Cheeseburger Gothic

The Name of the Wind

Posted March 24, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

I finished a book with great sadness this week. It wasn't a sad book. But I become so deeply invested in it that to finish the last page was like walking out on a relationship. I'll be back, there's a sequel on its way, but… You know. The book was The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, number two in the King Killer Chronicles. The first book in the series was called The Name of the Wind and I picked it up on the recommendation of iPhone traitor, Andy Inatkho. I think he recommended it during Mac Break Weekly.

I was drawn to it for the same reason I was drawn to Stephen King's The Stand as a teenager. Bulk. Value. The Name of the Wind runs for more than forty-five hours and it set me back only one Audible credit. A despicable way to value a book, I know, and yet Name of the Wind is such great value that I'd be doing you, Rothfuss and Audible a disservice if I didn't pimp it out simply on its dollar metrics.

Having got that unpleasantness out of the way, allow me to gush. This is one of the best books I've read in about ten years. Not just one of the best genre titles, or fantasy novels. One of the best books, period. I'll have to qualify this of course, because I listened to rather than reading it, but having listened, I'm going to do something I almost never do and go back and buy myself a reading copy.

The narrator, Rupert Dégas, deserves a special commendation. I don't know how much they paid him, but it probably wasn't enough. He narrates the English edition, and while I understand the American narrator is very good, I just don't know how he could possibly bring the same awesome to a story which is set in a thinly disguised ye olde England. Degas' voice just seems to suit the text. And he is a great voice actor, with hundreds of different accents to draw on; useful given that although most of the book is narrated in the first person, there are hundreds of characters with speaking parts. I'm not exaggerating. Hundreds. Dégas gives each of them a life of their own. I think I miss his storytelling the way a child misses bedtime stories when they have grown too old for them.

But, he did not write the book. That was Patrick Rothfuss, and to him I say props my good man and huzzah. There was so much for me to potentially hate about this book. A redheaded hero, who plays the lute and… Well, that's enough. But Kvothe, the narrator, is also a kick arse magician and a sort of medieval ninja. The long arc of chapters where he acquired his ninja skills, slowly and painfully, was one of my favorites. The story is his biography, in effect, as told to a traveling scribe known as Chronicler. He has apparently done something awesome and terrible and is now hiding out, incognito, posing as an innkeeper in some awful village at the end of the world. Dark forces are gathering, natch. But they're doing it in the background.

Most of the story is concerned with how he got there.Rothfuss is a great writer, is obviously something of an autodidact and these books are so long that he has more than ample opportunity to indulge himself in a little showmanship about how much he knows. It never feels like info dumpage, however, and I came to look forward to these diversions as much as I did to the swordplay and the splodey.

A precis of the plot? It's Harry Potter. A remarkable kid finds out he has remarkable powers and he kicks ass with them. It's way better than that though. There's a beautifully written love interest. Er, for the ladies. And I think the thing that really sets it apart is the time Rothfuss takes to show us everything. Almost as thought we're reading in real time. It sounds potentially eye glazing, but it's not. It's hypnotic. As testimony to how much I enjoyed this novel I'm writing this out before I've finalized my Amazon Associates status, so I can't make any money off recommending it. I can only recommend that you go read it, or listen to it, because it's really that fucking good.

60 Responses to ‘The Name of the Wind’

Barnesm reckons...

Posted March 24, 2013

Patrick Rothfuss so an evil overlord name.

and seriously a lute playing Ginger, this is what you build a protagonist on?

Rupert Dégas was also the narrator in the Movie adapation of the Robert Harris's excellent alternative history novel Fatherland

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beeso puts forth...

Posted March 24, 2013

Buying it now.

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Bunyip reckons...

Posted March 24, 2013

Suitablity for a minion same age/gender as Anna? Asking for a parent that can not keep up with reading habits of tween bibliophile.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

Well, I've had Thomas listening to it. He loves it. There's a second in the second book, where Kvothe spends some time with a horny elf. But nothing graphic. All implied.

