The Wise Man's Fear

Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear Cover

The Wise Man's Fear


There's a lot to love in the latest installment of Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles, and I have to disagree with the fans who complain that the quality isn't worth the wait. Good art is always worth the wait, and genre fiction is too often hurt by publishers who rush their authors into producing sequels. As one of his characters observes in regards to music, "Songs choose their hour." Orson Scott Card described the series as "Harry Potter for Grownups," but frankly the comparison would never have occurred to me; the University across the river from Rothfuss's fictional Imre actually teaches real-world subjects, with the magical subjects slowly falling into disuse. The continuation of Kvothe's story sees him traveling the world and growing in experience if not wisdom. Being a polymath, Kvothe picks up academic learning very quickly, and he is also apparently as physically adept as he is intellectually. He also makes a good deal of progress in sniffing out the origin and identity of his parents' killers, setting up the Chronicler (and the reader) for the final installment of the series.

Not to say that everything is perfect with the novel. The sexual content is graphic when a more modest approach would have served as well if not better, sometimes veering into the realm of the perverse. Rothfuss also introduces an antagonist who is so unbelievably powerful and malevolent that he seems far too large for this story, especially being introduced halfway through the story. The character Denna is too unlikeably distant for the reader to sympathize with, though it's understandable that Kvothe would admire her as an unattainable prize.

Still, this is a good read, and much better than what one usually finds in the fantasy genre, even from established writers. I look forward to the next volume in, say, 2014?