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Kingkiller Chronicles

Patrick Rothfuss

Most modern fantasy isn't really fantasy at all in the classic sense. There's no beauty of language, no sense of wonder. If you haven't read the classics of the genre- Tolkien, Dunsany, Lewis, LeGuin and so forth- you can't really expect to write serious fantasy, yet much of what's written these days is more like Dungeon and Dragons. And that's no surprise- when writers with a background in role-playing rather than classic fantasy literature started to write their own novels, the inevitable result was that their novels would end up more like their favorite game than the stories on which the game was based.


Patrick Rothfuss is a shining exception. His series “The Kingkiller Chronicles” now consists of two books: The Name of the Wind, and The Wise Man's Fear. “The Kingkiller Chronicles” tell the story of Kuothe, a washed-up former hero tending an out of the way country inn as the world falls apart. Kuothe is tracked down by a man called The Chronicler, who manages to talk him into telling his story- his real story, that is, free of legends and distortions.

The result of this interesting premise is that the focus of the book is fixed on the development of the character rather than on the action of the plot. That's more typical of literary fiction than fantasy fiction, generally speaking. Kuothe is also a tragic hero in the Greek sense- a man whose virtues are many, but whose flaws are disastrous. The story is as much a critical examination of the concept of the hero's journey as it is an adventure story. Even if you don't read fantasy very often anymore, you should still read this one.