Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

There are points at which that this is starting to feel like it's mostly meandering. The thing is, it's such enjoyable meandering that I continue to enjoy this series quite a lot. But we're still in the prologue, so to speak, explaining how Kvothe became the man he was to become, and are not yet at that man. Let alone his fall. Because the writing is so good, and the characters so enjoyable, Rothfuss can get away with this. For now.

So, what do we get out of this one? We learn how Kvothe learned to be a superlative lover. We learn how he became a martial artist. We learn how he created a debt between himself and a ruler, only to find out how fickle power can be. We learn how he got better than his already amazing prowess at magic, and specifically, naming. We watch as his legend starts to grow and outstrip the man.

There's a lot more. This is a hefty tome, and it takes its time with all the pertinent details. Again, it is a testament to the quality of the writing that this doesn't become tedious. (I'm reading a Neal Stephenson book right now, and I just realized today that it's the slavish adherence to realistic detail that is bogging me down a bit. Detail can be great. Detail for details' sake, or to show how much research a writer has done, can be tiresome.)

So, where was I? Pleasant meandering? Yes. But I'm starting to become aware of it as meandering, so I hope the next novel (whenever it may come out) starts to pick up narrative drive. Not a ton, because I enjoy some meandering, but some. Because now it feels like we've had two books of "how Kvothe became..." and it's time to move forward. I realize he's the awesomest at everything, even when you strip the myth away, but let's see him take those skills to a larger stage now, please?

Kvothe's diversion into the kingdom of the people who have amazing martial arts skills and who reluctantly agree to teach him a few things is well done, and entertaining. The cultural twist that sex is quite public, but that speech and song are private matters alone is interesting.

The court intrigue of the place Kvothe travels to to help a ruler with his wooing (and, as it turns out, his slow poisoning) is also entertaining, and Rothfuss has a knack for creating different systems of denoting power and difference. Again, though, it's maybe going on a bit too long?

I do like it, I do. I enjoyed reading this book. But by the end, I was a bit impatient. I feel like that Monty Python crowd shouting "Get On With It!" I don't want to feel that way. I want to lose myself in the story. But while the characters are fantastic and the prose really excellent, the story has been absent long enough. Or rather, it's been retreading the same beats for too long, and while those bits are interesting and well-written, they are also starting to feel like footdragging.

I hope the next book takes a major step forward with Kvothe and his adventures to become whoever he will become. I want to get thoroughly back on board. And I'm looking to this shorter novel about one of the side characters coming out soon.

In summary, very well-written, enjoyable, but yet, there's something about the pacing that is starting to get to me.


  1. Should you ever find yourself with spare time and a craving for seeing these books intensely analyzed, Jo Walton's re-read of the books is surprisingly deep.

    1. Oh, cool. When I have time, I will check that out!