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.
The Kingkiller Chronicle needs no introduction. It’s one of the most popular epic fantasy series out there, and has catapulted Patrick Rothfuss to the big leagues in just two books.
This is the second day of Kvothe’s story. It retains all that I liked about the first book (my review), and takes care of some (though not all) of the issues. All in all, I found it to be better than the Name of The Wind.
The prose is as beautiful as ever. Patrick Rothfuss goes through a lot of revisions and editing – almost four years between Book 1 and Book 2 – and it shows. His use of imagery is masterful too. There’s also some of the story-in-story-in-story stuff, where Kvothe tells a story about an old beggar, that I absolutely loved.
The story picks right where NoTW left off, with Kvothe at the university. There’s a few hundred pages of his typical (mis)adventures there. That might sound like that’s the whole book, but this is a doorstopper that clocks in at 1300 pages, so barely the third half. There’s the usual great worldbuilding, the magic systems are further expanded and explained, Kvothe has financial troubles, his relationship with Denna develops, yadda yadda yadda. Basically more of the first book.
Not that I minded. I loved it all. It reminded me quite strongly of Harry Potter in some ways. If that was all there was to the book I’d be perfectly happy. But there is more.
The plot intervenes. One thing leads to another and Kvothe has to take a few terms off. Thus begin a series of adventures, that I can’t talk about, because spoilers. Suffice it to say that they’re really entertaining in a popcorn crunching adventure movie kind of way, and involve bandits, mysterious mercenaries, fickle fae, mean monarchs etc. And… the end.
Which brings me to the sore point – the book doesn’t have a plot, more a bunch of adventure stories strung together. Which means that like the Name of The Wind, the book’s ending is rather boring and meh. There’s also precious little progress in solving the central conflict – The Chandrian. Except for an interesting poem at the very end, there’s really nothing. It makes sense in a way, because this is Kvothe telling his autobiography, and people’s lives rarely have plots. But that doesn’t change the fact that books do, and this is a book. And I like my books with explosive blow-your-mind endings. So definitely a negative for me.
There’s also the interludes, that give glimpses of the things that are happening in the world presently. All in all, it’s a rather bleak picture. And it gives a lot of credit to the theory that Kvothe is not entirely honest in his telling of his life, that he’s an unreliable narrator. I’ll be interested to see how far that is true, and what the hell is going wrong with the world, whenever Doors of Stone rolls around.