“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.”
Tales have been told about Kvothe like legends. He’s burnt down cities and saved countless lives, he was expelled from the most famous university in any land, he can call lightening down from the sky. He’s a magician, a demon-killer, a thief, a legend, and hero. But no one really knows his true story, and the Chronicler wants to hear it.
And that can only come from the man himself. Disguised as the lowly inn-keeper Kote, he’s finally ready to tell his tale.
There’s too much going on in this book, which means, spoilers.
How many times have I been recommend this book? Too many times to tell, but I finally got around to reading it after receiving it for Christmas. From the hype of the ‘best fantasy book ever’ I was expecting big things. I got some of them. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy this book, I really did, the storytelling is masterful and the world-building excellent, but can I admit I thought it was a little over-hyped?
The novel took me a while to get into, although key to his story, I felt like we spent far too much time following Kvothe as a young orphaned thief in crime-filled city. This was a common theme throughout, even though this is the tale of Kvothe’s life, it took me a while to get to a part where I was deeply intrigued by his story. I am not one for bildungsroman type novels usually, but the constant praise made it hard to keep ignoring.
However, I am deeply interested in Kvothe as a character, having him tell the story as well as being observed by an extra omniscient narrator is delightfully complex. You can tell that Kvothe truly believes he is smarter than everyone else, that he deserves, or deserved, all the worship, and yet you know something must’ve gone wrong for him to be in hiding. I don’t read a lot of first person narrators, but this is done very well and you can tell straight away how unreliable he is when telling his tales. He is cocky but doesn’t see it, he is harsh and cold but doesn’t see that either. Kvothe seems a mystery to himself as much as he is to everyone else. I just wish he didn’t focus on such trivial things, I’m a reader who like plot and action and sneaky links to the true motive of the book.
One other thing is that I can’t seem to figure out the motivation of this book. If that makes any sense to anyone but me.
There is such a cast of characters in this book that I love, Kvothe’s parents and the rest of his troupe are so widely entertaining, as are his professors at the university and his friends, and Devi, Fela and Bast. The only character I struggle to connect with is Denna. Maybe this is another flaw in Kvothe’s story, he says she was not perfect yet noting she does is wrong in his eyes; not when she disappears near the end of the book, not the cold way she acts around some people. The only time I really enjoyed her was near the end while she was high, which isn’t what you want from a character really. I’m praying she will get better as their relationship develops and he gets a better handle on her character.
Although I had some issues getting into this book, and I still don’t think it deserves the title of ‘Best Ever Adult Fantasy Book’ (have you read The Final Empire? Like seriously the first book I thought was truly amazing), I will definitely continue reading with A Wise Man’s Fear. I want to know how he gets expelled, I want to know more about what is happening in the present, I want to know more about the Chandrian and the world that is being built, and more about Bast’s motivations because that ending was extremely unexpected.
This book is worth a read, but anyone like me needs to be warned – it takes a moment to get really into it and a few more to digest what is really happening.
I hope Patrick Rothfuss gets that 3rd book written because I am invested.