I really enjoyed reading this book. It reminds me of reading Heinlein when I was younger, and the Dune trilogy. Mr. Rothfuss does not mind taking his time in the telling of his story, which is fine, since it’s a good one. It’s a very imaginative tale about Kvothe (sounds like ‘quothe’) who is at the time we meet him the owner of The Waystone Inn. He goes by the name ‘Kote’ and seems to be trying to leave his former life behind. But it comes searching for him in the form of a spider-like beast which attacks one of the townsfolk, killing his horse. When the man staggers into the Inn after the attack, Kote knows that there will be more of the monsters and prepares for battle. All the while, he keeps what he knows about them to himself. Shortly afterwards a traveler known as ‘The Chronicler’ arrives at the inn and confronts Kote with his past. But all Chronicler wants is his story, and is will to play along with the disguise, a harmless innkeeper in an out of the way place in the Commonwealth, to get it.
Of course it’s magical. Another world dreamed up by Rothfuss. With shades of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, it’s set in another world altogether. Kvothe grew up as part of a travelling minstrel troupe, his father being the head of it. At a very young age, his first teacher, Abenthy, Ben for short, joins the troupe. He was what they call an ‘arcanist’ which I guess is a combination tinker, doctor and magician all rolled into one. As they travelled from town to town Ben taught Kvothe much of what he had learned at University, finding him an extraordinary pupil. So much so, that he suspends his training after Kvothe tries some spells which almost kill him. Ben leaves the group shortly afterwards and a good thing too, since very soon, the Chandrian attack while Kvothe is away, killing everyone and burning the campsite with their tell-tale blue flames. Kvothe returns and is almost killed too, but the Chandrian retreat, leaving him alone in the burned out forest camp site. Kvothe, an orphan and utterly alone, makes his way to the streets of a nearby town, Tarbean, where he manages to survive by pickpocketing, stealing, and staying away from the law and the gangs who are his enemies as well. After three years of living on the streets a bit of luck brings enough money to get him out of town, and on his way to University himself, where unfortunately, more enemies await. His goal since the death of his parents has been to find out about the Chandrian, whose name he has known all along as part of childhood rhymes and songs, but about whom no one has any real information. Why did they attack his troupe in particular, and not others? Kvothe will study at the University, developing his skills as an arcanist and finding out whatever he can about the murderers.
Most of the story is told by Kote in the form of narration to the Chronicler as they sit in the deserted Waystone Inn. It’s a long book, over 650 pages, and the story doesn’t really end there. Searching Rothfuss’ website I see there are 2 other books in the series. I look forward to reading them both.