The Wise Man’s Fear: A Review

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What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this fabulous series? As someone who is a voracious reader of fantasy, I cannot stress enough the importance of this series to the annals of high fantasy. I could easily write Patrick Rothfuss next to George R.R. Martin next to J.R.R. Tolkien. And on and on.

The Name of the Wind is the first of the adventures of Kvothe – a young man who is incredibly adept at nearly everything. At the end of this novel I felt as if I knew absolutely nothing about Kvothe, nothing about the world in which he lives, and I loved it. So much intrigue, so much to mull over and question.

What the Wise Man’s Fear does is it takes those questions, sets them aside for a bit, and forces Kvothe into situations where he makes mistake after mistake and somehow gets himself barely scraped. In this world, a person like Kvothe is to be despised or loved – with very little in between. This novel really starts to peel away the layers of Kvothe – how he responds in these situations. We are starting to really understand him as a man and what he does with newfound senses of accomplishment, embarrassment and his sexual awakening – where Rothfuss really spends  a bit more time than necessary. Sex scenes aren’t easy.

It is difficult to point to specific parts that are my favorite but I would have to say when Kvothe goes to Haert to meet and learn from the Adem I was pleasantly surprised. Rothfuss’ concern with the Ademic language and thus the societal and cultural differences between the Adem and the Aturan people were incredibly interesting. It made me think about how much our facial features inform everything about our tone and emotions. To have a hand signal for different emotions is so intense and baffling.

My other favorite bits are the lore enhancements – the little pieces of song or story that people tell themselves that seem to be true in a way. But they are only faerie stories! As readers, however, we can all surmise that those faerie stories are all pretty real. This concept reminds me of G.R.R.M.’s work – where all of Old Nan’s stories are slowly becoming true. The world-building here is intricate and full of enough miscommunication in order for it to be realistic. Everyone knows the songs and the stories, but no one is clear on the truth of things. This takes a tale from interesting to pure brilliance.

Finishing this part of the series was extremely bittersweet for me. Much to the chagrin of myself and many others who have read this – we must wait for Mr. Rothfuss to finish his third piece. I won’t be one of the fans who complains that a work is not finished in my concept of time. I won’t lie either and say that I am not upset by this – I am currently mourning the fact that I won’t have the next book in my hands at this precise moment. That being said, and I feel similarly with G.R.R.M., let the man write. Give him some space. All great songs and stories need time for them to be perfected and tested. I am okay with waiting. Truly.

What I am now excited for is the apparent adaptation of the series by Lin-Manuel Miranda!

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