Monday, August 12, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, #1) 

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Read By: Nick Podehl

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Now, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from Name of the Wind. While it has been lauded as an epic fantasy novel – saga, really, from the size of it and its companion – I was a little apprehensive launching into it. And, though I flinch to say it, I feel slightly underwhelmed now that I’ve sped through this massive story. Rothfuss’s debut is fantasy of the best kind, there is no denying that, and I flipped through this book at an astonishing speed, unwilling to let its characters stray too far from my thoughts. I re-read my favorite passages and laughed, I froze in sorrow, I clutched my seat in anticipation… In other words, Name of the Wind was brilliant, is brilliant, and is most definitely a book I liked, really liked. For all of that, though, I could not fall head-over-heels in love with it, no matter how desperately I wanted to. But that, I fear, is a story for another paragraph.

Patrick Rothfuss has been hailed as an author who has revived the fantasy genre and I can’t bring myself to disagree. While Name of the Wind is not quite as innovative as many may think, it is beautifully written and plotted. Although it is a hefty volume, and I will not deny that a few chapters could have easily been cut off, this story never drags or veers upon boredom. If anything, it is fast-paced and interesting, following the story of Kvothe, a reputed magician, from his trouper origins to his lowly demise into poverty and orphan hood and later into his rise to fame and heroism. Needless to say, it is an ambitious journey, but it is masterfully executed. One of the reasons I keep returning to fantasy is because of all the original ideas floating around and this book is chock-full of them. Rothfuss’s take on demons, lore, dragons, and magic is all vastly different from any I have encountered before and I ate it up like a starved child.

And yet, beyond the world-building, the reason this book is hailed as an epic is because of Kvothe. Not only is Kvothe a complex character, full of his flaws amidst his seeming perfection and bright intelligence, but he is a hero we can cheer for and get behind. Gen’s wit and clever tongue, Harry’s undying loyalty, Aragorn’s reckless bravery…they all converge together in Kvothe, creating a protagonist who is in equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. Kvothe’s tale, one rooted in revenge and filled with antics, is pure, mindless fun. In the midst of that, though, it still manages to drop gems of wisdom from time-to-time, making me stop to reflect in the middle of the breakneck speed of this tale. And I love that. I love a character that can make me contemplate, one who can challenge the boundaries of gray and black and white, one whose life consists of tasks harder than the rest but also hope and courage stronger than them all. Or, in Kvothe’s case, fearlessness and sheer dumb luck for being born with such intelligence.

While Name of the Wind is a story I know I won’t be able to forget – especially since I’m already clamoring for its sequel – it is a flawed tale. For one, I didn’t appreciate the rendering of any of the females in this novel. Not, thankfully, because their depiction was sexist – not at all – but rather because I found their personalities to be so bland. Kvothe sees hidden mysteries in the eyes of beautiful women and these mysteries unfortunately never come to light and give them the depth they need. And, admittedly, while one female in particular was emphasized her importance, I simply felt ill whenever she was mentioned. I can’t shake off the feeling she’s about to backstab Kvothe quite terribly. I hope I’m wrong.

In addition to the women, though, Name of the Wind is only part of a tale. It doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending, but it might as well. In this volume is only the tales of Kvothe’s childhood and I’ve come to realize that, as a reader, I resent a lack of closure. I can deal with ambiguous endings – I thrive off those, actually – but I cannot stand an unfinished tale, especially when I need to go out and find the remaining 1,100 pages of it and then still sit and wait another year or more for the next presumably 1,000 pages. I want to know Kvothe’s tale, all of it, and now. It’s my fault, not the novels, and perhaps once I know how this tale ends I will enjoy this one all the more, but the fact that this book remains unfinished, not even giving the reader a glimpse of how young Kvothe came to be the legend he became or the man he is during the present, is frustrating, to say the least. Nevertheless, for avid fans of fantasy, Name of the Wind is a breath of fresh air. I am immensely grateful not to have missed out on this – especially the audiobook  version which is incredible – and can only hope The Wise Man’s Fear is as stunning and satisfying as I want it to be.


  1. This is such a gorgeous review, Keertana dear! This book sounds so intimidating, really, but I'm so glad to see that it wasn't boring in the least, and rather, that it was pretty fast-paced. That's usually not the case with such thick novels, seriously. Also, the main character sounds fantastic, and filled with depth. Even though you weren't fond of the depth brought to the woman, or rather, lack of it, and that ending, I'm glad you were able to really enjoy this one, Keertana! I'm excited to see your thoughts about that sequel! Although I can relate to the whole waiting thing. ;)

  2. While I really, but really want to read this one there are few problems. First of it's never available in my library (the book is extremely popular here) and I'm not sure that I'd have time to read such a big book. I know I'll read it one day and especially know after seeing what I was missing. I'm so happy you loved this one. Amazing review Keertana :)

  3. I actually picked up this book by accident. It was one of those I buy because I am traveling and forgot a book and want something to read an this one was a bargain with a pretty cover. €10 for 700 pages yay.

    I loved it to pieces though but I am not sure if I would have read/knew all the things said about the book before reading it I would have experienced the same. All the raving reviews make that you are set for a miracle and I agree that though YES it is strong and well done there are flaws in the book. (specially the end I was so glad the second book came out a week later)
    I hope you will enjoy A Wise Mans Fear just as much as you enjoyed The Name of the Wind.

