Sorry I missed last week’s Fantasy Art Tuesday, The Wise Man’s Fear was too good to put down.
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 Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a good character driven story that is very well written but lacks an engaging story.
So far this review is the hardest review I have had to write. I liked The Goblin Emperor but I couldn’t look past a lot of the short comings. It is a shame, because it is a good book, in fact it could of been a great book, but unfortunately it fell short. I couldn’t decide to give this a 3 or a 4, so just know that it is a good 3. To have any doubt in my mind made me realize that a 3 was warranted.
The Goblin Emperor is a story about a young half elf, half goblin prince that is last in the line for succession to the throne and is put away by his royal family. A tragedy strikes and the Emperor and all his sons die in a suspicious way. Maia, the half elf, half goblin prince, becomes the Emperor through this tragedy. He must navigate the waters of an imperial court that is hostile towards him while dealing with his own insecurity and doubt.
Maia is a highly likable character. He was abused by his guardian and never educated properly. When he becomes Emperor, he knows little of what to do, but his mother’s teachings years ago help him remain focused. He is a good man that sees the need in people’s lives. He wants to treat everyone with respect but in a society that demands condescension to those below your own level, he finds it difficult. I really liked Maia and his character is what made me like The Goblin Emperor as much as I did. His growth as a character was really well written by Addison. He goes from an insecure nothing to a man that everyone respects and admires.
Addison is a great writer and there were a few times I had to look up a word in the dictionary. The prose was soothing and calming. This is the type of book that makes you feel good, comfortable. The style of prose is inviting and well groomed.
The problem is that along with the prose being comfortable, so was the plot. The plot did not surprise me at all. The two main conflicts in the story were rather sub-par. There was only one scene in the entire book that had any sort of excitement or danger and for a fantasy book that is just too few in my opinion. There just wasn’t any excitement in the plot and that made me so disappointed because it is a good book, just not much fun. Maia’s growth and reaction to events is what drives the entire book forward and not any excitement in the plot. Not once did I feel that Maia was in danger or that it would end in any other way than everything working out. The book felt sterile.
The other problem with The Goblin Emperor was that there just wasn’t enough different with this world than our own world. The most inspired and imaginative part of the entire book was this society’s view on guilt and punishment. However, everything else was just renamed things from our own world. I don’t mind fantasy novels having a lot of strange and exotic names and titles but when those positions are direct mirror images of our societal titles but just with the name changed, it lacks imagination.
The titles, formal greetings, and names in The Goblin Emperor didn’t bother me much. I took notes at the beginning and used the information in the back of the book. Unfortunately I read almost 300 pages before I noticed the titles page before the glossary in the back. In all it wasn’t too complicated to know who was talking to whom.
Addison’s intention was to create a rich, unique, and complex Imperial Court that was heavy on intrigue and subtleties while writing a character driven story. There just wasn’t enough fleshed out interpersonal relationships with Maia though. Maia and the people around him withdrew themselves from each other because of him being Emperor but that caused the possibility for complex friendships and love to be rather shallow. At the end I was happy that Maia had a handful of people that he could trust and be friends with but even then he made it a point to make sure to distinguish between those relationships he had and true friendship. If we would have seen Maia fall in love, form close relationships, and then have the conflicts that came up in the story, it would have been much more exciting. I just think that Addison was slightly restricted with the relationships because of her take on what it meant to be an Emperor in this world.
I am happy to have read The Goblin Emperor though. The tone and pacing of the book was different for fantasy and at times there were hints of a more literary fantasy book that would exceed my expectations. However, the plot just didn’t excite me, and there were few poignant relationships during the meat of the novel. I will keep an eye out for more of Katherine Addison’s books and check out her other books under Sarah Monette because she is a talented writer that I think can succeed in becoming a true literary fantasy author.
Here we go with my favorite fantasy art of the last week.
Unknown artist inspired by The Glass Throne by Sarah Maas