Genre: high fantasy
First published: 2007
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Synopsis: “My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trehon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my 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.”
How do I review this book? It’s a masterpiece. It was so not what I expected. But I could not have hoped for a better book. It’s an unusual book, in the sense that it doesn’t follow your ordinary beginning, middle and end sort of thing. It’s a masterfully told frame story.
It’s a long book. It’s really quite huge (although I’m reading The Wise Man’s Fear now, so huge is really a relative term). It requires a commitment. It may seem slow paced, it may seem like it takes a while to got to the point. But if you think that, then you’re not getting the book. Because the point is to tell Kvothe’s story. Not to tell some of his adventures. But to tell his story. And it does that marvelously.
The writing is honestly a pleasure. If Patrick Rothfuss wrote a 600 page book describing paint drying, I would read it. It’s rich, without being heavy, poetic, without being pompous. It’s just beautiful and atmospheric. It grips you and pulls you in and before you know it, it’s dark outside, you haven’t eaten anything all day and you look around startled that you’re in your room and not sneaking about the University.
The world is incredibly rich, incredibly complex and it’s incredibly frustrating that I don’t know more about it. I love it. One of my favourite things about high fantasy is having this whole new world with this whole new set of rules and customs and names and ways of keeping time or of dividing currency to explore. Give me maps to study and calendars to figure out and I’m as happy as a pig in poop. But while many books have really cool worlds, the way they’re presented is often unsatisfactory. Either there’s too much or there’s too little, or it’s explained in too much detail or it’s too vague. Pat does a really good job of finding a balance. Of giving just enough details that you’re not completely at a loss, but not as much as to seem like it’s exposition for a reader from another world. You know what I mean?
I love the characters. I love Kvothe. He’s cleverer than is good for anyone and witty and sharp. He’s also endlessly curious, which reminded me of myself. I have absolute sympathy for him and his desire to know everything and his frustration at everyone’s unwillingness or inability to provide answers. I was exactly the same. I still am. Though unfortunately, not quite as clever as he is. I like that all the characters are very distinctly themselves, if you know what I mean. Even the minor ones. And then, there’s Auri. I am dying to know more about her. She also reminds me of myself in some ways. I love her.
The story is really beyond me to talk about. I don’t know what to say, where to begin. You can’t summarize it. You have to read it. You have to live it. This story may not be for everyone, but if you think that what I’ve said about it might appeal to you, it’s worth having a go at it.