So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature - the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.
©2009 DAW Trade; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“The originality of Rothfuss's outstanding debut fantasy, the first of a trilogy, lies less in its unnamed imaginary world than in its precise execution…As absorbing on a second reading as it is on the first, this is the type of assured, rich first novel most writers can only dream of producing. The fantasy world has a new star.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)
“Fantasy readers-a notoriously discerning group-tend to dole out praise judiciously, which makes the reception of The Name of the Wind, the first volume in Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle, that much more remarkable. Critics are already throwing around comparisons to some of the biggest names in fantasy, including George R. R. Martin, Tad Williams, the recently deceased Robert Jordan, and even Tolkien. (Bookmarks Magazine)
“New fantasy authors are usually overhyped, and it's rare to find one who writes with such assurance and narrative skill right from the start. I was reminded of Ursula LeGuin, George R. R. Martin, and J. R. R. Tolkien, but never felt that Rothfuss was imitating anyone. Like the writers he clearly admires, he's an old-fashioned storyteller working with traditional elements, but his voice is his own. I haven't been so gripped by a new fantasy series in years. It's certain to become a classic." (Lisa Tuttle, The Times)
Originally posted on my blog Good Books & Good Wine.
I’ve come to discover that I like rereading books via audio. It’s a whole to way to experience worlds I’ve already inhabited. In preparation for The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, I spent one of my audible credits on The Name Of The Wind.
The audiobook opens with the strumming of a string instrument, I think it’s a guitar, which feels very appropriate to the story, as it feels like tavern music. This is a great opening. It sets the mood perfectly, as the entirety of The Name Of The Wind is told in a tavern – the Waystone Inn. Plus, I think when it comes to audiobooks the opening music should fit the themes of the book, and this one does quite wonderfully.
Nick Podhel, the narrator of the audio version of The Name of The Wind does an excellent job voicing the large cast of characters. I thought he perfectly nailed Kvothe’s emotions. With Podhel’s expert narration, certain events in the book just slammed me all over again. Certain characters took on a new life, as I now have a voice to go with the words — such as Trapis, the guy who takes care of Kvothe and other street children in Tarbean, also although he doesn’t need it, Ambrose is a bit clearer to me. Podhel nailed pompous ass. ALSO he did different accents for different characters who aren’t from the commonwealth which adds a certain flavor that I appreciated. I love it when narrators do different voices for their characters and put in accents, so it really feels like the book is brought to life.
However, this is a very long audiobook and took me a month or two to get through. It’s about 28 hours long. Yet, while I was listening, I never felt the length to be a burden. I guess when you are transported to the world of the university and Imre, length becomes unimportant.
The Name of the Wind is an excellent audiob
As a first time audible listener, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to enjoy novels as much as when I read them myself, but this book convinced me that I can love it even more when skillfully narrated. The plot of the book even focuses on storytelling and masterful storytellers, and made me think deeply about how much more I enjoyed listening to Nick Podehl's performance of it.
The author builds a world as complex and thought out as any story I've read, and it feels much more real than most fantasy books, which piece things together over time, or present too much at once. The magic is fantastic as well, and ranks among the best I've encountered (simple yet brilliant).
It takes a while for the characters to build up steam (with a book of this length, it's no wonder), though the payoff is well worth the investment. The plot could easily be called formulaic, but is still very good, and manages to pull enough twists to keep you listening long into the early morning hours.
As mentioned before, Nick Podehl's performance was excellent, and by midway through the book, I didn't need to wonder who was speaking, as his voices were clear enough to speak for themselves. In the books I've read since, no other narrator has pulled it off better.
In closing, I'd say The Name of the Wind ranks highly among the best fantasy novels of the decade, and this audiobook is a fantastic narration of it.
This book is a bit of a puzzle in what works and what doesn't work. On the whole, the story itself is pretty good. With the exception of Kvoth (who is sadly the main character), the characters are interesting and enjoyable, and the story doesn't drip with overused fantasy cliches.
And yet, there is a big issue in how the story is framed.
