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Patrick Rothfuss – The Wise Man’s Fear

June 27, 2012

64. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (2011)
The Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2

Read my review of book:
1. The Name of the Wind
Bonus: The Name of the Wind (Guest Review)

Length: 994 pages
Genre: Epic Fatty-Fat Fantasy

Started: 01 June 2012
Finished: 09 June 2012

Where did it come from? Gift from a friend.
Why do I have it? See above; also, I really enjoyed The Name of the Wind and would have purchased this one for myself eventually.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 March 2011.

Every story has
a grain of truth, and Kvothe’s
in lots of stories.

Summary: Kote, the small-town innkeeper, who is really the Kvothe of legend – Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, Kvothe Kingkiller – is telling his true life’s story to the Chronicler. The Wise Man’s Fear is the second day of storytelling, and covers Kvothe’s continuing studies at the University, including his study of Naming, his time spent as a retainer to a nobleman of Vintas, his defeat of a group of bandits, his rescue of two girls from captivity and torture, his time spent with the Fae maiden Felurian, and his training with the elite Adem mercenaries. And weaving through it all are the three obsessions of Kvothe’s life: his music, his unending pursuit of the beautiful but damaged Denna, and his quest for information on the Chandrian, the living nightmares who killed his family when he was just a boy.

Review: There are books that sweep me away as soon as I open their pages, and there are books that keep me enthralled for hundreds of pages. There are books that contain worlds so magical and new that I feel like I could wander in them for hours. There are books whose language and worlds feel so familiar that I feel like I could live in them. There are books that make me laugh, and there are books that make me cry. There are books whose stories are epic, and there are books whose stories are much more immediate. But there are very, very few books that are all of those things all at once, and The Wise Man’s Fear is one of those books.

To put it another way: The Wise Man’s Fear is without question epic fantasy – in page count, obviously, but also in story and scope. And yet, neither Kvothe nor any of the other characters talk or act like they’re in an epic fantasy – he’s too snarky by half, and although he often seems too smart and too mature, given his actual age, he’s riddled with enough foibles and insecurities to remind us that he is an actual person, not Kvothe the legend. Rothfuss’s worldbuilding is equally stunningly crafted, and subtle to the point of being almost invisible; his world contains enough familiar elements to make it comfortable and easy to get into, but put together in such a way as to make them all feel new. It’s rare that I can both pick a book up and be instantly absorbed, and stay absorbed for hours upon hours of reading, but that’s exactly what Rothfuss manages… and what’s more, it’s so seamlessly done that he makes it look effortless.

Do I have anything negative to say about this book? Not really. It’s undeniably episodic, rather than one continuous story, which ordinarily might count against it, but the set pieces flow into one another so well, and are so in keeping with the feeling of Kvothe recounting his life’s adventures, that I never really minded. Also, while Kvothe’s character growth is clear to see over the course of the story, there’s also a long way to go between where Kvothe is at the end of this book, and the broken, old-before-his-time Kote. I have no idea how Rothfuss is going to get from here to there, but that’s not a bad thing, because I absolutely trust that he will… and I will just have to somehow find the patience to wait for the final book to find out how. 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you loved The Name of the Wind, you’re probably already reading and loving The Wise Man’s Fear without me telling you to. If you’re a fantasy fan and you haven’t read either, don’t start on the second book, but by all means pick up the first one. My review can’t possibly do justice to how well-written, well-crafted, and just generally excellent these books are, and how much I’ve enjoyed them.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Between the Covers, Book Monkey Scribbles, It’s All About Books, Let’s Eat Grandpa!, The Little Red Reviewer, Stella Matutina and many, many more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Dawn was coming. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 8: ““If it’s just your goods that need looking after, it’s a disposition of property,” the inkeeper said matter-of-factly. “If it relates to other things it’s called a mandamus of declared will.”” – a writ from a superior court to an inferior court or to an officer, corporation, etc., commanding that a specified thing be done.
  • p. 13: ““Grape pomace can make a weak wine,” Chronicler said.” – the pulpy residue from apples or similar fruit after crushing and pressing, as in cider making.
  • p. 31: “The Medica made medicines. Real medicines, not colored stumpwater or penny nostrums.” – a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2012 7:35 pm

    Epic fatty-fat fantasy. that’s a great genre! Made me laugh. Great review. Might take me a while to invest in these!

    • July 2, 2012 9:56 am

      Annette – I’ve got a fatty-fat fantasy favorites shelf on one of my bookcases; unsurprisingly, it is getting rather bowed. :)

  2. June 27, 2012 10:09 pm

    I really must read this! I loved the first book… I bought this when it came out. Now to read it!

    • July 2, 2012 9:57 am

      Kailana – I was originally going to wait until the third one was out to keep going with the series, but I’m glad I didn’t… I liked them both so much that I’m looking forward to re-reading whenever we get the third.

  3. June 27, 2012 10:42 pm

    and now i want to read it all over again! and I love the phrase “epic fatty-fat”, makes it sound like some kind of luxurious tuna sushi or something (which I also love).

    • July 2, 2012 9:57 am

      Redhead – Ha! That would be one very large piece of sushi. ;)

  4. June 27, 2012 11:25 pm

    I added the first one to my shelves recently and still haven’t read it. I really need to get to it!

    • July 2, 2012 9:58 am

      kay – It’s a time commitment, no question, but it’s easy to get into, and well-worth it by the end.

  5. June 28, 2012 6:20 pm

    I really need to pick this up. I enjoyed The Name of the Wind a lot, but I lost track waiting for the sequel.

    • July 2, 2012 9:59 am

      Bookwyrme – I’ve got a terrible memory, and remembered practically nothing about The Name of the Wind by the time I got this book. But it turns out I liked it even more on a re-read!

  6. June 29, 2012 1:34 pm

    I finished The Name of the Wind a few weeks ago and need, yes need, to get this one!

    • July 2, 2012 10:00 am

      Amy – For sure! Maybe a good idea to take a few week’s break so you don’t get burnt out, but I completely understand the impulse to dive right back into Rothfuss’s world.

  7. July 6, 2012 1:20 pm

    I absolutely love this series and read The Name of the Wind last year. It’s just one of those books that gets you hooked and you can’t put now. I honestly cannot wait for the third one and hope it doesn’t take long to come out. I agree that Rothfuss is stunning at world-building that I actually feel like i am walking alongside Kvothe the whole time. Great review! :D


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