By Patrick Rothfuss

 Found this lying around the house, and decided it looked worthwhile. It isn’t perhaps the most stunning example of its breed, but was an enjoyable and engaging read.

Our hero is Kvothe, which we are told is pronounced “Quoth” and spelled a rather dizzying variety of ways. For a book about naming, his is rather hard to pin down, but perhaps that is part of the object. 

A seemingly simple innkeep, we are quickly made to understand he is far more than that, indeed. His tale unfolds parsed out in flashbacks and recorded by Chronicler, less a name than a title, who has sought him over over years and much distance to discern and record the truth in the sometimes fantastic and quasi-mythological tales attributed to his life. After some coaxing, the innkeeper submits to his request.

A Ruh, the equivalent of a Gypsy, Kvothe is a gifted and precocious child who’s resourcefulness and native intelligence serve him well when his family and troupe are slaughtered by the mysterious Chandrian. It does not become clear in this volume just what manner of creature these Chandraian are, but we can infer they are possessed of at the very least a nasty and vindictive nature and at worst indefensible supernatural powers. 

Kvothe is traumatized by the loss of everything he knows and understands, but clings to the idea of reaching The Arcanum to study and learn all he can about the entities who have killed his family. Part myth, part nightmare, he knows there is nowhere else likely to have meaningful information about his quarry.

After some misadventures as a street urchin, Kvothe manages to gain admittance to the university and commence searching for information that might shed some light on why and how his parents died. He manages to stun the academic community at large with both his wit and his innate magical ability. He begins to display talents he isn’t fully aware he has, and has no real notion how to control.

Hints and insinuations about larger and more dire possibilities drift into view for Kvothe from time to time, and despite the distractions of infatuation and his schooling, he remains determined to understand the phenomenon the Chandrian present.

Just as we begin to learn about some of the darker truths Kvothe has encountered, the tale-telling is interrupted by a stranger in the present day who seems to be possessed. Though he is dispatched, the incident causes the wary inkeep to halt his tale and retire. We are of course, made to understand the tale will continue, the next day.

Ultimately, we are left with far less information than we are lead to desire, since clearly the author intends to draw the story out into a trilogy. I can’t fault him for it, and his writing is good enough that I’m willing to plunk down for the next installment.