This big fat fantasy is a well-written and engaging epic about a Marty Stu to end all Marty Stus.

Kvothe is a super-genius, a Mozart-level musician, the world’s greatest assassin, a brilliant fighter, a legendary hero, and an incredibly powerful wizard who shows up his wizardry professors on his first day at wizard school. To which he was the first person ever who not only got his fees waived, but also got a grant.

Every time he meets someone who’s an expert in something, he either instantly proves that he can do whatever they do better than they do, or else he proves that after a brief course of study. He can learn a language in a day and a half, recreate a complex system of shorthand in minutes based on seeing a few syllables, learns everything faster than anyone ever, solves a problem in seconds which defeated a wizardry master for ten years, composes melodies that make strong men weep, and knows more than undergrad-level wizards by the time he’s ten.

He is loved by an absolutely perfect and exquisitely beautiful woman with the voice of an angel. He has brilliant red hair, the color of fire, and bright green eyes which change color according to his mood. He is a worldwide legend before he turns twenty. And, of course, he has angst.

This book got enormous amounts of acclaim, and I can see why: Rothfuss can turn a phrase, and his storytelling is genuinely compelling. But it’s hard to get past the absurdly perfect paragon at the center of the story – especially when he alternately displays wisdom (in addition to intelligence) way beyond his years, and fails for ages to come up with a solution for an issue like “I need a job” because the plot needs him to have a problem.

It was additionally irritating that Rothfuss pays lip service to the difficulties of women in a sexist society, but has very few female characters, most of whom are rescued by Kvothe.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading this and would read the sequel. If you can get past the lack of women and Kvothe’s hilarious wonderfulness (or enjoy the latter in a way undoubtedly not intended by the author, which is what I did), it would be a good book to take on a plane or, as I did, read while lounging in the sun.

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)
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