My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in 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.
All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived … until Kvothe.
In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.
“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”
Now, here was an adventure of three parts. All three parts belonged to one man, and encompassed the reader’s life entirely. What a story! I’ll start by saying the cover art is sublime, amazing, incredible. And what I’ll say second is that I cannot praise this book enough; for someone who was taken by surprise by the first book, I thought the second was all that it said it would be, and much, much more.
Immediately after I’ve finished this book, I’ve found myself writing the review; I have a whirlwind of thoughts wanting to formulate something to say about it. But what I have done is bring up a summary of the book, for it was such tale that I couldn’t quite believe it all happened in the same book. Much to my original thought, it all did.
At the university, the feud with Ambrose heightens until he calls the name of the wind, and gets himself in trouble. Following on from this, after his nemesis comes across some of his blood, he is attacked constantly using Sympathy. A tense, sympathetic duel with Demon Devi ensues, and a plot to get one up on Ambrose ends in Kvothe needing to skip a term at university, less his actions tarnish their reputation. Our true red-haired protagonist is sent by Count Threpe to gain a benefactor in the form of Maer Alveron of Vintas; court intrigue, treasonous plots and sympathy ensue. Sent by the Maer, with a band of mercenaries, after the theft of the king’s tax, Kvothe leads the troupe and calls down a great bolt of lightning. Following an Adem mercenary, he learns their ways and comes into a sword, only to travel back to the university with fame enough for several lifetimes; a sordid stay with Felurian herself, the murder of an entire troupe by one man, and on, and on – this book is an entire story in its own right, a trilogy’s worth of joy, anguish, action and intrigue. This has it all.
What I most like about this piece is the depth of the world, Rothfuss continues to show us that he is the true master of world building; no stone is left unturned. From language, to books, to songs and poems, and martial arts and cultures, The Wise Man’s Fear builds and builds on the solid foundations that The Name of the Wind set.
The only question I have at the end of this book is: when do I get to read the next one? I’m glad that I came to this series this late, and I’m sad I left it so long; the wait for the third book already arduous and I’m counting down the days and trawling the internet for news. If you like fantasy that fills you with joy, builds relationships with characters that are sure to last a lifetime, and cares about the world they live in, the minutiae in the steps they take, this is the book for you.
A wholesome fantasy tale woven by an author who knows his trade.