heavy load of work and studies. He has no money and little time to spend with Wil and Sim. Yet it touches Kvothe that they miss him.
He has a duel with Fenton. Because of the link Kvothe chooses to use with the candles his opponent chooses, the odds are stacked against him at 11-1. He has to win because he’s secretly had a friend place enough money on himself to cover the interest on his loan if he wins.
Kvothe spends any free time practicing his lute for and taking food to Auri, a girl he discovered living in the caverns beneath the University. He’s been playing the lute enough to regain his former skill, so he goes to the bar to try to win his talent pipes from the proprietor. It will be tough because the pipes only go to the best musicians. But if he can gain them, it ensures respect from all.
Kvothe decides to play the most difficult song—Savien and Aloine—made even more difficult in that he must rely on a young lady from the audience to join him to round the song out at the end. Despite a string breaking on his lute during his song (because of Ambrose, he suspects), Kvothe is a resounding hit. He earns his talent pipes pin and congratulations from everyone there.
Kvothe leaves those lined up to praise him to hunt for his Aloine, the haunting voice that joined him from the crowd during the song. He wasn’t able to find her in the crowd. He’s almost given up hope when he runs into Denna. It was her! She doesn’t seem to recognize him, so Kvothe acts like he doesn’t know her. They have a sweet, playful exchange until Kvothe’s friend Savoy comes to claim Denna, his date. Before Kvothe leaves, they exchange names. She says hers is Diane.
Kvothe writes a scathing song about Ambrose, and he gets in trouble at school when Ambrose reveals this to their masters. Kvothe’s sentence is to write an open letter of apology. Ambrose also gets him kicked out of his room at the Horse and Four and makes it impossible for Kvothe to find any reputable place to stay in town.
He finally finds a proprietor-owned tavern called the Ankers. The owner says Ambrose can’t do anything to him or to the type of patron who frequents his tavern, so he offers to let Kvothe stay in a tiny room and have meals simply for playing the lute several times per week in the tavern. He says it’s been without music for far too long.
Kvothe goes overboard and gets snarky with his letter of apology to Ambrose. The boy hates him all the more for it.
In his third term, Kvothe lightens his load a bit, taking only three classes. But he still works hard, including at his job for Kilvin. He’s still not been able to score a patron. He spends a lot of time with Denna, losing track of time as they walk and talk. He’s still afraid to kiss her.
One day, he misses a date with Denna to save Fela from a fire at the Fishery. He rescues the girl but ends up experiencing smoke inhalation and suffers burns. He doesn’t see Denna for days, and then she finally resurfaces at the worst possible time: when Fela is giving Kvothe a gift for saving his life, wrapping a new cloak around his shoulders. Denna abruptly leaves, and Kvothe can’t abandon Fela to run after her.
It soon occurs to Kvothe that smoke from the fire might’ve affected Auri’s subterranean home. He’s relieved when he finds her alive, well, and unharmed.
Kvothe hears rumors that some Chandrian are in Trebon, a town about 70 miles away. If there’s any chance a group of them is truly that close, Kvothe feels compelled to go investigate. After a little convincing, he gets a huge loan from Devi and uses it to purchase a good horse and saddle as well as the gear he’ll need for the journey.
When Kvothe makes it to Trebon, he inquires about the incident at the wedding he’s heard rumors about, the one he wonders whether the Chandrian were involved in. The man at the bar directs Kvothe to the only survivor. Unbelievably, it’s Denna.
When she left the university town, it was with a man who she met while waiting for Kvothe for their date. It’s an older man who offered to be her patron. He’s treated her well and taught her much. They were at the wedding at Barrow Hill the previous night when everything went wrong. Her patron disappeared, and as far as Denna knows, she’s the only survivor of the fire.
Kvothe and Denna go out to Barrow Hill to investigate and to look for a few items she left behind. She claims the fire was blue (aka magic fire), but the damage is so devastating that it triggers something in Kvothe’s mind. The remains of the house look very much like the remains of the Edema Ruh when his parents were murdered all those years ago. Kvothe pairs this knowledge with that of a pig herder with whom they share a meal in the forest. He decides it’s likely the Chandrian were involved.
As they eat dinner, Kvothe pulls the story of Barrow Hill out of the man. Apparently the father of the bride owned the property on which they held the wedding, and he had been pulling stones out of the ground to build the structures on the property. Locals believed the stones were from underground graves (barrows), but Kvothe knows what a true barrow looks like, and that’s not what the stones on the structures looked like. He believes they were brought in from somewhere else and buried there. The man then reveals the father of the bride recently made some big discovery—a treasure of sorts—as he was digging for more stones.
The man also mentions seeing blue lights in the forest two nights ago, the night before the wedding. Kvothe and Denna go back to the property to set up camp for the night. They end up at a high point on the property and see blue lights in the distance for themselves. As they talk about the possibility of Chandrian involvement, they piece together a likely scenario. The land owner must’ve dug up something of importance to the Chandrian, and they must’ve attacked during the wedding because that would wipe away anyone close to the man, that is, anyone who might have knowledge of his discovery. Just like they did with the Edema Ruh, the Chandrian made sure there were no survivors with unwanted knowledge of them.
Denna heard something during her watch, and they can make out a large creature coming toward them. They escape to watch from afar. It’s a dragon, and it was attracted by their fire. It rolls around in it until it’s snuffed out. They watch it until it lumbers away from their camp, and then they go back to sleep.
