The Wise Man’s Fear: I expected better

Patrick Rothfuss The Kingkiller Chronicle: 1.  The Name of the Wind 2. The Wise Man's FearThe Wise Man's Fear Patrick Rothfuss book reviewThe Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

As indicated by the subtitle “The Kingkiller Chronicles: Day Two”, The Wise Man’s Fear picks up where The Name of the Wind left off, continuing into the second day of the telling of Kvothe’s tale. The Name of the Wind was what I consider a perfect epic fantasy, combining the timeless quality of a fairy tale with the believability of a legend gone to myth. Patrick Rothfuss’ writing is dramatic without being overly so, his prose is beautiful, and his language feels archaic while still remaining easily understood. There is no denying he’s a natural-born storyteller.

That said. I wish I’d taken Kat’s review (above) more to heart because I had the same problems with The Wise Man’s Fear as she did, but I may have had a harder time getting past them. Considering how long it took for this book to be finished, I expected better.

To start with, I had every intention of re-reading The Name of the Wind beforehand, but ended up just jumping into The Wise Man’s Fear when the mood struck. I spent the first several chapters regretting that decision. It had been so long since I read the first book that it was hard to rekindle the enthusiasm and I’d forgotten enough to be a little lost. The story’s progress has slowed to a snail-like pace. If a third of this book was removed, it would’ve been better for it. Countless pages are spent on mundane and repetitious threads, while more exciting events are summarized in just a few sentences. When I finally got to the end, I was relieved that I hadn’t spent any more time with this tale. (It took me more days to finish this book than anything I’ve ever read before.)

Rothfuss still proves to be very good at making key elements relatable to his audience. Much of Kvothe’s story continues to center on the University. His academic endeavors, as well as his social experiences, resemble real college life. Kvothe is a very talented musician, and his music is another relatable aspect of the novel. If you’re an artist, or even if you’re just a no-talent aficionado like me, you can relate to the way Kvothe’s music is a big part of who he is. As for this reader, I enjoy spending time in a nice, cozy bar, so naturally I enjoyed the Waystone Inn interludes the best.

However, I had difficulty accepting that Kvothe could be only sixteen or seventeen years old during these adventures. Admittedly, I’m a hard sell when it comes to child characters. Some authors have made me believe that a kid can fit an adult’s worth of life experience into so few years — Mark Lawrence with The Prince of Thorns, for example — but only a very few, and this time, Rothfuss didn’t quite pull it off.

It’s because Rothfuss set the bar so high with The Name of the Wind that a three-star rating seems bad by comparison. To give credit where it’s due, there are some moments of exceptionally gifted writing in The Wise Man’s Fear. Nonetheless, when I look back at my reading experience, what I recall most is boredom.


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GREG HERSOM’S addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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2 comments

  1. In the immortal words of Bill The Cat….Thptptptptp!!

    Ok now that I got that out of my system I will admit to having a somewhat anticlimatic feeling during and after reading the book…but only a little. I get bored with stories very quickly and DNF more books than I care to admit, and I hated putting this one down even to sleep. You and Kat are not the first to have those feelings about this book, and it has proven to be a somewhat polarizing novel in that regard. Goes to show that a delayed release can have unintended ramifications. Hype and anticipation are very stronf influences, and almost never get fulfilled completely.

  2. It seems to be a very polarizing book, Justin. That’s a great way to put it.

    If I hadn’t vested so much time in the tale -and money- already, I wouldn’t have finished. There were some nights, I actually dreaded reading it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really great parts in this book -most the last quarter of the book and everything that occurred at the Waystone Inn-, but in between those parts,for me, it was like watching paint dry .
    For anyone interested, what I really wanted to say in my review but didn’t have the guts is in this:
    ***SPOILER ALERT*******SPOILER ALERT******SPOILER ALERT******************
    “Kvothe, bang what’s-her-face already and get it over with. Kill that royal bully. If you’re gonna make a career outta being a college student; start a frat-house, make Will Ferrell a member, and throw some wild parties. Stay away from the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon people -sure, the chics are easy but they don’t rock. And I totally get hanging out with the fae chic. She was hot and easy, plus she increased your mojo with the ladies. But Dude, it may have seemed like a week or two to you, reading about it really seemed like the several years you spent there.”

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