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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.