2017 · August · Reviews

Book Review: “The Wise Man’s Fear”, by Patrick Rothfuss

Published in 2011 by Gollancz | The Kingkille Chronicle, day 2 | Audiobook read by Rupert Degas | 3 feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

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

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s Road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Review:

This book was such a disappointment. I loved the first book, but The Wise Man’s Fear fell considerably short. Rothfuss spends way too much time describing relatively few large events, which grows tedious in the long run. A third, or even half, of the details and side quests could have been cut out and the book would have benefited from it. It wasn’t interesting enough to read/listen to every tiny little detail.

Rothfuss also puts a lot of trust in the reader, which to some extent is great, because I don’t like when books are over-explanatory or underestimates the reader’s capability to understand the story. Here, however, it goes too far in the other direction. It’s almost directed towards a reader in Kvothe’s world, and consequently assumes that you already know a lot about the world when it would actually have been helpful with a little more explanation. This is especially true when it comes to the legend of Kvothe – it would have been great to know about the legend before going into the backstory. The story thus comes across as inconsistent – it presents too much detail in most parts and too little detail in other parts. Both things make it difficult to see the significance all the events will have for the larger scheme of things.

In the “present-day” chapters, there’s a lot of talk about a war going on, but we don’t get very much detail about it. Also, at the end of this book, Kvothe is still around 16 in the backflashes, which is strange. It feels as if too much has happened to him for him to be that young.

What I did like about The Wise Man’s Fear is Kvothe as a character, because he’s clever and he knows it, but he still does some stupid shit. I also like Bast, because he’s so unpredictable. And I like the “present-day” parts better than the backflashes because that’s where you at least get glimpses of the present Kvothe and some background info about the world.

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