Back to fantasy :D. The second book in this series just came out several months ago (it took me forever to finally finish up the book, stupid germs) and so it is fresh on my mind, whereas I read the first book also when it was freshly released and that was a while ago. This all adds up to me mostly focusing on the second book in this trilogy, but highly recommend the trilogy in general if the traits listed here sound good to you because they apply to both ;-). Also, a good friend helped me with this post because I needed assistance in remembering the first book <3.
Title: The Kingkiller Chronicle (first book is The Name of the Wind)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Pages: ~1000 pages each (yes, they are long books ) hardcover
Setting: Most of the places of the world are rural farming communities with nobility thrown in enough places to make everyone else’s lives difficult. There is a king (allowing for the title…), but there is also a school called the University that teaches magic (and other useful things) to anyone who can pay the tuition and pass the tests (the tuition varies based on how your admissions exam goes :D). This world does not have the same storybook magic that peasants whisper about. The real magic is complicated and slightly based on physics and very interesting. There are also a fair number of different cultures that have their own secrets to learn.
Premise: The main character, Kote/Kvothe , is retelling the story of his life in the inn that he owns as an adult to a traveling scribe. His life has been the source of great stories that are becoming legendary and he wants to get the real story down. The world around them also appears to be in a state of deadly chaos, though we haven’t exactly figured out why. Most of the first two books center on his life at the University and a few extra travels he has during that time, with interludes of what is happening in the current world thrown in as people burst through the door.
- Absolutely wonderful world building!
- The “hero” isn’t really a hero, but he is a very interesting main character with all of the delicious ambiguity that goes along with a semi-self-aware first person narrative
- Along the same lines, this is not a hero story, it is the story of the man behind the legends and this is quite well done. It happens often that Kvothe will overhear a story that is obviously about him but has already started morphing into the legend of Kvothe the Arcane and the contrasts are very entertaining and interesting.
- The writing style is quite descriptive in a just right way. Rothfuss is able to strike a good balance between giving you a mental picture of what is going but not boring you with details.
- The villains (of which there are a few of varying degrees) are quite well done and the variety is nice. There is the prickish jerk who you just want to slap and the terrifying demon thing that wonderfully unsettles you (and a few in between those extremes).
- Some highly entertaining side characters!
- While Kvothe’s adventures are entertaining, there just seem to be too many side plots to me. Perhaps they will all be wonderfully wrapped together in the third book, but there are a lot of times that I sat back wondering what these side adventures have to do with Kvothe’s overarching goals (to kill the really really bad guy).
- Along those lines, there is a lot of focus on subvillians, who are awesome, but it seems to be to the detriment of our hate/fear of the Big Bad who just isn’t involved in the first two books that much….
- Kvothe’s life kind of really sucks at times and I was definitely drawn into the story to the point of being a bit stressed when he was stressed, ha.
- The first two books cover about 3 years of his life, and there are at least 10 more years to go probably before reaching the current time, so how that is going to get fit into the final book in the trilogy is a mystery to me.
- I realized after finishing the first two books that the side characters are rather not persistent. They pop into Kvothe’s life for a while, then he runs off and meets side characters, and sometimes they pop back in, but there is no Robin to this Batman, which can give a bit of character vertigo….
Summary: Really these are excellent books so far! They aren’t quite traditional in their plot landscape, but I’m really hoping that it all makes sense in the third book because the world and characters are just wonderful. I very much enjoy reading them, though they are long (my friend read them both in four days though…). I really recommend this trilogy to anyone that likes fantasy that is a bit off the beaten path but still epic!