A Review of A Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This book has two great covers as well.

Last week I reviewed Patrick Rothfuss’ first book, The Name of the Wind.  This week I want to continue by reviewing it’s sequel The Wise Man’s Fear, released earlier this year.  I’m going to guess that at least a few of your went out and bought The Name of the Wind since last week, or are at least planning to, so I’ll try not to spoil anything for you, but (needless to say) Kvothe doesn’t die at the end of it.  That’s my spoiler.  Now, on to The Wise Man’s Fear.

Overall: 9.5/10

A Wise Man’s Fear isn’t quite as easy to get pulled into as The Name of the Wind.  All of the same qualities are present in the sequel to make it a great book, but everything feels a little bit more forced than the first.  This isn’t to say that it is bad, but A Wise Man’s Fear doesn’t pull you into Kvothe’s world quite as completely as its predecessor until more than halfway through the book.  However, there are a great many contributing factors.  First of all, The Wise Man’s Fear is about half again as long as The Name of the Wind, which means that it necessarily moves a little bit more slowly.  Add to this the fact that the University, fresh and new when Kvothe arrives in the first book, is now a little old hat, and you have a necessary start to the book that isn’t as exciting as it could be.  This combined with a large number of intermissions between the beginning and middle that pull us out of Kvothe’s story and into the present day lead to a slightly boring and somewhat disjointed start to the second book.  However, keep reading because, the second half of the book is stellar.

Writing: 10/10

The listening experience doesn’t changed significantly from the first to second book.  The writing still flows smoothly, and the reader does an excellent job, the primary difficulty in the first half of the book is chapter organization and subject matter.  However, much of what is somewhat boring in the first half is necessary for later in the story, so it’s worth the effort to read.

Characters: 9.5/10

Again, Rothfuss leads us deep into Kvothe’s mind and personal worldview.  Kvothe is still an excellent character, but the secondary characters in The Wise Man’s Fear are much more real than those of the first book.  Pella, Simmon, and even Devi are more fully developed, and new secondary characters like the Maer Alvaron, Tempi, and Vashet are also very well developed.  These strong secondary characters allow Kvothe to feel even more real by comparison, which leads to a more strongly character driven book.

World: 10/10

Again Rothfuss’ world is excellently developed, from the forests Vint, to Felurian’s twilight glade, to the windy hills of Ademre Rothfuss paints a picture of his world that is both believable and beautiful.  He includes a vast amount of detail that will keep world lovers dedicated for ages.  This is still where his writing shines the most, and I have not doubt that it will continue to do so.

Plot: 10/10

The plot of Kvothe’s life takes an interesting turn in this book.  I won’t say much, because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but if you are a discerning reader then you’ll probably catch the gist of it by the end of the first book, although I must admit that the execution of this twist is wonderful.

Pacing: 7/10

As I mentioned above, The Wise Man’s Fear has some pacing issues.  These aren’t difficult to overcome, the story is still interesting and the writing is still good, but almost the first half of the book left me with the feeling that Rothfuss was simply waiting until he could start the second half.  He fills the space with interesting stories, and necessary events to get from place to place, but it leaves the reader with the feeling that something is missing.

Commentary: 8.0/10

Rothfuss’ commentary in The Wise Man’s Fear was more blatant that in The Name of the Wind.  However, it reminded me of an extended version of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, with different ideas presented through cultural conflict.  Kvothe travels from the University to Severen (in Vint) and then to Felurian’s glade and then to Ademre, before returning to Severen and the University.  In his travels Kvothe encouters several different cultures, and much of the commentary in the book is presented in the form of conflicting ideas in and between these cultures, and Kvothe’s reactions.   While very different than the commentary in The Name of the Wind, the commentary in The Wise Man’s Fear is about equally well presented, with some ideas presented more strongly or completely than others.  However, like Stranger in a Strange Land, I do not agree with a lot of the commentary that Rothfuss make in this book.


The Wise Man’s Fear is definitely worth reading, especially if you like The Name of the Wind, but don’t expect it to be the same book – of course, that would be boring.

A Review of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

If you have never read Robert Heinlein then you should.  He has a gift for including social and political commentary in his novels.  Stranger in a Strange Land is, in my opinion, one of his best works.  You won’t agree with everything that Heinlein says in this book, but he raises questions that are worth thinking about, worth dealing with, and its an interesting story to boot.  However, fair warning, this is a book that will challenge your beliefs, values, and ideas about what society should and could be.  Hopefully, in reading it, those beliefs that need to change will change, and those that need to grow stronger will grow stronger.

Overall: 10/10

In Stranger in a Strange Land Heinlein presents the reader with an outsiders perspective on human society.  The story revolves around Michael Smith, the child of astronauts who is raised by Martians.  Smith returns to Earth as an adult and a long series of strange and troubling events occur.

Writing: 10/10

Heilein’s writing is generally very sparse, and this book is no exception.  Heilein’s writing could almost be described as curt at times, but it is strong, and very good.  If you prefer verbose writers who provide lots of adjectives and details, then you should subtract two to three points from this category, and probably 1 from the overall category.

Characters: 9.0/10

The characters are the center of Stranger in a Strange Land, particularly Michael Smith himself.  The commentary in the novel all comes from Smith’s point of view, however the characters surrounding him, particularly Jubal Harshaw, have a significant impact on how he sees the world, and Smith in turn has a significant impact on how they view the world.  The reader watches as first Smith, and later the character’s around Smith grow in their view and understanding of the world around them.  Again, you probably won’t agree with everything that Heinlein argues for in the novel, but the effectiveness of his arguments can’t be denied.

World: 6/10

The world that Heinlein creates is the weakest point of this novel.  Heinlein generally gives sparse details about the world in which his characters live.  He creates two fictional religious movements, and doesn’t tell the reader much more than is absolutely necessary about them.  While Heinlein provides enough details to create a world that is real and relatively believable, he does not provide us with much more than is necessary, and personally I like extras.

Plot: 10/10

There isn’t much more that I can say about the plot without ruining the story for you.  Michael Smith, the human martian, returns to earth and learns about human culture, then has a profound influence on others.

Pacing: 8.5/10

Stranger in a Strange Land is a slow book, but it is generally well-paced.  Though it is slow, the action moves along steadily for the most part.  However, there are a couple of dry spots the can be just a little bit of a struggle.

Commentary: 10/10

If I could give this book an 11 or 12 then I would.  Stranger in a Strange Land, like most of Heinlein’s work, is a study in social commentary.  Heinlein has a lot to say, and he says it well.  However, this book is one of the most challenging that I have ever read.  In Stranger in a Strange Land Heinlein attacks the very idea of cultural and religious mores.  I’ve said this a couple of times, and I’ll say it again, you probably won’t agree with everything that he says.  However, Heinlein brings up important arguments against cultural and religious mores, and religion in general, that we all need to deal with (whether religious or not).


Stranger in a Strange Land is, and will continue to be, a profound and influential work of social commentary (there was a church founded off of the ideas in the novel after all).  It will challenge your ideas and preconceptions about culture and morality, and it will make you think through beliefs.