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1,717 of 1,851 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your precious reading hours
It seems to me that every year there are more books I want to read and less time for me to read them. Because my time is limited, I'm guilty of picking up the books by my favorite authors first, and fitting in new authors only when it's convenient.

Due to a stroke of luck, I've had an advance copy of The Name of the Wind by my bedside for over six months, just...
Published on March 19, 2007 by Robin Hobb

versus
354 of 442 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few interesting and enticing morsels sprinkled on a canvass of frustration
With hundreds of reviews and several customer discussions on its Amazon page, "The Name of the Wind" aroused my curiosity. Some negative comments appeared calculated to smear while some positive comments seemed equally overdone. I do not doubt there are both heart-felt one and five star reviews posted here, but isolated comments from both camps seemed disingenuous. I...
Published on August 28, 2009 by K. Sullivan


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1,717 of 1,851 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your precious reading hours, March 19, 2007
By 
Robin Hobb "Robin" (Tacoma, Washington) - See all my reviews
It seems to me that every year there are more books I want to read and less time for me to read them. Because my time is limited, I'm guilty of picking up the books by my favorite authors first, and fitting in new authors only when it's convenient.

Due to a stroke of luck, I've had an advance copy of The Name of the Wind by my bedside for over six months, just waiting for me to open it. Unfortunately, deadlines of my own kept getting in the way. But in a way, it's lucky that I didn't crack this book until just a few days ago. If I'd had this tale to distract me, I'd have been even later getting my work done.

I loathe spoilers, so I'm not going to discuss the plot of this book. I will say it has all the things that I demand of a book. The characters are real, the action is convincing and it has a compelling story to tell.

One of the things I like best about this book is that the magic is absolutely rooted in the book's world. Nothing seems contrived; the consistency is excellent.

The characters are very well realized. That means that when the protagonist does something clever, it's believable. And when he does something youthfully dumb, it rings just as authentically true. Because the characters are real and the magic is true to its own world, I closed this book feeling as if I'd been on a journey with an entertaining new friend, rather than sitting alone looking at words on a page.

This one is well worth some of your precious reading time. I'll wager that the books to follow it will also be.

Robin Hobb
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375 of 422 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought after reading the negative reviews..., October 24, 2008
By 
I always read the negative reviews of books I liked. For one, I think people can be much more detailed about what they don't like than what they did. Second, I just want to know what made people dislike something I liked.

There seems to be an overall theme amongst the negative reviews that Kvothe is unlikable--but most of these reviews contradict themselves. They don't like him because he's arrogant, but then also complain that he's too perfect to be realistic and has no flaws. I think Rothfuss's intentions were to make Kvothe's arrogance one of his biggest flaws. Imagine you caught on to many subjects in school very fast, were number one in your class and had a relatively quick wit. You'd probably be arrogant, too, as I know the smart, popular people in my high school were. And it's Kvothe's arrogance that constantly gets him into trouble.

The theme of Rothfuss's book, to me, is the difference between the reality of a man's life and his actions, and the stories other men tell about him. That's why we begin with him in a quiet inn, then cut to local patrons telling wild tales. We are introduced to a character, The Chronicler, whose sole purpose in "life" is to find the truth about stories, to debunk myths and legends. But fantasy books *are* the stuff of myths and legends--dragons, fair maidens, faeries, wizards. So how do you tell the story of a renowned magical hero without the requisite exaggeration and outright lies? Without turning the hero into an unrealistic beacon of flawless unrelenting perfection? You tell both stories--the ones people want to believe, and the story that comes closest to the truth. And the truth is Kvothe is a rash, impulsive, sometimes selfish and very often stupidly arrogant man. These traits get him into endless trouble, which he sometimes weasels his way out of through his wit and talents.

