Customer Review

102 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a week of sunshine with half an hour of rain..., 23 Mar 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2 (Hardcover)
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle) is one of the most enjoyable fantasy novels I have ever read. It is among my all-time favourite novels. It is also the first book in a trilogy. Now, after a long wait, the second book is out.

The Wise Man's Fear picks up where Name of the Wind left off. We're still in an inn, somewhere in the sticks. We're still watching the inn keeper, Kote, his apprentice, Bast, and Chronicler. Bast is someone from Faerie. Chronicler is there to record the life history of a famous shaper of history, Kvothe. Kote is Kvothe, in hiding... and his story is now in its second day of telling.

Kvothe's story is swashbuckling, energetic stuff. Read the blurb on the back of Name of the Wind, and you know you're in for a tale of adventure. The same is true for Wise Man's Fear: adventure, hijinks, magic, and all told in beautiful prose with a real sense of music and rhythm and an aural aesthetic to it. This is exciting, plot- and character driven adventure, written in a masterly way.

Despite all that, there are reasons why Wise Man's Fear does not get the five stars that Name of the Wind got from me. The first of these may be quite subjective: I like Kvothe best when he's at the University. Name of the Wind took him from childhood to University, and then, in the final act, to follow a lead and find a dragon (well, draccus) and have a big adventure as finale. Wise Man's Fear is different: we spend the first third of the book at University, and then Kvothe finds himself going out into the wider world in a self-imposed exile for two terms. He has adventures, spends time at court, chases bandits, learns kung fu, becomes the world's greatest lover, ... well, not quite, but almost. For me, those parts of the book quite simply did not quite have the same fascination. At University, there is Elodin to fascinate the reader (perhaps not unlike Dumbledore in Harry Potter, but less stable and grounded). There is Auri to delight. But there is no more exposition happening: Patrick Rothfuss has explained the rules of magic in this world, set out the principles, and does not take the reader into higher levels in this book. Perhaps no one else would want second or third year level magic theories in a book - but I found myself missing something. Perhaps I wanted Elodin to give up a secret or two. Perhaps I wanted a bit more progress towards finding out about the Chandrian. Perhaps I wanted movement in the back story as well as the story in the foreground. And Wise Man's Fear did not move the back story as much as I would have hoped for: the main new thing are the Amyr, a long extinct (or are they?) Knights Templar type movement...

One big accusation that has been levelled against the Kingkiller Chronicles is that the books are wish fulfilment literature. Well, it's true. Academically brilliant, brave hero who can sing, play instruments, write poetry and songs that know no equal, do magic way beyond the abilities of his peers... yeah, there is something a bit escapist about it. But this is tempered by Kvothe's poverty, his ability to make lifelong enemies, his rashness, his bumbling foolishness around girls (and Denna in particular)... one of the reasons the first book earned its length is that each talent of Kvothe is earned, and as reader, we earn it with him, we feel his efforts. Wise Man's Fear, however, cheats. Let's just say that the exact how and where and why of Kvothe's sexual awakening seems to just fall in his lap, unearned, unstruggled for, unlikely... And then we spend (what feels like) a hundred pages there. No, not in a hundred-page long scene of canoodling, but a hundred pages of Kvothe plus one, in their own little world. If these books were in any way comparable to Lord of the Rings, this would be their Tom Bombadil moment...

For a writer who really likes women, and seems to respect them, populating his novels with a variety of confident, competent female characters, it seems a little bit disappointing. It's as if Kvothe's clumsiness around women could not be resolved gradually, as if something had to pop, and as if Kvothe was somehow never going to get there with real women... It's not the most satisfying or gratifying way to do character growth...

This is also the place where the book seems to get bogged down a bit in silly phrases. Where the language has been beautiful and elegant throughout, it suddenly turns corny. Sexual positions get names that could be straight from the Karma Sutra ("the thousand hands", "the twisted lotus flower"), and, not long thereafter, Kvothe learns his world's equivalent of Yoga and Kung Fu, and each movement has similar sounding names ("the falling leaves", "the itching backside" ... well, not perhaps the latter) - after one and a half books of beautifully written, exciting prose, the reader is suddenly faced with about three hundred pages of slightly cheesy shorthand spoiling the otherwise ornate aural landscape of the story.

