Magic is crucial to fantasy novels, spanning the genre in many different forms, as sorcerers of many different guises fill their novels with mystery, wisdom, and sage-advice from a lifetime of accumulated knowledge. But other than giving a general explanation of ‘a lifetime of study’ or ‘many years of hard work’ we often never find out how these same wizards, warlocks, or magicians learnt to weave their spells and magic.
Patrick Rothfuss has taken this subject in his intriguing new trilogy named the Kingkiller chronicles, The first of which is called ‘The Name of the Wind’. The story is explained through a series of recollections from his lead character, Kvothe, as he tells his story to a chronicler to give a genuine account of his life. It reveals how Kvothe learnt his many different disciplines – both physical and mental – ranging from learning to fight, crafting magical items, to calling the wind to act via his will. His studies, at a very unusual university, are interspersed with the friendships and the alliances he made, as well as the enemies the gifted student makes. Patrick Rothfuss’ love and knowledge of music also becomes clear and Kvothe’s dedication to music is also interwoven into this story and makes a nice distraction from his progress at the university.
The recollections are told in the first person, periodically broken up when Kvothe stops his story to update the writer of his biography. This I was less sure about as Kvothes’ tale is so well told that when the story is halted in this way, being dragged out of the complete immersion felt like a cold bucket of water being thrown over me. But I am making quibbles here to a great and fascinating story as Kvothe learns his craft and skills.
The most memorable scenes were the ones involving Kvothe and his music. His increased mastery with his musical instruments are brilliantly described, and you can really feel the warm and enchanting atmosphere he creates in the taverns and inns he plays for. A tentative love story is twinned into these scenes and his love interest becomes the physical embodiment of his musical muse.
Only the first two novels of the trilogy are currently available thus far, so how the story will develop and progress in the final installment – and he ends up killing a king – I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out…