You are given Kvothe's many legendary titles (like Bloodless) and then learn the slightly less-than-mystical reason why he was given that quasi-true moniker. What's masterful about Rothfuss's work here, however, is that even when you tear down the myths about Kvothe and get to the "real" story, Kvothe still emerges a hero. If that is too unbelievable for you, if it's not realistic for a character to be truly heroic and truly talented and truly great despite his flaws, then you won't like this story. It's just not cynical enough for you.
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345 of 406 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Debut Novel - Best Fantasy Novel - In Years, May 23, 2007
By 
James D. DeWitt "Alaska Fan" (Fairbanks, AK United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This is the kind of novel that fantasy readers dream of reading. It's the kind of novel would-be writers dream of writing. Excellent writing, deeply complex characters, careful revelations and wonderful plot twists. I haven't enjoyed a debut fantasy novel this much since Barry Hughart's "Bridge of Birds" or Rosemary Kirstein's "The Steerswoman."

The protagonist, Kvothe, is seemingly hiding as an innkeeper. But there are nasty creatures about, that may or may not be attracted to him. After Kvothe rescues a bard, he ends up telling the bard his life story. So you get the back story on a nearly-mythical wizard, mixed with increasingly dark events happening in the present. It is an extremely effective way to to tell a story. It certainly kept me up all night. And I can truthfully say I savored each of the 660 plus pages.

Maybe the best part is that Rothfuss, in his blog, says all three books in the trilogy are written, and will be released at one year intervals. I can't wait.

This is about as good as high fantasy gets. An imaginative, powerful and compelling story that is exceptionally well told. My compliments to Mr. Rothfuss. And my very highest recommendation to readers.
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354 of 442 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few interesting and enticing morsels sprinkled on a canvass of frustration, August 28, 2009
This review is from: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1) (Paperback)
With hundreds of reviews and several customer discussions on its Amazon page, "The Name of the Wind" aroused my curiosity. Some negative comments appeared calculated to smear while some positive comments seemed equally overdone. I do not doubt there are both heart-felt one and five star reviews posted here, but isolated comments from both camps seemed disingenuous. I had to see what all the fuss was about. (Congratulations to anyone who thought such disagreement and vitriol would help market the book... you got me!)

Of 722 total pages, I estimate that there were less than 200 pages of compelling narrative taken altogether. Most were located in the latter half of the book. It was not necessarily poorly written, there was just a lot of pointless detail. Ignoring for a moment the overarching plot device of a legendary hero narrating his tale to a scribe, the narrative of the book can be reasonably broken down into the following sections: 1. Kvothe as a trouper with his family; 2. Kvothe as a street urchin in the large city of Tarbean; 3. Kvothe at the university. The first two sections take almost 250 pages. They could have been greatly abbreviated without any ill-effect to the story. The final section also suffers from dead weight resulting in very slow pacing.

The first-person narrative introduced some difficulties for me. Kvothe seems to dearly enjoy hearing himself talk. Maybe as a hero it is his right, but he seems just a tad too pleased with himself at times. Some quips were witty while others fell flat. Some thoughts were inspiring while others were corny or self-evident. He actually says, "Attend to me as I draw back the curtain to reveal a long-kept minstrel's secret..." (page 477). Groan! I wonder if Chronicler rolled his eyes. He took himself and his tale a little too seriously at times. In a few instances, Kvothe hints at a greater context or another anecdote but refuses to share it. It felt like a bit of a cop out (planting a seed in the reader's mind without actually working for it; i.e., fully developing the narrative).

Another bitter pill for me was that a lot of the drama seemed forced or contrived. Every time things were going well or smoothly, the rug would inevitably be pulled out from under Kvothe. The tension did not seem to arise organically. Instead, it felt like the author set him up just to knock him down again.

The characterizations suffered on a couple fronts. Various characters were tired clichés (mean-spirited schoolmaster, haughty rich student) and others were not well developed. Kvothe's two best friends at the university (and their relationships) seemed weakly established.

It appears to be en vogue of late for fantasy novelists to verbalize their conscious efforts to defy the conventions of the genre. A theme throughout this book is that things did not occur neatly or tidily because this is not a story or fairy tale. Yet it still read just the same to me. Apparently telling us the story is not a story is no reliable means to escape the conventions. This is not fantasy literature's first flawed hero or legendary figure who is revealed to be less than his image.

