the Little Red Reviewer

Wise Man’s Fear, part one

Posted on: March 5, 2011

A riddle:

what tastes bland when consumed quickly
but tastes perfect when savored?
What demands you take the proper time
without making a single request of it?

I suppose acceptable answers could include love, patience, life, learning the shape of the world.

Also, a book called The Wise Man’s Fear. Only 100 advanced reading copies were ever made, all signed for, tracked, and with RFID chips. Reviewers who received these books signed a contract in blood that they would not only buy an Eolian t-shirt, but that they would also have a lute tattooed somewhere on their body in a secret location known only to them and the author. It’s been said the author can change the color of his beard by snapping his fingers. This book is so heavy you could never read it in the bathtub. An audio version would take you the rest of the year to listen to, the rest of your life to understand.

Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

(by the way, that stunning peice of artwork is by Kim Kinkaid)

This isn’t exactly a review, as I’m only about 600 pages into the book. But I’ve already got plenty to say. Like a few other reviewers have already said, The Wise Man’s Fear is like The Name of the Wind, only more so. It is more polished, subtler, the writing and dialog is tighter, it’s far funnier, although it doesn’t read quite as intimate, yet. If you enjoyed The Name of the Wind, you will enjoy The Wise Man’s Fear more. If the first book wasn’t your cup of tea, the second one won’t be either, probably more so.

I’m kicking myself for not doing a re-read of The Name of the Wind last month. The Wise Man’s Fear picks up literally hours after the first book ends, with zero gentle reminders of what came before. After all, Kvothe spent all day yesterday talking to Chronicler, how much could he possibly have forgotten overnight? A lot less than I forgot over the last 6 or 8 months or however long it’s been since I read Name of the Wind.

Rothfuss seems to be treating his reader like his reader is Chronicler. If Kvothe things something is boring, he skips over it. If he’s tempted to lie, he says he’s tempted to lie.

The book is slowly seductive. At times you wonder why Rothfuss spent so many pages on that, only later realizing if you’d bothered to slow down and pay attention you’d see he didn’t spend enough pages on it. At times you’ll say outloud “I can’t believe he wrote that!!!” No fifty-cent words abound, however it refuses to be read quickly. Reading it quickly misses the point. I’m six hundred pages in. six hundred pages closer to learning the shape of the world.

I may be done with this book on Sunday. Maybe Monday. I hate to rush through the experience, rush through writing a review. I feel like it would cheapen the whole experience.

This book has been doing strange things to me. At the grocery store the other day we were trying to decide what kind of juice we wanted to buy. He said something along the lines of “you only like orange juice when it’s with vodka”, which is only mostly true by the way. I had to stop myself from responding with “only because they make the most beautiful music together, with their perfect harmonies”. I always say weird stuff, but rarely that weird.

Last night I dreamt that I cosplay’d Kvothe. Come on, it’s not that weird for a girl to cosplay a boy, is it? I’d cosplay Sabetha, but other than being a redhead I won’t know anything else about her until later this year. Anyway, in my dream I’m wearing my “job interview” black slacks, a creamish colored blouse and a leaf green vest. I’ve repurposed an old long black coat to be a cloak and sewn a ton of pockets in it. One pocket has a baggie of baking soda next to a vial of vinegar. I’m hoping I don’t get searched at the convention. My other half asks me if I’m taking the guitar or the lute (I’ve got a lute?? sweet!!!), and when I tell him I’m taking the guitar because I can play it, he says “no, you need to take the lute”. I look down at my hands to see I’ve got still perfect calluses. This morning my other half said he dreamt our car broke down.  my dream was totally way awesomer than his.


7 Responses to "Wise Man’s Fear, part one"

I enjoyed Name of the Wind a lot more than I thought I would when I read it last spring. I’ve been looking forward to this coming out — not sure if I’ll be patient enough for the paperback… 😉


What a great review. I love the way you write yourself.
As to Wiseman’s Fear, I have haunted the R row of the Fantasy section at Border’s for 3 years. So long, I’d begun to believe this wouldn’t ever happen, that Rothfuss wasn’t going to be able to follow up his masterpiece. I’m SO excited to learn I was wrong.

PS> my dreams are always way awesomer then my guys too.


Looking forward to the full review! The first book was something I found decent enough at the time, but now I can barely remember a thing about it.


[…] the Little Red Reviewer by Redhead – “Wise Man’s Fear, part one“ […]


Thank you for this very cleverly written review, in your engaging style!

I’m looking forward to reading Wise Man’s Fear, too, but… I think your point about blandness is well taken.

I wasn’t as enchanted with The Name of the Wind as many others were, and the fact that now we have trouble remembering it, less than a year after reading it, I think points to its major flaw. I think it is very well written, but bland. There are few gripping, original scenes. The best scenes, I think, came from what Sanderson calls “the frame”, which was a late addition author’s-voice wrapper introducing Kvothe’s first person narrative.

Kvothe’s character in itself … dare I say … isn’t interesting, and that’s a serious weakness for a first-person narrative whose subject is oneself. In fact, he’s far more interesting when we have Bast’s point of view, than when he is talking about himself. This is probably not unusual: all of us tend to moderate and homogenize our self-presentations in order to be more socially acceptable, but that sure does get stifling. (Oh dear, am I just talking about myself again?)

Anyhow, don’t miss this mutual-admiration-society writer’s craft interview between Rothfuss and Sanderson:
Author One-on-One: Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson


Hi Opally, Name of the Wind was, and remains fairly polarizing. Readers seemed to love it or not care for it, I think depending on what they wanted to get out of it. If you were not enamored with Name of the Wind, you will probably want to skip this new one.

I couldn’t help but be fascinated by Kvothe, he’s the kind of character I gravitate towards. That said, Bast is certainly more “intersting”, maybe only because we don’t really know anything about him.

That’s what’s funny with these books, it’s often difficult for people to remember the details because there isn’t a lot of action. they don’t follow a “first this happened, then this happened, then this other thing happened”. they don’t follow a “beginning, middle, end” pattern. At the same time that nothing is happening, a lot of things are happening. i’m doing a terrible job explaining it, so I’m gonna go check out that that Sanderson/Rothfuss article!


[…] Manga/Graphic Novels Wise Man’s Fear, part one […]


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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