Angie Kaufmann

Faculty Advisor

Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

Document Type


Publication Date



Alchemy is a medieval version of chemistry focused on the conversion of metals to gold and the search for the elixir of life. Authors of fantasy often adapt it to include chemistry based magic. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is an example of such adaptation. Alchemy plays a large role in the life of the main character, Kvothe, as a majority of the story is set at a school in which he devotes his time to the mastering the art. The alchemy described in the novel, however, is viewed as a kind of magic and has traces of voodoo and other types of magic which are not described in the definition of the original art. So, how is The Name of the Wind influenced by the history and modern influences of alchemy throughout the world? We owe a lot to the practice in history, such as modern chemistry and medicine. It started in early China and Egypt where it was believed to be related to the spiritual realm. It then spread throughout Europe in medieval times where the purpose was finding the philosopher’s stone and achieving everlasting life, and it is still practiced today in a different way. Through in-depth research of research articles and interviews with the author, I researched the history of alchemy in our world and how its influences affect the story. I found that in 2007 Alchemy was used as the name of an event using the 10 principles of Burning Man. The event quickly became one of the largest burnings in the United States and may have been an influence to the writing of the novel. Thus, Patrick Rothfuss may have used the influences of medieval and modern alchemy to construct the magic system in The Name of the Wind.


This presentation is a finalist for the Undergraduate Developing Scholars Research Excellence Award