Friday, 4 January 2013

Book Review: 'The Wise Man's Fear' by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man's Fear
(The Kingkiller Chronicles #2)
by Patrick Rothfuss

Published: 1st March, 2011
Publisher: DAW Books
Source: Bought From Amazon
Format: E-Book
Pages: 994

Cover Art

I like this cover a lot more than the one for The Name of the Wind. It is still dark, but has a splash of autumn around the edges, which is pretttty.

Plot Synopsis

For nearly four years, fantasy and science fiction enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting this second volume to Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. In this linchpin book of the trilogy, Kvothe continues his perilous search for answers about the Chandrian even as he grapples with more pressing dangers.

My Rating:

First Lines:

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

Pocket-Size Review

Again, Rothfuss can only be described with the highest praise as a storyteller and world-builder. Another amazing book, but I had a few more gripes with it than I did with the first.

Highs: The world is still exquisite, the characters are endearing and you could never stop reading it once you had started.
Lows: It felt too much like a filler novel in which Kvothe is required to mature and grow up. The sex scenes are just...not good! Ooof. Icky.


There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

This series is proper good. And I wish I could have been persuaded to give this brilliant sequel 5 stars instead of 4. However, it was just not as good as The Name of the Wind and felt very much like a filler novel for which Patrick Rothfuss thought, 'The main character now needs to learn lots of things and travel everywhere and become sexually proficient so that he can face the last novel equipped with all the many manly attributes which he will need to bring this series to an epic conclusion.' And that kind of annoyed me. Especially the sex bit.

All the truth in the world is held in stories, you know.

I love this sentiment, which you find it most fantasy books as they are always set in a time that feels medieval...can you imagine the Internet in fantasy? Neither can I. Before we became all techno, information was passed on the old-fashioned way: word of mouth, and put into stories to make it more interesting (think The Bible). Obviously, these stories get played with and altered and exaggerated until hey are nothing but a grain of truth. This is an idea that Rothfuss uses as the basis of his story: Kvothe's father was an inventor of these stories and researched them for many years, particularly the story which is the key to this entire series: the story of the Chandrian. The Chandrian killed Kvothe's parents because they feared his story and were empowered by it; in this world names have power and speaking them will always attract the wrong sort of attention. Kvothe's quest to find out what was contained in is father's story makes up most of this novel, and obviously he gets into all kinds of capers and high-jinx along the way, which seem to all be rites of passage designed by Rothfuss in order to equip Kvothe adequately for his final test in the last book. I suppose that's fine, but I just wish it didn't feel so contrived!

One of Kvothe's pit-stops is with the creature of myth Felorian, a woman so beautiful and alluring that when men see her they have to have sex with her, which turns them mad. Kvothe, naturally, has a stronger mind than most and so manages to retain his sanity somewhat. And have the sex. Ahh the sex scenes. They were so irritating! I really couldn't picture Felurian in my head. She didn't seem...right. It seemed odd. Like shagging a deer. And I hated all of the names she had for different sexual positions that Kvothe kept spouting, it felt very cringey,

'There was drawing water from the well. The fluttering hand. Birdsong at morning. Circling the moon. Playing ivy. The harrowed hare. Just the names would fill a book.'

It was a very long section, and became boring and confusing. It just jarred with the rest of the story and felt silly. The rest of Kvothe's acts had been in the human world, and had been exaggerated to super-human levels in the stories, whereas this one actually WAS him having sex with the Fae. What I did love about this section, though, was his meeting with Cthaeh, the prophecy tree that looks into your mind and corrupts everything you love and desire. It actively tries to destroy you through the things you love; an evil tree that brings disaster to anyone who speaks with it. I wish there had been more of the Cthaeh and we could have heard more stories about it. I also loved the tree that appears when Kvothe is training with the Adem, which is a tree with leaves as sharp as knives that you must learn to dance through. Loving all the tree action!

Another thing that really pissed me off in this book was the big, gaping hole that appeared for no particular reason. Kvothe says,

'Over the course of my trip I was robbed, drowned, and left penniless on the streets of Junpui. In order to survive I begged for crusts, stole a man's shoes, and recited poetry. The last should demonstrate more than all the rest how truly desperate my situation became.

However, as these events have little to do with the heart of the story, I must pass over them in favour of more important things.'

The big gap. This is not The Hobbit and you are not writing a book like that. This is 1,000 pages goddamit and we get a blow by blow account of Kvothe's life. To skip over such a huge section where things happen seems so incredibly bizarre in this book. It would work in The Hobbit or a Terry Pratchett because it is funny and kinda ridiculous. But does it work in LOTR or a Rothfuss book? Definitely not. Ruthless editor? Laziness? Whatever the reason, I would like Rothfuss to go back and fill it in please. 

Overall, I love this book and just writing about it is making me want to go and read it again. The stories within the story are so lyrical and beautiful and the book is so densely fact through of gorgeous nuggets of mythology and folksong. Even though some of the tangents were irritating, the story is still incredible, and the writing is incredibly beautiful, epic and detailed. 

No story can move a thousand miles by word of mouth and keep its shape.

And did I mention that this book is endlessly quotable?

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: THE LAST BOOK. WHERE IS IT?

Memorable Quotes: 

'I have heard what poets write about women. They rhyme and rhapsodize and lie. I have watched sailors on the shore star mutely at the slow-rolling swell of the sea. I have watched old soldiers with hearts like leather grow teary-eyes at their king's colours stretched across the wind. 

Listen to me: these men knew nothing of love.

You will not find it in the words of poets or the longing eyes of sailors. If you want to know of love, look to a trouper's hands as he makes his music. A trouper knows.'

'Books are a poor substitute for female companionship, but they are easier to find.'

'In the Theophany, Teccam writes of secrets, calling them painful treasures of the mind. He explains that what most people think of as secrets are really nothing of the sort. Mysteries, for example, are not secrets. Neither are little-known facts or forgotten truths. A secret, Teccam explains, is true knowledge actively concealed.'

'Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become.

Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful tresaures. We swallow hard against them every day forcing them deep inside us. There they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them.'

Three Words to Describe this Book: Breath-taking, Poignant, Epic.

But Don't Take My Word For It...

  • Blog Reviews of  'The Wise Man's Fear': 

'There are just some books in this world which must be read and I can't believe how long this one eluded me.'

'Inescapably the entire novel is given over to setting up Kvothe’s adventures to come. It’s a wonderful introduction, but one which, despite its length, will leave you slightly unsatisfied. On finishing the novel you will have found yourself committed to the series; just letting it drop will not be a viable option.'


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