Tuesday, July 23, 2013

review: a wise man's fear

In books there's good and then there's good. After reading The Name of the Wind I was sure Patrick Rothfuss was a good writer, and I was certain I was going to like the sequel. Boy was I wrong. I'd barely finished book two, A Wise Man's Fear before picking up both books again and re-reading bits of them. Rothfuss is that kind of good.

The writing gets markedly stronger. Where The Name of the Wind had funny part, A Wise Man's Fear was laugh out loud funny at points. When The Name of the Wind dropped hints of plotlines to come, A Wise Man's Fear picks those pieces up and weaves them into a beautiful story. Names that are brought up in dirty rhymes, or dropped in other tiny ways come back up again, and somehow become important parts of the story. Throw away characters from book one, who help Kvothe but really don't add to the story come back to create problems, when really they are just trying to help. Elodin meets Auri, in one of the most compelling odd character driven scenes. Thumbs are threatened.

There are parts that I didn't love, sure. The scene in fae (with Felurian) felt as though it lasted for far too long. Reading it did in some ways illustrate how it must feel to step into and out of the fae, and certainly some very important things happened there, and other important things were revealed. It maybe didn't need to span a hundred pages is all I'm saying. Parts that might have been interesting were glossed over, as Kvothe the narrator didn't think they were relevant and argued that they were documented well elsewhere. In some ways it thought like the book took far too long to start, as more action and interest felt like it was packed in the last third of the book than anywhere else.

Questions are both answered and unanswered. I have a nagging, unconfirmed suspicion about Meluan Lackless, owing to a smattering of remarks she makes and some facts from the first book. Who exactly is Denna? Certainly the chase for the Chandrian progresses slightly, though comes nowhere towards being solved.

Then of course there are the present day mysteries. Exactly what and who is Bast? What are his intentions, and how did he come to study under Kvothe. Why is there a bounty on Kvothe's head, and what has he achieved in his life that he is so willing Why does Kvothe not have his old powers of sympathy and naming - is taking his new name and identity truly that powerful (as might be suggested by an offhand remark from Elodin), or is it something more sinister than that. Who are the Amyr? The Chandrian?

I can barely contain myself waiting for the next book.

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