Wise Man’s Fear, part 2: The Review
Posted March 7, 2011on:
The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, book 2), by Patrick Rothfuss
Published: March 2011
Where I got it: the library.
why I read it: the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Name of the Wind, was a game changer book for me.
Plainly said, if you enjoyed the Name of the Wind (reviewed here), you will enjoy Wise Man’s Fear more so. If Name if the Wind didn’t really do it for you, Wise Man’s Fear probably won’t, and more so.
Still on the fence? It may help to think of The Kingkiller Chronicles as a memoir, not a fantasy trilogy. After all, Chronicler is doing just that, writing down Kvothe’s life, isn’t he? Kvothe is much more interested in those events, be them mundane or heroic, that shaped him as a person. And besides, both Chronicler and Kvothe already know the stories and the songs and the legends. This is their only opportunity to get the story right. Think about what you would put in your own memoir. You’d put in more than just the “action” moments of your life, wouldn’t you?
Did the book meet my expectations? Yes and more. Was it worth the wait? Yes and even more.
First things first, Rothfuss’s writing is tighter, more mature, and much more polished than in Name of the Wind. The dialog is snappier and funnier. The plots, subplots, and undercurrents are at the same time both more and less subtle than the first book.
This book is nearly 1,000 pages long. It took me 5 days to read, and I’m not a slow reader. And in nearly one thousand pages you can be sure that a lot happens. But if I made this a plot based review, I believe we’d both be missing the point.
But I’ll give you this: the first half the book is lighthearted and fun, somewhat like my underclassman years at college. Chilled out, relaxed, fun. The second half, however, is akin to my upperclassmen years at college, as in: this shit just got serious. there will be tears, and there will be blood. If only my university offered a class with the name of Master Namer Elodin’s class.
Kvothe is obscenely talented, charming, confident, and occasionaly cocky. He knows can make you laugh or cry, with a story or a song. He is young, he is impatient. He wants to know everything, about certain things especially, right now. What he does not know, even slightly, is the shape of the world. And this in and of itself is a learning. Elodin makes the best attempt he can to teach Kvothe, sometimes the best way to learn the shape of the world is to leave learning behind, to live. Or perhaps, to read a nearly one thousand page book.
You know how some books in a series have little reminders of what came before? little hints, in case you don’t remember something? Wise Man’s Fear doesn’t. At all. As I’ve already mentioned elsewhere, I am kicking myself for not doing a re-read of Name of the Wind last month, and to Kvothe, he’s just continuing a conversation that he started yesterday.
My most favorite parts of the book are the “framing” portions: where Kvothe and Bast and Chronicler sit around talking in the Inn, and various and sundry townspeople make their way in and out and talk about things that are happening in the village. Bast and Chronicler I felt were much better developed, their uneasy bargain gaining depth and teeth. It’s nice to know I’m in good company with all the other women in the world by being fascinated by Bast. These are the portions that have the aftertaste of resigned melancholy, leading me to believe this can only ever be a trilogy. Kvothe admits he know exactly what kind of story he is telling, Bast is in denial, and Chronicler is a little confused. Which group do you fall into?
While reading, I took copious notes to aid in writing this review. Notes about the four panel door, prophecies, stubborness and patience, how mistranslation and mistransliteration can change everything, hilarious and disastrous encounters with Ambrose, Kvothe learning the hard way that he can’t get by on charm and good looks, that learning has nothing to do with books, and sometimes winning means you lose in the end.
my scribbled notes all boil down to this: The Wise Man’s Fear is everything I ever wanted and more. In my humble opinion, Rothfuss has taken the tried and true “hero’s story”, and turned it into what it always knew it could be, something beyond magical, beyond mythical. Rothfuss has unwittingly become the father of something new and yet unnamed.
I know the book(s) I pick up after reading The Wise Man’s Fear will automatically pale in comparison. So I’ve purposely picked up something light and fun, not too challenging, and less than 300 pages.