Reviews for The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, William Weaver

crufts's review
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funny lighthearted mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? Yes

5.0

Wow, what a book.

The Name of the Rose is a murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327. As in the style of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, where the narrator is the detective's assistant, so it is here.
The main character is Brother Adso, a young German monk visiting Italy, who acts as an assistant to Brother William of Baskerville, an English monk who has been called to the monastery for his Inquisitorial skills. The protagonists soon learn that one of the monastery's monks (Adelmo) has died in mysterious circumstances, and so the investigation begins.

So as not to spoil the plot, I'll refrain from going into an excited rant about the clever puzzles the narrative poses to the main characters. Instead, I'll comment that I was delighted to see the way these medieval characters applied medieval modes of forensic and logical investigation to the mystery.  There were fun and fascinating chase scenes in spooky hidden passages, and a library which edges into sci-fi with its clever design.

The story's characterization was another one of its gems. Adso's innocence and eagerness to help is charming, and William's sly humour brought light and levity to this detective novel. Lest you be concerned that the novel might put you off by being too religious, rest assured that many characters' religious views are the target of debate and incredulity, and even form the butt of jokes.  For example, there's a hilarious moment when
SpoilerAdso is disappointed to learn that unicorns aren't real. At another point, a long passage of argument between monks about what the poverty of Christ should mean suddenly picks up and turns into a brawl with amusing and creative insults thrown around
.

The Storygraph website has asked me to note whether the characters are diverse. While they're not diverse in the way I assume the site means (because they're nearly all white men), they are diverse in the context of the setting: the monks are from a dozen different countries with a spectrum of different languages and cultural backgrounds, and this turns up in the plot.

Overall, if you enjoy mystery and detective novels, The Name of the Rose will be right up your alley.
I strongly recommend listening to the audiobook (which I did), as the historical storytelling parts are a lot more fun when you get to hear Brother William raising his voice and using different intonations. 


Expand filter menu Collapse filter menu Content Warnings

Moderate: Sexism and Homophobia

Minor: Sexual content and Antisemitism

Period-typical homophobia, also condoned by the protagonists, as "sinful" and "unnatural". However, no direct harassment or confrontation is made towards the gay characters. Period-typical sexism is woven into the fabric of the society and even condoned by the main characters. "Women are the vessel of the devil", etc. A sex scene is written in highly chaste and poetic language, which is actually made of stitched-together religious quotes - imagine a monk describing a spiritual and transcendent experience. Antisemitic remarks are made briefly by some characters.

rabbitprincess's review
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2.0

Thank God that that book is finally over with. Took me over a month to read, which is a long time for me. It's a book that unfolds at a measured pace, packed with lush descriptions and extended conversations between the characters. I guess since there was nothing else to do in the 13th century, people talked FOREVER.

Now, Umberto Eco is a fabulously descriptive writer. However, not everyone can stomach such a level of description. I will readily admit to having a lowered tolerance for description, so there were many occasions where I would skim as best I could to get the essence of the plot and avoid all the digressions. The book did pick up about halfway through, sagged again, and then the last climactic showdown was really ace.

I also have to say that I was expecting a creepier book. The back cover gushes about "seven days and seven nights of apocalyptic terror", but unless one considers bickering monks terrifying, there isn't much terrifying in this book. There are pockets of unnerving moments, especially the climax, but I can't say I was gripped with fear throughout the story. Perhaps I just had too high expectations. Oh well, I've read it and can say I've read the whole thing...and all that Latin throughout the book was definitely a treat, even if I didn't understand much of it.

So to sum up, if you're up to the challenge, give this book a shot. If you're not, rent the movie.

freakingeek's review
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adventurous dark funny informative mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? No

5.0

Leone's review
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adventurous challenging dark informative sad tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? Yes

3.0

ATSundarsingh's review
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4.0

An incredibly slow wind-up, but a race to the finish. Eco writes an intriguing story with lessons embedded that have no clear answer. Take what you will from it, the story is beautifully written.

SamanthaLaurene's review
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5.0

The second enormous book I managed to read in quarantine because it’s excellent. Upsetting, scary, complicated, perverse, fanatical, instructive for those of us less versed in our Biblical and Christian history. I loved this duo so much I delayed finishing the book because the idea of reading the lines where they must go their separate ways was so painful.

Thebobsphere's review
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4.0


I have a hunch that if I read it again I'll give this book five stars.

Eco's Semiotic detective story is brainy fun. It's the Middle Ages and loads of monks are dying and it's up to William of Baskerville and his trusty sidekick Adso to solve the mystery.

As this is Eco, the plot is a macguffin - the whole book is about language acquisition and how it effects people. There's also discussions on humour, philosophy and so on. Despite the lofty plot Name of the Rose is accessible and a good starting point to Eco's books.

readingthruthepages's review
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4.0

A somewhat long winded but funky story that felt rather like a mashup of Sherlock Holmes, The Monk, and Moby Dick. Much of the style was highly reminiscent of The Swiss Family Robinson in the detailing and expostulatory narration. While I found it hard to get into the story, once I accustomed myself to the writing, I was hooked. By turns spooky, dry, hilarious, and sincere, this is a roller coaster of a novel.

Adso is a young novice who arrives at the abby with his master, William of Baskerville. They are just in time to investigate the first of a string of deaths that seem to be linked to the coming of the Antichrist and the apocalypse, all pointing to some mystery of the greatest library in Christendom: That of the Aedificium at the Abbey, to be entered only by the librarian.

As the death count mounts, one thing does become clear. Everything in life, and in death, is a matter of perspective. "Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do." "How can we trust ancient wisdom, whose traces you are always seeking, if it is handed down by lying books that have interpreted it with such license? Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means."

We are warned against the danger of seeing or interpreting certainty from the uncertain, concreteness from the insubstantial, material from the spiritual. A warning that, when not heeded, leads to disastrous consequences.

AndreaC's review
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4.0

"Knihy nie sú na to, aby sme im verili, ale aby sme ich skúmali. Pri knihe sa nemáme pýtať, čo hovorí, ale čo chce povedať..."

Kedysi dávno som už raz meno ruže čítala, avšak tentokrát som si túto knihu vychutnala omnoho viac.
Ak chcete prostredníctvom tejto knihy vojsť do stredovekého opátstva a prežiť v ňom sedem dní, musíte prijať jeho rytmus, ako hovorí sám Umberto Eco.
Preto sa je prvých 100 strán pomalších, uvádzajúcich, až neskôr vás strhne samotný príbeh a nebudete vedieť položiť knihu z rúk.

Za mňa 4 hviezdičky

Miel's review
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adventurous challenging dark informative mysterious reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters centre-stage? Yes

4.5

I feel that if I was older and wiser I would rate this boo higher. Still, I can't recommend it enough, it is a book made for book lovers by book lovers that also revolves around books. So many things to analyze and reflect about, it can be so heavy and so light at different times sometimes, beautiful flowery descriptions. And it pulled a few tears from me.
SpoilerI still don't know what the name of the rose is.

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