I finally finished The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss. To quote the famous Arthur Shappey, “It was in a word…brilliant!” Because it was so brilliant, I’ve decided to give you a list of all the things I loved about it and some of the things I didn’t so “Geronimooooo!”*
*Due to my listening to the entire series of Cabin Pressure on repeat for the last two weeks I felt the need to quote it several times during this post. If you don’t know what that is….well you poor thing you should go fix that right away.
Warning: This books does contain sexual content. Caution is advised for younger audiences.
Things I liked…
1. A+ world building
When you get dropped into Patrick Rothfuss’ world you actually feel like you’re there. I absolutely love how deep the dimensions of the world go. There is diversity between the characters in the way they look, talk, dress, behave, and think. It’s not an aseptic world either. It is a world that is dirty and you feel the grime if you don’t bathe. It has substance to it in a way that many fantasy worlds fail to achieve.
The languages are brilliant! (Ok sorry I’ll stop…haha NOT!) I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight Ademic. When we speak most of our communication is through the words we say not the emphasis that we say them or the expression we make when we say the words. Whereas Ademic places most of the emphasis of communication on the expression that is made when the words are said. These are expressions are not made with the face, they are made with the hands. It’s like a complicated combination of sign language and speaking language. It’s an art form and it’s amazing and I would love to learn it.
There are so many cultures in this world that it would be difficult to talk about all of them, but I do want to talk about 3 of them. The Adem, Ylle, and the Vintish people.
The Adem are a very interesting people due to their language (see above), but also because they are known for their impressive ability to fight. They are known throughout the world as being able to best anyone, but more than that they have a belief system that guides them. It’s called the Lethani and it is a code by which they all choose to use their skills.
The Ylle people are interesting because they are an oppressed people group with a strong accent. They have an extremely unique writing system where they use string and knots to write. The result is almost like Braille. The reader uses the fingers to feel the meaning of the string and knots. One of the characters uses the knots to write in her hair, which is so cool! I totally want to be able to do that with my hair.
The Vintish people are known for their superstitions. Most of their world considers them to be ridiculous, and even Kvothe thinks less of them for their stories and beliefs. However, I love that he totally has his own world turned upside down when the beautiful fairy Felurian comes and takes him to her forest. After this he is forced to consider that their stories may have some truth to them and may help him in achieving his goal of finding the evil Chandrian.
4. Amazing Library
I’m a total book nerd so my heart goes twitter-patter whenever I encounter a library to swoon over. The Archives…sigh…it would be amazing to visit. The Archives are a collection of billions of books and scrolls and tablets and any form of writing that exists. It’s all there to be studied and read to your hearts content. Assuming you don’t do anything stupid like take an open flame into the Archives. This book has the library to end all libraries and I can’t even because books!
5. More kick-butt female action
One thing I really appreciated about this second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series was that it did a better job at including kick-butt ladies in the story. The first one had them, but they were more in the background. The second book did a better job at bringing them front and center and letting them play a big role in the story. I’ll just name one of them for now. Devi. She was in the first book, but more villainized as the evil loan shark. This book developed her character more and revealed that she’s actually super powerful and that she was marginalized for being a woman and so now she’s working around the system to get what she wants.
All the characters participate in eating and drinking lots of yummy foods and drinks. It’s one of those aspects that makes the world so real. All the characters to participate in this normal function. The stews, soups, cakes, pies, rums, wines, coffees, teas, chocolates the list goes on and on, but all of them are used as a way to bring characters together. People bond over food. Kvothe and Denna frequently picnic and share life over food. Sim, Wil, and Kvothe all plot revenge against Ambrose over drinks. Kvothe bonds with his fellow mercenaries around dinner as they eat and tell stories. It’s a great plot device because it’s a reality of life. This is one of the biggest ways that people bond in real life and shows a real understanding of humanity to include it in a novel.
Thinks I didn’t like…
1. Women are oppressed
Although, this book brought several of the women to the forefront of the book, the world includes deep sexism. It’s unfortunate. Denna is forced into either high end prostitution or abusive relationships because she can’t support herself. Devi is thrown out of the university because she is more powerful than her male professors. She is seen as a threat and so her talent is cast out. Felurian the fairy is hyper-sexualized and her only function in the book seems to be to teach Kvothe about sex and increase his reputation as an amazing lover. These sorts of things irritate me because we have them in the real world and there doesn’t seem to be a solution offered in the book for how to address them.
2. It was soooooo long!
The first book was long, but this one was 1100 pages! I know that seems to be the new fad, write until you can’t squeeze anymore words in, but seriously less is more. I put in some solid hours reading this book and the story is great and totally enjoyable, but still…it’s really long and I wish it were a little shorter.
3. The middle got a little slow
As much as I enjoyed learning about the Ademic culture it got slow around that part. It just seemed to be the same thing over and over. Fight, lose, practice language ect. There wasn’t anything moving the story forward. It could have been edited down a bit. The ending was great, but that middle part was a bit to slow for me.
4. Too much sex.
I understand that sex can serve a purpose to make a point and I’m ok with that, but this was…ridiculous. I don’t know if this was supposed to make the book more adult, but it was way over the top. Half way through the book it started to be sex every other page. And to add more sex just to have it in there is no longer relevant or worthwhile to the story. It distracts from what the story is trying to say rather than adds to it. This actually contributed to why I thought the middle part of the story was slow. It was boring to read about another sexual encounter with some random girl.
I loved this book! There were some parts that I didn’t care for so much, but overall I really loved the book! The girls are kick-butt and the world building is incredible. The story is fun and Kvothe is a lovable although not perfect protagonist. In short, I can’t wait for the third book to come out. Even if it’s twice as long as this one I will read it because the story is great and leaves you wanting more.
What did you think of the Wise Man’s Fear? Are you desperately waiting for the third one to come out? Let me know in the comments.
Rothfuss, P. (2011). The Wise Man’s Fear. USA: DAW Books.
Photo by Carl Milner
Link to photo license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode
Photo edited with PicMonkey