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)
So many fantasy novels, though their concepts are interesting, are ultimately mediocre at best, largely because they are written as clumsily as might be expected from an eighth grader with a C in English class.
Rothfuss has joined the very, very small group of fantasy authors (think Tolkien, Martin, Gaiman) who can not only build an intriguing world and spin an interesting story, but who can also use the English language with elegance and verve. His dialogue, expression of ideas (yes, there are IDEAS here, not just plot and character and setting), and description are written at a level that is appropriate for a well-educated adult.
Rothfuss uses a frame narrative, which is somewhat unusual for a fantasy novel, and which he handles with such skill that it greatly adds to the suspense of the story. His system of magic is well-conceived and not oversimplified, and his characters, though sometimes of mythic proportions, are never cliche. He builds a nuanced and believable world without the cardinal sin of "infodumping." In short, he has provided everything for which a serious lover of fantasy literature (as opposed to fantasy genre fiction) can ask.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
An entertaining fantasy novel that will delight fans of Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card, JK Rowling, and other luminaries of the genre. Obviously a fantasy buff himself, Rothfuss wears his influences on his sleeve (literally -- trust a guy who dons a Joss Whedon shirt for his web site photo). Plenty of direct comparisons to various well-loved series can be made: the setting feels reminiscent of that of the Wheel of Time series, the gifted and reckless young hero a little like Ender, and the school for Arcanists a little like Hogwarts. But Rothfuss weaves these familiar elements into the fabric of a story that's all his own. Be patient, reader -- it takes about 80 pages for the tale to really get started, but once it does, it will suck you in with an involving world; a protagonist who's flawed and likable despite the fact he's naturally better at most things than most people (and knows it), and an enjoyable mix of fantastic and familiar problems.
The book does have a few flaws. Rothfuss is clearly in it for the long haul, and readers aren't going to find a clean story arc, but 700 pages of setup for future volumes. Also, his writing can be a bit adverb-happy and overly precious about his character's emotional lives. And a bit of editing wouldn't have hurt a few sections, such as the plodding opening.
But, this is unapologetically only a first entry in one of those in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound fantasy series aimed at readers for whom the whole point of reading fantasy is to get lost in an imaginary world. And there's plenty to get lost in here. The Name of the Wind is an enjoyable coming-of-age story filled with life and discovery. If subsequent books follow suit, this ambitious cycle will no doubt attract as much fan adoration as George RR Martin's Fire and Ice series. Can't wait for the next one!
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.
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...
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.
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.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
If you look at this as a debut writer who is going to grow in his talent and if this is his first novel then it is great. If this is an experienced writer or someone who just changed his pen name then it is average to good. If you read some early Koontz and Gerrtisen then you will find they did not start the great writers that they are today.
What is Great? PR can paint a picture in your mind better then most writers I have read. I am literal minded and often have problems with flowery language and picturing in my head what the writer is explaining, but with this book, I always had a very vivid picture of the characters and the scenery. PR himself got into my head. Over half way into the book, when things were going well for the main character, I remember thinking, nothing ever goes this well for Kyothe for this long without something going wrong, so when is the other shoe going to drop? That was the exact words that ran through my head. Not a minute later, Kyothe thinks to himself, things are going to well, when will the other shoe drop? Some of his writings stirred my emotions, made me tense, made me hear the music, made me want to shake Kyothe and tell him to snap out of it, like Kyothe was a real friend of mine, who I wanted to help.
Good: At times there is great insight. For example, at one point he explains that if you can make a women feel beautiful, not just say it, but make her actually feel she is beautiful and then she sees in her own mind that she is beautiful, she will act beautiful and other people will see her as beautiful. I am a strong believer in this and I have seen it happen in the lives of some close to me and I have seen the opposite. The mind is a powerful thing. The book has dragons, magic, wizards, underground tunnels, buildings with hidden rooms,etc.
Average to bad: Often the story does not seem to be going anywhere. It is not clear what the goal is. There are no character goals, no quest, no reason to keep listening. One reviewer wrote that you get this happened then this happened then this happened, I agree. At almost 28 hours it took me a week to get through it. I found that each day I did not dread having to listen or get impatient, but I also found I had no great desire or want to hear the story. The story seems rather disjointed at times, one minute we are facing this problem and then it is totally forgot and we are off to some other problem. Many problems do not get handled. I did not care for the story in a story or even the story in a story in a story. The beginning, interludes and ending are distractions. Sometimes the writing is a little sophmoric. As the writer matures I believe these mistakes will be taken care of in future writings and I believe PR has the potential to be a great writer.
Some did not like the narrator, I thought he was great and added to the story
This is what you hope for in the start of a new series. It is well written and the performance from Nick Podehl is all you could hope for in a narrator. The first book in this series is definitely worth a listen.
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