They investigate their camp in the morning and notice the dragon has eaten many trees and rocks. Kvothe explains the trees are for iron to fortify his scales and the rocks are to help crush and digest his food in his stomach. They continue their journey and come across another destroyed homestead. Denna thinks the damage here is different than that at the wedding, and Kvothe has to agree. They hear something lumbering in the woods nearby and escape to a lookout perched on top of a rock. They shimmy through a crevice and climb the makeshift ladder someone placed there. The dragon approaches and scratches over the claw marks it’s already made there.
Denna accidentally eats a poisoned resin that’s used to make a popular illegal drug. It was being produced at this homestead that was attacked. Kvothe has Denna eat charcoal to try to absorb the chemical in her stomach. Kvothe watches her closely in the coming hours to see how much got into her system based on her behavior. Then it occurs to them that’s why the dragon was acting vicious and out of character: It is addicted to the resin. They will need to kill it because of this.
They decide to lure it in with the remaining resin. Kvothe tries to calculate how much would be a lethal dose for a creature that large, and they set out much more than that. They light a fire to lure the dragon in. The effects of the resin are taking hold of Denna, and she says a couple of things that indicate she might have feelings for Kvothe. He either doesn’t comprehend her words or assumes they’re not true since she’s under the influence. They lie side by side at Denna’s request to stay warm.
The dragon finally comes and eats the resin. Nothing happens, and Kvothe is confused. Then he sees another fire in the distance: It’s the harvest festival at Trebon. Kvothe knows he has to go there to try to stop the dragon. He makes sure Denna can’t roll off of their stone perch in her stupor and heads for the town. Trebon is already ablaze when Kvothe arrives. Using magic several times, he’s able to eventually fell the dragon, but he’s injured and drained.
Kvothe awakes in the tavern, treated and bandaged. He immediately inquires after Denna. No one has seen her. After being questioned by town lawmen, he rushes out to their campsite. Denna is nowhere to be found. He feels in his gut that she’s gone but leaves a note telling her he’ll stay in town for one day to wait for her.
A girl comes to the tavern to tell him the one explanation Kvothe had asked the lawmen for: what they were digging for on the wedding property. It’s a big, fancy pot with Chandrian pictures and words on it. When she mentions pictures of people, Kvothe asks whether there was one of a man with white hair and black eyes. The girl shivers and affirms Kvothe’s suspicions.
Kvothe goes back to school, knowing he’ll have to explain his absence to his teachers and friends. He gives his friends a more detailed explanation than he gives the masters.
Kvothe runs into Denna by chance. Her reaction is different than what he’d expected: She’s delighted to see him and asks where in the world he’s been. Then he notices she’s with another man: Lentaren. He’s handsome and charming and obviously wealthy. Kvothe and Denna promise to meet up soon before she departs with Lentaren.
When Kvothe finds Wil and Sim nearby, he sits down to visit. They soon notice his lute is missing. Ambrose has stolen it and plays it while he sings a silly verse making fun of Kvothe. Then he tosses the lute to Kvothe. The instrument flies clumsily, and Kvothe can’t catch it. It falls to the ground and splinters. Kvothe is beyond angry and suddenly calls a windstorm in a language he doesn’t understand. Ambrose’s arm ends up broken as a result. Kvothe is out of it afterwards, so Wil and Sim take him to Kilvin. After they explain what’s happened, Kilvin talks to Kvothe in a strange language, pulling him out of his stupor. He answers his teacher’s question.
Kvothe and Ambrose are both put on trial for their most recent skirmish. They’re both found guilty. Ambrose is fined the amount of the lute, which Kvothe lies about. He embellishes the amount he paid for it but receives the full amount as reparations for his broken instrument. The masters vote to expel Kvothe but then immediately vote to rescind the expulsion in a move that was seemingly planned before the trial. He will receive lashes for his punishment instead.
Then Elodin pulls Kvothe aside to give him more amazing news: He’s been promoted to Re’lar because he was able to call the wind.
How did The Name of the Wind end?
Kvothe goes to see Auri after telling Wil and Sim everything that happened at the trial. Kvothe gives Auri honey wine, and she gives him a ring. The two of them share a meal. At Kvothe’s request, Auri shows him the Underthing Tunnels. The passages get stranger the deeper they go. Kvothe sees bricked in windows even though they’re underground, and he realizes he can access the Archives through one of the doors. Then they come upon a room full of strange machinery in different stages of disrepair. Kvothe only has vague ideas about what the old machines might have done.
Then the chapter is cut off as Kvothe and Chronicler are pulled from his story to the present as a mercenary enters the tavern, which is now filling up. Chronicler says this man is one of those who robbed him a few days ago. He’s sure because the man has his shirt on, the one they stole from him. The mercenary seems disoriented, and Chronicler says that’s very different than he was a few days ago. The stranger keeps saying he’s looking for someone but can’t finish his sentence. He might be possessed by a demon. A fight ensues, and a local apprentice ends up killing the mercenary.
This isn’t the first strange thing to happen near the tavern. At the beginning of the book, there is rumor that scrale (a spider-like demon) is in the area.
Kvote doesn’t resume his story, so he, Bast, and Chronicler head to their respective rooms. Bast appears in Chronicler’s room asking how he found Kvothe. They’ve been trying to fly below the radar at the tavern for a year, yet Bast is afraid Kvothe’s spirit is fading away as he hides. Bast has been waiting for someone—even an enemy—to come and pull Kvothe out of his funk. Bast thinks re-telling his life story will remind Kvothe who he is. So he threatens Chronicler and says he must press Kvothe to continue his story in the morning.
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