Books: The Wise Man’s Fear

In Brief:  Patrick Rothfuss returns to the saga of Kvothe (aka The Boss) in this beautifully written book.  It’s Portrait of the Wizard as a Young Man, with Kvothe telling the continuing story of his days at the University, his ongoing love with Denna, and adventures out in the world.

Pros:  Rothfuss can really, really write, and with Kvothe he’s created a wonderfully accessible and fascinating lead character.  This volume of the story features adventures outside the university, to include a trip to faerie and a sort of internship with a quasi-bushido culture.

Cons:  The books is long, long, long, and the pacing drags for at points.  Also, the sense of tragedy within the third-person frame started to feel strained.

Review:   Since this book was published, I’ve been looking forward to diving in.  It had been sitting on my shelf, awaiting the right time in the old reading schedule (it is nearly 1,000 pages after all).  I was pretty certain  The Wise Man’s Fear would deliver, based on how much I enjoyed the first book (The Name of the Wind), as well as the knowledge that Pat Rothfuss was doing it right, taking some time, and getting the second volume out on what we can assume was something close to his timetable. It was worth the wait.

Kvothe is a wonderful character, flawed, self-aware, sensitive yet prone to temper-induced lapses of judgment.  But always, he’s a kind and decent soul at heart – the kind of guy you can root for.  And it just so happens that he’s the most famous magician of his time.  As in volume 1, Kvothe is telling the tale of his youth to the Chronicler, so most of the book is a 1st person recounting of adventures.  The third person frame takes place in a distant future, with Kvothe surviving as a simple innkeeper, seemingly a shadow of his former self.

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Books: The Name of the Wind

 

by Patrick Rothfuss

The Fantasy genre comes in many different flavors, much of it aspiring to the label, “Epic”.  For many of these books, Epic comes to mean long, spread out, and poorly paced.  Usually it means enough p.o.v. characters you need a primer or signpost chapters to keep them all straight.  When it’s done right, you can really enjoy this kind of book.  You can get lost in those big multi-volume stories; the kind of experience only books can provide.  Examples such as George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Steven Ericsson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen spring to mind.

Fantasy can also deliver shorter, sleeker stories that blend convention and technique.  Stand-alone novels in all types of settings with all manner of cross-genre blending.  I’m a big fan of such books.  I like being able to pick-up a novel and know the story will come to a reasonable end after 300 pages.  Some recent examples here include:   Territory by Emma Bull and the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher.

With The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss provides a taste of both flavors.  It’s long (700 pages in paperback), with a deeply developed sense of history, and obviously the first of several such volumes.  So epic.  It’s also told chiefly in 1st person p.o.v. and tightly written.  So shorter non-conventional fantasy.  Of course a comparative structure like this is artificial and eventually breaks down, but it can give you a glimpse at the strength of this novel.  For me this is an epic feel that’s also intimate.  It’s a a long book in 1st person. Continue reading