Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Wise Man's Fear Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher: DAW
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Kingkiller Chronicle Book Two
Pages: 1,000

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(Spoilers for The Kingkiller Chronicles Day One: The Name of the Wind are below)

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles Trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss.  Taking over four years to complete after the release of the highly praised first novel; the wait appears to have been due to Rothfuss looking to perfect his story.  And perfect it he does, as the second day in the Kingkiller Chronicles lives up to the quality of Name of the Wind, the first novel in the trilogy.

With more magic and a faster pace than the previous novel, Kvothe’s story picks up a lot of momentum, especially in the second half of the novel.  Despite the increase of pace, the story never feels like its being rushed, and as this book finishes I’m left wondering how Patrick Rothfuss will be able to finish all of Kvothe’s story with just one more book?

Regardless, Rothfuss delivers a fantastic sequel that was worth the wait. Kvothe continues to grow as a character, and the world he lives in expands in an ever fascinating way.

Kote/Kvothe continues to tell his story to Chronicler and Bast.  Throughout the book, villagers realize that a scribe is in town and frequently visit the inn and interrupt the story in order to have Chronicler write them legally binding documents – most of which are wills.  This underscores the fact that the present day world in the story is a dangerous place.

Inside Kote’s story, Kvothe’s story continues to grow increasingly complex.  After burning down the town of Trebon, Kvothe continues to study at the University, he continues his on and off again courtship with Denna, and his rivalry with Ambrose also provides a myriad of entertaining storylines.

Kvothe’s story will eventually leave the University and finally bring him to other places in the Four Corners of Civilization and to places beyond it.  Kvothe’s power continues to grow, but the stories about him being a great hero are more ambiguous. The ambiguity rests heavily on the word hero.  At the very least we can tell he has the potential to be very powerful.

Mystery, the unknown, and lack of trust are widespread ideas explored throughout both books, but they are increasingly explored in this sequel. The first novel in the trilogy subtly suggests the unreliability of all three of the characters in the present, or the characters of Kote, Bast, and Chronicler.  As the Wise Man’s Fear progresses more doubts are introduced, and Rothfuss will have readers wondering how much of Kvothe’s story is exaggerated or even true.

Rothfuss plants seeds of doubt not just within Kvothe’s story, but in all of his character’s stories, pasts, and choices.  By the end of the book there isn’t a single developed character left, whether they are minor or major, that doesn’t have the reader wondering or doubting something about them.

Besides Kvothe’s character being a huge mystery, Denna seems to be just as significant of an enigma.  Her disappearances and reappearances and her relationship with her mysterious unnamed suitor are a welcome distraction from Kvothe’s troubles at the University with the Masters and Ambrose.  She is perhaps the greatest mystery in the entire story.

The moon also appears to be playing an important role as a symbolic object.  It’s so significant that it inspired the title of this sequel, it is important in the creation of a newly introduced magical object, and it gets two long stories in a couple of chapters.  The most interesting coincidence involving the moon are the stories Rothfuss tells about the moon in the book, and how those stories resemble the actions of Denna in the novel.  Another interesting fact is that the Roman God of the Moon was named Dianna, which is the name Denna and all of her name variants are based off of.  This leaves a lot of questions and speculation, and the revelation that this has to be more than just a coincidence.

Where is Rothfuss going with Denna and the story of the moon?

Kvothe’s search for The Chandrian and Amyr drive his story to other parts of the world.  His quest to avenge the deaths of his parents ultimately brings new mysteries for Kvothe to work around.  A lot more questions are presented than answers by the time this book is finished.  How Kvothe became the bumbling Kote is still a question that needs to be answered, although more clues are given throughout this book.

The Wise Man’s Fear is an excellent sequel, it comes highly recommended to everyone who finished the Name of the Wind.  Kvothe’s story moves forward and he continues to be engaging and entertaining.  The mysteries posed by Rothfuss throughout the story make this one of the more unpredictable books that can be read in fantasy.  Despite the fact that readers know Kvothe is alive, it doesn’t matter.  This makes this book about the actions and decisions of a hero, rather than a story of overcoming the odds via not getting killed by the bad guys, and that is a fairly unique concept amongst fantasy books. The Wise Man’s fear will leave readers eagerly awaiting the final installment.

Score: 9.8

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