Kvothe has lived a long and adventure-filled life. Known by many names, and surrounded by rumours, the true story of his life is known only to him. Finally, after many years, he agrees to tell his story to a chronicler, and release the knowledge of what truly happened.
This book begins quite slowly and takes a few chapters to really become immersive. The aspects of the book set in the ‘current time’ never really interested me, and I gave up on the book once before being able to reach the more exciting parts. This was a theme throughout my reading of the book; the events set in the present didn’t seem as engaging as those set in the past. Even when dramatic events appeared to be occurring, I never managed to find myself excited in them. I believe the main reason for this was that most of the book is set in the past. This meant that there were only a few pages of present time every few chapters, which was not enough to get to know the characters or immerse myself in the storyline. I also found myself forgetting the events occurring in the present, which often left me confused.
That said, the ‘past’ storyline was wonderful. It was well-written and immersive, and I fell in love with the characters. Even when nothing important seemed to be happening, the book was written well enough that I was still deeply invested. Young Kvothe’s actions around the university, and his reasons for everything he did were so well thought-through that he seemed as complicated and 3-dimensional as any person I have ever met. The book strikes a perfect balance between making the character stand out by being able to do impressive things, but not be so perfect that it is hard to believe. My only complaint with this part of the book was that there wasn’t enough detail into his education. It felt at times that he had learnt a skill out of nowhere, because it hadn’t been mentioned beforehand.
I wish that this book had been written entirely from the perspective of the young Kvothe, instead of having old Kvothe tell the story. The ‘past’ storyline was stronger and better-written, and the current storyline only seemed to pull me out of my immersion. Some parts were beneficial; it added to a sense of anticipation to hear the cryptic phrases old Kvothe says about young Kvothe’s situation, but the benefits do not outweigh the downsides of breaking immersion and having to sit through the less interesting background to get to the more interesting parts.
I would rate this book a 4/5. It very easily could have made a 5 if it had been the old storyline alone, but as it stands, and because I nearly gave up on the book before managing to even reach the ‘old’ storyline, I can only give it a 4.