Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Format: unabridged audio book
Reader: Nick Podehl
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 42 hrs and 59 mins
Release Date: 03/03/2011 (Hardcover published by DAW: 03/01/2011)
Acquired: purchased from Audible.com
My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as “quothe.” Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I’ve had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it’s spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.
My first mentor called me E’lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant “to know.”
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
My thoughts, which include spoilers… thou hast been warned:
Since I had a super-awesome friend from Indiana picking up an autographed hardcover for me from an author signing, I bought the audio book from Audible as soon as it was released (two. long. days after the HC release!) and set to it. But as I started listening, I was torn between plugging in my headphones day and night to get through it as quickly as possible so I could find out what was going to happen and the alternative… taking it in small doses to make it last.
I had this same issue with Robert Jordan’s (& Brandon Sanderson’s) Towers of Midnight last November and ended up doing the same with this book as I did then. I tried to take it in small doses but then plowed through the last third of the book in a day or two. I just had to hear one more chapter… had to get through this scene… HAD to see what Kvothe would do next. Since finishing the book, it’s taken me a while to collect my thoughts, and get proper spellings for some names as I only heard them and was guessing, but I’ve got the book in my embrace… erm, I mean in my hands (thank you, J!) so it’s time to review!
Again, I do discuss spoilers for this book and most likely the first so if you’ve not read either book and are wary of spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading. On with it!
Knowing before even reading The Name of the Wind that Kvothe would be kicked out of the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in, I was anxious as Day 2 of his recitation of his legendary story to Chronicler would start. I really enjoyed hearing of his time at the University in Wind and was worried that he’d be ousted from that revered place of arcane learning early on in Fear and that I’d not get to see much of Wilem and Simmon, Auri and Elodin. Kvothe did end up leaving the University in the course of this book but it was by his own choice, and he had many adventures before returning. So I get to experience that OMG what’s going to happen that will result in his explusion?! anxiety again at the start of Day 3 of Kvothe’s story, when that book is published. Thanks, Pat!
All kidding aside… okay, some kidding aside, a LOT happened in this book as one might expect from a 43 hour long audio book. The hardcover is a massive 1,000 pages that you could most likely use to clobber a troll, or Ambrose, to death. As for the audio and my listening experience, I was fully used to the reading of Nick Podhel so I didn’t have a hard time getting into the story as I did with Wind.
On the morning of Day 2 of Chronicler’s stay at the Waystone Inn, Kvothe continues his story of his time at the University. The pace easily settles back into Kvothe’s life as a student at the Arcanum and we again see him struggling to pay tuition and dealing once again with Devi, struggling in his feud with Ambrose and trying in vain to become closer to Denna while not crowding her and scaring her away. One of my favorite parts of this book was Kvothe planning and executing some much-deserved revenge on Ambrose. This took place after, of course, Kvothe kind of did a stoopid thing and made himself a target of malfeasance. He had to find a way to protect himself from Ambrose’s revenge and then pulled a hell of a whammy on his hated nemesis. It. was. fabulous!
Things escalate between the two and Kvothe decides to take a semester or two off which was a fortuitous decision as his friend, the nobleman Threpe, has a proposition for him. It would seem that Threpe received a letter from the Maer Alveron of Vintas a very rich and powerful noble, who was looking for a discreet and well-spoken person, preferably a musician to assist him in a delicate matter. Kvothe happily accepts the challenge, thinking that the Maer may be able to assist him with his search for the Amyr, the better to seek his revenge on the Chandrian. And so he sets off on what turns out to be rather a perilous journey that we unfortunately don’t get to hear much about.
Upon his acceptance into the Maer’s employ in Severen, Kvothe promptly foils an assassination attempt, reunites with Denna, learns a secret about her, helps the Maer woo a would-be bride and assists some mercenaries in the annihilation of a group of bandits that have been stealing the Maer’s taxes. I enjoyed Kvothe’s time with the mercenaries and found that the Adem, Tempi was quite entertaining as well as an adequate substitute for the comic relief that had been absent since Kvothe left his friends Simmon and especially Wilem behind at the University. Kvothe displayed some incredible bindings during the altercation with the bandits and proved himself to be quite formidable and a little bit scary in that respect.
Shortly thereafter, Kvothe has a rather drawn-out visit with Felurian, the incredibly beautiful fairy of legend that is known to lure human men into her reality and very literally pleasure them to death. Kvothe composes a less than flattering song about Felurian and manages to convince her to release him so that he might gain more experience with women in order to better praise her many talents. He convinces her that he’s being truthful in saying that she’s the first experience he’s had and goes on to explain that he can’t very well tout her superiority over human women as he’d never been intimate with one. And so he escapes her clutches with some new skills, a promise to return to her, a pretty bad-ass cloak made of shadow and some disturbing words from the Cthaeh, a being he encountered while in the land of the Fae who seems to know a great many things about Kvothe.
At this point, we experience an interlude that’s very unlike the previous sort, when Bast interrupts Kvothe’s re-telling with an outburst. He’s very upset that Kvothe never mentioned his talk with the Cthaeh and predicts doom upon anyone who seeks advice from it and on anything that person does henceforth after meeting with the being. I’m guessing that we’ll see or hear more of this in the next book but the interruption was a bit disjointed and left my curiosity on the matter unfulfilled since there was no more mention of it in the book.
Shortly after leaving Felurian, Kvothe travels to Ademre with Tempi, who has been teaching Kvothe of the Lethani and the ways of his people… and is kind of in trouble for it. So Kvothe, intending to defend his new friend, lands himself in a trial during which he must prove himself worthy to learn the Lethani or… die. Once he learns a few fighting skills and shows that he understands the Lethani, thus proving himself, he is gifted with some very valuable information about the Chandrian. Content with his newfound knowledge, he returns to the Maer in Severen for a short time before returning to the University to continue his studies. He has another solo adventure on his way from Ademre to Severen and is touted a hero though he must seek a pardon from persecution from the Maer.
While he was unable obtain the patronage of the Maer before leaving Severen as he had hoped he would, having revealed his ancestry and forever alienating the Maer’s prejudiced young wife, he was gifted with his University tuition paid in any amount for as long as he was to attend. So despite the unfortunate cessation of his time in Severen, Kovthe was in a much better place financially upon his return than he had been since losing his parents to the Chandrian.
There’s not much revealed about the goings on in the world during the interludes when we revisit “Kote” and The Waystone Inn. A few villagers saunter in to have Chronicler write up wills for them and we see Kvothe set upon by bandits but other than that, we don’t hear any more of what’s happening in ‘current times’ and I hope to see some more of that aspect of the story in the next book.
I absolutely loved this book and I suspect that I’ll reread it and book #1, The Name of the Wind at least once more before book #3 is released. I hope the wait isn’t too terribly long!
‘We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because, that’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite? To know the flaws and love them, too. That is rare, and pure, and perfect.’
“Ambrose, your presence is the horseshit frosting on the horseshit cake that is the admissions interview process.” ~Kvothe
“Your next assignment is to have sex. If you do not know how to do this, see me after class.” ~Elodin to Kvothe’s classmate
“After all this is done we can have a symposium on how stupid I am.” ~Kvothe to Simmon and Wilem
“Do all of the women in the world secretly know each other? Because that would explain a lot.” ~Simmon
“All I want is someone who likes me.” “All I want is a clear sign.” “I want a magical horse that fits in my pocket, and a ring of red amber that gives me power over demons, and an endless supply of cake.” ~Simmon, Kvothe and Wilem, while drinking
‘I don’t mind being called a liar. I am. I am a marvelous liar. But I hate being called a liar when I’m telling the perfect truth.’