Nope. Hated it. Complete nonsense. I DNF’d after 20 pages.
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is an amusing tale of one of the most likable fantasy characters.
5/5 (maybe closer to 4.5)
So I got through the 1000 page book that is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss and I was expecting quite a bit from one of the most liked books in the fantasy genre and I was not disappointed. Reading about Kvothe is like sitting with a cup of hot chocolate while spending time with someone you love. Rothfuss is a great writer than puts a lot of his personality into his work and the Adem are the highlight of Rothfuss’ world. The Wise Man’s Fear is not a deep intellectual work by any stretch of the imagination but it works well.
The Wise Man’s Fear starts off with a new semester at The University. Kvothe and his friends are becoming closer to each other and one of the best parts of the entire book is Kvothe starting to open up more to everyone. They have their usual run in with Ambrose and Denna is around for Kvothe to desire. Fela, Devi, Sim, and Wil all have more interactions with each other and Kvothe that make the first part of this book a real joy to read. The first 35% is like visiting old friends.
After Kvothe becomes a more highly visible person at The University, where it would effect his tuition to go up more than he can possible afford, he decides to take a leave of absence from school. The story changes quite a bit at this point and Kvothe travels far east to join a rich man’s court that is in need of a man with Kvothe’s abilities. The story takes place in Severen where Kvothe ends up helping a rich noble, called the Maer, get the love of his life to notice him. Kvothe helps the Maer with other conflicts and then gets sent by the Maer to deal with an issue with bandits.
Kvothe meets up with four others and hunts the bandits that are taking the Maer’s tax money. One of the travelers is an Adem and his name is Tempi. Tempi and Kvothe become good friends and Kvothe learns more about the Adem through Tempi, and ends up studying Tempi’s school of training of how to be an Adem. Eventually Kvothe arrives back at the University and has enough money now to always pay for his tuition with the help of the Maer.
I loved this book, especially the beginning, and the Adem training. I love interpersonal relationships in books and the beginning was such a stand out part in the book because Kvothe is getting close to everyone. Each of the side characters from The University are more fleshed out than they were in The Name of the Wind, which helped me care about them so much more, and learn how they think. The Adem training was the next part of this book I liked the most. The Adem society and culture is the most imaginative and detailed part of Rothfuss’ world building. They are so different than all the other societies in the book but not too different from our own world cultures to not have a point of reference. They kind of reminded me of promiscuous Buddhist monks.
There was one part of this book that I did not really care about and that is the story with Felurian. I felt like the sub-plot with Felurian was a little unbelievable and served the purpose only to give Kvothe certain knowledge that I felt he could have learned some other way. Kvothe becoming sexually active wasn’t my favorite part of this book either as it seemed at times to belong in a completely different book.
Rothfuss writes this book with a flow, pace, and prose that lets you fly through it with ease. If there was one word I would use to describe Rothfuss’ writing it would be whimsical. This is a book where you smile a lot while reading. There is some substance in this book but not a whole lot. The main substance of this book is learning about what is inside Kvothe, his anger, and how he needs to deal with that. What happened to his parents weighs his heart down greatly and effects his relationships and his actions.
I can see Rothfuss’ work not aging well though. It really all depends on the final book that he writes and Kvothe dealing with who he really is. If it gets more serious and really deals with Kvothe’s parents getting killed and how that impacts who he is then I can see it being read 40 years from now still. However, if the final installment is as amusing and lighthearted as this book, then people 20 years from now might not take it too seriously.
I will be curious what my opinion of these books will be after the entire series is over and after I have read more fantasy literature. Are these really as good as I think they are or is it only because of my frame of reference and lack of a strong fantasy foundation? Regardless, for now, at this moment, I loved this book. It moved me emotionally because I care for the characters and I found myself laughing quite a bit.