I struggled to finish the book. It was only on my last day of reading that I decided to rate it at three stars instead of two. There is some pretty good stuff here. There's just a whole lot of frustrating nonsense you must be willing and prepared to wade through. I honestly do not know if I will read the next installment(s).
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful at Times, Terrible At Times, November 23, 2007
This was a surprisingly difficult book to rate. How many stars do you give a book like this? At times it was wonderful, and at other times it was quite bad.

On the one hand, lengthy stretches of this book grabbed me, pulled me down, and kept me submerged in a truly wonderful and believable fantasy world. Some portions of the book were quite adventurous while many others developed believable, intricate characters and wonderful settings. Patrick Rothfuss, the book's author, did a particularly good (if optimistic) job of creating a believable academic, university setting in a fantasy world. This setting let him deal with magic in a very thoughtful and intriguing way.

In addition to all of this, some portions of the book had me laughing out loud, and others left me thinking, "Wow." Wow, this is exactly how this scene should have gone. Or - wow, I wasn't expecting that. How exciting! Or - wow, that is a really interesting character!

On the other hand, lengthy periods of this book were terrible. Some sections were downright tedious and uninteresting. I understand why they were there, and how they serve the story. But still, they could have been written better and could have been more engaging. Some sections of the book were slow and plodding.

Reading requires effort. Don't get me wrong; I love to read, and I rarely consider fiction-reading to be work. I really love books and I love words even more. Still, reading does require effort. And there were times, when I was reading this, when I wondered if it was worth the effort. It is a long book and it has some tedious sections.

So, how did I decide to rate this book? Why four stars? Well, the excellent sections of the book were really excellent, and they made up for the not-so-great sections.

But, beyond that, I was particularly impressed by how well the author developed his leading character, Kvothe. Considering the book, after I had finished it, I was impressed to realize just how much Kvothe changes throughout the novel. He is one kind of person at one point, and a very different kind of person later. And then, remarkably, he changes yet again! It is impressive that the author could pull this transformation off. It makes sense that the character changes as he does, and the character seems consistent, believable, and fascinating.
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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but self-indulgent, September 25, 2007
By 
Omnivore (Boulder, Colorado) - See all my reviews
Have to admit, the cover (with the Green Man) drew me to read this. (What a Green Man has to do with the story is a question, but then, the cover did its job.) The book is easy to read, and the start is highly entertaining, yet I preferred the third-person narration to Kvothe's own telling. Kvothe isn't really very likeable, from inside his own head. And my goodness me, in 600 pages, it would be nice to have a semblance of a plot. That's where the "self-indulgent" stems from. Disgressions and philosophy are all very well, but really, our protagonist Kvothe thinks highly of himself and Mr. Rothfuss' opinions, and he does go on and on and on...

Imagine my disappointment in discovering that this doorstop of a book was but the start of another tedious trilogy. (Publishers - get over it. Rattling good stories used to be told in one book.) Life is too short to wade through a book this long, only to discover: 1) not much story, and 2) what story there is must be discovered in subsequent books.

Rothfuss is very good with emotions, and that helped me keep reading, as did his hints (but little more than hints) at world. The magic is excellent, creative and believable. However, Mr. Rothfuss and his editor need to pay attention to standard English grammar. The verb to lie (not the one meaning to prevaricate, the one meaning to set down or stretch out) is misused every single time! It's maddening -- and not the only error.

Fun, but on the whole, no thanks.
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70 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well written, but..., January 12, 2008
By 
[minor spoilers follow]

This is a bit of a problematic book for me to review...

I really liked Patrick Rothfuss's writing style, and enjoyed the book as I was reading it.

I enjoyed the university, even with the Snape and Malfoy clones.

I liked the magic system. I especially liked how knowing (and understanding) the true name of something (like the wind of the title) can give you power over it.

And the Chandrian, with their blue flames, show promise as the mega-villains of the piece.

But...

*Not a whole lot happens in this book, especially considering its 600+ page count.

* I found the bits of present day framing story(especially the demons and hints of war) to be a lot more interesting than a lot of the flashback stories (and the flashback stories took up the majority of the novel).

