Narrator: Nick Podehl
Rating: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 27 hours, 58 minutes
Pages: 672 (print version)
Challenges: 2012 Audio Book Challenge, 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Synopsis (from Publishers Weekly): Kvothe, the hero and villain of a thousand tales who’s presumed dead, lives as the simple proprietor of the Waystone Inn under an assumed name. Prompted by a biographer called Chronicler who realizes his true identity, Kvothe starts to tell his life story. From his upbringing as an actor in his family’s traveling troupe of magicians, jugglers and jesters, the Edema Ruh, to feral child on the streets of the vast port city of Tarbean, then his education at “the University,” Kvothe is driven by twin imperatives—his desire to learn the higher magic of naming and his need to discover as much as possible about the Chandrian, the demons of legend who murdered his family.
Overall Impression: Ryan had been encouraging me to read this one for a long time, saying it was one of his favorite fantasy novels of late. I can see why. The Name of the Wind captured me right away. I’ve been in a blah place lately, so it was nice just to escape into another world and listen to the stories of a distant time and place. And while it did have quite a few similarities to another certain series of books about an intelligent boy with untapped potential whose parents were killed by pure evil and who went off to wizarding school to learn the art of magic, it does stand on its own two feet as a good story. Kvothe is the perfect protagonist — he’s charming, inquisitive, self-assured, smart, broken, and he can start fires with his mind (!). The secondary characters were also well done, and very few of them felt flat (as secondary characters are wont to do). I particularly liked Kvothe’s relationships with some of his professors, as well as his love for the library (a kid after my own heart).
The length of this novel doesn’t lend itself to one giant climax, but instead it rolls up and down with the different parts Kvothe’s childhood, and the things that happened to make him a legend. I enjoyed listening to all the different periods of his life, and never felt like Rothfuss spent too long on any one part. The dual story line — alternating between Kvothe’s childhood and his present-day time as an innkeeper — works really well, and also gives the story room to breathe. The last chapter definitely made me want to read further (and I’m about 2/3 done with Wise Man’s Fear now). Rothfuss’s writing is a little uneven — most of it is all-around solid, then there are some real points of beauty…and then there are a few clunkers. But overall, I was very entertained and couldn’t wait to get back into the story whenever I had to set it down.
Positives: A wonderful escape. Well written, well plotted, well done.
Negatives: The similarities to Harry Potter made me and Steve laugh. There’s even a Malfoy kid. And a Snape.
Narration: I couldn’t put my finger on why the narration of this book was bugging me for the longest time. Podehl is a very talented narrator, and it’s not that he was doing a poor job. I finally figured it out. He has an American accent, but the story seems to take place long, long ago (yes, in a fantasy world, but it still feels like Ye Olde England in a lot of it). The American accent just isn’t that old. It feels anachronistic. Like Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing. Duuuude.
Other books I’ve read by Patrick Rothfuss: none
Other books I’ve listened to narrated by Nick Podehl: none
Other blogger opinions:
Broke and the Bookish: “Highly recommended even if you don’t like fantasy too much.”
The Literary Omnivore: “But ultimately, what I liked about The Name of the Wind was the emphasis on stories; how stories make us, change us, and help us.”
Stainless Steel Droppings: “A scant thirty minutes have passed since I turned the final page of Patrick Rothfuss’ debut novel, The Name of the Wind, and I literally feel that tiny quivering, that emanating glow, that comes when I find myself wholly immersed in story.”