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Realms Reviews The Narrow Road Between Desires
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Realms Reviews The Narrow Road Between Desires

Is this novella a worthy entry in the Kingkiller Chronicle?

Hello and Welcome to Realms Reviews!

Realms is a fantasy and sci-fi newsletter. I’m Zach, the writer and narrator of this publication. I consume tons of sci-fi and fantasy media that I think everyone should know about. In these two genres, I’ll be reviewing books, video games, podcasts, films, and TV shows.

And just like Realms’ short stories, you’ll get reviews once a month. Never on the same week as a short story. 

And here’s what I offer with my reviews:

  • A short, spoiler-free summary

  • My take and thoughts

  • Whether or not it’s worth your time 

  • Notable quotes or moments. 

  • And finally, I’ll give it a score 

  • Speaking of…I’m stealing my scoring system from fighting video games. From best to worst, it goes: Z, S, A, B, C, D. 

That said, this rating system is subjective. Any of my reviews should be taken with a grain of salt and also be the subject of your own consumption and consideration. 

Recent Reviews Include:

Today, we’re reviewing the newest piece of writing from Patrick Rothfuss, The Narrow Road Between Desires.

By Patrick Rothfuss, illustration by Nate Taylor

Summary

This novella is the newest entry in Rothfuss’ well-loved Kingkiller Chronicle universe. If you talk to any of us who have read his work, you will hear two things: The Name of the Wind, his first novel, is one of the best modern fantasies you can read, and also, that we are forever waiting on the next book in the series. 

The Narrow Road Between Desires is not part of the core series. It’s a novella based on a short story Rothfuss wrote awhile ago. It focuses on one of the most beloved characters, a fae named Bast, as he goes on a few adventures in and around the town of Newarre. He is a bit of a troublemaker, and he loves treasures and secrets. This novella comprises his efforts to aid and trade with the local youths. 

My Take

The Narrow Road Between Desires is a fun, quick read. For longtime fans, it brings you back into a beautifully-realized world that feels nuanced and real in a way many fantasy novels do not match. Rothfuss has a knack for turn of phrase and an ease of accessibility when it comes to understanding the world he’s created. 

Compare this to the Lord of the Rings for example, where the sheer volume of names, poetry, songs, etc are daunting and can serve to dissuade readers from engaging with the world. The intricacies of these details, too, are difficult to absorb. Rothfuss makes it easy for you to dive in. He communicates crucial information clearly, from the basics like what his a character wants and what they’re like to higher concepts such as how different kinds of magic operate and how the world’s history matters to the characters at the current time of the story. Here’s a couple quotes from his main novels that explain some things:

How Sympathy, the human version of magic, operates: “The law of sympathy is one of the most basic parts of magic. It states that the more similar two objects are, the greater the sympathetic link. The greater the link, the more easily they influence each other.”

One of the gods in the novel explaining how he works: “To ash all things return, so too this flesh will burn. But I am Tehlu. Son of myself. Father of myself. I was before, and I will be after. If I am a sacrifice then it is to myself alone. And if I am needed and called in the proper ways then I will come again to judge and punish.”

That’s not to say there’s no depth of mystery in this novella. Bast is a fascinating and complex character who is easy to join with in his misadventures. He will say something that leaves your mind whirling as to what it means. Rothfuss clearly knows how to put himself in the reader’s shoes and inspire a sense of enticing mystery. The Narrow Road Between Desires is also his best writing to-date. A lot of care went into every line of this novella, requiring me to highlight a lot of text and go green with envy at his, what appears to be, effortless way with words. 

If you haven’t read his first novel in this series, The Name of the Wind, I would still recommend digging in to The Narrow Road Between Desires. It’s highly accessible to new readers. If you go from there to read the other books, you will find even more joy. It might be slightly better to start with the core books, however. 

I’ve read them multiple times, and listened to them on audiobook (the reader is excellent and does voices!), and they’re immersive and captivating. You can’t go wrong in diving in to Rothfuss’ world. 

Plus, the more readers there are, the more pressure he has to finish the series. Not that he needs more pressure, as I get the feeling he cares so much about the quality of his writing, that any more pressure will make him stop working. 

So, when you join the legions of us loyal, faithful readers, think about how good the writing is and how long it takes to realize a world as wonderful as these novels present. 

Notable quotes: 

“It was baffling. These creatures, fraught and frayed in their desire. A snake would never poison itself, but these folk made an art of it. They wrapped themselves in fears and wept at being blind. It was infuriating. It was enough to break a heart.”

“He had never been in conflict with his own desire before this place. It used to be so easy. Want and have. See and take. Run and chase. Thirst and slake. Now everything was complicated. So much of what he longed for he could not pursue, and every day he felt more turned from his own true…”

My Rating:

S - Very worth your time and a great entry point to the other novels. It won’t disappoint. You can buy the novella or the first novel in the series with these buttons:

Buy The Narrow Road Between Desires

Buy The Name of the Wind

Let me know in the comments if you read The Narrow Road Between Desires. Tell me what you think about it!

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Until next time, Realm Walkers

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Escape the real world for a better one. Realms produces original sci-fi and fantasy short stories and reviews - releasing once a month. Follow this podcast to get updates or subscribe at zacharyroush.substack.com to get episodes directly in your inbox.