The beauty in this book was breathtaking. Rothfuss’s structure, world building, and character development are so rich and colorful it almost feels like the world is jumping off the page at you in bright, vivid, reality.
It may be sacrilegious to say, but I feel that Rothfuss could become this century’s Tolkien. His love for music, lyrical poetry and folklore bleed through every page of this novel in the best way possible.
As much as I was gushing about this series after finishing “A Wise Man’s Fear,” I warn that this is not a book for first-time fantasy readers. I almost exclusively read fantasy, and I still found the book a little hard to get into at first. I felt like Rothfuss had to warm up in the first five chapters, but I blame a portion of this on my starting “Name of the Wind” only hours after finishing “Neverwhere,” and where Gaiman’s style is raw and to the point, Rothfuss beckons you into the plot slowly.
The narrative begins in the 3rd person where we meet an innkeeper named Kote, and his assistant, Bast, who live in a small Podunk town that’s little more than a rest-stop on the side of a very dangerous medieval highway. Right out of the barrel events lead us to determine that Kote isn’t just some lowly innkeeper, but at the same time, Rothfuss reveals pretty much nothing.
As much as Rothfuss is a skilled world-builder, until Chronicler shows up at the inn looking for stories about a legendary figure named Kvothe, I basically had no idea where this plot was going. After careful prodding, Chronicler riddles out that Kote is the legendary figure, and a few arguments later, Chronicler gets Kote (Kvothe) to agree on giving an autobiography on how he got so famous.
And this is where the book becomes the can’t-put-it-down, world-engulfing read that continues until the very last punctuation mark in “A Wise Man’s Fear.” Thank God I decided to read this over Christmas vacation because I unintentionally devoted four straight days to this series for lack of self control.
There are many, many good things to say about these books from the original song lyrics and folklore tales sprinkled throughout to the incredibly detailed accounts of arcanism and Kvothe’s powers. This is an author who knows his own world; there’s zero room for plot holes in this story, and even less room for logic defining heroism. The “Magic” makes almost scientific sense in its explanations, and Kvothe is a lyrical, talented, and above all, honest narrator.
At first, I felt that it was unnecessary to tell such an epic tale in flashback, but after finishing both books, I feel the most important thing Rothfuss could do was show us the humble, learned, and world-weary Kote in order for us to trust him to narrate his own life with such brutal honesty.
If you love fantasy and you love Tolkien, this is a MUST READ.