I avoided this one for a while due to the description. The arrogant hero and his amazing deeds is what it sounded like, but that’s not the case. Sure there is some heroism, but most of that is luck and timing, although there’s some underlying talent.
Instead, this is the story of a man, told by that man. Now an innkeeper, Kvothe obviously has a history, mostly hinted at before slowly being revealed as his tells his tale to a chronicler. We’re not just talking the exciting or interesting parts either, there’s no skipping here. We go right back to the start, then through every year and every term. I’m not sure most of it is necessary to be honest or particularly helpful to the plot.
The fact that this is part one of three (third not yet completed), with the second act nearly twice the length of this already substantial tomb, suggests I’m right.
For all that, the story barrels along at quite a pace with something new only ever a few pages away. There are plenty of maddening moments though — when the narrative treads water or you think we’re getting out into a gallop only for Kvothe do something stupid. Many times it felt like two steps forward, one step back.
Yes, it’s packed with the cliches of the fallen hero trope, but it’s spun and woven well. Despite the word count, most of the ancillary characters rely on stereotypes and feel quite thin on reflection.
Praise goes to Rupert Degas too, who does an excellent job of narrating. He provides a nice range of voices for the characters while lending a steady authority.
Despite the advanced run time, I didn’t find myself willing it to end and I was slightly disappointed Kvothe wouldn’t be there the first time I picked up my headphones afterwards. A good sign for sure, but having seen the length of the next installment I’ll probably hold off a while before diving in again.