Audiobook Review: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss

Narrated by Nick Podehl

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….I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I 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 day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. 

You may have heard of me. 

So begins the tale of Kvothe—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 difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe’s legend.

(Read the full except on Patrick Rothfuss’ website)


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.


This post is linked up to the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge on My Soul Called Life.  If you want to read more excellent reviews, check out the other bloggers there!

Mailbox Monday & What’s New – 1/23/17

Good morning all!  I hope everyone had a delightful weekend.

I’m afraid this may be my last mailbox Monday until my next Audible haul, unless I come across something completely delicious.  My last two books from my Thriftbooks purchase came in last week.  They’re both sequels to books I’m currently reading and I’m excited to add them to my TBR pile!

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Something Rotten is the fourth installment in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.  Thursday Next is one of the few series that can make me laugh out loud, and yet somehow I seem to only manage to get through one book each year.  I’m excited to read this one, but it’s about four books deep at the moment in the TBR pile.

The Gray Wolf Throne is the third book in Cinda China Williams’ Seven Realms series.  I very much enjoyed the first two.  If you are looking for excellent YA high fantasy, Seven Realms is what you want.  Expect for the love triangle.  WHY?!  … The covers on these books are always breathtakingly designed, though, and I just want to point out, *squee!* cover art!

In other news….

I’m still plugging through Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos.  The intelligent girl has quickly become arrogant, and it’s starting to feel like the author is trying much too hard to be in the Victorian era, which is distracting and a little silly at best.  A story should flow, not stop for tea.

My husband and I have started listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but we’re only as far as the Hogwarts Express – not even to the Dementors, so not much to report, there!

The book that has been stealing all my time and attention this week is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

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Kvothe.  My goodness that boy frustrates me.  He’s just now found Denna at the inn (after the wedding) and honestly at this point I just sit there and wait for something else bad to happen to him.  I’ll give it to Rothfuss – he knows how to write an engaging story.  I often forget that Kvothe is only fifteen where I’m at.

I cannot recall ever reading a book that I couldn’t put down, but I was so. Immensely. Frustrated with.  I read an interview with Rothfuss the other day about his journey to write and publish The Name of the Wind.  It’s an interesting story – a ten year job and an instant bestseller.  He also made a lot of good points about fantasy cliches – ones I hadn’t thought about myself.  These days, fantasy has been dumbed down by poor writers (sorry, true) and when I think about cliches, I’m thinking about love triangles and the chosen one and prince charming… but Rothfuss made very solid points about dwarf and dragon overuse as well.  It made me really think about the way I write my fantasy fiction, my plot, and character motivation.  Enlightening.  Despite the exasperation I have with the main character, I’m looking forward to digging into more of Rothfuss’ work.  He’s brilliant.

Well, that’s what’s going on in my reading world!  What’ve you pulled off your library shelf?


This post is linked up to the weekly meme, Mailbox Monday.  Check out other linked posts here!

Audiobook Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling

Narrated by Jim Dale

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Thanks to a meddling house elf, Harry’s literally behind bars until the Weasley twins and Ron break him out and shuttle him off to the Burrow for the remainder of the summer.  There, he experiences what it’s like to live in a wizarding home.  It’s not long until he’s off to Hogwarts, having missed the train (oops) and stolen the flying car (oh well) and narrowly missed being expelled (to Snape’s disappointment).  The real adventure starts at Halloween, when they find a petrified cat and a cryptic message written on the wall.  But where’s the Chamber of Secrets?  Who opened it?  What beast is inside?  The lives of all the Hogwarts students – especially Muggle-borns – seems to stand on the line, and it’s up to the trio to unravel the secrets and save the day (again).


One thing I particularly appreciate about the Harry Potter series is that Rowling never portrays the adults as stupid.  In a lot of children’s books, the children have to go and unravel everything because the adults are too blind to see a hand in front of their face.  In this series, they’re trying, but it just seems Harry has all the breaks.  Oh well.

I remember reading this book when I was younger and Chamber was definitely low down on my list of favorites.  In retrospect, I think that’s because (spoiler) Hermione’s out-of-commission for most of the book.  Like both Sorcerer’s Stone and PrisonerHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets works well as a standalone book.  Whereas Sorcerer’s Stone is more about overcoming a lot of different obstacles to complete a quest, Chamber is about completing a riddle and observing the truths around you, rather than holding up prejudices.  You can’t help but to wonder that if Harry and Ron hadn’t been so focused on Draco, they might’ve noticed Ginny’s odd behaviors before.  Percy certainly did, for what little credit it is worth – he just didn’t put two and two together.

Overall, I still don’t think that Chamber is one of Rowling’s strongest books.  It relies heavily on Harry’s intelligence, which can be frustrating to the reader at best, and the only comic relief in the story is Lockhart’s arrogance.  Sir Nicholas’ Death Day Party – while interesting – is completely unnecessary to the story.  I believe it was intended as a distraction and to get the trio to the stairwell, and perhaps introduce Myrtle, but all those things could have easily been done without the scene.  Additionally, I’m fairly certain that the whole point of Colin Creevy’s character was to be the first human petrified, and considering he follows Harry around being annoying for the first half of the books, we could have just as easily started with Justin.

