HTBR: The Wise Man’s Fear

Hey there bibliophiles. Do I have a selection for you in this Halfway Through Book Review. I have to say, Patrick Rothfuss is creeping in on my top author list. He’s moved from borrowed copies to paper back purchases. And I do believe after I finish this book, he’ll move to the coveted hard back purchasing spot.

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second installment in The Kingkiller Chronicle and picks up right where the first book leaves off. It’s huge, too. At exactly one thousand pages, my hands get fatigued before my eyes do. I think this is the first book I’ve read that made me wish I had a Kindle, but only if it came with a paper scented air freshener.

On to the review.

As I’ve already mentioned, the book picks up right where the first ends. Kvothe is recounting his past to the Chronicler in three days, this book being the second day of his telling. At halfway through this book, you’re still no closer to discovering why this legendary man, the Kingkiller, is playing the unassuming innkeeper under a false name, and I’m entirely okay with that.

I imagined this book to take place primarily in University and was pleasantly surprised that it isn’t. The young Kvothe is swept off to a new land to face new adventures where his already gained knowledge doesn’t necessarily give him a leg up. He’s forced to grow, and character growth is what makes a good book tick.

And let’s face it. This book is not plot driven. Sure, the overall quest centers around Kvothe’s parent’s death, but that’s not what drives him from page to page. Love, knowledge, and survival all play in equal amounts as to personal motivation. That’s what makes it feel like a fully fleshed character. A character I’m in for the long haul.

Now I do have some quibbles.

Part of the charm these books have is the long narratives. Each event gets fully fleshed out. Except, in two instances (so far), Rothfuss skims over or completely skips sections of Kvothe’s life. I can’t begin to tell you how much this bothered me.

The first happened when the trial around which is the reason Kvothe takes leave of the University for a while, is completely left out. I might understand from a writer’s standpoint why he did that, but not so much from a reader’s. I can only hope that it will be brought up later, or maybe there’s a short story in an anthology somewhere I don’t know about. As for the second, Rothfuss skims over Kvothe’s journey to Severen. It felt like he Traveled By Map, and I couldn’t help but feel cheated out of those experiences. I know it could have easily added hundreds of pages, but I don’t think I would have minded. The storytelling is that good.

The update to this post will be some time out. I plan on taking my time reading, allowing the prose to linger in bite-size chunks. Scarfing it down would be a crime, although I can see how the urge would be there. The writing makes you forget that you’re reading. Again, it’s that good.

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