Bunyip mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

Ta. Sounds like a go-er for the minion then.

MickH mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

yeah, the minions would love it

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tqft ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2013

Those books do actually appear on my to buy list which is almost as long as my too read list

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JG has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

Wow. It must be good, JB. You are practically wetting yourself with glee.

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MickH ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2013

I actually recommended this book on the burger ages ago.

I've read both and eagerly await the third. Not holding my breath though because he took ages writting the second and had a bad case of writers block.

Since you liked that then I will recommend, for the third time now, The Painted Man by Peter V Brett, the first book in the Daylight War Saga of 5 parts. He's written the first 3.

These book FKN rock! Seriously!

(He just sold the movie right too apparently)

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted March 24, 2013

I'm currently reading it Mick. But I took a break while listening to Rothfuss because it sort of jarred switching between them. Very different writers. Both good, but different.

MickH puts forth...

Posted March 24, 2013

Yeah I agree with that John, both are at the top of their game but have different styles, different stories but of the same genre. I love that.

These 2 guys are my top authors for fantasy at the moment. Trouble is now I have to wait for next books! :(

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted March 24, 2013

Exampleof the difference? Right at the start of Brett's latest we see that girl waiting to go up to the temple to see whether she's going to be inducted. And then it's six hours later and she's at the temple. It worls to move the story along. But Rothfuss would have told everything that happened in those six hours and made it an object lesson in philosophy, geography, history and so on. It's that depth and incredible reach that sucked me right in.

MickH would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

hmm have to be careful with spoilers here.Brett develops 6 major characters from childhood but does it at a pace that just wants you to keep the pages turning, the pacing is genious. He also has 2 major plot arcs and no real distinct good guy or bad guy, you can see both of the major antagonists point of view and the resoning behind their actions.Rothfuss on the other hand delevops one major character and everything that goes along with it. But this character is so rich and so deep that he is never boring. He splits the story arcs up along the many things that Kvothe does, his music, his studies, the bad guys, his quest and the strange characters he meets a long the way. The pace is much slower but no less enjoyable.

Two masterpieces in the making.

MickH would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

an error here john, I had 'Brett' in the first line as a new paragraph and Rothfuss as a new para also.

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2013

Dear MickH

I have had the same issue with the disappearing paragraph break.

What I think I have done is to hit SHIFT ENTER. That starts a new line, but that line break disappears when you submit.

You have to hit ENTER and the cursor jumps 2 lines to start the next paragraph. If I review what I have typed and I see I have a new line without a blank line before it (auto created by hitting ENTER), I know that line break will disappear when I submit.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

MickH

p.s. Don't think hitting SHIFT ENTER twice to get your blank line between paras will work. It will be ignored in the submitted version. Just keep your finger off SHIFT, when you hit ENTER. Of course, this key tapping is largely unconscious. I did not realise I was going SHIFT ENTER until I activated by brain's very buggy record function.

MickH mutters...

Posted March 24, 2013

yep you're right! thanks!

Its because of FB i tell ya! :D

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MickH is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2013

that was awsome.

But he'd better be back working on book 3 or there'll be hell to pay!

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Surtac would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

I already have it on The Pile of unread stuff. Guess I'd better find me a round tuit ...

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drej asserts...

Posted March 24, 2013

I'm a hundred or so pages into Erik Stevensons Malazan Book of the Dead on a recommendation. Hasn't grabbed me so far, anyone know if its worth going on?

Otherwise tempted to give this a go.

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Moko mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

I remember you recommending this a coupla weeks back. Yeah, for 45 hours you can't beat that and to be good? I'm in.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2013

Yeah, I thought of you when I found out how long this bad boy is.

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2013

I luuuuurved the Name of the Wind. Somehow I never managed to get my hands on The Wise Man's Fear (just the title alone is the AWSM). I'm going to correct that oversight now and get read up so I can sit and twitch until the 3rd one comes out.

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she_jedi asserts...

