Review: The Wise Man’s Fear

Posted: May 2, 2011 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Patrick Rothfuss, Fantasy

Honestly I don’t know how anyone has reviewed this book. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read quite a few reviews of Patrick Rothfuss‘s THE WISE MAN’S FEAR (Amazon). They were intelligent, well written and made me want to read the book even more. I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to write one.


Because the book isn’t done. I can certainly say, “Wow, that’s a heck of a start!” THE NAME OF THE WIND, the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles, certainly was. I can say, “Geez, the second third of that book was really interesting and had some beautiful language. I can’t wait to see what happens at the end!” And THE WISE MAN’S FEAR is easily all of that. My problem is I’m a little afraid at this point. Does Patrick Rothfuss know how to finish this extremely well-told tale? I don’t know. He hasn’t done it yet.

Now, I’ve read a few series in my day. One that immediately comes to mind is the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. Having read all three books I can tell you that Brandon told a big wonderful beautiful story that spanned all three books. It was amazing. I loved it. But, and it’s a big “But”, he also told me three smaller stories in between. Each of the three books had a satisfying conclusion. There was conflict, there was resolution and there was character growth. Not just over the trilogy, but over each separate novel. The Kingkiller Chronicles are not like that at all. I have never seen a clearer example of one book (one big, big book) split up into several parts. The books simply end, to be continued on the next book.

So, will this series deliver a stunning conclusion? Will it rank among the great works of fantasy? At this point I just don’t know. Rothfuss has set me up (and let’s not kid ourselves, he’s set us up well and beautifully), but until that last book comes out I just can’t be sure.

OK. With that out of the way let’s talk more about this book in particular. It was beautiful. The prose is seamless and easy. Accessible. I likes me some writers that use beautiful language. I’m a huge fan of both Miéville and Valente, but every time I read one of their books, I know I’m reading it. I’m working at it. I’m devouring the language. Rothfuss manages to be effortless and beautiful at the same time. No easy feat. I would even recommend reading it out loud. The book is meant to be spoken, meant to have a voice.

The characters are great–mostly Kvothe, the central character. He is cocky, arrogant and intensely likable. There are few characters I’ve read that I feel I know better than that little red headed guy. He’s a character you root for and ache for. The other characters in the world are, by necessity, less fleshed out but feel just as real. It’s a wonderful world to visit and I was happy each time I picked the book up to spend some time with these people.

How can anyone write a review about THE WISE MAN'S FEAR when the series isn't done and there's still so much yet to come?

However, the one complaint I had with the book was that it felt a bit too long. Looking back at it I can see what happened and it doesn’t seem to warrant the 1000 + pages. I think it could have been a few hundred pages less and trimmed some of the fat. Also, since the book just… ends, it’s hard to really identify much in the way of plot progression. I discussed this with the other reviewers here at EBR, and the main comment was, “Soooo, has Kvothe really done anything other than have lots of casual sex? I don’t really feel like I know this world or this story any better than I did before.” Some will disagree, but it’s easy to see both sides of the coin here.

I just realized that I haven’t talked about the book much at all. I’m OK with that. If you’ve heard anything about fantasy books over the last year I’m sure you’ve heard of this one. It was a New York Times Number 1 Bestseller, for Pete’s sake. You all probably have it already. Most likely I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before. So I’ll tell you this: Despite the fact that the story isn’t done, this is a wonderful book. I enjoyed every page and even if I haven’t reached the destination yet, the journey has been well worth my time.

If you don’t have it yet, go get it. If you do have it, then don’t waste your time here, go read it, you’ll be glad you did.

  • Recommended Age: 16+ for sexy times
  • Language: None really to speak of. Maybe a word here or there.
  • Violence: A little, but not graphic
  • Sex: Surprisingly yes. Kvothe is a teenage boy who suddenly has lots of sex towards the end of the book. Never described in much detail, but make no mistake, it's there. Thank goodness he has that contraceptive he carries around with him, or he would have, like, a bajillion illegitimate offspring. Honestly, it all seemed a little much...


  • Mitch says:

    I loved both of these books. I can see where some people might come from with their criticism of it but to me those things were so minor i didn't really notice them until i heard others point them out. The great story and characters overshadow any minor flaw.(I can't get enough of Elodin And Auri)

    My true concern is similar to what you mentioned….how is he going to end it? So much is left unsaid about his life so far, and there must be more to come after he finishes his story with the Chronicler. One more book? I can't see all of that fitting inside even another 1000 page monster.

  • Steta says:

    I don't think i can come back to after reading this review. After reading the book i started to wonder how you guys rated it: under the books we hate, or under the books that are mediocre…to see it get a positive review is appalling. Rothfus should be ashamed of himself after the brilliance of the Name of the Wind. 4 and half years for this garbage? And you rate it good? Are you on the take or something?

    I'm too tired so i'll just c/p the review that sums it up for me:

    You could toss the whole book aside, go back to the end of book 1 and just add one sentence “and then Kvothe became a great lover and a skilled fighter and a mediocre caller of the wind”. That's all you need to effectively summarize all of book 2.

    It's baffling really. What is the author thinking? Not one significant plotline has moved forward to any meaningful degree.

    This book would be better titled “Kingkiller Chronicles: Interlude. Random Adventures of Young Kvothe”

    PS Apart from failing miserable with book 2, it also seems that we can forget about this being a trilogy, which is of course another colossal failure. Mark my words, we'll have 5 books in the series.

