The Wise Man’s Fear (Review)

The Wise Man’s Fear (Review)

ou can use it as a doorjamb. Or to block the wheel of your car while jacking it up. If you drop it off a three story building, you’d kill someone with it.

It’s 1200 pages long.

And it’s the latest of the KingKiller Chronicle. Day two. Bring it on!

Once more we follow the adventures of young Kvothe, as narrated by old (well, middle-aged, but under the gloom of fate) Kvothe. For those who didn’t read my review of The Name of the Wind, it’s the story of an exceptional lad who is a consummate jack-of-all-trades. Possessing skills in music, theater and alchemy, we pick up with him in the university at a tender (and very Dougie Howser) age, generally rubbing people the wrong way, getting into all sorts of trouble, and advancing the plot’s conflicts in leaps and bounds.

Rothfuss’s story as, as mentioned, 1200 pages long so he’s got all sorts of room to develop his character and pace him through his adventures. In these, Wise is less a single book, but rather four or five continuing adventures of the same fellow. We have his university adventures, his travel to a court in the east adventure, his murder-mystery adventure, his bandit tracking adventures, and several more besides. In fact, there is the travel adventure that looks suspiciously like it was hacked out of the book – the character sighs and says it’s of no import, that he got involved in seabattles, was sunk and shipwrecked, ended up penniless on the streets, his thievery, his journey, all that; Kvothe just sighs and skips it all. And the fact that a suspicious man was trailing him, passing him on a bridge and then slipping aboard his vessel at the last second, well, it speaks literal volumes. One can imagine the harried publisher, pulling his hair and saying “Pat, look, it’s 1300 pages long! You gotta cut something!” Alas.

Don’t get me wrong – Rothfuss carries this work off very well. There are parallel dramas, both what happens in the recounted stories, and what is going on during this later chronicling. Just when you get tired of tracking bandits in the wet woods (and the horrific final battle), then we’re off to Fairyland. And then Kung-fu. If you don’t like where Kvothe is, give it a hundred pages and he’ll be somewhere else.

Okay, but smarmyness aside, it’s a great book, a fantastic read. If you are an adult who is forced to tell people how much you like Potter, check out this series (start with Wind, noted above). Time for grown-up stories. And yes, one thing good about this, you’ll never misplace this brick of a book. It stands out, in every way.

Thumbs way, way up on this one.