This book is really a biography about a fantasy person you have never met, who tells his life story. However, it feels like one of those chats with an annoying friend who goes on an unnecessarily long “there was this one time…” rant, one too many times.
I picked up this book with high expectations, with all the good reviews. However, I have to say I was sorely disappointed, and it was a pain to even finish the book.
The main character of the book, Kvothe. I could not identify with this character and could not care to learn more about his story really. Thing is, I read books mainly for the plot. And this book, although it had a lot of prose and scenes, had a plot that went around in circles, but gotten nowhere. We don’t really know what are the main character’s motives. Does Kvothe want to know the name of the wind, does he want to find his parents murderers, or does he want to go after the girl of his dreams? Becuase, SPOILER ALERT, he doesn’t achieve anything in these 3 areas. In the end, Kvothe still doesn’t learn the name of the wind, doesn’t find much evidence of his parent’s murderers, and doesn’t end up with the girl of his dreams. There is barely even a climax in this book, just a collection of exciting stories of some dude’s life. And now we learn it will take 3 books of this prattling before we have a real conclusion. SPOILERS END HERE.
The only reason why this book is not getting a lower star rating is because of the way it was told and it’s attempt at world building. The story was told rather well. The switching between present day and Kvothe’s past is a refreshing way to read fantasy. I do not particularly like this way of writing, but I can appreciate the effort.
The subverting of tropes was another praise point. The story is not ‘run of the mill’. The hero lands himself into trouble, and sometimes trouble he can’t save himself from, but his life still continues. Although the hero seems perfect in many ways, super genius, master musician, and crafty actor, his fatal flaw is that he is eternally poor. I think many of my fellow reviewers might have missed this point. Although he is uninteresting in many respects, an eternally poor hero is something I haven’t seen in other books, and Rothfuss does a good job of portraying the hero’s sad plight and the psychology of a poor person.
The world building, although taking the backseat in this book, is rather interesting. You won’t see much of the geography and history of the place. But there is a good ‘magic’ system. Not the best, but good enough to make it interesting.
Related to that are the mini legends and myths told by various characters. These stories add flavour into the world and make the story interesting. “Is our hero going to find the truth behind these stories?”. Sadly, no, and I think this is a waste. Ultimately these mini-stories don’t affect the main plot as much as it could have.
Sadly, I can’t say that I will be reading the 2nd book and onwards. I don’t want to be dragged into another plot roundabout with no ending. In fact, this book could have been much shorter and still be interesting. Heck, even the Wikipedia summary for this book is more interesting.
However, if you are a diehard fantasy, then I guess this is your grub. Have fun immersing yourself.