The story starts off in third person. A few characters get together, and Kvoth starts to tell his life story. This is the first part of three. So, Kvoth is narrating his life story in the first person past perspective, which is fine and what I expected, but how he narrates the story just doesn't work. The characters are sitting around in an inn having a chat, so the narration should be spotty and filled with asides and mistakes. That's how unpracticed stories are told. Yet Kvoth narrates his story as if he has a script written in front of him. It just isn't believable.
Kvoth himself is a problem then. As a character, he isn't interesting. His only real flaw is being painfully good natured. He's smart, clever, and can do pretty much anything that he puts his mind to. He has no problems grasping all of these difficult magical concepts, and it's just not fun to listen to someone perfect narrate how he does everything oh so well. Now, Kvoth isn't smug, but his almost apathetic practicality make him hard to stomach. He's a character with no venom or antagonism in his speech, yet he comes off as someone hard to like simply by how he speaks and his word choices.
His narration just isn't believable.
The story contains quite a bit of dialogue, more than it probably needs. There are conversations that should have been paraphrased or simply skipped, but that can be overlooked. What can't be overlooked is that the dialogue isn't good. Most conversations don't sound natural, and the characters all find themselves possessing large vocabularies, going out of their ways to use large words or odd phrasing to sound...smarter?
The story also doesn't have a real climax or buildup. Things happen, and then it's pretty much over. There was an hour long or so section near the end that was actually pretty boring over exciting, which isn't a good thing when the book is nearing completion. The story is told like there are two parts to follow, and so the climax is somewhere in the second or third novel.
The other problem isn't with the content of the book but the narration. I don't find Nick Podehl to be a great fit for this book. He isn't a bad reader, but his voice doesn't lend itself to Kvoth. It's too soft. All the other characters sound fine, but Kvoth himself needs a deeper voice with more authority. The problem, then, is that Kvoth narrates everything, so his is the voice we are stuck with.
It's not a bad book, and at 30 hours, it's well worth a spare credit. There are good fantasy ideas presented within, but there are notable problems that are just not ignorable. Had I known about these ahead of time, I can't say that I'd have purchased it, but there are also much, much worse out there.
Of course, there are much, much better.
I read A LOT. I'm now approaching 500 audiobooks in my collection. I also read 30-60 additional books a year on my Kindle.
Let me put it this way: I loved this book soooooo much while I was I reading it on my Kindle, that I used a credit so I could listen to it while I drive (which I do a lot for work). That is how compelling this story is. Throw it in the category of books that are under-appreciated, under-read and under-the-radar. I even found myself reading little insights to my fiancé as I read it.
Bottom line: this book a well-written, great story, with interesting characters. I have recommended this book to more friends, who like different kinds of books, than any other book I read in the last two years. To me, it has mass appeal.
If you like good characters, get this book. If you like great, well-written stories, get this book. If you like fantasy stories, get this book. If you like books when the characters seem to have super-human powers, get this book. If you like books that are not predictable but are compelling page-turners, get this book. You WON’T regret it.
Patrick Rothfuss has some very unique and interesting ideas on this genre. I was trapped in this story from start to finish. It was a stupendous escape. His play on words and description are some of the best I've ever come across. If you enjoy a deep slow and original story with a refreshing introduction to the genre of myth, magic, adventure, and legend then this is a book for you.
On a side note the Narrator, Nick Podehl, was hands down the best I've come across. This says a lot for someone who listens to 40+ audio books a year. He was on top of his game for this story. Very easy on the ears.
And I can't help but toss in this review: BOOK TWO PLEASE ;-)
I never write reviews but I do usually rate the audio books I truly consume my life. If you love Jim Butcher's Princeps' Fury and Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Series, you'll love this first installment of Patrick Rothfuss. The narration is great due to the degree of character separation which ends up being entertaining story telling. I only wish I could find more series like this. I've ran out of scifi/fantasy books to listen to and crave more...
Poet, Writer, Novice Planetary Scientist, Musician, Hooligan, Former Audience Guy, Protector of Stupid Princesses.