I would recommend this book to anyone that is just starting to read fantasy. To people that have read a ton of fantasy, I would ask them if they liked any young adult fantasy books, because honestly The University stuff is very young adultish. I don’t mind that one bit, in fact I enjoy that camaraderie between friends, but other people might see it as over done or childish. However, I do not think that way, and hope not to think that way in the future. I hope to read this again sometime and enjoy it just as much as I did now.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is an up to date classic fantasy tale that captures the heart and imagination through honest storytelling. The main character, Kvothe, is a bright young man, stumbling through the world as he attempts to support himself alone, and pay for his education. Where other fantasy books would not focus on the suffering of the main character and his very human needs, Rothfuss wants the reader to know that real life is messy, and even if you are a gifted individual, it does not mean you won’t have your shares of set backs. We have a main character that we can relate to because our life isn’t perfect and even though Kvothe is our hero, neither is his life.
This is a character based story, my favorite kind. We learn about the world as Kvothe learns about it. There is very little exposition that doesn’t seem natural and Rothfuss succeeds admirably in that regards. The story is about a hero that everyone talks about but few know the real story. Chronicler, a historian, finds Kvothe, and asks him for his actual story to set the record straight. The chapters are mostly told in first person while Kvothe is telling the story but changes to third person in the scenes where Chronicler is transcribing the story.
It is very much an origin story, which I love. Kvothe was a part of a travelling troupe with his parents where he learned all sorts of things, especially from an arcanist that traveled with them as well. An arcanist is Rothfuss’ version of a wizard but more a scientist than anything. They are the keepers of knowledge that study at a place called The University. The magic system in The Name of the Wind is called sympathy where you form links with elements by using a small focusing piece of that element and an energy source. Learning about sympathy as a reader is delightful. Anyway, Kvothe ends up homeless, and alone after a group of men kill his entire troupe. For three years Kvothe is living on the street and his existence is so meager and disheartening. The reader becomes attached to Kvothe because of the pain he suffers. We want to see Kvothe overcome his obstacles. Eventually Kvothe ends up at The University and begins his studies. He can barely pay his tuition and living expenses, he makes mistakes and angers the wrong people, and is too strong willed for his own good. The story turns into Kvothe’s adventures and hardships at The University where one thing will go right but two things will go wrong. It is an amazing opening narrative to the Kingkiller Chronicles because we are living the story through or with Kvothe. At some point in the story, Kvothe becomes our friend, and that friendship is what powers the book.
I absolutely loved Rothfuss’ prose. He puts wise sayings that can be applied in our own life into his story as he applies it to Kvothe’s life. There are poetic and extremely quotable lines all through this book. In fact this is one of the most quotable fantasy books I’ve ever read. Here are some examples:
“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
“Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.
First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.
Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.
Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.
Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.”
“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer. So I began sleeping less to give her the time she needed.”
Also the stories and songs within the story are remarkable. Usually I don’t care for songs in a fantasy book but the songs in The Name of the Wind are on another level. Using songs and spoken-word stories was an ingenious way to talk about the history of the world without resorting to unnatural exposition. The best scene in the entire book is at the Eolian when Kvothe performs for his pipes. That was the highlight of the entire book because it was written so well that it moved me emotionally. The weakest part of the book was in the forest outside of Trebon. The scenes with Kvothe and Denna near Trebon didn’t hold my interest like the others.
I highly recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for those people that grew up on sword and sorcery fantasy books, people that want more character in their books, and people that want a break from grim-dark to experience classic fantasy told in a modern way. I enjoyed this book enough for me to order a signed hardcover that will be arriving in the mail. I cannot wait to read A Wise Man’s Fear. Kvothe is up there along with some of the great fantasy characters I have ever read. It does not hurt that Rothfuss is one of the best personalities in the fantasy genre today. I love his comments on everything from writing to the fantasy genre and when he is invited to panels he answers straight-forward.
Check out Mark Lawrence’s review of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. I cannot wait to read this book myself, so I did not read the review, because I don’t want any spoilers.
Mark Lawrence is the author of The Broken Empire trilogy and the recently released first book of The Red Queen’s War, Prince of Fools. He is another author I hope to read and check out. I love following his Goodreads and facebook as he always has something interesting to say.