I bought this because I found myself thinking about Kvothe long after finishing the first book. I wondered where his journey went and was eager to re-enter that world.
The good news is you get to spend a lot of time there, as this is a substantial work. For all that, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of development along the underlying narrative. We see the main character’s early years in The Name of the Wind and we know where he gets to (as he is dictating his life story years later), but this book doesn’t get him much further along that path.
I really enjoyed the sections based at the university, but much of the book is taken up with Kvothe travelling to other places. These adventures add little to the overall story or his personal development and seem to serve only to add backstory to his legend. There are hundreds of pages that could have been removed and we’d have been none the worse (perhaps they pay back in book three, but we’re still waiting to find out).
The other thing I have issue with is the constant hurdle-jumping. I get that drama comes from conflict and that your main character can’t have a narrative that is plain sailing as it would be boring, but this seems to go to the other extreme.
There’s rarely a span of pages where we get smooth running before yet more trials are thrown at Kvothe. It’s like he’s on a treadmill and the author is constantly throwing objects into his path. It becomes tiresome, as you’re constantly lurching from one calamity to the next. Only right at the end do things finally settle down.
That said, it’s a wonderfully drawn book. It does rely on character stereotypes for a number of the smaller roles, a few cliches, but there’s plenty of new and interesting scenarios populated by rounded or surprising characters to keep it going, even if it does get mired in a few places.
This is a long audiobook, running over 42 hours. It’s well produced and wonderfully read by Rupert Degas, who does an excellent job bringing the characters to life.
I suspect the final book in the trilogy will be a big one because it has so much ground to cover, plus it’s taken Rothfuss going on for seven years to write (to date). There were enough good things in here that I’ll certainly look it out though.