Not wasting any time, I jumped into this story immediately upon finishing the first book in the series. The downside to my eagerness, however, is that now I don’t have anywhere to go from here. The third and final book has been eagerly anticipated by fans for several years now, though the author seems to be content to take his time in publishing it.
This book picks up the morning after the previous one ends and sees Kvothe resume his tale for the Chronicler. In this installment of the story Kvothe is once again on the move. Forced to take a leave of absence from the University, he travels to the court of Maer Alveron, a wealthy lord who may have interest in becoming Kvothe’s patron. The Maer, however, is a suspicious and fickle man who maneuvers Kvothe into performing a variety of demanding tasks while in his service. One task in particular serves to greatly expand the scope of this story, as it sets Kvothe off on adventure into the wilderness and begins a chain of events in which he not only spends time training in the fighting art of the feared Adem mercenaries, but also stumbles into the Fae realm where we gets a rather different perspective of the world.
As with the first book, I really loved the overall story and the world that contains it, but felt the narrative occasionally stumbled in regard to pacing and continued to get bogged down in places it should have moved on from sooner. In particular I thought a little too much time was spent on Kvothe’s, um, dalliances with Felurian in the Fae realm and in providing long lists of fighting poses that the reader is never really fully introduced to. Also, though I found this more intriguing than off-putting, I don’t know that I liked the main characters all that much in this time around. Kvothe came off as brash, hot-headed, and selfish (though perhaps his older self would agree with this assessment) while Denna made some really suspect choices of her own that made me question both her judgement and trustworthiness (more on this later). Despite these criticisms, however, the story as whole has managed to get even more interesting to me. It was fascinating to watch the world expand and I can’t wait to finally find out what’s happening in the present day. I need to know!
Since I now have an indeterminate amount of time to contemplate the next novel, I want to ponder a few of my nagging questions. I haven’t read up on any fan theories yet, so apologies if these seem obvious or off the mark to anyone more familiar with this world. As a warning, I am going into spoiler territory now, so if you haven’t read the book yet, now is a good time to step away.
For those of you still with me, I wanted to talk about a few things that are nagging at me. The first is Denna. I want to like her and root for her success, but I am having a very hard time trusting her after this book. It can’t be a coincidence that she keeps finding Kvothe, right? Since it seems likely they are seeking the answers to similar questions, what is her motivation for doing so? Since I don’t think that we can rely on Kvothe to give us a clear-eyed account of her, I can’t help but wonder about what he either isn’t telling us or isn’t seeing. Perhaps she is the unwitting agent of some other power?
Second, I am dying to know who the king referenced in the series name is. I have three theories I’ll put to page, all assuming that Kvothe is one that does the slaying:
- Ambrose Jakis – He somehow moves up the line of succession and Kvothe is in a position where he is forced to kill him and in turn is sheltered by some other faction. As satisfying as this would be, it does not readily explain the demonic/fae aspects of the war we’ve seen glimpses of, if indeed they are related.
- Maer Alveron – He, and/or his wife, come across more information about the mysterious box that becomes integral to Kvothe’s quest. When their paths cross again, Kvothe kills the Maer, sparking a war for his holdings. The contents of the box could in theory give a tie in to the non-human elements of the conflict.
- Haliax – Arguably the Chandrian king, Kvothe somehow ends up killing him, sparking a larger conflict. We don’t really know all that much about the nature of the war going on, not even if all sides are human or not.
I suspect that I’ll come to be proven very wrong in time, but there’s no harm in guessing!
Finally, we all agree that the story of the moon is important right? In short order we were given both a human and a fae version, so presumably it plays some role in whatever events are to come. Also, am I way off in thinking that mysterious door in Archives and the Lackless family heirloom are in some way related?
With so many questions and so much built up anticipation, I can’t help but think the finale will either be the greatest thing ever or a serious let down. Either way, I need closure on this universe so I’ll be sure to pick it up as soon as it comes out.