Kote, the main character is an older man an keeper of an inn/bar. A member of the fay is his apprentice. He is a man with red hair who has many legends surrounding his name. Eventually a scribe comes in to write down his story.
The story starts when he was young and traveling in a show with his family called "Ruth". They are considered respectable, non-stealing, quality performers, theatrical. Eventually they add on this alchemist. He tutors Kothve (his name in childhood) im many school subjects, including alchemy. He is a prodigal student. His tutor, Albany finds a woman in one town that they stop to perform in, marries, and settles down, leaving the troupe. Eventually, Kovthe's entire troupe is murdered. His father was collecting stories to write a song about the badest of bad guys, which he had just sang to the troupe.
Kvothe is on his own. He lives in the forest for a year. Then he goes to aa nearby town where the populace is of a low socioeconomic status, for a few years. He is alone, homeless, hungry and fallen on hard times. Scraping by for years this details struggles and overcoming them. He talk about a few acts of kindness that he holds on dearly to.
Eventually, he decides he is going to go to the academy. He has always dreamed of having access to the archives, home to 10,000 books and scrolls, Hungry for information about the assasins of his troupe. legendary Chandrin, he makes up hi mind to undertake the persuit of education.
Lengthy as the novel is, the ending seems unfinished. It is a great read though, easy to get through all of those pages.