Been on an audio-book kick most of this year. I’ve got a 30 min commute each way to/from work each day – so why not get some awesome audio books in? I’ll start up with reviews of the ones I’ve listened to thus far.
Finished listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss about 2-3 months ago. It’s a pretty hefty ‘read’ – coming in at 22 hours (672 pages) of listening. But, considering I get about an hour of listening per day, it only took about a month of commuting.
Why try to re-invent the reviews on Amazon? I just pulled the quotes I saw that sound like what I read:
Set in an unnamed imaginary world, Kvothe (“pronounced nearly the same as ‘Quothe’ “), the hero and villain of a thousand tales, is presumed dead but actually now lives as the simple proprietor of the Waystone Inn. Prompted by a biographer who realizes his true identity, Kvothe starts to tell his life story. This is the riveting first-person narrative of Kvothe, a young man who grows to be one of the most notorious magicians his world has ever seen. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard. 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.
That is just about the best description I could come up with. As for the storytelling, there are a few patterns of Rothfuss’s writing who’s repetition begins to make you feel like he got a bit lazy (like the fact this kid has the absolute WORST luck in the same way several times – which always end with him out of money). He also gives Kvothe some lucky breaks and coincidences that feel a bit like cheats, but those are very minor points. Overall, there’s very little to gripe about. It’s certainly not as epic and grand a tale as Tolken; with grand battles and deep theological / philosophical underpinnings and imagery. You won’t walk away from the story feeling like you want to ponder again and again the deeper meanings, but its originality and story make up for any loss of the gradious. No, this is the story of a kid growing up under crazy circumstances and struggles his way through in a really unique world.
The coolest point has to to be one of the most amazing and well-thought out descriptions of how a wizard/magician of the D&D/fantasy sort works internally. The descriptions, realism, and imaginative mechanics of how magic is done as Kvothe re-tells his stories is truly captivating and original. None of this ‘he waves his wand and poof’. Rothfuss has thought out a definite system of how the ‘magic’ happens – and that alone is enough to make this worth reading this book. In fact, I was told this was ney-on required reading for any dungeon master or DM wizard character.
Overall, I give this a solid A-. It’s not a sweeping epic – but it’s originality and story will keep you to the end. I took a breather with a different genre of book after this one, but have already started his second book in the series if that gives you any clue to it’s goodness.