This is a fantasy novel – the first in an as yet unfinished trilogy – which was highly (and repeatedly) recommended to me. It’s the life story of Kvothe, who starts off as part of a travelling troupe, becomes a street urchin, and then a somewhat unlikely and down at heel student. The book begins with Kvothe in the role of an innkeeper who, eventually, starts telling his whole story to a travelling scribe. Therefore, we get the first person perspective driving the main narrative, with the occasional intercession as the focus switches back to various scenes with Kvothe taking a break from his story to deal with several issues, like customers, and wandering mercenaries.
The following are worth noting:
- The world around Kvothe is vast, but more hinted at than completely described
- The magical system is lovingly rendered, and adds real weight to the sense of awe
- The characterization is good
- The storytelling is mostly good, too, though there were a few patches that I thought were over written
- This is no Tolkien ripoff, nor juvenile fantasy; it’s solid, believable, and gripping
Despite all of the above, while it is a good book, it did not hit me the same way my first contact with Joe Abercrombie or K. J. Parker did. So, while I am happy to say that I enjoyed it, for me it does not quite reach the top rank. It’s absolutely worth reading though, and I do recommend it.