The true (first-hand) story of the legend continues, bringing the reader deeper into the events that gained Kvothe fame and glory. The story picks up immediately after book one with a few minor adventures at the University, but thankfully Kvothe is forcefully asked to leave soon after. He travels to Vintas with few possessions and even fewer coins, eventually rubbing elbows with high-society types, currying favor with the mayor, uncovering assassination attempts, wooing royal ladies, all before he leads a band of mercenaries to catch thieves stealing from the Mayor’s taxes on the King’s Highway. And that’s before he travels to the fey realm and the land of Adem.
The Wise Man’s Fear and Name of the Wind are immersive experiences, with large swathes of time spent in each of the episodic events, so that you amass details in bits and pieces, until the place seems uncannily real. This is doubly true here, as each stage of adventure occurs in a new and exciting part of the world, with distinct cultures and rules. The magical system is just as intriguing, and class-humor (with the wealthy as the punchline) is wonderfully abundant. Rothfuss has given us a story about how our favorite fantasy tropes emerge from simple real events. Don’t get me wrong, Kvothe does kill a lot people, and has sex with a fey. So, yeah, he’s awesome. He’s brash, arrogant, and sometimes dense, but he also protects the weak and seeks truth in dark places.
Although I thoroughly enjoy being carried to and fro each adventure, I regret making so little progress on the overall plot. Kvothe learns some key information about the Chandrian, and even encounters one unknowingly, but he is no closer to enacting revenge for his parents’ death, catching the elusive Denna, or doing half of the things on the back of the book jacket! The Wise Man’s Fear feels like the middle of a book, not the second in a large series because of the lack of a major climax and movement of the overarching storyline. Instead, this books feels like a checklist of how Kvothe gains the skills needed to do what he needs to do in book three.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE this story. At this point, I’d be happy for Kvothe’s story to continue well past the promised three books! Recommended for lovers of immersive fantasy experiences!
“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”