This first story of the Kingkiller Chronicles is told by Kvothe to the Chronicler of the Aturan nobles. Kvothe has withdrawn from the world to live quietly as a rural innkeeper, Kote. The Chronicler recognizes him and wishes to record the truth from him about his past.

Kvothe is the orphan son of a bard/troupe leader. After his parents and troupe are slaughtered, he makes his way to a nearby city and lives as a street urchin for years. Drawing on his knowledge and talents, instead, would require facing what has happened and why. Eventually, he does allow himself to remember and makes his way to the University, the Arcanum. He manages to persuade the masters to allow him to study, though he has almost no money and is younger than normal. What he does have is talent and previous training by an Arcanist.

At the University, his legend starts almost immediately. There is the sense that he is stumbling from one mishap to another, but it is perceived as greatness or an untouchable quality, as he always manages to pull himself out of the scrapes relatively unscathed. He is embroiled in a relentless feud, becomes popular through the playing of his lute and singing of ballads, explores the University in a way no one else does, is infatuated with a young woman whom he cannot find, and is determined to find out the truth about those who killed his parents and learn to stop them, even though searching for the truth is why they were murdered. It is only a matter of time before he ends up in serious trouble, unless he can learn enough to defend himself by then.

This first book is a foundation to the rest of the story. There are only hints so far, but Kvothe wants to learn of the Amyr’s history, an ancient group of warriors whose task is to search out the demon Chandrian and destroy them. The Chandrian are only mentioned in faerie stories, but his parents also sought knowledge of them.

Rothfuss has a way with words. The beginning is lyrical, drawing the reader in and weaving a spell of holding. The story has complexity and magnitude, as the best fantasy series do, and is original. But it reads more smoothly than other favorites, for ex. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I did not want the book to end, even knowing that there is already a sequel. The story sounds like it is going to be a trilogy. I can tell that I won’t be ready for it to end at that point.

Note: I ended up reading the book twice before reading the second. I was taking notes for a crossword that I will be posting shortly and reread because it is written so well.