Title: The Name Of The Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Voiced by: Rupert Degas
Series? Yes. 1 of 3.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Until quite recently, I was 100% convinced that audiobooks were not suitable for me. I always found it hard to concentrate on them, and they just seemed so slow! I mean I could read The Name Of The Wind in 3-4 days, but I spent over a solid month listening to this audiobook.
Despite this length, I found that audiobooks are growing on me – I feel they’re an indulgent way to ‘read’ when you’re just too tired to use your eyes. Besides, The Name Of The Wind has a narrative that is particularly suited to audiobooks. In fact, I think I liked it more than the printed format.
“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
I read The Name Of The Wind when I was in high school, while waiting for the next ASOIAF book to be released. Patrick Rothfuss’s name was on everyone’s lips – and he was catapulted to stardom with this single volume. I can see why, I enjoyed his writing immensely, he writes lyrical proses that translates particularly beautiful in audiobook format.
It’s thanks to the quality of the writing that I found the immensely slow plot and several inconsequential chapters to be bearable. I remember despairing and almost giving up when I was a teen, reading through the chapters of Tarbean – and later, the chapters about Kvothe looking for Denna all over Imre. While always incredibly verbose, they did not cover much ground in terms of plot. Yet, Kvothe is always there to remind us that there is a point to everything he relates to The Chronicler – something I find increasingly hard to believe.
“I only know one story. But oftentimes small pieces seem to be stories themselves.”
There is little I love more than books which relate the power of stories, how they’re organic entities that grow and take life with each telling. This is one of the reasons why I found The Name Of The Wind captivating – as it centred around how Kvothe became a legend. How he became a creature of legends, though he initially started out trying to unravel that very same legend. I get excited thinking about the story of Lanre, of Haliax, of Tehlu, of the Chandrians – and how they parallel and tie together into Kvothe’s own tale.
Kvothe’s story also offered us insight into his humble beginnings, and how truths are often exaggerated to make heroes and gods amongst men. As it’s Kvothe himself who tells us the tale, there’s always the distinct possibility that he’s unreliable as a narrator – obscuring the facts from truths even further.
“Too much truth confuses the facts. Too much honesty makes you sound insincere”
However, despite the knowledge that Kvothe is an unreliable narrator – his deeds still seem too good to be true. I know die-hard fans of the series will defend him until they’re blue in the face, but Kvothe is one of the most unashamed, blatant Gary-Stu I’ve come across in modern fantasy. He’s a genius: not just with academics, but also music and acting. He’s almost always the smartest person in the room. He inexplicably draws female attention, although he claims his fifteen year old self does not know their ways. Even without the embellishments from myths and legends, his story is one giant wish fulfilment.
Knowing that in The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe gets even MORE lucky and MORE amazing does little to alleviate my befuddlement when I see reviews claiming he’s a complex protagonist. Yes, he does face some hardships: but even those seemed to be in place just to prove how amazing he is e.g. playing the hardest song known to man on a lute missing one string, being the youngest and poorest person to attend the University amongst his peers, etc…
So yes, while I found Kvothe’s narrative voice entertaining. I also found him quite unsympathetic.
“All stories are true,” Skarpi said. “But this one really happened, if that’s what you mean.”
As mentioned above, I personally think The Name Of The Wind is best enjoyed as an audiobook. The narrator has great tone and range, he even made the filler bit in the novel interesting. Because The Kingkiller Chronicle is framed as a story told over three separate days, I also thought the audio version played nicely into it. If you have 22 hours or so to spare – I would highly recommend the experience.
So have you read The Kingkiller Chronicles? What’s your verdict on Kvothe: Gary Stu or super charming liar?
Are you a fan of audiobooks? If so, please recommend me some good fantasy ones ❤ I am listening to The Ways of King and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at the moment! Both are excellent, obviously!