Normally, this is not a genre I gravitate to, (the last book I read was Elizabeth Strout’s excellent Anything is Possible) though there is always, with no exception, a section in any library dedicated to Sci Fi/Fantasy. Many of the tomes to be found within are weighty indeed. I would often use them to get hard-to-reach epics like Lady Don’t Fall Backwards. (sorry, old Tony Hancock joke there) Patrick Rothfuss’s trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicles is no exception, very weighty indeed. No one ever publishes a world-building pamphlet, although I believe Trump has one in the works.
Upon several recommendations, I cleared my schedule and delved into this series. Trilogy may be a misnomer at this point, as he has written only the first two, and a third is pending. To say it is eagerly anticipated would be a severe understatement.
NO SPOILERS BTW: What sets this series apart from others I have read (a paltry list to be sure, incl. Lord of the Rings, which I enjoyed but struggled with at times), was that the story was told by the main character (Kvothe, which is difficult to say the best of times, I prefer the more utilitarian COAT) in a future time.
Kvothe, in the present time, is a ginger-headed innkeeper, who relays his peopled tale to a scribe, or Chronicler. There are interludes throughout the book where it shifts back to the present, but the narrative stays with a younger Kvothe and his adventures.
The book is quite slowly paced, which might be a turn off for some readers. (That is, unless, you cherish your long bowel movements, who here HASN’T dropped their smart phone in the toilet, show of hands.) When is the rocket going to leave the launch pad, you might hear yourself saying, although there are no space ships, it was only a metaphor.
The author keeps the pace very measured, and there is great deal of nuance and granularity to the writing. This is a high water mark of world-building. And it is never boring. Environs include Kvothe’s penniless struggles in a big city, very Dickensesque. Featured as well, and at length, is his tenure as a student in a university, which is slightly reminiscent of Hogwarts (though much more bawdy, given that this is adult reading. I read The Shining when I was 12, let me be the cautionary tale) in that it is an educational institution for those wishing to learn not only the dark arts, but other branches of magic, arcanism, even alchemy (I perform this trick at Starbucks, turning coffee into, cough, gold.)
I read the first book, The Name of the Wind, then started the second, The Wise Man’s Fear (which, by the way, is when you use your debit card without checking your bank balance first). I made into the first quarter of the book, and put it aside for a few months. Not because of any shortcoming, but I simply did not have time to sit and read. Holding a book, as we all know, is hard work. Single-tasking is to be avoided at all costs. Wonderful concept are audiobooks, and I bought the 44 hour version, read brilliantly by Nick Podehl. They are transporting in the variation of voices, as the Harry Potter series was when read by Jim Dale.
It was even more engrossing through audio than on paper (by which I mean papers in book form, not bundled into inconvenient reams of foolscap before someone invented binding). As I drive down the street, elbow out the window, straight arming the steering wheel, ear buds in place, THAT is what I listen to. Even when visitors from overseas come a-visiting, I am plugged in – they ARE my wife’s relations, after all. They want chit chat – get an Uber.
Make no mistake, this is not YA, as there are adult themes, but not to the extent of say Game of Thrones (another series I am plodding through but am becoming disenchanted with the bigger roster of characters than an Indian wedding.).
It is bawdy, witty at times, with an appealing main character whose youth makes this a coming of age story in many ways. In many instances, he comes across as an arrogant twat, and there are many comeuppances for his behaviour, which makes for a more appealing antagonist. He is smarter than (as Terry Pratchett says) a dungeonful of lawyers, but not infallible.
Suffice to say, that Patrick Rothfuss has thrown his entire arsenal into this series. Nothing is given short shrift, I never got the feeling that he is painting with broad strokes. Highly recommended, even if you are not a fan of the genre in general.