* Kvothe is just too good at too many things (particularly given his young age - he is what? 15 at the close of the flashback sequences of the book?), and it irritated me after awhile. Seems to me that both his magic studies and his music would be extremely demanding mistresses, and I just do not buy that he would be so good at both at such a young age, even with natural gifts

* the street orphan sequences in Tarbean go on way too long. He is living on the street and he is poor and hungry. I get it. Does this really have to take up such a large chunk of the book?

* the whole draccus sequence, while cool, is just a side trip without really adding anything to the plot or to the growth of the characters - and it added a lot of unnecessary length to the book

In short - I find Rothfuss to be a promising writer - but a very wordy one. This book could have been a lot better with a ruthless editor willing to cut out some of the tangenital side stories and cut back on a lot of the repetitous stuff both in the street orphan sequence and once the main character gets to the university. (Yes, he is poor. I get it . And get it again. And get it again. And get it again. Rinse and repeat.)

With Rothfuss being such a new writer I blame the editor more than the writer for the problems I have with the book.

I will most certainly read the next book in the trilogy. But I will not be dropping everything in my life to do so on its release day, as I would do with some other writers in the genre.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but Overhyped, June 9, 2008
By 
ARK (Computer Chair) - See all my reviews
In the end, I'm not really sure what I think about this book. It's definitely overhyped. That said, the latter half of it was definitely entertaining, and I never got bored -- even in the slow-paced beginning. However, the book is definitely flawed.

(Very, very Minor Spoilers below.)

THE GOOD
This is an excellent world that is well defined for the most part. You really feel like you're getting down and dirty in an ancient culture. We always know how poor Kvothe is; the money system adds a sense of urgency and interest (especially when Kvothe is in debt!). I enjoyed the tales of him learning to subsist on his own; he was always on the edge of disaster and learning how to survive. Quite entertaining!

The magic is not well described at first, and a couple of times I was confused and had to re-read passages. However, as soon as I got the gist of it, I enjoyed it. It works on a completely logical standpoint and is really no more than dangerous super-physics, which I found a refreshing take on the subject.

The final 200 pages or so are just good fun -- how Kvothe defeats a big stoned fire-breathing lizard is terribly enjoyable, and the aftermath of Ambrose's charges of malfeasance? Delightful.

Lovely writing, too. I love how the Prologue and Epilogue mirror each other. Rothfuss also has a nice way with poetry!

THE BAD
I entirely agree with previous reviewers: this book needed to be pared down big time. Rothfuss goes on and on and on about pieces of Kvothe's life that, while important, shouldn't be so darn long. Three chapters (at most!) could have been devoted to the massive chunk in the middle of the novel devoted to Kvothe's Tarbean exploits. It is notable that while he scrabbles about in the city, he never, ever acts like a "genius." Yeah, yeah, he's "broken," but to lose all of his acuity?... It's ridiculous. Of course, the reason for all this padding is because Rothfuss needed a reason for Kvothe to learn some minor skills and hear some background about the Chandrian... but it only ended up cluttering the narrative. It would have been simpler to make Kvothe more of a human being than a godling, thereby focusing on what is more important: the larger plot (which is woefully under-developed). The book picks up in the last 200 pages in a sign of what "should have been." Rothfuss can write, don't forget it! By the same token, by making Kvothe a super-character and backing up why he can do all of these amazing things, he loses sight of the plot entirely... if there was one to begin with.

The villains are simultaneously hackneyed and interesting. On one hand, they spout the same goofy lines that all villains seem required to say. On another, I like that they are hard to trace and relatively quiet; the best villains don't galumph around causing mass mayhem for nothing. In my opinion, this implies intelligence. Sadly, Rothfuss features them only twice throughout the entire book -- a shame. Especially a shame since they're supposed to be the focal point of some sort of plot. After Tarbean and the University, they just seem tacked on, which doesn't seem right.

