Tag Archives: Patrick Rothfuss

Book Review: The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss) (4 *’s)

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. It continues the story of Kvothe (pronounced “Quothe”) the gifted Edema Ruh (kind of a gypsy) who is currently studying at the legendary University to become an arcanist (a scientist/magician kind of). The backdrop of the story is an old inn where the elder Kvothe is telling his life-story to a man known as Chronicler and Kvothe’s demon-friend, Bast. This outer, framing story is dipped into several times throughout the book. Both interwoven tales keep the reader engaged. The book is nearly 1000 pages long. As such, condensing the plot down into a manageable paragraph is nearly impossible, particularly since I was a slow reader on this one and have forgotten much of the first part of the book.

 

Anyway, Kvothe has one real romantic interest, a young wandering woman named Denna, who pops in and out throughout the story. The first part of the story consists of Kvothe always scraping for money. It’s kind of interesting: they tell writers to make sure your characters have a goal or desire to keep the tension going. Rothfuss used Kvothe’s lack of wealth for much of the story as means to keep the tension. I found that interesting and refreshing; it wasn’t just go and kill the bad guys. Anyway, Kvothe has run-ins with another student by the name of Ambrose which continues to escalate. Finally, he takes a semester off and goes to work for a powerful noble in a distant land. The culture described is unique and interesting, although essentially feudal. While there he does some mercenary work and winds up going to another distant land and learning about another culture (basically a martial arts style culture with very unusual beliefs regarding sex and reproduction). The story ends shortly after the point where Kvothe returns to the University for the next semester.

 

Strengths: the writing was good, the character development was good, and the tension was good. I enjoyed the story, though I did not read it as quickly as I would have liked. Weaknesses: in terms of literary structure and stuff, I could not find any weaknesses. I will remark, however, that if you are offended by sexual promiscuity, this book is not for you. There is not much of it in the first half of the book, but in the second half it is chock full of it. There is a culture that treats sex almost like a sport. They don’t believe that sex causes impregnation. They believe that children just grow as a woman naturally lives. Men do not contribute anything to the reproductive process. Children are fruits of womanhood, and that is all. As a result, everyone in the culture is having sex with everyone else. And, of course, for some reason they don’t suffer from STD’s. I would mark the book with a warning because of that: not appropriate for the very young.

 

Anyway, I still enjoyed the book and I’ll give Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear four stars out of five.

 

For those interested, you may read my review of the former book, The Name of the Wind, here.

Book Review: The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss, 4*’s)

I was looking for a new fantasy novel to read and I’d heard good things about Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. So, I gave it a gander. It’s an interesting idea for a story. The main character is a man named Kvothe (pronounced Quothe) who, after living quite the life of adventure and glory, is now living the quiet life of an innkeeper in a backwater village on the edges of civilization under the assumed name of Kote. He has a companion named Bast (who appears to be a demon of some sort, but apparently a tame one, as he is apprenticed to Kvothe for reasons which are never explained in book I—yes, this is supposed to be the first book of a trilogy). Anyway, one day a certain scribe by the name of Chronicler arrives at the inn and is looking for Kvothe—actually, he is rescued by Kote from evil quasi-demonic spider-creatures called Scrael. Chronicler wishes to record Kvothe’s story, the real story from the legend himself. At first, Kvothe is hesitant, but then he relents. What follows is his story.

 

The novel begins with his early life as part of a company of traveling entertainers. His father is head of the company. One day the company takes on an old arcanist (kind of a scholarly wizard type of person) name Abenthy, or Ben for short. Soon Ben and Kvothe strike up a friendship even though Kvothe is only around ten years old. And Ben soon learns that Kvothe is a remarkably adept young boy, so much so, Ben begins to teach him the rudiments of the arcanist teachings: things like chemistry, alchemy, herbology, etc…. Eventually, Ben leaves the company but not without leaving the young Kvothe with the notion that he could really make something of himself if he were to go to the University. A short while later, the entire company except Kvothe is wiped out by quasi-demonic creatures called Chandrians. Kvothe swears revenge, but he has a long way to go. First, he lives in the wild accompanied only by his lyre (or is it lute?—I’ve forgotten) which he plays until it has but three of its seven strings left. After some little adventures, he gets to a large city and lives as a street urchin for a while, picking up the requisite skills of begging and thievery. Finally, he gets to the University and things really take off.

 

Strengths: the writing was good, very impressive for a debut novel. The concept was pretty good, too: everything told as a kind of reflection by the older Kvothe. The characters developed well and the action, the rivalries, and the tension were all good. Weaknesses: in terms of structure and writing there weren’t really any. However, the story did not grip me completely. Maybe fantasy literature is losing its allure for me … which can’t be good, because I’m a fantasy writer. Still, it was an impressive work.

 

I’ll give Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind four or maybe even four and a half stars (if I’m feeling generous) out of five.