Review – The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of his family, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.
Now, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.
I’m absolutely intimated at the level of cleverness and whit that Patrick Rothfuss has ingratiated into this second installation of the King-killer Chronicles. Not only is he a talented story weaver, but these two novels are filled with such knowledge, whit, and character development that it would make any fantasy nerd blush. I did quite a few times, actually.
If you love a simple story with the regular fantasy formula, this isn’t a tale for you. However, if you love a good puzzle, an over-abundance of science, history, philosophy, mythology, magic – well, a dire thirst for cleverness, then this is a must read. Yet, the genius of Rothfuss is not in the level of intelligent ingredients he weaved into this tale – it’s that he makes his work of art look easy.
I love Kvothe, not for his genius, his quick wit, or his talent with music and magic, but for his fallibility, his naivety, and his ignorant innocence. Most of all, I love his drive, his hope, his bravery in the face of adversity, his failures and weaknesses – and despite his confessions, I love his desire for justice. These might be all the traditional elements of a fantasy hero that have been written out thousands of times before, but what makes that formula great is the fact it works. Rothfuss, along with a few other authors I’ve read lately like Michael J. Sullivan, Anthony Ryan, and R.T. Kaelin, really have learned the secret to good character development.
In a story about heroes, it’s not always what must be done, or the powers they have, that make them great, but who they must become as a person in order to fulfill their destiny. The process from discovering destiny – to the point of fulfilling it – that is the story. In the King-Killer Chronicles, The Name of the Wind, Kvothe is introduced at the height of his innocence and the beginning of his thirst for knowledge and wonder of the universe around him. He is full of all the awe, wonder, and wild-eyed amazement of childhood as he steps lightly onto the path of his destiny. Then, controversy and adversity descends upon him with the murder of his parents and the introduction of the Chandrian, disrupting that innocence, and introducing him to the path of development of his character. In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe begins to grow up and face the hard realities of his decisions, life and what lay ahead for him. THIS is what I love about his series. Rothfuss doesn’t tell us a story, he allows Kvothe to reveal it to us in a slow development that involves all emotion and intellect. The result: readers become emotionally and intellectually invested, rooting for the hero because of the hero, not the quest.
It is this formula that I’m discovering and loving in the epic fantasies I’ve read lately. I hope I can apply it to my own stories, and with authors like Rowling, Rothfuss, Sullivan, Kaelin and Sanderson, I think I’ve got some great inspirations to use.
I highly recommend this series, and I want to again thank Michael J. Sullivan for his recommendation.
Till next time,
Author of the Arcainian Series