Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review - The Wise Man's Fear

Even though I was late to the party when I finally read The Name of the Wind, I was a little relieved to know that I wouldn't have to wait 4 years to read the second book in the series. Instead, I was able to immediately pick up a copy of The Wise Man's Fear and add it to my "to read" list (sliding it past a couple of other books already in line).

The first novel really drew me in with wonderful imagery, beautiful writing and a fabulously immersive and intriguing story. The second novel takes each of those things I already loved and refines them even more. I grew more and more impressed by Rothfuss' writing style and loved the story with every page I turned. Knowing that the third (and final?) book in the series has not yet been released, I intentionally slowed down my reading a bit to stretch out the enjoyment.

This second novel picks up where the first ended. It gives a slight interlude to reacquaint the reader with the world and the characters before diving headlong into the story. In spite of this brief settling in period, I wouldn't recommend a new reader skip straight to book two...there's too much world and character building in the first book to gloss over.

Like the first book, we are hearing the story of Kvothe as he narrates his life to a man (the Chronicler) who will write his biography. There are brief breaks that bring us back to the "present time" for Kvothe and the others to grab a bite to eat or deal with issues in the current time. I felt like these 'intermissions' had a little more meat to them in this book. Partly they expanded the potential for a new plot/story to unfold after we finally finish hearing Kvothe's biography to this point.

In the history told in Wise Man's Fear we learn about two major periods of Kvothe's life.

First, we follow him through another segment of schooling. This continues very similar to the last portions of the first book but with some fun and interesting adventures and realizations that happen.

Second, we take a bit of a field trip across the country where Kvothe gains a sort of unofficial patronage serving as a secret advisor/helper to a noble. While there he learns a lot about the courtly life and has a number of adventures and intrigue within the court before going on an adventure in the nearby forest and highway.

Even splitting the novel up into these two sections leaves them each filled to the brim and you could likely break each section down even further and be left with multiple wonderful novels.

This book is filled with a vibrant world and intriguing characters that just continue to draw you in. Each new little story adds a new layer to the overall life story of Kvothe. By the time he returns to school at the end of the book, his name and his adventures are traveling through the world as stories told around campfires or in taverns.

The writing once again is eloquent and inspiring. Many passages made profound observations filled with timely advice for anyone dealing with struggles in life or looking in wonder at the chaos and woe of the world around them.

I know sit waiting for book 3 with the other thousands of fans. If you haven't yet read these books, I can highly recommend them. Even if you're not a fan of fantasy fiction, you may find yourself enjoying these novels. While they are set in a world with magic, demons and fairy creatures, the majority of the interactions and situations feel very real and grounded. Due to some plot elements, you can't wholly strip away or ignore the magic/fantasy, but I suspect this is a series that could easily be enjoyed even by a non-fan of fantasy.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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