Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:  For nearly four years, fantasy and science fiction enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting this second volume to Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. The first volume, The Name of the Wind, won the prestigious Quill Award and was recently voted as the third-best SFF novel of the decade on In this linchpin book of the trilogy, Kvothe continues his perilous search for answers about the Chandrian even as he grapples with more pressing dangers.

This is a doorstopper of a book. The thing felt like a brick resting on my chest while I read. I'd put off reading it so long because I couldn't imagine there being enough time in the world to read it.

That said, I read it, and I liked it. It was clearly a middle book, bridging to where questions are answered and plot lines are tied up. I might have benefited from taking a break in the middle to keep up my reading momentum, but I made it.

I think the frame story interests me more than Kvothe's retelling of his life. While I felt triumph for him and the fact that he stops living hand-to-mouth in this book, and I know his past actions have shaped the innocuous innkeeper he's become, I'm much more interested to learn more about Chronicler, the man writing down Kvothe's story as he tells it, and about Bast, Kvothe's apprentice, of a sort. I thought I had Bast figured out from the first book, but he does some unexpected things in this book.

I liked how I was able to pick up this book and follow it without having reread the first. I'm sure there are pieces of the plot I'm missing because I didn't go back to refresh myself and to speculate, but I like books that can be enjoyed on the surface level. I like when I can trust the author to lead me on an entertaining tale that will be resolved in a satisfying way.

With this story, I suspect that satisfaction may not be in a happy ending, but it's been telegraphed quite well from the first page that I can't expect that sunny resolution. I'll be pleased if it turns around, in the end, but I trust Rothfuss to tell the story the way it needs to be told, and I suspect I'll like whatever ending he has planned. So far, the writing has been solid, the story entertaining, and the characters dynamic and interesting. If the last two books are any indication, I will enjoy the third immensely when I see what all this was building to.

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