Monday, September 3, 2012
Review: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
(Book 1: The Name of the Wind review)
Tags: fantasy, magic
As the morning of the second day dawns on Waystone Inn, Kvothe continues to recount his incredible life story to Chronicler and Bast. The University goes on as ever but Kvothe is beginning to realize that, in order to find the answers about the Amyr and the Chandrian that has been obsessedly searching for, he may need to leave his beloved University—nay, even leave familiar lands completely—and travel to the far-off land of Vintas, where he dabbles in court politics, robber-hunting, Fae relations, and more.
Those who loved The Name of the Wind will not be disappointed: THE WISE MAN’S FEAR is as meticulously plotted and beautifully written as the first. Which means that you should just read my review of The Name of the Wind for all the reasons why you should read this series, and in this review I will talk instead about some of the things I found, well, a little lacking.
I found myself making a Star Wars comparison as I closed the cover to THE WISE MAN’S FEAR. Specifically, that this book served all the purpose of Episode 2: Attack of the Clones: it was exciting and adventurous, but hardly answered any of our questions from the first story. In THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, Kvothe pretty much remains the same and does exactly the same sorts of things he did in the first book: he verbally spars elegantly with his superiors, gets into nearly impossible situations and gets himself out or through by dint of his cleverness, and on and on. Oh, and in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR Kvothe adds to his overflowing litany of good qualities some mad skillz in the sack. Kvothe is this perfect hero who experiences no growth throughout books one and two, and it’s finally begun to grate a little on my nerves.
Kvothe goes on his adventure under the pretext of learning more about the Amyr and the Chandrian, but narratively speaking, that seems like just an excuse for him to get into increasingly unbelievable mini-adventures, none of which seem to aid him on his ultimate quest of avenging his parents’ death. Which is why I made the Star Wars comparison: I’d be curious to find out if, at the end of the series, his side journeys into Vintas and beyond are actually essential parts of his path to the Chandrian.
For the most part, Patrick Rothfuss characterizes beautifully: supporting characters such as Simmon, Wil, and Vashet stole my heart and demanded more page-time than they were allotted. However, I simply cannot get behind Denna as the love interest. It’s almost like Rothfuss wrote a lifetime’s worth of frustration over females into this impossibly beautiful, charmingly clever, woefully haunted woman. She represents the embodiment of unattainable female perfection, and therefore Kvothe is living out the male population’s dream by getting closer to said unattainable female perfection than anyone has before. Their dynamic is unrealistic, self-delusional, and more than a bit annoying. (Don’t get love lessons from Kvothe: you don’t win over your perfect partner by never giving them any indication that you like them as more than friend, because you’re scared that they don’t like you back in the same way. This leads to unhealthy cases of unrequited love, in which you can’t move on in your life.)
With all that’s been said, however, I will still devotedly read the third and last book in the series when it comes out. Fans will appreciate this installment that’s chock-full of Kvothe’s diversionary adventures, but boy, I hope questions will actually be answered in the next book!
DAW Trade / March 6, 2012 (reprint) / Paperback / 1008pp. / $19.00