If you're a fan of Patrick Rothfuss' wonderful The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, the first two books of The Kingkiller Chronicles, you know two things: 1) it's a wonderfully grounded tale set in an elaborate world of high fantasy, and 2) it seems like it's going to be completely impossible for Rothfuss to finish Kvothe's story in just one more book.
Kvothe is a young magician and troubadour who's already a legend in his world, but has since mysteriously retired to become a humble innkeeper with the name of Kote. He is reluctantly telling his life history to a Chronicler over the course of three days (one day per book), but at the end of The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe seems to have barely begun his story. But unlike other authors (*cough*GRRM*cough*) Rothfuss is sticking firm to his three-book structure — meaning Kvothe has so much he needs to do in the eventual final volume The Doors of Stone, a.k.a. "day 3."
Here are the 10 things we hope Kvothe crosses off his "To Do" list whenever The Kingkiller Chronicles finally concludes. Spoilers ahead...
1) He's got to kill a king.
The books are called The Kingkiller Chronicles after all, and now that Kvothe has told two-thirds of this story — although he's only up to his late teens — he hasn't met a single king yet, let alone killed one. The popular rumor on the internet is that Kvothe's archnemesis at the University, the noble brat Ambrose, will end up being king, although as it stands Ambrose is so far the way down the line of succession Kvothe can fight him pretty significantly and not get himself beheaded (not that Ambrose wouldn't like to).
2) He has to figure out the mystery of the Amyr and the Chandrian.
In a story about a story about stories, there are tons of tales that remain half-told, but the one that has to reach some sort of conclusion is what is going on with the Chandrian, the mysterious, seemingly cursed, possibly immortal group of seven who serve as the Chronicles' main antagonists — as well as the Amyr, the order of church knights that had fought them until they also seem to have inexplicably disappeared. While most people regard the Chandrian as legends, Kvothe has first-hand knowledge of them — so it stands to reason the Amyr exist, too. But what happened, and where did they go?
3) He has to confront Cinder.
Kvothe's search for the truth behind the Chandrian isn't just out of curiosity. He and his parents were Edema Ruh, a gypsy-esque, wandering people who often travel from town to town as wandering minstrels and entertainers. Kvothe's father began composing a song about the fall of the ancient hero Lanre, who lost his love, went mad and became the first of the seven Chandrian. But since the Chandrian are determined to erase (violently, if need be) almost all mention of themselves, Kvothe's entire troupe was murdered by them, and his parents killed specifically by than Chandrian named Cinder. Kvothe has been hunting him down ever since - only to randomly defeat a group of bandits who he later learned was led by Cinder. But for what possible purpose?
4) He has to talk to Gods (probably).
In Kvothe's famous quote to the Chronicler at the beginning of his story, he says:
"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs to make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me."
So far he's burned down the town of Trebon (more or less; he actually stuffed a dragon full of heroin accidentally, and the dragon burned down the town), he's been expelled from the University (the bastion of education and magic on Kvothe's world, although the expulsion was almost instantly repealed) and slept with the faerie queen Felurian (not a metaphor, he went to the Faerie realm and did a lot of sex). But talking to Gods? We're not sure that's happened yet. Unless Kvothe is referring to the time he talked to Ctaegh, the hateful faerie tree that destroys the lives of everyone it speaks to (you really need to read these books).
5) He has to confront Denna's patron.
The beautiful Denna isn't quite the love of Kvothe's life — they haven't slept together or anything, but they're entwined in pretty much every other way. Denna seems to have some connection to the Chandrian through her mysterious patron she refers to as "Master Ash," who Kvothe has sworn not to track down, even though the Ctaegh cruelly told him that Ash beats Denna. More confusingly, Master Ash had Denna compose a song about the fall of Lanre — again, the first Chandrian, who also destroyed seven entire cities — where Lanre is solely portrayed as a hero. What gives? (Note: If you've realized the possible connection between the Chandrian named Cinder and "Master Ash," go ahead and clap yourself on the back, but I promise there's no way Rothfuss is being that on-the-nose).
6) He has to figure out what the deal with the Doors are.
Kvothe has encountered some very mysterious doors in his journey — the door covered with four plates of copper in the University library, the "lockless" door at the Lackless estate, the doors of stone that the man who stole the moon was put behind (thus tearing the normal and Faerie worlds apart — seriously, read these books) and more. We have no idea what their deal is. However, since the third book in The Kingkiller Chronicles is titled The Doors of Stone, I think it's safe to assume we'll be getting some sort of answer.
7) He has to steal a princess from a "sleeping barrow-king."
If there's one part of Kvothe's quote that we can be sure he hasn't done, it's "steal a princess from a sleeping barrow-king." We have met no kings, no princesses, and even less barrows. Now, there is a girl named Auri - seemingly a former University student who got in a magical accident, went a bit mad, who now lives on the roofs of the University buildings and in the labyrinths below — but whether she'll be the princess in question is anybody's guess.
8) He has to transform into a humble, hidden Innkeeper.
When the Chronicler first comes to the Waystone Inn, he meets Kvothe is in disguise as Kote, an exceedingly average innkeeper. Given the importance of words in this series, the change is more than in just his name — Kote seems to have lost his ability to do magic, fight, and a great deal more from his younger days.as Kvothe. There's a lot of things that need to happen to get from Kvothe at the end of The Wise Man's Fear to the subdued Kote of the present, almost all of it bad — with the possible exception of Bast, Kvothe's student and apprentice. But Bast is also a Faerie, and how he came to meet Kvothe is unknown... as are his current intentions, as he clearly has his own agenda in getting Kvothe to tell his tale and remember who he is.
9) He has to screw up the entire world.
The world of The Kingkiller Chronicles is in bad shape when The Name of the Wind begins- - there are wars, conscripts, not enough food, general hardship, and, oh, giant, razor-sharp spider-monsters wandering towards civilization from the Stormwal mountains. As Kvothe/Kote flatly states in NotW, "All of this is my fault. The scrael, the war. All my fault." What the hell did Kvothe do?
10) He has to try to fix the present.
It wouldn't be much of a tale if The Doors of Stone ended with Kvothe finishing his story then going back to work behind the bar of the inn while war and giant razor spiders tear the country apart. Chances are he's at least going to try to put things right, although whether perhaps Kvothe's future adventures might be better suited to another book set in the same world (just not part of The Kingkiller Chrionicles). Which would be fine, because these 10 things aren't even close to settling all the questions and mysteries presented in Rothfuss' fantastic series. I doubt we'll ever get all the answers, but it would be a shame for Kvothe's story to truly stop at The Doors of Stone.
[Top art by Kim Kincaid]