“The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.” And I broke that silence with a slow, powerful applause. Patrick Rothfuss has done it again. The Wise Man’s Fear takes place directly after his debut novel The Name of the Wind (my review here) and it doesn’t miss a beat. My main concern with the first book was its pace. The story was more than excellent and a ten out of ten, but it just lacked a little pace. The Wise Man’s fear corrects this and takes the events of the first book up a notch.
To recap The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fears is a bit much, but to give a general background to the story and setting is too little. Broad themes will have to suffice: Both books are parts of a planned trilogy called the Kingkiller Chronicle. The entirety of the tale is told like a story, and almost plays out a bit like the Princess Bride, just not the comedy aspects. Actually scrap that. The main protagonist of the story, Kvothe, is quite possibly the greatest legendary figure in song or story but is in hiding and presumed dead. However, due to a keen eared traveling chronicler, he is found and the man wants his story in full. So Kvothe gives it to him in the span of three days. By the end of The Wise Man’s Fear we reach the end of the second day. Throughout the recounting Kvothe finds himself learning magic at the university, finding love that he can’t understand, saving the lives of many, and learning an ancient form of martial arts just because, all the while slowly unraveling a mystery that’s plagued him his entire young life.
Patrick Rothfuss’ skills as a writer grew immensely after his debut work and we see that in this installment he truly excelled at world-building, at culture-creating and clashing. The world he built in the Name of the Wind was merely foundation for The Wise Man’s Fear, as he introduces us to three very new, very fresh societies and realms, each capable of being their own book. The world he’s created and the rich history therein is ripe with opportunity for fan fiction to abound and flourish. It’s funny. So much actually goes on in this book, and being that I started reading it right after the first one, I can barely remember where the first book ended and the second book began. Feels like years ago. And that’s part of the magic of the series. It’s a story of a man’s life, but rarely does it ever feel like a time-lapse – rather, it feels like you’re living his life through his eyes.
Why so much praise and I’m only giving the book a 9? Because it feels like it’s holding back. Rothfuss knows the conclusion to the story, he knows what he’s yet to reveal to us, but littered throughout the second book are hints and clues so that we can attempt to draw and grasp at theories that may or may not be correct. I’ve got a few theories of my own actually. But another reason it’s not the perfect book for me is that, although it doesn’t drag on, it is exceptionally long, and as it’s the middle of a story it has no true beginning or end. A minor quibble, however, as it’s the best book I’ve read in years.
It does seem as though Rothfuss’ original draft for the book was a bit longer and he cut it down some. There seems to be a few places where Kvothe purposely doesn’t tell certain parts of his story, and it seems this has more to do with it’s unnecessary nature in the narrative than as any real plot device.
If you need a new read for Spring, try Patrick Rothfuss The Kingkiller Chronicle out. You will not regret it. Just keep in mind that if you’re planning on gifting the series to anyone, The Wise Man’s Fear is a far more mature departure from The Name of the Wind. If the first book felt more like Game of Throne’s Arya going to Hogwarts, this book feels more like Harry going to Westeros.