  4. The Name of the Wind is my favorite high fantasy, period. And my favorite audiobook. I read this one slowly, oh so slowly, over almost six months because I wanted that slow-burn romance with it that only comes when you fall deep in REAL love that lasts forever, and that's what I got. I'll admit that Rothfuss can take three pages to describe how Kvothe eats an apple or what a fire looks like, but I still enjoyed EVERY SINGLE WORD. And Podehl's reading of it is flawless, absolutely perfect. I don't think I'd have enjoyed it to the CRAZY lengths that I did without the audiobook, although I would have still fallen hard.

    I love the structure, though. I love that the story is basically three-days long and this first book is to be Day One. To me, it made sense. I really wanted to rush into the second book but at the same time, I didn't - and one year later and still with the biggest book hangover of my life (literally) - I haven't picked it up yet, partly because I'm still re-living this one (yes, I remember details) and partly because the third book isn't out to rush into.

    You've read one of my ALL-TIME favorites, one that changed life for me (just trust me), one that is a go-to. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO HARD and words just can't explain how much. My first audiobook experience, my best audiobook experience, my favorite high fantasy. Love love love all the way around. Totally gush-y comment, here.

  5. I'm not sure this is the book for me despite your outstanding review and high rating as I tend to struggle with big, epic fantasies, but I will say Kvothe sounds absolutely amazing. I definitely want to meet him! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the next book, I'll be reading this series vicariously through you Keertana!

  6. Whew! I'm so happy to see that this epic fantasy held up to its hype in your eyes. Though I shouldn't have been worried as many of my favorite fantasy readers also loved it. I really want to read this one, but I may keep waiting and embark on this journey closer to when the final releases, I'm with you in having trouble waiting for more once I've begun. But I'm glad that this is a rich world with a main character worthy of his acclaim. I will continue to have this story on my radar.

  7. Oh I don't think this one is for me. I do sometimes like a good fantasy but that ending. I'm kind of an ending girl and if the ending is unfinished like that, it affects my whole view of the book. Such a great review though!

  8. I've definitely heard the author's name and I wish I had time for something like this because I used to really enjoy fantasy!

  9. Wow. I've never heard a single thing about this book before, Keertana, but it sounds absolutely incredible. When an author can take a lengthy fantasy book, merge the characteristics of your favourite characters and make every single word count - that's the mark of a great book, for sure! Lovely review! :)

  10. Great review Keertana! My dad has been hounding me to read this for awhile but I've always been intimidated by its size and its genre... but you break the book down and describe why you enjoyed it so well. Now I want to pick up my Kindle and start it myself. Hope you enjoy the sequel when you get to it!

  11. Although it sounds as though this novel didn't quite fulfill all your expectations, it does sound like an impressive work of fantasy overall. Any book where the protagonist is being compared to Eugenides, Aragorn, and Harry Potter is probably worth my time.
    I do agree it's frustrating when books simply end, when there's no clear stopping point. Like it seems as though they're literally (and somewhat arbitrarily) chopped off. Perhaps Rothfuss does have a plan for ending the books a certain way, and it just requires the perspective of reading other installments to realize that? We can hope that's the case, at least.
    And what did you think of the experience reading it via audiobook? I still have yet to truly listen to a full book, but I imagine that would be a little difficult to do with a fantasy more so than other types of books.

    1. Amanda, I really loved the audiobook of this. I read Meljean Brooks's IRON DUKE via audio at first and found it hard to follow because of the heavy world-building since it was fantasy/steam punk. With this, though, I didn't have that problem. I can't recommend the audio enough - it's an entirely different and atmospheric experience. I loved the narrator and although it's REALLY long, it's worth it. :)

  12. I'm not a fan of open or unfinished endings so this would not work for me unless I waited until the next book came out. Glad to see you enjoyed this so much in spite of all that, Keertana. Yay for audio books when done right! They really enhance the story. Great review! :)

  13. have read yet another book on my bucket list, Keertana! I'm actually a little scared of this book and series--it is so BIG and MEATY and INTIMIDATING- kind of like Game of Thrones. But EVERYONE and I mean everyone RAVES about it. I really need to get over it and just read it already!

  14. I haven't read a fantasy novel in a long while and this sounds brilliant! I don't usually gravitate towards these books, but the premise for this one and Kvothe's character are impossible to resist. I am very wary of the open ending though. Like you, I want to know the end and future of the characters after their lives are invested in our minds. It feels incomplete, but maybe that's just me! lol ;p I am looking forward to this, and hopefully I'll enjoy it as much as you! Great review, Keertana! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  15. Like you, I feel an odd mix of fear and respect towards this book and I'm very hesitant to read it precisely because of my unreasonable expectations. I just don't think ANY book could live up to that.

    I know that I need to read it soon, because not reading it seems very foolish, but I'll need some mmore time to gather my courage, especially consiering the page count.

  16. Reading reviews like this makes me wish I had more patience with epic fantasy, because the book sounds thrilling--but I don't know if I can do it! The crazily high rating on GoodReads for this series makes me mighty curious, though. Thanks for adding to my confusion. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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