The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This is a book that I want to hand to everyone in the library, saying, “You’ve got to read this book!”
Since The Wise Man’s Fear is a sequel, though, I’d actually have to say, “First you’ve got to read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and then you’ve got to read this book!” People are going to think I’m crazy to recommend two gigantic books from the fantasy and science fiction section (kiss of death for a vast swathe of readers) even before they realize from the series title (in tiny print on the cover), Kingkiller Chronicle, Day 2, that there is at least one more gigantic book to come.
I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the fantasy genre, so when I loved The Name of the Wind so much, I did wonder if it was derivative of other series and just seemed fresh and original to me because I’m not a Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, or Stephen R. Donaldson reader. But today I found a lengthy online discussion of all the connections and hidden meanings in the Kingkiller Chronicle thus far (most of which I probably missed, rushing through the books). The discussion is led by author and Kingkiller fan, Jo Walton, and her novel Among Others (reviewed here, March 2011) proves without a doubt that she knows her science fiction and fantasy.
The Kingkiller Chronicle is a humanistic fantasy; there are faeries, demons, archanists, and alchemists, but no epic battle scenes with giant moving trees or ogres fighting elves. Most of it is set up as Kvothe, the hero, telling the story of his life (which has been exaggerated, rumored about,  and mythologized) to a chronicler traveling through.
Sounds boring, and believe me, I thought so too, when I first realized with The Name of the Wind that I was going to be listening to a storyteller for over 700 pages. But Patrick Rothfuss makes Kvothe into a great storyteller; you forget you’re listening to a story, and become engrossed in it.
To be realistic, I know I won’t talk everyone into reading these books, so I’ll just say this: Try them if you’re looking for an absorbing read. Maybe, if you liked The Passage by Justin Cronin, but thought the good vs. evil tension could have been a little more subtle, or if you liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, but would be willing to forgo the elements of English historical fiction, you should pick up The Name of the Wind.
Perfect for an extended summer vacation read!

2 Responses

  1. These two books were indeed a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed them and have recommended to many people to read them.
    Pat recently came through my town and he is a very funny and interesting guy. Just listening to him talk you can tell he loves his books and really cares about his fans.

    • @Frank Thanks for commenting! I hope he doesn’t get nasty messages from fans waiting for the third book. I saw somewhere online that the three books were already written when the first one was published, but it seems as though that must have been incorrect.

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