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Reynwood’s Reviews: The Kingkiller Chronicle

Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle

Titles: The Name of the Wind, The Wiseman’s Fear

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

My rating:         

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings, I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both by sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature ─ the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

My thoughts:

Where could I even begin? It’s been so long since I’ve read a book like this that I’ve just about forgotten how it felt to be consumed by a story, nearly forgotten that it was still possible.

I read this book like it was my job. Begun and finished in a handful of days. That has to be a record for a book of this size, if not of all time (for me), than it certainly is for the last handful of years. I thought about it all the time while I was not reading, waiting for the next opportunity to stay up until 2 in the morning or spend the entire afternoon and read. As a reader it’s gripping and clever, dramatic and humorous, full of colorful characters. As a writer I can see just what a piece of art this story is, and can recognize and appreciate what went in to making such a vast and diverse world. The worldbuilding is magnificent, broad in scope and intricate in detail.

An aspect I found intriguing is that the story is told in both third and first person, in the setting of our main character, Kvothe, telling his life story to a curious Chronicler, and every so often throughout the narrative we jump back to the present, keeping alive the memory that events aren’t over yet. Things are still happening even while Kvothe tells his tale, and it’s awesome, if you want my simple and honest opinion.

Kvothe is a character (and I don’t mean that strictly in the literal sense). He’s ridiculously smart and witty, talented, brave, stupid ─ all the stuff we love, a thorough mix of everything that makes a person a person. A far cry from one-dimensional. And he’s not the only one, the whole cast is a fine mess of personalities, heritages, and behaviors. Some you love, some you hate, some are mysterious, some are intriguing, some are frustrating, and some are in between.

The craft of the story is also masterful, the writing and flow of the narrative is spell-binding. Once it hooks you it reels you in, and continues to do so until ‘I just want to finish this chapter’ turns into ‘seven chapters later . . .’ without hardly noticing. I totally lost track of time and faded from the existing world while I read.

The biggest downside I could name would be that it was so good I couldn’t get any other work done until I finished it. Another would be the content of  a good chunk in the middle of book two. For senestive readers I would suggest skipping this part, for it’s where Kvothe meets Felurian, and sexual content aside, I found that stretch in the Fae rather dull. It got better once he left and got back on the road, and the story finishes on a high note ─ literally and narratively.

As it happens, the story doesn’t end there, though. There is apparently supposed to be a third book, but it is a long time coming, and while I try to avoid unfinished series, I jumped into this one and came out of it with no regrets. The second volume ended in a way that I could put it aside and wait without ripping my hair out, although with anticipation for the next stage.

Books like this are why I love fantasy.

Published inBook Stuff

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