Posted March 24, 2013

Speaking of amazing fantasy, JB have you read the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher? Utterly amazing, particularly as a 180 degree departure from the Harry Dresden novels, which are also great. Butcher's "voice" changes between the two series, and it's not just the difference between first person and third person narration, you'd never guess the author of Dresden wrote the Codex if you read them both blind. That's an amazing talent. There's shedloads of splosions, aliens, traitors, conspiracies, magic, barbarians, world domination, battles to save the world from domination in a loosely based on the fall of the Roman empire if the empire was invaded by aliens kind've way, and ass kicking women of all stripes in the Game of Thrones mold. I can't recommend it enough :)

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

This sounds like the greatest novel ever written and I must away to purchase it right now.

MickH ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2013

mmm will have to try this. sounds great

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Brian puts forth...

Posted March 24, 2013

Series has been around for about 7 years. Finished now. Enjoyable but not great. But I do enjoy Butchers sense of humour.

MickH has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

oh good.

I'm over reading kick arse novel series that haven't been finished yet.

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted March 24, 2013

Supposedly, Rothfuss revises for a long time, i.e. for years. He completed the first draft of the series yonks ago, as I understand it.

For those with an interest, here is a nice reply to a fan explaining his revision process.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

If elf count >1, I doubt I'll bother.

w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

C'mon NBob. Spock has pointy ears too,

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

So do I buy this and listen to it alone on my daily commute to work or do I buy it and wait to listen with the family on this December's trip round NZ. Audio books are the best for a family holiday but me I'm selfish and I wants to listen now. Evil Spanner says listen now. Good Spanner says oh god please untie me Evil Spanner has me tied up and want you all to send money to 555xx345663

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

Listen now. It could easily carry a second listen.

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beeso asserts...

Posted March 25, 2013

This book is good!

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Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2013

Ordered the paper version. Can't seem to do the audio book thingy.

Also, don't know about others but I enjoy lurking on the book club discussions and recommendations like this. Listening to you lot chat has put me on to some good authors I've previously passed by and am now enjoying greatly. If there are others like that, the book club may be better attended than it appears.

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beeso puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2013

Then Mr Beard, i recommend, heartily, The Rook.

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Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2013

Agree with the Mr GreyBeard - this has been a great place to add to the reading list. And my holiday break list is now complete.

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pitpat is gonna tell you...

Posted March 25, 2013

I add my psuedo name to the choruses to the thanks for the heads up and the revews in general. You put me onto Wool and Scalzi both of which have been great if a little depressing in the case of Wool.

I reckon I'll be loading The Wind onto the Kindle and let my eldest boy devour it.

After me.

Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2013

Wool? What is this Wool? I must have missed it.

pitpat puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2013

Hugh Howey, was initally a series of short stories online only but I think he has got them put together as a book and as hard copy. The bugger is that he hasn't finished the series much like The Wind

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pitpat has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2013

I'm pretty sure JB posted something on it last year although I do have a problem with memory recall and I am too lazy to look it up

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 26, 2013

it's prolly gone anyway, not everything made it over.

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Surtac reckons...

Posted March 25, 2013

I know I already have the paper version, but I'm using an audible credit to get the audio version for the kindle. 71% downloaded.

I'm between books at the moment, so it's a good time to try it ...

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted March 25, 2013

Wool rocks. Very hard.

Will have to try this one. Amazing reviews on Amazon and some scathing 1 stars as well. Once more into the breach.

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BrianC ducks in to say...

