Third Day yet to Dawn
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe
“You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.”
– Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
Although all I do after reading a book is to live in that world of fiction, recreating different scenarios – sometimes according to the book and sometimes with a little bit of my own creative imagination added to the mix to perfect the fantasy – until such time the book hangover lasts, I haven’t been much of a fantasy fan, up until recently that was. While my classmates were being swept by the Harry Potter craze, I was clinging on to my set of Sherlock Holmes, refusing to give in to the peer pressure. Although I own The Lord of the Rings collection, that was more of a hoarder-buy since I wanted the timeless fantasy classic in my collection.
The read and the ‘hangover’ afterwards wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be, mainly because I came to the book after watching all six of Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations. However, my perception of fantasy was promptly changed since the day I started reading the first chapter of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – the first of three-book fantasy series called The Kingkiller Chronicles. The chronicle takes place in the land of Temerant where all four corners of civilisation, some magic, and the realm of Fae – a parallel universe of supernatural creatures – coexist.
In a small town called Newarre a wayside inn is managed by the innkeeper Kote (whose actual name is Kvothe – the protagonist of the series) and his Bast (a prince of the Fae). Closer to the inn a travelling scribe was attacked by a mob of spider-like creatures and he was saved by Kvothe. The saved known as Chronicler recognises Kvothe – the unequalled sword fighter, magician, and musician, the alleged Kingkiller, and the one who had caused the war in which the civilised world is embroiled – and somehow manages to convince Kvothe to tell his story and the hero says that his life story will take three days to be completed, one book per day in the trilogy.
The Name of the Wind
The Name of the Wind is the first book of The Kingkiller Chronicles and it is essentially the autobiography of Kvothe’s childhood and adolescence. Young Kvothe was musically influenced since the wee age by his father who also was a musician. Kvothe and family lived in a travelling music group, performing in cities, making an honest living. Soon tragedy strikes and in an instant Kvothe is made into an orphan.
His life in a crimeridden city is a real sob story but the fire burning inside Kvothe fuelled by revenge keeps him going and allows him to find his way into the best magic university. Just like in a Japanese anime you won’t find it hard to identify the lead character in this novel because Kvothe has a fiery red hair, making him standout among any crowd. Despite the book depicting the young years of our hero, The Name of the Wind is surprisingly filled with action and once you start reading it you will find it really difficult to put it down.
I bought the paperback version and the 662 pages of it were filled with small print, bound by a stubborn spine which sometimes made it hard to flip through, but despite all that I cruised through pages effortlessly since every chapter is mesmerizingly worded.
The Wise Man’s Fear
The second book of the trilogy is much longer with almost 1000 pages and yet, that too was an easy read since the story doesn’t really break and the flow stays the same. However, the unexpected success the first book had may have gotten to the head of the writer and resulted in killing some of the creativity, something that happen all the time. It looks as if the success has made Rothfuss confident, perhaps a bit too much since the second book is filled with wish fulfilment that are oftentimes cliché. Kvothe’s first love Denna is portrayed in a way how Megara is in the Disney’s Hercules.
While this is not a bad thing to do, the contrast of the two characters makes it look Denna a really bad person, giving some undeserved sympathy points to Kvothe. Now that the boy is slowly becoming a man, there is love, conflict, and sex involved in the book. The story of how Kvothe l o s e s his virginity to a Fae who seduces and kills men for fun, how he manages to satisfy the Fae and even make her fall in love with him, and how he walks away unscathed and live to tell the tale are all dramatic and epic that will look good in a movie but gives an unnecessary reputation to the lead character who was perfect in his own flaws.
The life in university again is filled with predictable characters; all the unique professors you see in Harry Potter, a rich kid who is full of himself, a good friend, a nerd, rude bosses, and a one mystic friend. However, despite all these runat-the-mill narratives the book still manages to stay interesting via magic, music, and dragons. He learns much about his parent’s death and takes first steps towards being a hero.
The flaws of the plot and politically incorrect depictions of some characters might have been enough to make any other book a flop but Rothfuss salvages all these negativity through his poetic writing style. Just like Tolken in The Lord of the Rings Rothfuss explains everything. Unless some mystery is necessary, a detailed description is given about everyone or everything. He even explains the science behind magic, which makes the two books very interesting reads.
However, the fans have now been waiting for over a decade since the release of the last book to see the last book of The Kingkiller Chronicles. It is rumoured that the last one will be the longest of the three and that Rothfuss might even write it in two parts. There is only speculation and no real release date announced so far.
Personally, I’m beginning to forget parts I have read in the first two books while waiting but isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Once the last book is released I can start over from book one and have a threebook marathon read, which many fans of The Kingkiller Chronicles anyway plan to do. “There are three things all wise men fear; the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”
– Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear