You can find my review of the first book in the series, The Name of the Wind here.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series there may be slight spoilers for The Name of the Wind in this review.
For those of you who read my review of The Name of the Wind, you’ll remember that one of my complaints about the book was that for the length (600+ pages) it didn’t feel like an awful lot happened. The Wise Man’s Fear is just shy of 1000 pages, so one may assume that it suffers from the same problem – yes and no.
I think it does still spend a little too long at the University in the early stages, but once we leave there is a lot going on and a lot of the world is opened up to us. It is a mammoth read but it’s one that I was eager to work my way though, and even though it’s long and there’s a lot of information packed into the text it doesn’t at any point feel too dense or too heavy. The narrative flows easily which is extremely impressive considering that nothing in this book is included by accident. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that every word is deliberate and everything is relevant. The story even skips over a couple of bits that seem important, and would seem to be exciting parts of a story, but aren’t relevant to the story that Kvothe is telling.
Every new character that is introduced feels real and any character who may seems a bit…surreal, well, again, it’s done deliberately. Patrick Rothfuss is a tremendously talented writer and the richness of the text is staggering. The world-building is done in a subtle way and everything in this world – like the way magic works – makes sense, and it’s all layered so that we get the information we need at the right time. Above all else it’s simply an entertaining story. There were some parts, particularly at the beginning, that had be laughing out loud. Other parts had me gasping and eagerly turning the page.
It’s not entirely perfect. I still think Kvothe is too oblivious around Denna, but then I’m wondering whether there’s some other effect at play. There is a section in the book that’s a little repetitive as well, and it’s really hammering home the same point over a few chapters, but at the same time this section contains one of the most interesting parts of the book.
Another of my complaints of the first book was that I found the interludes in the Inn jarring. After the revelation towards the end of that book I now read these chapters with a greater interest, and the story of how Kvothe became Kote and how Bast ties into it all is very intriguing, especially because Bast’s agenda is still unclear.
One thing I touched upon in my previous review is the depth of the book. The level of detail in these books is insane. Some of it I picked up on while I was reading, but other parts flew right over my head. This is a book that is meant to be discussed and pondered. Reading it is actually an activity, where you should pay attention and immerse yourself in the text. Superficially it’s a good, entertaining story but when you look closer you realise just how much there is to examine. I was actually tempted to go straight back and re-read them to get a better understanding of some of the things I missed.
If you have read these books or are going to read them I’m going to pass on a link that was recommended to me. Jo Walton, an author, wrote a series of posts while she re-read the two books. The observations she makes are interesting, but there are a lot of comments as well and it will shine a new light on what you thought you knew. The index for these posts can be found here.
The next book can’t come quickly enough as far as I’m concerned.