Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Wise Man's Fear

Title: The Wise Man's Fear
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #2
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Pages: 992 (paperback)
Published: March 6th 2012
Published by: Gollancz

My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.

The man was lost. The myth remained. Kvothe – the dragon-slayer, the renowned swordsman, the most feared, famed and notorious wizard the world has ever seen – vanished without warning and without trace. And even now, when he has been found, when darkness is rising in the corners of the world, he will not return.
But his story lives on and, for the first time, Kvothe is going to tell it.

Kote is a simple bartender is a small village, not particularly interesting. Kvothe, on the other hand, is a man of magic, mystery and legend who has performed countless feats worthy of awe.

They are the same man, and this book continues where The Name of the Wind (first in the Kingkiller Chronicle) left off as Kvothe tells his tale.

Quite simply, Rothfuss has done it again - this book is amazing. The story pulls you in, whisks you along with it, and puts you down wondering where the last few hours of your life have gone. Yes, there are times where things are a bit slow, but never were these long enough to truly put me off. The story of his life skips along nicely, while the present-day inches forward just leaving you with questions more than anything - I can't wait to find out how he's ended where he has! We also learn the truth behind a lot of the myths that have only been hinted at until this point, thus demystifying Kvothe a little but not so much that's he's anywhere near completely average.

Because, of course, he isn't. Kvothe is still brilliant, and we actually come across some things he's not so great at for a change. He's witty and clever, and his friends are often amusing as well. I don't remember there being too much about them in the last book, but it is a while since I read it, and it was nice to learn more about them and see the strength of their friendship. I love all the women Kvothe is friends with, too. No wimpy little girl for him! No, they're all strong, know what they want and do what they want. Devi is a little firecracker, Auri is completely adorable for all her self-sufficiency, and Denna is wonderfully independent whilst still wanting closeness.

An intriguing magic system, and here we get to see a bit more of the practical use of sympathy, rather than just classroom stuff. It's a believable magic, based on rationality and physics which I like - it makes sense, and there are limits based on these things rather than the users being all-powerful. It's predictable in its capabilities, but Kvothe is quite ingenious when it comes to these things (though never really seeing anyone else use it, you're not sure whether this is the norm or not) and there are some great moments. Naming - manipulating things by finding their true name - also advances some, which means we get more of Elodin, who is wonderfully eccentric. It is this aspect of the magic system which I think is going to turn out to be most interesting. We know this is what Kvothe becomes famous for, but at the moment most of that is still to come.

But for all this, it just wasn't as good as The Name of the Wind.

Kvothe thrives in adversity, and it is things going wrong and him struggling to survive that the strength of this character is best shown. This time, there wasn't quite enough of this for me. Things went a little too well a little too much, and his inherent Kvothe-ness wasn't as strongly shown this time. And because this story is all about was lacking a little something.

Still, the end says there are darker things in his history coming, and the present hints at mysteries to be solved and things to be revealed. Very much looking forward to it.

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