A walloping sword-and-sorcery fest from Rothfuss, the second volume in a projected trilogy (The Name of the Wind, 2007).
Readers of that debut—and if you weren’t a reader of the first volume, then none of the second will make any sense to you—will remember that its protagonist, Kvothe (rhymes with “quoth”), was an orphan with magical powers and, as the years rolled by, the ability to pull music out of the air and write “songs that make the minstrels weep.” The second volume finds him busily acquiring all kinds of knowledge to help his wizardly career along, for which reason he is in residence in a cool college burg, “barely more than a town, really,” that has other towns beat by a league in the arcane-knowledge department, to say nothing of cafés where you can talk elevated talk and drink “Veltish coffee and Vintish wine,” as good post-hobbits must. For one thing, the place has a direct line to a vast underground archive where pretty much everything that has ever been thought or imagined is catalogued; for another thing, anyone who is anyone in the world of eldritch studies comes by, which puts Kvothe in close proximity to the impossibly beautiful fairy Felurian, who makes hearts go flippity-flop and knows some pretty good tricks in the way of evading evil. Evil there is, and in abundance, but who cares if you’re dating such a cool creature? Rothfuss works all the well-worn conventions of the genre, with a shadow cloak here and a stinging sword there and lots of wizardry throughout, blending a thoroughly prosaic prose style with the heft-of-tome ambitions of a William T. Vollmann. This is a great big book indeed, but not much happens—which, to judge by the success of its predecessor, will faze readers not a whit.
For latter-day D&D fans, a long-awaited moment. For the rest—well, maybe J.K. Rowling will write another book after all.