Publication Date: March 01, 2011
Length: (Hardcover) 1008 pages
Dates Read: March 02 2011 - April 02 2011
(The following synopsis contains some slight spoilers for the first book in the series; however, considering the scope of these two books, I do not consider them major. However, others might, so feel free to skip down to my thoughts below.)
As seamless and lyrical as a song from the lute-playing adventurer and arcanist Kvothe, this mesmerizing sequel to Rothfuss's 2007's debut, The Name of the Wind, is a towering work of fantasy. As Kvothe, now the unassuming keeper of the Waystone Inn, continues to share his astounding life story—a history that includes saving an influential lord from treachery, defeating a band of dangerous bandits, and surviving an encounter with a legendary Fae seductress—he also offers glimpses into his life's true pursuit: figuring out how to vanquish the mythical Chandrian, a group of seven godlike destroyers that brutally murdered his family and left him an orphan. But while Kvothe recalls the events of his past, his future is conspiring just outside the inn's doors. This breathtakingly epic story is heartrending in its intimacy and masterful in its narrative essence, and will leave fans waiting on tenterhooks for the final installment. (Synopsis/review from amazon.com's page for the book)
I've thought a lot about this book over the month I spent reading it. I should first say that I can normally read a book about half this length in a week (around working, family time, etc.) So for me to spend a month on one book is very rare. To be thinking quite often that I wanted to get back to it, and to be wondering what the next chapter held was a little bit like torture. When I get into a book, I don't like stopping, especially not for a long period of time. I start to care about the characters, and I want to know what adventures they are having...and I want to know now! But I will say, I am glad I savored this one because it is very likely to be a few years before Rothfuss is able to publish the third and final installment.
I liked a great deal about The Wise Man's Fear. I loved that for all this is at time a very dark and foreboding book - the bookended prologue and epilogue of both books sets the stage, as well as do events over the course of the books - that does not promise a happy or even a safe ending for our hero, I spent more time laughing out loud with this book than I have with any other one in the past. Maybe it's because I've spent the last year reading the author's blog, but I felt like I could see his thinking in the turn of some of the words, and jokes, and humorous moments. And the one-liners and hilarious situations, when they came, were a wonderful respite from the overall seriousness of the book.
Kvothe makes some mistakes here, on his various quests, always moving toward his purpose: locating the Chandrian and bringing about a reckoning for what they did to his family years past. And he grows as a person in some surprising and touching ways, showing reluctant vulnerability along the way, while still maintaining all the quirks that make him that character you love, and at times, love to hate. He's still a smartass, still more of a gentleman than he seems, and still one of my favorite male characters out of all the books I have read.
Some fascinating new characters join the cast, and we see old favorites Auri, Simmon, Bast, and Elodin among others, in a new light, as their personalities are further developed. One of the things I really admire about Patrick Rothfuss is his ability to create memorable characters, people you instantly love or hate, care about or wish away - but you can't forget them, or dismiss them. Not all authors have that.
At times the pacing did feel off - there were parts I felt lingered on too long, and areas I would have liked to have seen fleshed out that were over too quickly. Rothfuss has set himself up rather nicely for the third book; yet, I am a little scared to see the length of that novel. We know so much now about Kvothe's early years and the origins of some of the legends that surround the arcanist, but there is still a lot of ground to cover: the Chandrian, the rest of Kvothe's tenure at the Univeristy, etc. Still, if anyone can do it...
I don't have a lot of complaints about this book, but I will say it was a little scattered at times, almost like Rothfuss had too many irons in the fire, and that overall, it felt a little less cohesive than its predecessor. It is the transitional novel, so it would seem, but I have faith in the author. And this book touched me on a great many levels. Kvothe is a very believable character, who, when he shares his pain, will cut you to the quick. I laughed at him, and worried for him, both as his story unfolds, and in the present, as we see Kvothe the adult defeated, with little knowledge of how and why he has fallen so far. I cried several times, for him and for other characters (the always skittish and intriguing Denna being one of them), and once again, I am waiting anxiously for the next volume!
Final Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
"There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man."