It’s almost hard to believe, given the various delays, but The Wise Man’s Fear had been sitting on store shelves and cracked open in the sweaty hands of fervent fanboys (and fangirls!) for three days. Not surprisingly, there are a number of (generally glowing) reviews on the web. Since I couldn’t finish the book in time for release (I read slower than molasses climbs a hill), I thought I’d round up some of those reviews for those still sitting on the fence.
Brandon Sanderson, author of The Way of Kings:
Why do I recommend it?
Because it’s awesome.
Why is it awesome?
This often stops me. Why IS Pat’s writing awesome?
Well, the books have an absolutely wonderful magic system. One part science, one part historical pseudoscience, one part magical wonder. It’s the type of magic system that I’m always delighted to read, and ranks among my favorites in fantasy literature. But that alone doesn’t describe why the books are awesome.
In many ways, Name of the Wind is like an old, familiar coat. A young man orphaned at a young age. Time spent on the streets living as a thief and a street rat. A wizards’ school. Those who have not liked the book have often complained about the familiar tropes. What I love about how Pat uses these tropes, however, is the realism he strives to impart.
Jo Walton, author of Among Others for Tor.com:
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of immersing myself completely in the world and the events. It’s such a great world, and the people are like real people, and what happens is endlessly entertaining. The only caveat I have is that there’s likely to be another long wait for the third one. But…it’s worth it.
Walton also has a (very) spoiler-filled review:
[It's] not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and this is a journey I am enjoying very very much.
Shawn Speakman for Suvudu:
The Wise Man’s Fear is a great deal tighter when it comes to its words. Patrick spent four years rewriting it and it shows quite clearly. The additional words that hampered The Name of the Wind a bit are gone here. Each sentence is constructed with nary a word out of place; every paragraph flows smoothly page after page. I think readers will be able to tell the difference.
In the end, if you liked The Name of the Wind, you will love The Wise Man’s Fear. Indeed, although both books suffer from the same shortcomings, Patrick Rothfuss managed to take it up a few notches in this one. Hence, you are less likely to find the pacing issues and my nitpicking offputting in any significant manner. For those who had problems with Rothfuss’ debut, however, this one might not be for you.
Compared to The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear is everything that made the first novel such a huge success except bigger, better and more rewarding. Granted, many of the same flaws that ailed The Name of the Wind can still be found in The Wise Man’s Fear, but considering the vast improvements made to the sequel, these issues are only minor annoyances. To put it simply, anyone who enjoyed The Name of the Wind will be blown away by The Wise Man’s Fear. The book is that much better. Even more, there is no doubt in my mind that The Wise Man’s Fear will end up being one of the best fantasy novels of the year. As far as the third and final volume in The Kingkiller Chronicle, Patrick Rothfuss can take as much time as he needs to finish the book. If The Wise Man’s Fear is any indication, it will be worth waiting for…
The story is long and involved, but it is neither as long, nor as involved as it could have been. What others might explain, and explain, and explain some more … in a hundred or so pages … our friend Rothfuss does in just a few (see chapter fifty-two, for example). The story’s all there, yes, but we move quickly to the good parts … we cut to the chase. And what a chase it is.
It is amazing how involved and complex the first person story of The Wise Man’s Fear really is, and Rothfuss is, with only two novels to his credit, already a Grand Master of epic fantasy. There simply aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe how excellent The Wise Man’s Fear is. It is a novel you won’t want to miss.
my mind The Wise Man’s Fear absolutely lives up to and even surpasses Rothfuss’ entertaining debut, The Name of the Wind. However, I think it’s also equally clear that The Wise Man’s Fear has essentially the same strengths and weaknesses as The Name of the Wind. Like me, many fans will get lost in Rothfuss’ superb story-telling, while others will be let down by a book that begins and ends at the University and once again lacks the standard climatic ending of a typical epic fantasy book. A book that still offers no hints about the king-killing of the trilogy title of The Kingkiller Chronicle and no resolution to plots set in motion in book 1. For me the value is in the journey – the story – and with Rothfuss telling, I’m all ears.
Regardless,The Wise Man’s Fear is another excellent novel. Just getting to read more about the young, brilliant Kvothe at the University is a pleasure, although it did feel as if the first few hundred pages of this novel moved a bit more slowly and actually could have been part of the first book, with Kvothe’s eventual departure making a perfect starting point for the sequel. Then again, we know this is meant to be one long tale split across three days of narration by present-day Kvothe to Chronicler, so it makes sense to think of these books as one big story with somewhat arbitrary cut-off points. (And oh, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention that the ending of this novel is once again of the somewhat anti-climactic “and then they all went to sleep to continue the story the next day” variety.)
So, then, general consensus? If you liked The Name of the Wind (and most people did, judging by its reputation and sales), you’ll enjoy The Wise Man’s Fear as much or more. At the half-way mark, I’d have to agree. Full review coming soon.