I’ve had to think about this for a few hours after finishing to weigh my opinion of the novel. It’s an instant classic but it has one huge flaw: inconsistent pacing and unmet expectations. We’re led to believe from the start that Kvothe is a grand master adventurer and hero, and the bottom line is, he doesn’t measure up. I kept waiting for it, waiting for it, and it never happened.
There’s no resolution for most of the sub-plots. I’ll grant that much might be resolved in the sequel, but I’m not reading the sequel here, am I? Is it fair to introduce a grandiose story and not meet any of the reader’s expectations? I’m not going to use any spoilers here, but this is not a fantasy novel. It’s the SETUP for a fantasy novel. I wonder, will the actual novel happen in the sequel? I’m still waiting for something to happen. So far, we have the childhood of the hero. Yay. But that’s not a story. It’s the start of one, potentially a great one, but it’s not a story. I waited right up to the long-winded, overly drawn-out ending, too, and the story STILL didn’t happen. Oh, lots and lots of incidents and events, pieced together, and rather predictably too, but not a story.
*** Okay, this para might be a potential spoiler, although I don’t give any specific details ***
I’m left with the aftertaste of biting into a luscious, ripe kiwi, and find out it’s just an oddly-shaped apple. I have so many “What about…” questions that there’s no point listing them all here. Because none of them were resolved. Not even the marginally interesting character, Denna, who irritated me to no end. When she abandoned him, I was furious. I would not mind if Rothfuss killed her off. She’s just a gold-digging player, not the love of our hero’s life. WHY NOT? I know he’s only 15, but the whole sub-plot around Denna, her carousing with scores of men, playing them, gold digging them, just did not make her an enjoyable character. Kill her off, and I won’t give her another thought. Why? Because she’s a narcissist. Even after Kvothe saved her life (more than once) and did NOT take advantage of her when she was drugged and inviting, she still left him high and dry, wounded–possibly dying for all she knew?–in an inn. That’s not how a friend behaves. Kvothe swears up and down that she’s just a really good friend, nothing more. OH REALLY? So, a really good friend repays your kindness–for saving her life, for not taking advantage of her drunken advances–by ABANDONING YOU in a life-threatening situation. And that’s … okay.
No, that’s a broken plot, not just an annoying character. I’m ready for her to be killed off. I’m looking forward to it.
I’m actually also looking forward to the plot. Maybe it will happen in the sequel. I’ll start reading it soon to find out. But, I’m just disappointed in Rothfuss. This book did not live up to the hype, and it is NOT a complete novel, with a complete plot with a conclusion. Climax, yes, but no conclusion. It’s just a setup for the sequel. That’s not okay with me. It’s okay to write a sequel. NOT OKAY to leave this novel intentionally unfinished.
As for the rating. I’m actually shocked at myself for giving it only 3 stars. This was a 5 star novel up through the first half. I was so eager to find out what happens. But I never did. It’s like sitting through a movie, and at the end, be sure to catch the next one to find out what happens to our hero!
ROTHFUSS, THIS IS NOT EPISODIC TV! YOU DON’T GET TO DO THAT WITH A NOVEL!