Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Book Review: The Wise Man's Fear

Title: The Wise Man's Fear
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Fantasy (epic)
Length: like 1,000 pages*

Quality Rating: 9
Content Rating: R

Read First: The Name of the Wind

Patrick Rothfuss' books are somehow indescribable. I've had several conversations with friends that went something like this:

Person 1: The Name of the Wind is awesome. I can't wait until Book 2.
Person 2: I know! Right! SOOO awesome.
Person 3: What's so awesome about it?
Person 1: Uh.....I...Uh.....I don't know.
Person 2: Kvothe is just so like relate-able....
Person 1: Because you've experienced your whole family being massacred? You're an arcanist? You play an instrument?
Person 2: Um. No. He's just like-able ok.
Person 3: So its the plot? The plot is great? Right?
Person 2: Totally.
Person 1: Actually, it was kind of predictable.
Person 3: So you're telling me this is a predictable plot with a like-able character?
Person 1: No. It's like really really really really awesome.
Person 3: Why???
Person 2: Just go read it and you'll see.

The awesomeness that is The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear is really kind of indescribable. In fact Brandon Sanderson catches the feeling of being unable to describe why these books are awesome in his review of The Wise Man's Fear:
"Why do I recommend it?

Because it's awesome.

Why is it awesome?

This often stops me. Why IS Pat's writing awesome?"

Brandon Sanderson goes on to explain reasons that make these books amazing and you should really read the whole post. But in short these books are amazing because they are beautiful, and I couldn't agree more.

Yes, the story is predictable. Yes, Kvothe is somewhat a reckless, hot headed, messed up kid. But I find myself sucked in because the writing is just amazing.

How can amazing writing rejuvenate a story I feel like I've heard before? Well, that's fairly simple.

It's like an artist doing a cover of another song.

I've heard Elton John's Your Song. It's nice. I like it. But when I heard Ewan McGregor sing it in Moulin Rouge, I felt like I was hearing it for the first time. It felt like a new song.

And that's sort of what Patrick Rothfuss does. He takes a couple of old plots and melts them together into a beautiful cover that is so much better than the original.

Patrick Rothfuss is an artist, and his books are beautiful works of art.

As for the content rating, I went back and forth on this one between PG-13 and R. There is sex, but its not descriptive. I could have easily rationalized it down to a PG-13. I'm sure there are a lot of jokes and innuendos I just didn't get in the book at all, so since I didn't get them, I think younger readers won't be scarred by them. What put me over the edge to R though is the violence--the violence Kvothe himself commits. If it was a movie, this violence would definitely up it into R. So just keep that in mind. It's a beautifully written book and everything (whether its sex, violence, or Kvothe taking a nap) is done tastefully, but its there and this book has its dark moments. Kvothe is getting older, and this book reflects that.

*So I don't have this book sitting in front of me while writing this review, so I'll update this number later. But 1,000 isn't an exaggeration. I seem to remember the book ending somewhere near page 980.


  1. 1000 pages /jaw drops.

    You said... 1000 pages... right?

    I don't think I could commit to anything that huge unless it was outstanding.

  2. I did indeed say 1000 pages. If it makes you feel better the first book (The Name of the Wind) was only 722. However, these books are outstanding. If you like fantasy at all, you should read them.

    If you don't like fantasy, I really don't know if you would like it. All my friends who have read them love fantasy.

    But at least with a 1000 page book, you know you're getting your money's worth!