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The Kingkiller Chronicle (Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear)

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12 hours ago, Merus said:

The thing that bothers me about smart characters being painted as wish-fulfilment is that if I wrote down things that I did, in my own life, and ascribed them to a fictional character, I get the feeling they'd be painted as wish fulfilment. No-one's just born knowing French. No-one's that good at something they've never done before.

 

No one's just born so good at sex that an immortal demigoddess of carnal lust who has spent centuries fucking men to death with the rawest, most uninhibited sex imaginable refuses to believe that they're a teenage virgin who had never known the touch of a woman.

 

Oops, that's exactly what happens. Really, I think there's a line between wish fulfillment that makes a protagonist more different and interesting and wish fulfillment that protects a protagonist from having to experience any hardship or setbacks. The more of the latter that appears in a story, the less tolerant people tend to be of the former, I've found. It doesn't help when a lot of the hardship and setbacks that Kvothe gets out of through his smarts are things that his smarts got him into in the first place, from his homelessness on the streets of Tarbean to his pointless Harry-and-Draco rivalry with Ambrose to learning how the Aiel-alikes fight to defending himself in court with a dead language he learned overnight. It gives me, as a reader, the sense that Rothfuss is spinning his wheels while piling impressive deed after impressive deed on Kvothe's back, which adds even more to the weird air of entitlement around the character.

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I mean the sex goddess bit is pretty egregious and I'm not defending that.

 

But I think the framing device is intended to be in the back of your mind: Kvothe's an unreliable narrator, and to an extent every story in this world is a distorted telling of events. Part of how it'll be received overall, I think, is how much the chronicler is going to push back on some of the inaccuracies in the story in the pointy end.

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I've pretty much given up hope for book 3 after book 2 and after meditating on stuff a bit, but back when I read book 1 my assumption and my hope was that by the end of book 3 it would become clear that Kvothe is either lying or at least selectively reporting like 70% of the story, and the 30% that's true is all about how terribly he fucked everything up, and how everything is now awful forever and it's all a shitshow. The evil tree and the framing narrative still leave this possibility open, so chances are book 3's gonna clinch it all, but I've become more and more convinced over time that Rothfuss is on Kvothe's side in all this, which, if true, means that there's no way it'll wrap up by demonstrating that he's been a huuuuuge shitheel all along.

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Yeah I'm with Tycho on this one. I get that it's possible for book three to go "ho ho ho, but Kvothe was bullshitting all along" but that would not actually improve book 2 in any meaningful way.

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Yeah, I don't think unreliable narrator narratives work unless the story being told is still interesting despite not necessarily being an accurate depiction of events. Both versions of Kvothe are too one-dimensional for me to be particularly interested in any narrative involving them.

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I got these books in a pretty cool way. I was hosting a close friend who had come to visit from out of province. On that trip while hiking he took a bad step on a tree root and shattered his ankle bones. Paramedics had to drag him out of the woods and he had to undergo a fairly intense recovery. Plates, screws, physio etc...

 

About a month later I received a package in the mail thanking me for helping him recover and these two books. It took me awhile to finally read them. I was still recovering from fantasy PTSD after hacking through half the Wheel of Time series before giving up on them and fantasy in general. These books were such an unexpected treat. I can only really reiterate what others in this thread have said before me. Suffice to say this was such a magnificent breath of fresh air in a genre that I had almost given up on.

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