Posted March 25, 2013

A voice of dissent appears. (With Minor Plot Spoilers for BKI & II)

So Patrick Rothfus... Yeah I'm not acutally a fan of these books. They are if im totally honest. Average. There is nothing here that grabs me and says LISTEN theres no hook. Even the magic which is usually enough to get me interested, so long as the system of magic is interesting and logical, which it is, just seems so... ordinary. When i read fantasy its to get flowing stories and wild mages and honorable paladins, its to be taken out of this world and placed in another. Rothfus's world just seems so... mundane. Especially the first book. I've read it twice now, the second time to see if i missed anything out... i didnt. Alot can be said for his writing style though that even though i didnt like the book i was able to read it a second time. The first book could have been sub-titled Kvothe Goes to College "The Spring Break Years" . If you have seen a revenge of the nerds movie you have seen this book. Kvothe finds out he has an enemy, gets accepted at school, has fun at school, seemingly forgets abotu enemy till conviently timed plot moment, then rallies against the enemy with hidden inner strength congratulations every one spring break

The second book does, to be fair, pick up the action and adventure somewhat and the introduction of the people of the sword was a welcome spritz of flavour and a further look into the more arcane aspects of sympathy.I've still read alot better.I'd consider you to be a better author infact.

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BrianC swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2013

Good Stuff I Have read recently

The Rook - Daniel O'Malley : Urban Fantasy a woman wakes up with no memory of who she is, and letter from herself to herself offering her the chance to figure out why she is like this and so probably die a grusome death, or take some money and run.

@DenimAlleyChild of Fire : Harry Connolly : Noir Urban Fantasy : Ray Lilly is in over his head, way over his head. He has no real powers, no real strength and he needs to kill a thing thats very existence erases whole people from reality as if they had never been. Ray isnt even the hereo of the story he just tells it, his Boss a sociopathic mage, witha burning hatred of these creatures is, and to top it all off she hates Ray and wants nothing more than to see him die.

Way of Kings : Brandon Sanderson : This is epic Fantasy, in more ways than one. At over a 1000 pages(in trade paper format) This novel is big. Capital B,I,G. Kaladin is, if any are, the main protag of this novel. The story picks up with him being sold as a slave soldier into a a useless war fought by the nobility for status and gem stones. Things only get worse for him from here.

BrianC swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2013

sorry if that is hard to read. blog seemed to drop all of my formating.

Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2013

Brian, did you know Dan O'Malley's a Canberran? I need to find out if we've roped him in for Conflux.

BrianC ducks in to say...

Posted March 25, 2013

Yeah, i met him a couple of times. We have alot of the same friends. Which i didnt know was a thing until he got famous

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DNABeast has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2013

Fixed. Break tags will no longer be formatted from the comments.

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted March 25, 2013

Testing, testing.

The boy stood on the burning deck.
Bloody idiot!

Test completed.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2013

Test successful.

Thanks to Dan.

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Tchor mutters...

Posted March 25, 2013

Welcome to the dark side JB our cookies are awesome but they take 5 years to cook :(

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Shaymanbob would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2013

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but is it purely coincidental that John recommends what GRRM has recently posted about the best "fantasy" authors around at the moment? I chose to read Joe Abercrombie first (I'm about halfway through his trilogy but find it difficult to read much because I'm also drinking Joe's whisky recommendations!) and Rothfuss second, with Scott Lynch and Daniel Abraham to follow. Who recommended Who first? Check out GRRM's Not a Blog.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted March 25, 2013

Ha, yeah it is purely coincidental. I thinkk we're just having a Rothfuss Moment. As I said in the piece above, I got this recomendation from Andy Inatkho on Macbreak Weekly. Although, having written that, when I checked the latest podcast, Leo Laporte was pimping it out. So maybe it was him. But I'm pretty sure it was Andy.

BrianC is gonna tell you...

Posted March 26, 2013

Yeah. Id leave Rothfus to last if you are reading Abercrombie now. Definately read Scot Lynch's "Gentleman Bastards" as soon as you can. One of the best fantasy i have read in a long time. I'm just jonsing for his next one.

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Shaymanbob mumbles...

Posted March 26, 2013

Ha Ha John Birmingham, so there are even more involved in this conspiracy! Ok I'll read the lot. thank you BrianC, I'll take your advice.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted March 26, 2013

Yes, damn it. Yes there are.

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Legless mumbles...

Posted March 29, 2013

Bought both books. Read both books this week. My work productivity hit an all time low.

Blown away by these books and can't wait for the third on.

Thanks for the steer John.

Cheers

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