Following the excellent book, The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear picks up in the inn the Kvothe tends in the present, telling his story to Chronicler and Bast. In his telling, he’s still at the University. This novel was a 994-page behemoth, and I can honestly say I wish it was longer, because I don’t want to have to wait for the next one, The Doors of Stone, expected in May of 2013.
Just like the first novel in the Kingkiller Chronicles, I loved this book. I had heard negative things about the second half of the novel, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I really can’t believe I doubted Rothfuss… I remember reading the blurb about the first book and learning that Kvothe eventually leaves the University. I was anxious about that, because I wanted to learn the inner workings of the school, and I thought he was going to leave early on. By the time I hit the halfway mark in The Wise Man’s Fear, I was ready to move on from the school and learn more about the world Rothfuss created. Luckily, he was on a similar brainwave.
For the first half of the novel, we follow similar characters that were in the last book: Kvothe, Denna, Wil and Sim, Fela, Ambrose, and a few others. We also get a host of new characters in the second half. The first part of the book is pretty similar in many ways to the last book, so I’m not going to bother reviewing it past saying that it was an enjoyable revamp of The Name of the Wind, with a few wonderful additions (including a man who LIVES in the library. I would love to live in a library…). There is also, of course, more music. Kvothe has made me want to pick up the lute more than once.
The SECOND half of the book was amazing. I loved that Kvothe finally got out in the world, somewhere out of the Commonwealth. He visits many new places with fun and weird new customs. Kvothe spends time in some strange places. I don’t think it’s a secret that he spends time with Felurian and leaves, and is literally the only person who doesn’t go mad when he leaves her. He also learns a new language (or two) and learns a way of gesturing meaning/feelings, which I found interesting but not really necessary. He also picks up a bit of fighting technique that I really enjoyed learning about. Through his travels, he doesn’t forget about his one true goal… learning about the Chandrian. By now, I’m also curious as to their back story, and am eagerly awaiting more knowledge about them from the third novel.
I’m trying not to give too much away to those who plan to read the book, so I’ll stop with the summary. I enjoyed The Wise Man’s Fear possibly even more than The Name of the Wind. Because it took so long to get to the part where he left the University, it has a similar feel to it as the first novel. I can’t promise you will like the second half, but I loved it. I’m hoping the third and final novel will include more travelling. These books definitely merit a rereading before The Doors of Stone come out. Rothfuss has beautiful prose, and I found it hard to not write every other sentence down as something worth quoting. I will include two quotes that were irresistibly good:
“It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.”
“This is the nature of love. [...] To attempt to describe it will drive a woman mad. That is what keeps poets scribbling endlessly away. If one could pin it to the paper all complete, the others would lay down their pens. But it cannot be done.”
“I played the song that hides in the center of me. That wordless music that moves through the secret places in my heart. I played it carefully, strumming it slow and low into the dark stillness of the night. I would like to say it is a happy song, that it is sweet and bright, but it is not.”