The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss tells the story of Kvothe – a young boy of the Edema Ruh (travellers) who loses his family to a pack of demons. After the horrible events of that fateful night, Kvothe sets off on a mission to discover all that he can about the creatures who murdered his family so that he can hopefully avenge them. The only way he believes he will be able to achieve this is by having access to the University Archives, the biggest collection of books in the world. In the years leading up to his acceptance he faces many struggles as a penniless and homeless child. These struggles do not much end when he finally arrives at the University. He will have to rely on his music and his skills on the lute to keep himself afloat. Some at the University will seek to make his life as much a struggle as possible, while others will quickly become his new family.
Patrick Rothfuss is a storytelling genius and a top-notch creator of worlds. With his unquestionable mastery of words he manages to gently build up his characters through the narrative of the events that shapes their lives as well as the description of their thoughts and the way they process the world around them. These descriptions and psychological profiles of the characters contribute depth to the story and a multi-nuanced tone to the plot. Rothfuss has a way of simultaneously giving the reader answers to many questions – with the story always evolving and remaining interesting – but also introducing other interrogatives to keep the reader intrigued and wanting more. Magic, mystery, adventure, excitement, friendship, rivalry, love – The Kingkiller Chronicle has it all.
What I love most about the two books is without a doubt Kvothe. I am an avid reader and I have to admit it is on rare ocassions that I love a main character as much as I do Kvothe. The narrative actually starts off in the present time, where Kvothe goes by another name and runs a tavern in a small town. A historian who knows the truth of his identity – who knows that the man with the fire-red hair standing behind the bar is in fact Kvothe, the Kingkiller – arrives at the pub asking questions. Kvothe agrees to tell him his life story. This way, Rothfuss has built a character by having an older and more mature version of the same person tell us the story of what made him the way he is. Since it’s a personal retelling of the events of his own life we get a real insight into how Kvothe’s thought and feeling processes work. We have a very clear picture of who Kvothe is and what motivates him to act as he does. The other characters in the books are also excellently constructed, each with their own individualities and their own purpose in the story development.
I’m not quite sure why I was under the impression that The Kingkiller Chronicle was just going to be two volumes. Throughout the process of reading The wise man’s fear, I believed it to be the conclusion of Kvothe’s adventures. I powered through it looking forward to knowing how the whole story ended – silly me! When I read the last fifty pages I started to question it. How on earth was Rothfuss going to manage to wrap it all up in so few pages? Of course, when I finished I found out that it was not indeed the end of the Chronicle. The third (and probably final) book has been in the works since 2011. Guess I have another George R.R. Martin on my hands! But then again, both authors are supreme storytellers so I’ll let them off! Creating their own vibrant and complex worlds and storylines cannot be an easy task. I will wait patiently so long as, when they finally do, they deliver more exquisite reading material!