Book review: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Posted October 25, 2011 by Heather in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book review:  The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick RothfussThe Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Published by DAW on March 2011
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 933
Source: my shelves

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In The Name of the Wind, the first book of the Kingkiller Chronicles, we met the hero of the story: Kvothe the Arcane, Kvothe the Kingkiller. We learned of his present persona, Kote, who owns and runs the Wayside Inn with his helper and student, Bast. We listened as Kvothe told the story of the first fifteen or sixteen years of his life to Chronicler, the man whose mission it is to seek out the truth behind common-told fables and put the true stories into print. The Name of the Wind was the first day of Kvothe’s storytelling. The Wise Man’s Fear begins on the second day of Chronicler’s stay at the Wayside Inn, where he will continue to write Kvothe’s story as it is told to him by the hero himself.

Kvothe starts his story back at the University and things there are much the same: he’s still doing everything he can to make enough money to pay his tuition; he’s still dealing with Ambrose, the son of a wealthy baron and Kvothe’s arch-nemesis; and he’s still chasing after Denna and being left behind whenever she decides to pick up and leave Imre. But then one of Ambrose’s taunts goes too far and something unexpected happens, forcing Kvothe to leave the University for a bit…

Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled with the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s Road.

And this is where the story gets much better.

Once Kvothe leaves the University, gone is the Harry-Potter-goes-to-college feeling that I got from The Name of the Wind. This is where the real adventure starts and more exciting things happen. I was especially fond of Kvothe’s time in Ademre and the whole Adem culture. I found the Adem’s philosophy, called the Lethani, very intriguing and appealing. It ruled over everything in the Adem culture. The Lethani cannot be fully explained because it isn’t fully understood; it is more like something that the Adem just feel and know within themselves to be true and the correct way to live. It was stressed over and over that the Lethani isn’t the goal, but the way. Another thing I found intriguing about the Adem was the way they showed their feelings: where we use facial expressions in addition to the things we say in order to express how we feel about something, the Adem used hand gestures. By using hand gestures, the Adem could more accurately express their feelings and the subtle nuances that go into different feelings. Those hand gestures turned out to be much more accurate in expressing oneself than facial expressions could ever be.

My favorite character in The Wise Man’s Fear was Vashet, Kvothe’s instructor in Ademre. She was very much like Elodin (without the quirkiness), in that instead of instructing Kvothe on every little thing he should know and think, she made Kvothe figure things out on his own. She was an instructor when it came to Kvothe’s fighting lessons, but in many other ways she was more of a guide. My least favorite character in this book ended up being Meluan Lackless: what a nasty, bigoted woman. I’ll bet we haven’t seen the last of Meluan; there is definitely something more to this woman than meets the eye, and I think things can only get worse where she is concerned. Again, as in The Name of the Wind, the majority of the characters were very well written and had a very real feel to them.

It would be too hard to say everything I’d like to say about this book without giving too much away. I definitely liked The Wise Man’s Fear better than The Name of the Wind because it gave me more adventure and less routine. There is only one more book left in the series, so the story can only get better in order to wrap everything up. If you’ve read The Name of the Wind, I think it goes without saying that you should read this book, too. If you haven’t read The Name of the Wind, check out my review and read that book first. Again, I would recommend these books to any fan of the fantasy genre, both teenagers and adults, alike.


(To learn more about Patrick Rothfuss, please visit his official website.)

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  • There is something, um, unusual yet familiar about Meluan, isn’t there? Have you read the Wise Man’s Fear and Name of the Wind reread posts that Jo Walton did on Tor? the Wise Man’s Fear predictions threads are spoiler filled, yet crazy enlightening.

    I loved the Adem too, made me want to learn sign language! I know that’s nothing close to their hand language, but it’s the closest I’d be able to get. I loved that Felurian spoke in iambic pentameter, but it’s written like regular dialog, so you’ve almost got to read it outloud to hear the rythym.

    I made my husband read these books, and at first he was mad that Kote’s Inn wasn’t on the map. By the time he finished, I’d convinced him there is a reason for that.

    • My husband actually read them before I did. He really likes them, too. I have to admit, you’ve given me some other things to think about, like the inn not being on the map, and the familiarity of Meluan. Hmmm…

  • Oh and the story gets better! I like the sounds of that. 🙂 I want to get to this one so badly. I loved the first book. 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful review.

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