The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Digital Audiobook narrated by Nick Podehl
Published by Brilliance Audio on May 15th 2009
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction
Length: 662 pages or 27 hours, 56 minutes
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"My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to God's, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me."
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.
This book blew my mind.
If you want to read some well-plotted, immersive, eloquently-written, original and classical fantasy, this is the book you want. I’m not entirely sure how Rothfuss manages to entwine the best of classical fantasy while still being so original, but whatever magic he’s drawing upon – I want a taste. I cannot remember the last time I loved a book so much, and yet remained so entirely frustrated by it.
This book was recommended to me a year ago. I shrugged it off. At the time, I was knee-deep in Game of Thrones and had enough high fantasy to last me a lifetime. Or so I thought. I picked up the first book of Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle during an Audible sale and boy am I glad I did.
Lets talk about the characters first. Characters are my favorite part of any story. A plot can be as good as anything, but if the characters are unlikable, the book will fail. Kvothe is not only likable – he is changing, intelligent, and beautifully flawed. It feels so good to read a book where the character is human instead of some glowing, musical ideal. I love Kvothe.
Unfortunately, Kvothe has the worst luck, and it’s that fact that frustrated me about the book. The poor boy simply cannot win. I’m rooting for him – I’ve been rooting for him since the beginning – and as he stumbles into one misfortune after another, I found myself getting mad at the injustice of it all.
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
You have to respect Kvothe, because he is the narrator of his own story, and he decides to tell the truth of it, no embellishments. The story bounces between Kvothe’s memories of his life and the present where something strange and unusual is going on. It’s so easy to get involved in Kvothe’s past that you forget about the present until the interludes. You get a feeling something building, though… but you won’t find out it this book.
Just as much as the characters is the plot. I’ve read reviews where people say that the plot isn’t original, but I beg to differ. Rothfuss borrows from the best of fantasy without copying any of it. You get magic and thievery and adventuring. Meanwhile, the story is just original enough that you can guess at the resolution without ever really knowing it. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a book where the ending isn’t completely predictable by the finish of the second chapter?
Then there’s the writing. The writing is beautiful.
“I have known her longer, my smile said. True, you have been inside the circle of her arms, tasted her mouth, felt the warmth of her, and that is something I have never had. But there is a part of her that is only for me. You cannot touch it, no matter how hard you might try. And after she has left you I will still be here, making her laugh. My light shining in her. I will still be here long after she has forgotten your name.”
“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.”
“Let me say one thing before I start. I’ve told stories in the past, painted pictures with words, told hard lies and harder truths. Once, I sang colors to a blind man. Seven hours I played, but at the end he said he saw them, green and red and gold. That, I think, was easier than this. Trying to make you understand her with nothing more than words. You have never seen her, never heard her voice. You cannot know.”
If you do not see the eloquence in those passages, you may not appreciate the book as much as I did. If you do, well… do not wait six months. Do not wait six weeks. Do yourself a favor and read The Name of the Wind.
As for the audiobook – Nick Podehl did an excellent job in the reading. His voices were excellent, his pronunciations precise. I particularly enjoyed the variety of voices he used for the Masters. I’m not sure Rothfuss needed any help in the matter… but Podehl definitely brought the story to life.