WOW!! What an amazing epic fantasy!
It has all the elements – excellent storytelling, gripping storyline, engaging characters. I was hooked on from the Prologue.
The story is that of the making of a Magician, Kvothe – the vicissitudes of his life. How did one of the greatest magician’s end up in a meagre job as an Innkeeper? What drove him to his recluse?
As a young boy Kvothe is inordinately intelligent. He quickly learns myriad subjects from his trainer, including basics of magic, alchemy, mind control etc. But tragedy strikes when his parents are killed by the Chandrian. Nobody knows who the Chandrian are or why or when they strike. Orphaned and agonized Kvothe swears to find the Chandrian and avenge his parents.
It is his adventures through the fictional world of Modeg where he learns to live on the streets. Making few friends and many enemies, Kvothe struggles through life before landing himself in The University, where he can get a formal education in Magic. Life turns upwards for young Kvothe. He meets ‘the girl’.He gets involved in feuds. Essentially, he discovers himself at The University. He also meets the masters and aspires to learn The Name of the Wind.
The story entwined with narrative excellence drives the tale like a bullet rail. The tale follows two timelines – one is in the present time, where Kvothe, the innkeeper reveals his true story, and the second is the younger Kvothe. There are parts of the novel where men sit around the bar, telling ancient stories and fairy tales to each other, drinking, laughing and getting spooked. Those were the best parts in this book according to me. There was a little humor at the right times in the right places, which I appreciate.
Certain powerful lines in the book drive right through your heart and are so close to reality.
“Power is okay and stupidity is usually harmless. Power and stupidity together are dangerous.”
“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
Another of my favorites in the book is the cool demeanor with which Kvothe handles his situations. He imparts some invaluable knowledge…
“Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.
First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.
Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.
Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.
Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.”
The obvious enemies in the Modeg worlds are The Chandrian. The signs of Chandrian approaching gave me the shivers. There was true fear while reading about them. I think that villains are intimidating only when the reader gets scared by the mere mention of them. One of the fine examples was Voldemort. The Chandrian have joined the ranks of terrifying villains.
Even the minor character roles have significant back stories. I felt like they were given their due importance. I assume some of them will continue in the next books as well, gaining major roles alongside Kvothe in the war against Chandrian.
If I HAD to say something negative about the book it would be that I didn’t get a clear idea of the background. For instance, Who are arcanists? What are the different cities in Modeg? What is a Re’lar? I wanted some information about these things before I get started. That’s when I felt lost in the timeline. When writing fantasies it is fundamental to bring the scene right before your eyes. I thought the novel lacked that, but only a teeny bit.
The story comes to an abrupt end when Kvothe takes a break from his long-winding tale and goes to sleep leaving the rapt audience in suspense. Day one draws to an end as book one closes with a tacit ‘to be continued…’
So many unanswered questions!!
I suppose Day two is the next installment in the series, ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’. No doubt I have become a hardcore fan of Patrick Rothfuss from Day 1. It definitely makes me want to read the second book.
One needs some patience to slog through the voluminous 662 pages but it is worth it all. I really,really hope that this trilogy is made into a movie. It is bound to be one helluva blockbuster.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak : A review
- The Subtle Knife [His Dark Materials #2] by Philip Pullman: A review
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman : A review
- The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella : A review