    • -Slamel- says:


      I couldn't agree more. I actually read the book long before Shawn got around to it, and I was planning on reviewing it. However two things got in the way of that plan. 1) Finals time and around 600 pages of research to collate and write. 2) After having finished it I couldn't bring myself to devote one more minute of my time to this monstrosity.

      I can assure you had I written it, this review would have turned out much differently. I was baffled, upon completion, why the entire world is lining up to publicly fellate Rothfuss. This book is an abomination. There is not a single point you make that I disagree with, and in fact I feel you state it too mildly.

      However I support Shawn and his review of it. There is nothing he said that isn't true. Rothfuss does have some serious command of his prose. The book is accessible. The characters are fun. Would I have written the review differently? Yes, but Shawn did a good job of hitting the main selling points. Steve and I had a discussion, after I finished WMF, about what to do as far as the review goes. I told him in no uncertain terms how I felt, he refused to read it, and we both readily agreed that Shawn could be trusted and would do right by our readers. I still feel that way, despite my misgivings about WMF and our (mutual, many) frustrations with it.

  • acote says:

    I really enjoyed this book. Knowing your guys' tastes however, I was expecting a bad review. I think you'll agree that people read this site for Steve and Slamel's reviews, not the new folks. I wonder how good of a system you have going here if you post a review which you *know* is substantially different than Steve or Slamel would have written.

    For a simple fix, perhaps you could do a Roger and Ebert thumbs up/down rating which you can append to the review? Only for books like this in which more than one of you have read them.

    • I think each reviewer here has their own following. I know specifically both Vanessa and Shawn do, and Dan actually thinks very similar to Nick and I. Heck, some people hate my reviews. That's the beauty of having several different reviewers–we can help a wider variety of readers while still remaining honest.

      Nick and I have considered adding an addendum to the end of our lovely reviewers' reviews, but honestly in most cases we just chat with the reviewers (see the recent WOLFSANGEL review) and tell them to add in both mine and Nick's opinions. Or we just add them in when they aren't looking lol!

      For my own part, I haven't read this book yet so I can't say whether I'll like it or not. I suspect I will, but with a healthy does of “meh” included. Rothfuss writes too well to deny it. Also this novel may become better depending on how book 3 ends up.

      But yeah, I don't think Pat can wrap this up in 3 novels. I fully expect a soft ending followed by another duology or trilogy.

  • Mitch says:

    I think for some people it's just a case of extremely high expectations not being met. Steta and Nick have good points to be made but they are blown way out of proportion. They make it sound like this book is far worse then A Feast For Crows, which for most people is far from the truth. The ride may not have taken you very far but at the very least is was a scenic view.

    Shawns review hit the nail on the head for me. Steve hurry up and read this one we need a tie breaker.

    • Justin says:

      I agree with the above. I haven't read WMF yet, but Name of the Wind felt over hyped to me. Patrick does write well, and the story is fun, but it doesn't seem to have a lot of plot. It was a light read, but didn't rock my world. I haven't gotten the next because it didn't matter to me that it took 4 years… I haven't been eagerly anticipating it. Honestly, I enjoy reading Rothfuss' blog more then his books if I'm entirely honest.

    • membrillu says:

      Well, I think that WMS “is far worse then A Feast For Crows”, indeed.

  • Ayn says:

    Wow Steve–I hadn't realized you'd not read this yet.

    I know I don't show up a lot, and so my thoughts/opinions/reviews don't have much mileage, but I can't help but comment. Nick'll probably just rolls his eyes for saying so, but everyone here is saying the same things about the book objectively–it's a matter of what each individual appreciates most.

    Rothfuss writes SO well, his characters are wonderful, colorful and enjoyable. His story, both here and in NotW is new and refreshing.

    But yes . . . the bugger's huge, and when all is said and done, little in the way of plot has occurred, and our hero's successes don't feel the result of growth so much as they do just another experience.

    I agree that there's been cases of hype as well as failed expectations as Mitch mentioned.

    And yet, expectation and hype aside, . . . that's pretty much how the NotW was–it's climax had little, if nothing, to do with the rest of the book. There wasn't an overall plot there either. And yes, what could have been a fantastic coming of age character subplot in WMF was simply Kvothe picking up skills: magical Kama Sutra. But it was the same with NotW . . . he learned SKILLS in both books, but his character didn't grow in either. The first book ended with much the same cliff-hanger/incompleteness as WMF did. Both books slowly drop hints regarding the Chandrian,(I HOPE all readers picked up the obvious foreshadowing hints) but hints are not what makes either a story.

    Ultimately, I think WMF was more of the same–same pros, and unfortunately, the same cons.

    This time, though, the novelty has begun to fade–and while that's nothing new (I remember practically nothing about The Great Hunt, A Feast for Crows has been mentioned–not a second book, but certainly released during a period where anticipation and familiarity began to grow jaded). . . it isn't something to be excited about.

    WMF, as I like to say, “isn't any worse than usual,” but while “usual” for Rothfuss is pretty damn good–

    it doesn't account for the entropy of the reader's interest, or the awareness of flaws we get once novelty fades.

    I agree with what's been said above: If the next book(s) improve and build upon what's been given us in WMF, then it will go up in my esteem.

    Until then, though, it's just more of Name of the Wind . . . and I've already read that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *