Reviews for Wise Man's Fear : The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two

Booklist Reviews 2011 March #2
The wise man in the second volume of the Kingkiller Chronicle is Kvothe, and his fear is that being launched on a classic hero's quest may end his life before he can discover the killers of his parents, among other things. He has good reason for that fear. The notorious Adam mercenaries put him on trial, and their competence is matched only by their ruthlessness. Our hero wins free however, thanks to a combination of diplomacy, prowess in arms, and what can only be described as fast footwork. His escape route takes him into the land of the Fae and into the arms of the notorious Felurian. Vividly depicted, she is impossible to resist and impossible to escape or survive once a man succumbs to her. Rothfuss still offers somewhat more book than he has story, but the numerous high points substantially compensate for the sometimes slow pacing. Lovers of high fantasy, enjoy. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2011 March
An epic tale continues

It’s been four years since Patrick Rothfuss splashed onto the fantasy scene with his first novel, The Name of the Wind. The debut was a successful one—Rothfuss garnered ample praise from peers and publications alike as a notable new voice in the high fantasy genre. As a result, anticipation for the second book of The Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy has been keen.

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe—musician, magician, thief and more—continues to tell the story of his quest to learn more about a group of beings known as the Chandrian (or the Seven) who slaughtered his family when he was still a child. With his second book, Rothfuss proves that his initial success was no fluke. Though in itself longer than many trilogies, The Wise Man’s Fear carries the reader along just as swiftly as its predecessor.

As one expects from a sequel, Kvothe’s world gets bigger in The Wise Man’s Fear. In addition to the University that so dominated the action in the latter half of The Name of the Wind, the flame-haired protagonist travels to the distant country of Vintas, treks through the expansive Forest of Eld, spends time in the homeland of the Adem mercenaries and survives an excursion into the realm (and arms) of the Fae.

The wider tableau of The Wise Man’s Fear brings some much-needed geographical “epic expanse” to the series that the first book lacked. Nonetheless, this is still an extremely personal epic. This is a tale told primarily by its main character, and the “tale within a tale” approach is more than just a convenient framing device. Unlike some of those seminal works of unreliable narrators and “tale within a tale” tales (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness or James’ Turn of the Screw, for example)—where one can easily forget there is a fictive narrator relating events—the Kvothe of the present is constantly reasserting his presence as he tells of his past. The result is an epic fantasy that feels more intimate than grand or sweeping. This juxtaposition is but one way in which Rothfuss confounds the expectations of a reader used to traditional fantasy fare.

Though he doesn’t manhandle the cherished clichés of heroic fantasy with quite the ruthlessness of Glenn Cook or George R.R. Martin, Rothfuss doesn’t coddle them, either. Kvothe lo[Fri Aug 22 09:56:19 2014] Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\ line 249. ses more than he wins, and even his victories are often tainted by the specter of a greater loss merely postponed. At times, it’s frustrating—after all, it could be argued that fantasy readers, more than most, like an occasional clear-cut win. Nonetheless, as a result and to his credit, Rothfuss achieves that most difficult of feats for any fiction writer—the reader seldom can predict what comes next. Despite its templated trappings, the story of Kvothe Kingkiller is not your typical fantasy epic.

By the end of The Wise Man’s Fear, there are plenty of questions unanswered and foreshadowed events untold. So many, in fact, that I would not be at all surprised if this trilogy doesn’t wind up a tetralogy by the time Kvothe’s tale concludes. Too often, such page inflation is a sign of authorial dawdling, editorial flaccidity or even publisher profit-juicing. But given the command Rothfuss has demonstrated thus far—and the sheer expanse of world yet unexplored—readers won’t mind if the story of Kvothe goes a book or two beyond its initial target.


Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 February #1

A walloping sword-and-sorcery fest from Rothfuss, the second volume in a projected trilogy (The Name of the Wind, 2007).

Readers of that debut—and if you weren't a reader of the first volume, then none of the second will make any sense to you—will remember that its protagonist, Kvothe (rhymes with "quoth"), was an orphan with magical powers and, as the years rolled by, the ability to pull music out of the air and write "songs that make the minstrels weep." The second volume finds him busily acquiring all kinds of knowledge to help his wizardly career along, for which reason he is in residence in a cool college burg, "barely more than a town, really," that has other towns beat by a league in the arcane-knowledge department, to say nothing of cafés where you can talk elevated talk and drink "Veltish coffee and Vintish wine," as good post-hobbits must. For one thing, the place has a direct line to a vast underground archive where pretty much everything that has ever been thought or imagined is catalogued; for another thing, anyone who is anyone in the world of eldritch studies comes by, which puts Kvothe in close proximity to the impossibly beautiful fairy Felurian, who makes hearts go flippity-flop and knows some pretty good tricks in the way of evading evil. Evil there is, and in abundance, but who cares if you're dating such a cool creature? Rothfuss works all the well-worn conventions of the genre, with a shadow cloak here and a stinging sword there and lots of wizardry throughout, blending a thoroughly prosaic prose style with the heft-of-tome ambitions of a William T. Vollmann. This is a great big book indeed, but not much happens—which, to judge by the success of its predecessor, will faze readers not a whit.

For latter-day D&D fans, a long-awaited moment. For the rest—well, maybe J.K. Rowling will write another book after all.

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 February #2

The bartender Kvothe continues telling his story to the Chronicler, relating his years as a student of magic at the University, the scandal that forced him to seek his fortune abroad, life in a strictly hierarchical society, a dalliance with a woman of the Fae, and his ongoing search for the mysterious Chandrian, who were responsible for his family's death. In this sequel to The Name of the Wind, mysteries deepen and the characters grow even more fascinating. VERDICT Reminiscent in scope of Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series and similar in feel to the narrative tour de force of The Arabian Nights, this masterpiece of storytelling will appeal to lovers of fantasy on a grand scale.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 January #4

As seamless and lyrical as a song from the lute-playing adventurer and arcanist Kvothe, this mesmerizing sequel to Rothfuss's 2007's debut, The Name of the Wind, is a towering work of fantasy. As Kvothe, now the unassuming keeper of the Waystone Inn, continues to share his astounding life story--a history that includes saving an influential lord from treachery, defeating a band of dangerous bandits, and surviving an encounter with a legendary Fae seductress--he also offers glimpses into his life's true pursuit: figuring out how to vanquish the mythical Chandrian, a group of seven godlike destroyers that brutally murdered his family and left him an orphan. But while Kvothe recalls the events of his past, his future is conspiring just outside the inn's doors. This breathtakingly epic story is heartrending in its intimacy and masterful in its narrative essence, and will leave fans waiting on tenterhooks for the final installment. (Mar.)

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