Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: Patrick Rothfuss is a freaking genius, and The Kingkiller Chronicle is one of the best series of books that I have ever read. If you must only read a single series of books, read this one. Not Lord of the Rings, nor Song of Ice and Fire: this one! Enough gushing, fanboy silliness; let’s get down to it.
Kvothe the Bloodless. Kvothe the Arcane. Kvothe the Kingslayer. Kvothe is the central character in both of the books published so far in this series, and he, alone, makes these books worth reading. The first book, The Name of the Wind opens up in the Waystone, a humble, if well-kept, inn located in the backwater town of Newarre. The owner of the fine establishment is Kote, and he is not who he seems to be.
Shortly after one of the local townspeople is attacked, we learn that Kote is actually the legendary figure Kvothe, whose tales paint him equal parts hero and demon alike (Don’t go screaming SPOILER at me – you find this out almost immediately in the first book). A man known as Chronicler arrives in Newarre shortly after the attack, following a rumor that Kvothe can be found there. After Kvothe reveals himself to Chronicler, the story begins in earnest. Both The Name of the Wind and the following book, The Wise Man’s Fear, are told through Kvothe himself as he relates his own story for Chronicler to record. Periodically, there are breaks at which the story moves back into the present; this normally happens when customers arrive at the Waystone or when Kvothe (or is that Kote?) attends to the everyday, mundane tasks he must perform as the proprietor of the small-town inn. The man makes a mean apple pie. The telling of the story is also attended by Bast, who appears to be some sort of student of Kvothe’s.
A really neat device that Rothfuss uses in these books is story-telling. Often times, within Kvothe’s own life story, he relates other stories that he heard at various points in his adventures. In this way, Rothfuss is able to organically relate the history of the world that Kvothe lives in. I found this approach to be thoroughly enjoyable; I actually looked forward to the stories within the story so that I could learn more about the world that I was immersing myself in. I also found that Rothfuss was able to fashion a very believable and enjoyable character in Kvothe. Kvothe, like all of us, is a writhing mass of contradictions. He is at once heroic, yet afraid. He is a genius, but a fool when blinded by his emotions. He is unerringly moral, yet his actions can sometimes be callous and draconian.
There are also plenty of mysteries woven throughout the series that pushes the reader on in order to find out more. Who are the Chandrian? Where did they come from and what are they after? Who are the Amyr and why did they disappear from the world? Of course, the most important mystery of all: how did the great Kvothe, master of magic and blade, end up an innkeeper in a nowhere town? I, for one, cannot wait until the next book in this series to find out the answer to these questions.
In closing: if you do not read these books, you are insane. Just my two cents.
Go HERE to read a sample of the the first book, if you require more than my word.
Score: 10 out of 5 Ademe mercenaries.