The story begins in the backwater town of Newarre, introducing the innkeeper Kote and his assistant Bast. The Inn is sparsely used, and widespread troubles from an ongoing war have further reduced travelers passing through the small town. It is revealed that Kote is actually the legendary hero Kvothe in hiding. Kvothe has a reputation as an unequaled swordfighter, magician and musician, who among other things is rumored to have killed a king and is somehow responsible for the war. His assistant and student Bast is a prince from the mystical Fae, magical creatures of great beauty but vulnerable to iron. Kvothe saves Chronicler, a travelling scribe, from spider-like creatures called Scrael. Chronicler recognizes him as Kvothe and asks to record his story. Kvothe initially refuses but eventually gives in, to tell the truth about the events that made him a legend. He tells Chronicler that this will take three days (corresponding to the planned trilogy of novels).