The second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle picks up immediately after the first, with Kvothe continuing to tell the stories of his past travels. Continuing the tale, I knew exactly what to expect, as far as the framing goes. There were many things this book delivered that surprised me, and a few things it lacked that surprised me as well. Overall, I enjoyed the book and am more than excited for the next volume, though I did have a reservations.
Major Spoilers – There are four set pieces; the University, Vintas – a far away city, the Fae – a realm of fairies and creatures, and Ademre – home of skillfully trained mercenaries. Each was a completely different land, presenting different opportunities for Kvothe. The first third of the book continued with him at the University, getting into more trouble along with his friends. The problem I think when reading stories like this, told from a future point, the readers have an idea of where it’s heading. I worried reading this, thinking they were spending too much time there, considering all these grandiose events that were foreshadowed to come.
Luckily, things began moving when Kvothe left the University. I enjoyed the first part, but felt it went on too long, with some slow points. The time spent in Vintas, working for the Maer was entertaining, telling a slightly different story than before. While nothing Earth shattering occurred, it was entertaining nonetheless. While the time in the woods drug by for the characters, I found it enjoyable as it was filled with the characters telling world building myths. I particularly enjoyed the tale about Jax and the moon.
Things took an interesting turn when Kvothe entered the Fae with Felurian. Again, more attention grabbing world building, talking about the forming of the Fae, the Creation War, etc. Though I felt too much story time was spent there. Eventually the story picked up speed once he left, racing to the end. There were two points previous to this, during the University and in the Fae, when I put the book down for sometime. From this point I couldn’t put the book down. His training and time spent with the Adem was engaging, setting it’s hooks into me. From there, things had a sense of finality, as if things were wrapping up happily for nice and tidy ending. This notion prevailed throughout the last hundred pages or so, as things seemed a little too happy. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, again, knowing what was potentially to come.
Again, overall I enjoyed this volume, though two characters greatly detracted from the story, slowing things down whenever they appeared. Bast, Kvothe’s present day assistant, was mysterious as first, but as more was revealed about him, he became unlikable. Annoying, bratty, prone to outbursts; every interlude to present day became a chore to read. I probably could have stomached Bast more if it wasn’t for Denna. Though the two never interact, I couldn’t stand the time spent droning on about her, let alone when she actually appeared. She was petulant, capricious, and fickle. Her appearance in Vintas seemed a little too happenstance, forcing her inclusion needless. I really don’t like her.
Considering how neatly this volume concluded, I am incredibly excited to see what happens next, knowing it will be nothing good. The writing throughout was top notch, if anything improving over the previous entry. Supposedly we’ll see part III next year (2014), concluding this arc. I have a feeling we’ll see more stories with Kvothe afterwards, continuing in the present day.