Still, these are nitpicky things.

I like Chamber well enough that I’ve read it several times.  The unnecessary things are still enjoyable enough.  Jim Dale is beginning to get into the characters a bit better as well, and the narration is much smoother than Sorcerer’s Stone was.


I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter series with my husband as part of his education of my favorite books.  We typically listen for about four hours a week, so it’s slow going – but worth it!  Next, we’ll be listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – my favorite!

If you want to listen to Jim Dale’s narration of this story, you can listen to the audio sample on Audible.  However, if you’re interested in buying the audiobook (or eBook) I would urge you to purchase directly from Pottermore.  I’ve got no affiliation here, but I personally would rather support the wizarding world universe than… Amazon.  Shh!

Mailbox Monday & What’s New

I don’t buy a lot of books anymore, because my bookshelves are at capacity and I live in an apartment building.  Nonetheless, when I realized I had a coupon to Thriftbooks (I love Thriftbooks), I couldn’t resist.  The first of the books came this week!

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I listened to The Help by Kathryn Stockett last fall and fell in love with the power of the story again.  The film is an excellent testament to the tale, but the book is even stronger.  I’m proud to have this one as part of my library.  Each woman featured in this book is a pillar of strength in her own way – even the horrible women.  The story is so rich and important in its discussion of racial roles and tension in the south in the last century.

Just as I write this, I realize – today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and what an appropriate book to be looking at on today of all days.

A bit of a geeky note here – for all the simplicity of its design, I love the cover art on this one.  The three birds – presumably representing the three narrators – and even their spacing is perfectly symbolic.  The colors are cheerful, but sobering, and the gold foil in the lettering is lovely.  What’s more, my copy barely looks used.  I love it.

This was waiting for me in the mailbox when I came home last Wednesday so I am super excited to share it in my first ever Mailbox Monday!

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

This week I’m moving on to read Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, that book that I picked up in a trade bin while out shopping last week.  So far it’s charming.  The writing style reminds me a bit of Lemony Snicket, and the heroine evokes the best of children’s literature.  It seems somehow unfair that this book didn’t release until I was nineteen and if I hadn’t glanced it out of the corner of my eye, I’d’ve missed out altogether.

I’m about a chapter into Serpents of Chaos, and the author has made quick work of laying out the situation.  And yet, she still had me rustle off to Wikipedia to look up Tawaret, the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Protector of Children, because she was familiar (I figured it out – she’s featured as Dinah’s patron goddess in The Red Tent by Anita Diamant).

Overall, January’s been great for books and I look forward to getting the rest of my books in from that order in the coming week!

Book Review: The Fate of the Tearling

The Fate of the Tearling

by Erika Johansen

The Fate of the Tearling

Kelsea Glynn has been taken by the Mort.  Leaving her kingdom in the hands of the Mace, she is taken across the land to Mortmesne.  Meanwhile, she taps into a new consciousness – a girl named Katie in post-crossing Tearling.  Katie is the first generation of Tearling-born children, and Kelsea knows there is an important key in her story to saving Kelsea’s own kingdom.  Meanwhile, the orphan runs rampant over the land and the Arvath rises up against the Tear… something has gone terribly wrong and everything is broken.  Yet, Kelsea must save her people… but how?


Wow.

I’ve loved this series – when The Queen of the Tearling was announced, I preordered it… and every book since.  I know from time to time the story gets difficult to follow, but once you reach the end, it is clear to see why the multiple timelines are so important.  Still, it can be a little difficult to follow at times, and I had to force myself to read slowly.

I love Kelsea.  For all her flaws, I love her.  I think she’s strong, brave, and focused.  I love her willingness to do what she must for her people, despite the personal sacrifice; I also love her grieving after the choice has been made.  Kelsea is human, and in a queen, that is difficult to write.  Johansen allows Kelsea’s story and the story of the Tear be front and center; never once is that story usurped by a love triangle.  I love that she stays so focus on the rise and fall of her empire, and not personal dabbling.

I also think this trilogy is important in the ties we can see in our modern world.  Dystopias are supposed to call up the things in our own lives that are unsatisfactory and bring attention to them.  The separation of social classes, petty power struggles that harm the less fortunate, and even a draw away from literacy all feature prominently here.

Overall, the book could have been drawn out more, and the ending felt incredibly rushed (I had to go back and read it over again, because I felt like I lost something).  Still, the flaws I see here are nothing different than in Mockingjay or any other successful dystopia.  I think Johansen did an excellent job in the writing and construction of this book and series, and I’d be happy to read anything else by her.

One other thing I want to note – she does and incredible job merging a rich fantasy world with a crumbling science-fiction world.  That is no small feat.

I would recommend The Fate of the Tearling (and the entire Tearling trilogy) to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy, complicated dystopia, and especially to fans of the Hunger Games and Divergent series.


This book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Thriftbooks, AbeBooks, and basically all over the place.  Don’t forget to check your local library! I get no affiliation brownie points for these links – I just want to give you easy access if you’re interested in reading the book!