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Great fantasy sequel that would have been even better for more editing and more resolution,
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This review is from: The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2 (Hardcover)It seems a little redundant to write a review for the second book of a fantasy trilogy. If you haven't read the first one, there's not much point reading the second just yet, if you have, you'll probably already have a fairly firm idea of whether or not you want to continue with the series. Nonetheless, I haven't reviewed the first book in the series (The Name of the Wind) despite absolutely loving it, and one of my New Year's Resolutions is to review every book I read, so I'm going to do a bit of a review of both.
In essence, I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, and it's well written and engaging enough that it could well be worth giving it a try even if that isn't your usual genre. I hugely enjoyed it and can't wait to read the third book when it comes out. Nonetheless I think there were some flaws and on balance, I feel that the first instalment was the better book.
How much you enjoy the tale will probably depend on how you feel about the main character, Kvothe, as the story really does revolve entirely around him. Personally, I really liked him and was rooting for him all the way through, but I've heard several people say they found him extremely annoying, and I can see where they are coming from. He is extremely, instantly good at almost everything he puts his hands too and throughout this book he only gets more skilled, powerful and popular with the ladies. In the hands of a lesser author he could easily have become a total Mary Sue and clearly some people think that he has crossed that line. For me though, he gets into just enough scrapes to be believable and, especially in the present day sections in the Inn is well aware of his faults and emphasises the way his reputation has been blown out of proportion.
There are two very unusual and clever things about this book - firstly, the framing device - something bad has happened and modern day Kvothe is hiding out as an innkeeper, with his powers now seemingly reduced, and telling his story. This allows for lots of fun foreshadowing and raises all sorts of questions of what happened. It also allows us to hear the overblown legends that have grown up around him from yokel customers, which provide an interesting counterpoint to the more rational tale being told by Kvothe himself.
Secondly, there is lots of use of old stories, poems and legends that really add depth the the world, but which also make an interesting point about how tales change over time - for example a smutty poem recited by one character turns out to be a newer version of an older prophetic rhyme; or two characters write a song about an event, one making the main character a hero, the other a villain.
All of this means that there is lots to analyse and speculate about if that's your cup of tea (and I've certainly had lots of geeky fun working through some of the references and guessing at events in the third book over the last couple of days!) but unlike some books, which get bogged down in this sort of thing (A Dance with Dragons for example was practically unreadable in parts without the detailed lists of all the characters), it is also a smooth, easy read that makes perfect sense to readers who don't have or want an encyclopaedic knowledge of the line of succession in Vintas or all the myths around the Chandrian.
The main problem was one that seems all too common with recent fantasy books - it was too long and too little was resolved. Few of the plot lines and questions set up in the first book have been resolved after nearly 1000 pages and some were barely touched on. There were parts - a trip with some mercenaries, an encounter with a sex-mad fairy - that could have been half the length they were without really losing anything.
On a similar note, I was surprised that roughly the first third of the book is still set at the University and there seemed to have been no progress since the first book - Kvothe still desperately needs money and schemes to get it, Kvothe once again goes through admissions, dividing the teachers between those who love him and those who hate him. Ambrose attacks him some more, he gets further revenge, Ambrose attacks him yet again. Kvothe meets Denna. They still don't get it on. She disappears again. All of this is actually very enjoyable to read, and the university sections are actually some of the best in the book, but all of these plot elements were getting a bit repetitive by the end of the first book and I wasn't expecting this cycle to recur again.
These points however really didn't drastically affect my appreciation of the book. The writing is so smooth and in parts genuinely laugh out loud funny that even parts that are a little dull plot wise are still a pleasure to read, though I'm hoping for some resolution and some rather more vicious editing in part three.
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Initial post: 23 Mar 2013 01:34:18 GMT
sort of ruined that kvothe denna part for me was really looking forward to something happening in the second book with them. no matter, just finished the first instalment and thought it was amazing. buying the second first thing tomorrow.
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