Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2)
I finally got to read Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear. Life and my TBR pile would not allow for me to tackle this book as quickly as I would have liked. Luckily, Brilliance Audio sent me the audiobook and I was able to squeeze it in on my commute to work. Like many fans of The Name of the Wind, I was anxious to see how the story of Kvothe would progress. I was also anxious to see if Mr. Rothfuss could “call down lightning” twice. To say the least, I was not disappointed.

Fanlit reviewers Robert and Stefan both echo the majority of my thoughts on The Wise Man’s Fear. They’ve done an excellent job in analyzing the novel, so I will not take my review to that level. Instead I’ll keep it simple and give a few of my likes and dislikes about the novel.

The story ambles and sidesteps its way through the telling of Kvothe’s thoughts and adventures, and it’s wonderful. The book packs in 1000 pages and it still felt too short. What I liked most about the story is what everyone likes: Kvothe. He’s such an amazing character and its impossible not to find him engaging. In The Name of the Wind the side characters were a little flat. I felt Mr. Rothfuss made big strides in preventing that from happening in The Wise Man’s Fear. The cast of characters seemed a little more colorful and a bit more detailed than in the first book. The races of this world get some much-needed page time too. Personally, the people of Ademre were my favorite. I could easily see spin-off stories just based on the Adem.

The things I didn’t like were few, but the thing I disliked the most is actually hard to explain. I had to research and call upon my fellow reviewers to help find the right term to describe it. It’s a type of plot device, and I learned that the closest I could get to a term is Diabolus ex vacuus or maybe Diabolus ex machina. It is a fairly common trope; I just didn’t expect to see it so often. There are a couple of these devices in the story, and even the Chandrian themselves fall into this category. I do not want to reveal more than that, due to spoilers. Rothfuss’ writing is often superior to some of the story elements he uses, perhaps because the basic story was written a long time ago. Not really a huge deal overall, I just found it a bit awkward at times.

I listened to The Wise Man’s Fear on Brilliance Audio CD. It clocks in at a massive 43 hours stretched over 36 discs. It is huge. The story is narrated by Nick Podehl, and he does a wonderful job. He can be a bit dry at times, but overall his tone is perfect for the somewhat aloof Kvothe. If you usually hesitate to purchase audiobooks due to the price, I strongly suggest you pick this up because 43 hours of an amazing story is well worth the $30 you’ll spend on it. Let me repeat that in case you didn’t catch it….43…FORTY THREE…hours…long. That’s over an entire work week or two entire days of fantasy storytelling.
—Justin Blazier

You can also learn more about Rothfuss' books at the Fantasyliterature Pat Rothfuss page

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