BreakingModern — My name is Kvothe. 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 that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me. — Kvothe, in The Name of the Wind
It’s an epic trilogy of woven words in equal parts sorrow, adventure, laughter and wit. It’s a coming of age tale narrated by a protagonist who tells his own story — how one incident, one trigger, can turn a young man into a legend.
In my eyes, it’s the next A Song of Fire and Ice or Lord of the Rings– a saga that will leave a mark on the literary world. And lucky for us, The Kingkiller Chronicles just got green-lighted for a TV series adaptation. Read below for the trilogy summation, series prospects and what you can expect to see on the small screen.
Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles begins with The Name of the Wind, the first of a three-novel series. Each novel takes place over a single day. The trilogy has Kote, the protagonist, narrate the tale of Kvothe, a street savvy young man who hunts down an elusive group that’s involved in the death of his family. Kvothe, throughout the tale, becomes a legend in his own world.
In brief, the captivating story begins in the rural town of Newarre where Kote, the innkeeper, and his assistant Bast are introduced. Here it’s revealed that Kote is the hero of legend, Kvothe, and is therefore telling his own tale. Kote is an unequaled swordfighter, a phenomenal magician and a brilliant musician with a silken voice. On a brief journey out of town, Kote saves a traveling scribe called Chronicler from a spider-like creature. When the Chronicler is brought back to Kote’s inn, he asks to record Kote’s story, which, Kote explains, will take about three days. Thus the books are born.
The Name of the Wind was first published in the spring of 2007, while The Wise Man‘s Fear hit bookshelves in March 2011. The third book, The Door of Stones (working title), is set for release sometime next year — at the time of this writing.
Rothfuss delicately constructs an epic tale-within-a-tale over the course of many years. He masterfully creates vivid landscapes, an academic setting reminiscent of Hogwarts, a range of astute and foolhardy characters, mystical creatures and shadows that go bump at night. Oh and, of course, magic.
Magic (who would have guessed!) appears in various forms in Kote’s world, the first of which is called “sympathy.” Likened to a special force of will called “Alar,” sympathy is able to connect two objects immaterially and, in doing so, control both objects. The concept of thermodynamics and the laws of physics remain in Kote’s world to a degree, as lifting a pair objects with Alar requires more force due to the heat/energy expelled from the objects themselves. It is both fascinating and strange.
The second form of magic is known as “naming,” which is limited only by the person’s ability to intuitively discover the “true name” of an object. This is described in the novel as something that cannot be directly understood by the conscious mind, and power over a true name is only possible through great effort, or through a natural fight-or-flight response. After all, names have power. Runes and alchemy are also used in this world as an alternative to chemistry, which gives it that charming, fantasy lore touch.
The trilogy contains many (many) characters whose roles are important to the future of the series and enhance plot development. Unlike other lengthy sagas, though, The Kingkiller Chronicles follows only the protagonist’s point of view rather than multiple characters (for the most part). For this I am rather grateful, as it puts the microscope on just one figure instead of many. Though there are times you wonder what another character is thinking, I loved how Rothfuss masterfully wrote each character’s personalities, major or minor, all through the eyes of Kote.
The TV Series
It is no surprise, then, that with its stunning imagery and prose 20th Century Fox is set to bring The Kingkiller Chronicles to television. Eric Heisserer (Hours, The Thing) is slotted as executive producer, along with Arnon Milchan, Andrew Plotkin, Brad Weston and Robert Lawrence. It will be interesting to see how true the series project adapts the book, or if there will be major changes.
There is palatable excitement about the book-turned-series process, followed by trepidation and worry. The age-old questions of whether it will be good, who will be who and what if it’s horrible race through my mind, and I’m sure everyone else’s, too.
There have been adaptive successes from the literary world. Take the works of George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and Charlaine Harris’ True Blood. But there has been lukewarm reception as well, such as Stephen King’s recent Under the Dome adaption.
A movie or TV show can have a spectacular cast, like The Golden Compass with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, and still fail to garner much acclaim.
The formula for converting a successful book to TV/movie has yet to be mastered, but Rothfuss himself weighed in on possible actors for his characters back in 2008. He thought Neil Patrick Harris could embody Bast, or Morena Baccarin could be Fela.
The first season aims to cover the first novel, but I feel it would be best to split The Name of the Wind into two seasons at least. Then again, Game of Thrones was able to (sort of) successfully cover book one in a single season. There’s not much news on when the series will launch, but it will truly be a feat when the words come to life.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy and give The Kingkiller Chronicles a go. You’ll find “a silence in three parts” when you do.
For BMod, I’m Cassandra Chin.