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The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in the Kingkiller series by Patrick Rothfuss. In this series, a man known as the Chronicler sits in an inn, writing down the life story of Kvothe, a man who has become a legend. Kvothe dictates his story, occasionally interrupted by villagers coming into the inn.
This is a fantasy story but not the classic quest and Kvothe isn’t the classic hero. He’s a flawed character, likeable but frequently dishonest and occasionally selfish. He’s become a legendary figure, with people telling stories about his exploits. Over this book, you get to see the adventures that led to the stories. It’s a fascinating and unusual approach to a fantasy novel. While there’s not the same drive to complete a quest, there’s a definite need to keep turning the pages.
This book carries on the story from the first book in the series. It is a definite sequel, pulling on a lot of elements from the previous book. I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. Go read the first one first.
That said, this is a very enjoyable book. Rothfuss obviously put a lot of thought into the creation of the world and this book explores more of that, as Kvothe travels to other counties, helping a ruler woo a wife and training with the exception warriors called the Adem. The different places each have a different feel, culturally and geographically. This book also explores the faerie elements of the world. Overall, you get a feel for a vast and varied world that gives a solid background for the story.
The plot has some great elements of adventure. It’s the first time that Kvothe seriously uses his Sympathy skills, a sort of magic that’s used in this series, as a weapon. We see Kvothe killing using Sympathy, as well as the emotional turmoil that comes afterwards. While I said that this book isn’t a classic fantasy quest, it definitely is an action story.
The story has two timelines. In one, Kvothe is sitting with his assistant Bast and the Chronicler, telling his story. They are often interrupted by various villagers. The other timeline is the main one, which tells of Kvothe as a young man. It’s occasionally irritating when the timeline switches from one to the other, particularly at interesting points in the story. But, more so in this book than the first, I got the feeling that the two storylines were drawing together towards a conclusion.
We’re a long way from the conclusion though. This book is the second in a trilogy and it ends with the feeling that much of the story is left.
So I’ll be waiting anxiously the next book in the series.
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