I think the biggest flaw with this book is the characterization. Kvothe walks a narrow road between blatant "Gary Stu" and "realistic genius." Sometimes he was so annoying that I wanted to punch him -- mostly because he was so darn good at everything. He can pick locks, act better than an Oscar-winner, memorize whole plays and difficult songs, play and sing like Orpheus, attract hot women with little effort, get PAID to go to school because of his brilliance, be promoted to a higher rank within two years when it takes other students 4-5 times as long, accurately judge a horse's quality after years of not even passing an idle glance at one, and on top of it all, he's got a nice looking face, eyes that change color, and bright hotrod-red hair. Who do you know like this? And how many of you really want to be friends with such a person? I entirely expected a few lines to be devoted to Kvothe's heritage as an incarnation of Tehlu. I fear that this trend will only continue, as we're promised that Kvothe will learn how to sword-fight (like a pro, I expect) and fight some angels and basically become more incredibly unbelievable. Face it: most people excel at only one or two things, even geniuses.

Thankfully, Kvothe has enough problems that almost balance him out... and I stress "almost." The element that really saves this book is that we're starting from the present -- when a depressed, broken Kvothe tells his story. If he wasn't so messed up "now," I would despise him, and I would have returned this book after a mere 50 pages. As it was, I nearly dropped the book on several occasions.

Secondary characters suffer as a result of Kvothe's super-powers. "Good" characters are those who revolve around Kvothe; they are colorless, bland satellites, providing a laugh or two at best. "Bad" characters, or those who question Kvothe's character (i.e., those who don't kowtow to Kvothe's inherent awesomeness), are "taught a lesson" (with the exception of teachers -- since they are necessary tools to teach Kvothe the arcane arts). It is telling that the only person Kvothe can really empathize with is a woman who is almost as amazing as he is. She has red eyes, memorized the whole of a difficult song after singing it twice, and is incredibly gorgeous. Oh, please!

Frankly, I couldn't tell many of the characters apart. The number of quality characters could be counted on one hand -- Elodin and Auri being the best. The rest of them are plain vanilla boring -- after all, how can these regular joes compare to a god like Kvothe? Kvothe's friends are interchangeable and even until the end of the book, I wasn't sure who was who in his inner circle. I didn't even have a good feeling for the teachers, which is inexcusable; Rothfuss spent almost no time fleshing them out at all. The names, personal and nationality-wise, don't help; it's like Rothfuss pulled out random Scrabble tiles and stuck them together (Kvothe? Seriously, what is that? Did his keyboard explode?). I still haven't figured out any of the randomly dropped country names or what the different ethnicities are famous for. And I shouldn't have to look at the little map to know!

In many respects, this is a book about how awesome, intelligent, and wonderful Kvothe is. And that's bad. He was never really a person I could identify with. I never felt "with" him; I was excited FOR him, especially when he overcame some nasty odds, but at the end of the book, I didn't care whether he lived or died. I had the kind of interest in him that a spectator in the ancient Roman Coliseum might have had in a gladiator: I'm interested in his exploits, but not in him personally.

Would I buy this book? Nah. I'd get it at the library, enjoy it for what it's worth, and take it back. I wouldn't jump at the second book, either. But it's good for what it is... a fun little trip out of this world, if you can stand a bothersome egocentric know-it-all for a protagonist.
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138 of 184 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wanted so much to love it.... but didn't, March 16, 2012
This review is from: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1) (Paperback)
The Name of the Wind was recommended to me by a few people and I was a little reluctant to give it a go, but then I read George R R Matin's rave review of it on his blog and promptly picked myself up a copy.
I've only got a hundred pages left to read, but I can't face it. I just cant do it anymore. I'm sick of rolling my eyes, and gritting my teeth, and cringing.

Kvothe makes me wanna gouge my eyes out. He's that annoying. I know fantasy is attractive because it diverts us from the humdrum of our normal, uninteresting lives, and I'm aware that a heroic character should be more powerful and awesome than your regular joe. But seriously, if Kvothe excels beyond the realm of understanding in one more thing, I'll scream.
I'd list all the achievements young Kvothe has earned himself but I just don't have enough room. And I honestly cant swallow another list covering All That Is Supremely Awesome About Kvothe.

