This book suffered a severe case of being over-hyped. My expectations were high and comparisons to some of my favorite writers raised them even more. Named among greats of our time like George R.R. Martin and compared to the scope of his Song of Ice and Fire series, I expected nothing less than to be blown away. Sadly, this book was – in my opinion – no more than avarage and the hype made my disappointment even worse.
My rating: 6,5/10
First sentence: It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.
The premise of this story is Kote, an unassuming innkeeper, agreeing to tell his life’s story to the Chronicler who wants to write the Kingkiller Chronicles and find out the truth about something that has become legend. For those who were wondering about the subtitle “The Kingkiller Chronicles – Day 1”, this should be explanation enough. Kote, who’s really called Kvothe, grew up in a troupe of travelling artists and learns some magic from an old magician. Soon he has to face the world alone and without a clue how to survive.
Kvothe’s struggles as a starving boy were probably the most interesting and intense moments in this book. His fight for survival and bad luck chasing him made it hard for me to put the book down. Once he makes up his mind to join the University however, things start going down. Kvothe is more talented and – so he says himself – more intelligent than any other student, his only flaw being lack of money.
Now here’s why I’m so torn about this novel. Pat Rothfuss is a wonderful writer. He has a way with words that make the most arbitrary activities sound interesting and he had his writer’s hooks in me from page one. BUT: Good writing only doesn’t make for a good story. And from the moment Kvothe enrols in the University, all we get is repetitions, repetitions and more repetitions.
Kvothe is broke, Kvothe is really lucky, Kvothe is rich. Something bad happens, Kvothe is poor again just at the moment when he really needs money. Poof! Some more luck coming his way, problem solved. For now, because… do you see where I’m going? That’s the plot. Oh, and throw in some females, who without exception (and for no explicable reason) fall in love with him. Because, and this is only my opinion of course, Kvothe is a dick. He’s not nearly as smart as he likes to think. In fact, he does so many foolish and downright stupid things in this book that I’m surprised he made it through alive. He was extremely unlikable and his cockiness only added to that.
Apparently, the author also realised, at some point, that what I described above, is not really a story so – and this takes the cake – about four fifths into the book, suddenly there is conflict. This totally unrelated event happens that finally gives Kvothe and this story a reason to exist. But even in this randomly introduced threat, Kvothes stupidity actually makes things worse. But he gets to be the hero, save the world (not really) and walk home with a young lady beaming at him.
And for that I read almost 800 pages? Really? The truth is, I enjoyed reading it because Rothfuss has his craft down. The story-telling is solid and flowing, if somewhat dramatic and cocky. So I honestly don’t know what to think. There’s parts about this book that I loved (the writing) and parts that I hated (characters, plot, world-building). Which leaves me at a fairly avarage rating. I will pick up the second book eventually but from what I heard, it’s just more of the same and – again – no real plot. Definitely nothing new.
THE GOOD: Fantastic writing. If you want to get lost in a book for hours, look no further.
THE BAD: Bad plotting, unlikable protagonist, unimpressive world-building and magic system.
THE VERDICT: Everybody else seems to love it, but I was disappointed and will continue liking Pat Rothfuss for his passion for Firefly, not his stories.
MY RATING: 6,5/10