I realllly liked this, a lot a lot a lot. Basically had my entire life on hold the past two weeks to spend with this book. It was recommended by my friend Luke, who reads a lot of fantasy. I was asking if I should read Game of Thrones and he was adamant that I skip it and read this instead. Super glad he made the recommendation. If you interested in stories where a dude's parents get killed and then he goes to a school for wizards, I have good news for you.
The language the writer uses is totally immersive. It never really bothered me that I couldn't quite suss out some details of the geography, or the conversion rates between talents and jots (units of money); I was sure that the reasoning was there, behind his work. He created a world, and he knows it very well, that much is clear. It's very good storytelling, stories within stories within stories, things keep happening, battles and archenemies, really good descriptions of music (!), intrigue & mystery aplenty. Also I really like that there are solid rules around magic ("Sympathy" in this world). It's not that there's a spell or a potion for whatever you feel like doing. There are things you can do, many things you can't do, and reasonably solid reasoning to describe the mechanics of it all. No one flying around on broomsticks here.
My only slight complaints, which aren't even really complaints, just stuff I reacted to and felt like were worth mentioning, mostly for my own memory--
1) There was a section towards the end where Kvothte and [redacted] go in search of the [redacted], and end up fighting a [redacted] and discovering what's basically a medieval [redacted]. And it all just felt like an odd set piece that took us away from the main storyline for too long. I mean, I can see the angles and how it'll tie into the overarching quest, but still, it felt like a very long way to come around.
2) Like I said when I read that Lev Grossman book--I am really ready to read the female version of this story. How many stories about boy wizards do I have to wade through before someone tells a super awesome girl wizard story. With the full narrative sweep and tradition of fantasy and legend. This book just made me want that, even more.
3) There are women in this story, but come on. Please come on already. Fela is there to be saved and be a possible romantic interest. Then we get TWO (2!) MPDGs, Auri & Denna. Granted Auri isn't 100% MPDG, she's not a romantic interest, but she's quirky and mysterious and comes and goes as she pleases, so come on. But Denna is the big problem. The character of Devi on the other hand is one I am super interested in. A small business owner who gives as good as she gets! Let's hope we see more of her later on.
Still: cannot wait to read the next book. I might space it out and take my time. The 3rd volume in the trilogy doesn't come out until next spring, and I don't want to have too much time in between volumes, obviously. So let's say late 2011, maybe? Does that feel right? That'll involve me buying the 3rd volume in hardcover though, assuming it'll take forever to get it through interlibrary loan. Just thinking out loud here, you guys.