A few times I wondered if this was a satire, but then it didn't seem self-aware or heavy-handed enough.
There's a point in the novel where Kvothe has just played his lute for a massive audience and breaks down into tears at the conclusion of his show (such was the heartbreaking beauty of his performance) and then we're forced to acknowledge that all this crying is not unmanly or anything, because the ENTIRE audience is sobbing along with him. Grrr. It's bad enough that Kvothe himself thinks he's god's gift to the universe, now every other character is functioning as a tool to reflect Kvothe's awesomeness.

The plot in this story is extremely slow moving and when you look back, you realise how little has actually happened.

It seems that there is minor obstacle after minor obstacle that Kvothe must face (usually financial) but then overcome one at a time with nothing but the strength of his own cleverness. I got really sick of hearing about Kvothe's poverty only for the next page to reveal some overly generous stranger more than happy to help him out. It rang false.

Patrick Rothfuss's world was confusing to me. I think the fantasy universes that work best are those that are just similar enough to our own world that we can track the locations and names easily. Rothfuss uses gibberish language for every place, dialect and name. It's annoying and confusing. The Song of Ice and Fire series, features a fantasy world with reasonable-sounding names like "The Iron Islands" and "The Vale of Arryn" and when you go across the sea to foreign territory, names like "Slaver's bay" and "The Basilisk Isles" point out that you are in a totally different place, culturally and geographically, without you having to decipher how to say the names.
Rothfuss gives us places called: "Ceald", "Yll", "Modeg", "Vintas", "Tarbean", "Imre" and others that are equally unintelligible. It didn't work for me.

Another major pet peeve, was the women in this book. Rothfuss makes an attempt to give them depth, but fails woefully. They tend to be beautiful maidens in need of being rescued by Kvothe from rich, rapey boys at the University or motherly matrons who enjoy rewarding Kvothe for his general perfection with food or money.
There is one scene where Kvothe actually saves a girl from a burning building and laments the fact that he cant carry her gallantly like a princess, but must throw her over his shoulder for ease of movement in said burning building. ARRGH.
Denna (Kvothe's main love interest) is literally unspeakably beautiful, a full page is given over to describing her indescribable appearance/charisma. Denna is about as interesting and deep as a bowl of porridge, and has the defining trait of running away from men whom she uses for presents and attention, without leaving any trace.
As a woman, what really irked me, was a discussion Kvothe and one of his mentors Deoch had in which they detailed how all women hate Denna because she is beautiful and successful with men. All of them. I had no idea we were so universally shallow and mean-spirited. Thank you Mr Rothfuss, for enlightening me.

I prefer to like my protagonist as I'm reading, not secretly pray he dies a painful, drawn out death. I really loathed this book. I wish there had been more negative reviews available before I bought it.
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72 of 95 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Yet Strangly Compelling, April 29, 2009
This review is from: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1) (Paperback)
Fantasy readers have a tendency to hand out five-star reviews like Mardi-Gras beads. To me a five-star review is the sort of thing that should be saved and passed out sparingly only to the very best books that come along. The Name of the Wind is definitely not among the best.

My paperback copy was over 700 pages long and I found it amazing that so little could happen (in the first in a series, no less) in so long a book. A young man loses his parents, lives as a beggar in a big city for a few years, attends a university, learns some magic, and gets into a few scrapes though nothing he can't easily get himself out of. And then the story simply stops.

Epic fantasy this is not. No battles are fought, not cities fall, no kings are dethroned, no quests are undertaken. The comparisons to the Harry Potter books are apt as far as they go, but they are actually probably unfair to the Potter books. In each Harry Potter book our heroes engage dark forces in battle and the stakes are very high. Not so in The Name of the Wind. Also, despite their many flaws, the Harry Potter books do at least have very clearly drawn characters. I couldn't tell you the first thing about any of Kvothe's friends or professors at the university.

And yet, somehow I was completely engaged through all 700 pages. I can't even say why, but I was concerned about Kvothe and wanted him to do well and to learn the skills he needs for his inevitable battle with those dark forces that are but the vaguest shadow in the background of this book.
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The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)
The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1) by Patrick Rothfuss (Paperback - April 7, 2009)
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