Epic, Review

The Wise Man’s Fear

‘There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man’

These words have sent shivers down the backs of thousands of readers. They stay in your mind years after finishing the book, they haunt you every step much like the Chandrian. Anybody who loves literature has a few phrases which stay with them. These are highly personal in nature, but I have yet to find somebody who’s read this novel and not internalised this phrase. Such is the power of Rothfuss’s writing.

This novel took several years to write and edit after The Name of the Wind was released in 2007, and while the fans chomped at the bit to dive into this entry, after reading it not one of them resents the wait. I do not know how Rothfuss does it, but once again, the work reads more like a poem then prose. It glides from page to your mind like ribbons of silk, dulcet and smooth yet unerringly strong. No other author has better distilled music and love to simple words.

‘It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.’

Now with as much care as was put into the prose, you may think this book is all style and no substance but nothing could be further from the truth. In this chapter of Kvothe’s life we follow him craft arcane constructs that astound all those around him, he navigates courtly intrigue with naught but his wits and lute, and we get our first glimpse as the man he will grow to be. The man said to kill angels and talk to gods.

The world of Temerant has never felt larger than in this novel. Kvothe takes us to far off cities, and the depths of The University. He ventures into bandit-infested forests, and into a land, no man has survived. The history of the world is revealed in fable to us, leaving more questions than answers but unlike some other tales which do this, it’s not frustrating in the least. You don’t get the sense that Rothfuss is withholding jigsaw pieces, more he’s hiding the picture. You have all the pieces you need to understand the Chronicle but it’s just beyond your grasp.

But leaving Kvothe behind for a minute, let us take a moment to appreciate the wonderful cast of charecters around him. The duplicitous Denna, alluring Fela, affable Simmon, steadfast Wilem, and the oh so loveable Auri. Each is more complex then ever, with depths even they themselves do not know. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing these characters learn more about each other. As always however, Rothfuss can sum up a fragment of the feeling in a single passage.

‘Let me say this. It was worth the whole awful, irritating time spent searching the Archives just to watch that moment happen. It was worth blood and the fear of death to see her fall in love with him. Just a little. Just the first faint breath of love, so light she probably didn’t notice it herself.’

As for Auri, she is more beautiful than ever in this tale. One seen in the early parts of the book will move any human to tears. No matter how much ice fills your heart, how much pain is in your past. For a few sentences, there is just Auri, and Kvothe, and nothing else in the world matters. Auri grows from a lovable girl you want to protect, to a character who both you and Kvothe will fight to protect. Kvothe’s feelings towards her will perfectly match your own. Few writers can so well match their main characters feelings with those of their audience.

Summing up this book is difficult to say the least. Not only is it the length of three regular novels, it is also set in a world with few equals, full of characters with more depth displayed in one exchange then some have in entire series, and to top it all off, it has only set the stage for the final part of The Kingkiller Chronicle. I for one cannot wait to find how Kvothe’s tale concludes, and once you have experienced this book, I guarantee you will feel exactly the same way.

“All the truth in the world is held in stories.”

Amazon Link: The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle)

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