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.