We all have those books that a friend told us we should read, but then, for some reason, we just didn’t. This was one of those books for me. It was first suggested to me by this guy, and then several other co-workers who know I love good Fantasy novels. I wanted to read it, but just didn’t get around to it. The book’s length probably had something to do with me not picking it up right away, 700 plus pages is quite a lot, after all, especially when I’m also reading two different book club books each month. Several book club members had also read and loved it, so I knew that I really had to make the time to discover this new author. Now that I have, it’s obvious why everyone was recommending it to me – this book is destined to become a modern classic of Fantasy literature. But, don’t take my word for it.
It is the story of the life of a legendary man named Kvothe, the most powerful wizard the world has ever known, and so much more. Kvothe has moved to the countryside and become an innkeeper in this quiet corner of the world to put his past behind him. But, even the Waystone Inn does not afford Kvothe the anonymity and solitude he seeks. Soon, the Chronicler of stories finds him and convinces Kvothe to tell his story. Through Kvothe’s own words we come to understand who he is, where he’s traveled, and what he’s done. As a child, Kvothe was the son of two of the most talented troupers (highly regarded actors, singers and entertainers), and the exceptionally bright pupil of an arcanist (magician) named Abenthy, who traveled with the troupe for a while. One day, tragedy ensures that Kvothe ends up a penniless beggar and thief in a sprawling city. After surviving by his wits for a few years, Kvothe ventures out to apply to attend the famous University; a goal of his since Abenthy first filled his head with tales of the Archives, where tens of thousands books reside, all waiting to be read. Kvothe becomes one of the youngest students ever admitted to the University, and continues his magical education. But, things don’t go easy for him, and he earns the ire of several professors, the enmity of some other students (and several other things happen that I don’t want to spoil). All this only serves to add to his growing reputation, and Kvothe, as much as anyone else, helps spread the tales and early legends about him.
There is a scene in the book when Kvothe is struggling to find the right words to describe the first girl he ever loved. He could say that she had dark hair, and red lips, etc., but those things would serve to produce a picture in the reader’s mind that was not this girl. I feel the same way trying to describe this book. I could say that it truly is a book to read if you like Harry Potter … for grown ups. But that would make you start comparing the two, which is unfair to both. I could say that it is an Epic Fantasy adventure in the tradition of Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, or George R.R. Martin. But, again, those comparisons don’t fully capture the essence of this book. So, in addition to the words of praise from critics and fellow authors mentioned above (did you read those yet? go ahead, I’ll wait), I’ll also give you a funny and touching story from author John Scalzi, (seriously, read this one). If all this isn’t enough to convince you to give this book a chance, then I’ll just have to wait until we meet in person and pester you to read it the way that my friends & co-workers did for me. Thanks guys.