Finally, the biggest reason why the book lost a star is quite simply this: Kvothe fails Denna in one way. Let's just say he is informed of Denna being in a situation she could probably use some saving from, and he makes choices that lead him towards finding out more about the Chandrian, rather than towards finding her and helping... Yes, the Chandrian, and the murder of Kvothe's family when he was a child are important things. But now, years after the fact, and after so much emotional investment in Denna, I would have expected him to put her wellbeing before his own revenge, any time. And yes, he might not have known where to find her or how to help her, but he does not even try...

I should clarify something at this point: I have spent most of this review highlighting elements I found frustrating or disappointing about the novel. However, this does not mean the novel is bad, or average, or merely OK. No, this is a very good, very well-written, very enjoyable novel. It's 1000 pages long, and I read the first 250 of those in one hungry leap. The reason I go into negatives is simply that they stand out, in this novel of masterliness. It's a bit like spending a week in the most beautiful, sunny holiday spot on Earth, and being rained on for half an hour of that week: when the holiday is over, I remember that half hour in more detail than the week of joy.

So: this novel is very good. It is a wonderful sequel. It is not as flawless as the first, and it had stretches where I wanted it to be in a different place, take a different direction. But it is still good.

(Lastly, the novel does signal, just as the first did, where it is headed: into darkness. After all the joyful energy in these two novels, with some bittersweet moments and a threatening cloud of terror on the horizon, I feel not just anticipation for the final novel; I also feel a bit of dread. I care too much about all these characters. I think if it goes the way it is signalling, I may have to keep tissues handy while reading the next one, a decade or so from now...)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments

Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Apr 2011 21:20:22 BDT
L. Sales says:
I could not have expressed myself so well.Every bit of it.I loved the book but i finished it with a bit of desapointment.Lets hope the next one will be everything that we are expecting from .

Posted on 28 Apr 2011 15:22:27 BDT
Mr. N. Best says:
Really, very well put. This book is a master piece of sorts, but 100 pages, there's no need. Maybe 700 maximum. It slightly falls into the same trap of many second of a trilogy books, in that it compensates for anyone who hasn't read the first book and has stumbled upon this one by chance. For the most part beautifully written, but then in some places a little distracted. Still I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sweating already for the next one. Maybe it's my nature but I am potentially more concerned with what happens to the inn keeper Kvothe. This is where the real twist is.

Anyway like i have said well put.

Posted on 11 Jul 2011 18:17:18 BDT
Dan says:
You write well, but your opinion is fairly flawed. You deduct a star mostly because the main protagonist actually leaves the comforting confines of the university and because he has a fight with Denna. Firstly, in leaving the university it adds some more angle to the story, otherwise he would have spent way too long there, it was getting that way by the time he left and secondly, in fighting Denna it is if anything more realistic than if he was a continuous fountain of positive emotion. The book isn't perfect, but I do think that stories are not written for every specific individual and therefore you have to expect that every book is not perfect in an absolute way for each individual, you should look past this when reviewing.

Posted on 13 Nov 2011 15:13:38 GMT
Ashley Peres says:
"And then we spend (what feels like) a hundred pages there. No, not in a hundred-page long scene of canoodling, but a hundred pages of Kvothe plus one, in their own little world. If these books were in any way comparable to Lord of the Rings, this would be their Tom Bombadil moment..."

TBH i amongst many others love the Tom Bombabil moments in LOTR, I cant see how a mere 100 pages covering someone discovering their own personal love interests is much of a hinderence. A very Very enjoyable sequal.

Posted on 13 Nov 2011 15:15:50 GMT
Ashley Peres says:
"And then we spend (what feels like) a hundred pages there. No, not in a hundred-page long scene of canoodling, but a hundred pages of Kvothe plus one, in their own little world. If these books were in any way comparable to Lord of the Rings, this would be their Tom Bombadil moment..."

TBH i amongst many others love the Tom Bombabil moments in LOTR, I cant see how a mere 100 pages covering someone discovering their own personal love interests is much of a hinderence. A very Very enjoyable sequal.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.6 out of 5 stars (457 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (348)
4 star:
 (70)
3 star:
 (21)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (8)
 
 
 
Used & New from: 3.07
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Cardiff, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,212