(I took the author’s advice in the afterword of the “Slow Regard” 2.5 Novella.) Patrick Rothfuss’ wrote that many of his stories get better with a second reading. This proved true in both “The Name of The Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear.” I am patiently waiting for book 3. “The Wise Man’s Fear” provides a tremendous amount of back-story. I am glad it is in one large book, not several. I re-read both books back to back. I missed a lot the first time.
I am REALLY trying to like this audiobook. I have a 2+ hour round trip commute almost every day, and I have been trying to listen to it during that time. I usually make it about 30-45 minutes before I just cannot take anymore.
The lead character is the most annoying individual I've had the displeasure of reading (listening) about. He's the best at everything, ever, yet manages to make the least intelligent choices possible most of the time. He can play a lute better than anyone in the history of man-kind, learn a language in a day, master mathematics well enough to match wits with "Masters" at a university, yet cannot figure out how to make money. Huh?
The descriptions of events and certain individuals become so heavy with hyperbole, I found myself laughing at loud at the absurdity of it all. He uses the phrase "Words cannot describe...", and then a little while later spends 10 minutes comparing a beautiful girl to every fantastical extreme example of beauty he can think of. Blech.
I'll finish the audiobook, just because I an a glutton for punishment. I expect I'll feel the same way after I complete a thorough colonoscopy when I am finished with the book. Glad that it's over, but not looking forward to another pain in the ass.
The narrator does a fairly admirable job with accents, but I found his voice lacking the power to engage me fully. It feels like a friendly high-school kid is reading a book to me. I prefer my narrators to be a bit more seasoned I suppose, so perhaps this is just personal preference.
I really had high hopes based on the ratings, but this was a colossal let down for me. I mean no offense, but anyone who compares this book favorably to those written by Tolkien, G.R.R. Martin, or Brandon Sanderson... you may want to consider some neurology imaging because I think you might have a brain tumor affecting your higher order cognitive functioning.
I really wanted to give this a 2-star rating, but simply because I do think there are some well written scenes, and the sheer amount of effort provided by the author, I've settled on a 3-star.
At 28 hours long, I would expect a little more action from a book about a storyteller.
The book's pace is sluggish, suffering from what appears to be an identity crisis: Is this a tale of adventure, the making of a young hero? Or is this a coming of age love story? The book tries to be both and unfortunately doesn't excel at either.
The author's writing often slips into cliché, with well-worn similes ruining moments that are supposed to be beautiful or emotional. Without fail, when a cliché is trotted out, the narrator apologies for it, explaining that "it can't be explained in words." This meta-storytelling device took me out of the story over and over and felt like the crutch of an under-confident writer.
And is it just me, or is the basic premise of this book awfully similar to Harry Potter? Orphaned boy goes to special school for magic, nearly falls in love a few times, becomes an accidental hero on his way to kill A Seriously Bad Guy? I suppose Harry Potter isn't unique either. The main difference is that I enjoyed Harry Potter much more.
I was disappointed. The first 3/4 of the book are pointed in one direction, but near the end, we are carried on a "side quest" that felt like a distraction from the larger narrative. There is no resolution at the end of the book; it's merely a gaping door left open for the next book in the series.
While his voice isn't particularly deep or resonant, Nick Podehl's range of accents is incredible. I especially enjoyed his take on Master Kilvin, a character who feels larger than life with a voice to match.
Yes, in fact, it's apparently being developed into a TV or mini-series.
My review is perhaps overly critical. It's a fun enough book if you want to feel like you're journeying to an alternate universe. The world of the book is excellently realized, with one of the most imaginative systems for explaining magic that I've encountered in fantasy. And many of the characters feel vividly imagined, with lives that seem to stretch beyond the covers of the book.
The story idea is good but the delivery feels inexperienced and a bit safe. It reminds me of a church buddy who wants to tell a scary story but doesn't want to offend anyone.
Probably not, see above.
The narrator has the wrong kind of voice for the tone of the story and does not do voices well. The story is supposed to be dark and heavy and the narrator has a higher toned voice.
I think the narrator was my biggest hang up. I'm going to try reading it and see if I like it more. Friends swore this book was one of their favorites but I only made it about half way through before I got bored and couldn't put up with the narration anymore.
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