The second book of the Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy, and it is the second day of Kvothe telling his story. (See review of The Name Of The Wind , first in the trilogy).
Kvothe is the perfect all-rounder, wonder magician, superb warrior, off the charts intellectually, and a magnificent lover to boot. However, he is living out his life as a humble tavern-keeper. Why?
Kvothe: As described above. He is now the local tavern keeper, but he possesses deep magical powers, and dark magical enemies.
Felurian: The local goddess of love, whom Kvothe seduces and lives to tell the tale. However, she is an important figure in his overall character development.
Denna: Kvothe’s love interest.
Tempi: An Adem warrior, from whom Kvothe learns how to really fight, and who brings him to his homeland.
Bast: The apprentice, who has otherworldly powers.
Chronicler: He is transcribing Kvothe’s story for posterity.
We are still in Kvothe’s Inn, where he has fetched up in the middle of the Aturan civil war.
This book is mainly about filling in Kvothe’s background. We learn he got enough together to enable him to enrol in the Arcane University, where he turns his latent ability into becoming a real arcanist.
From the first book, we know his parents were killed by the Chandrian, and a lot of his time is spent researching them, but sources of information are rarer than hen’s teeth.
Kvothe takes to the road and leaves the University, travelling to Severin in the Kingdom of Vintas. He obtains service with the Maer, and subsequently foils a plot to kill him, and then helps the Maer get married. His final task is taking on a challenge to rid the kingdom of Vintas of some bandits. We get to see him in a leadership role, and how he begins to use his skills to win his team over to him. There is an epic battle scene which, for me, is the highlight of the book.
We also see him develop some of his more human skills when he meets Felurian, the mythical fairy whom no man can resist, and is turned into a love machine. However, being Kvothe, he manages to leave her wanting more, and regains the human world much the better for his experiences. Every woman he subsequently meets is now powerless against his physical charms.
His troop is made up of a variety of characters, one of whom is Tempi) is of the mercenary race the Adem. Most people think their language is beyond difficult to master. Tempi is called to account for revealing the Adem mystical arts to Kvothee, who finds he must travel to Adem country to prove his worth and save his friend, and slowly, painfully learns their ways and skills.
Eventually he leaves the Adem, with an ancient sword that “called” to him, and returns to the Maer. The Maer sorts out Kvothe’s financial situation, paying in perpetuity all his University fees.
What I Liked:
- I really liked the battle scene with the bandits. Fast action, well described.
- I liked getting to know more about how Kvothe built up his vast repertoire of talents.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The book is too long. Most sections could have been halved, and the pace of the story would massively improve. Felurian, the Adam, the search for the bandits- there was a lot of superfluous detail in there, and it was tough to get through.
- Nothing really happened, other than the fight scene.
I loved the first in the trilogy, The Name Of The Wind, but this one was a slog. For me, it does not reach the heights of the first novel, which zipped by in terms of reading. This has received rave reviews from nearly everyone, but for me it only gets a one- or two-star rating, and you could actually skip this novel, and still be ready for novel three. Hopefully the series gets rescued by the third book, yet to be released.