In the process, he creates a cunning exploration of what we expect from heroes--or, rather, what we don’t. We expect heroes to kill dragons. We don’t really expect heroes to tell us about how they learned to wield the sword that killed the dragon, or about how much beer they had in the pub afterwards. That would be mundane. Or would simply pale in comparison compared to fire-breathing monsters.
But, luckily, Mr. Rothfuss is a man with no patience for those kinds of clichés. His hero fights dragons, drinks beer in the pub afterwards, and tells us all about it. It’s a difficult feat: a hero must, by definition, be above other man, braver, cleverer, grittier, the one who can stand against unbeatable odds and overturn them. Yet he must also avoid being a flawless, and therefore flat, figure. Thankfully, Kvothe is both flawed and heroic. He’s proud, arrogant, way too clever by half, better at everything than a man should be for his own good, and thus fundamentally human.
Mr. Rothfuss’ attitude towards clichés extends to the rest of his invention, too. . We’re about 50 years away from Tolkien these days, and Rothfuss is very adamant that we need to move past elves and dwarves and do something new with fantasy literature. Not because Tolkien is bad, but because he’s so good that attempting to imitate him is a battle long lost. And Rothfuss is most certainly doing something else. He creates a magical land that doesn’t feel like Middle Earth (and he’s also bothered to figure out the logistics and technicalities of a fictional society). There’s magic that’s not comprised of wizards conjuring in weird hats.
The author's system of magic almost resembles the laws of physics in our world: energy cannot be created or destroyed, simply transferred. “Magic” means harnessing this energy and transforming it in ways unfamiliar to us. There are principles, laws, and even percentages to calculate. It’s physics-magic, or math-magic. And there’s a University to learn all this magic at that doesn’t actually feel like Hogwarts in a day and age when “school of magic” is almost a synonym for Rowling’s school of witchcraft and wizardly.