The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss; New York : DAW Books ; [New York] : Distributed by Penguin Group, c2011. 994 pages, $30.

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”

Published on March 1, 2011, by DAW Books, The Wise Man’s Fear is a medieval fantasy novel written by award-winning American author Patrick Rothfuss and volume II of The Kingkiller Chronicle series. Serving as a direct sequel to 2007’s The Name of the Wind, this book is also told in the story-within-a-story format, once again featuring our ever arrogant yet kind blabbermouth protagonist Kvothe (a.k.a. “The Kingkiller”) chronicling his life as a master druid, skilled songteller, and infamous outlaw, with present-day interludes.

This fast-paced novel picks up where its predecessor left off, expositing upon Kvothe’s journey from his humble origins to his uncovering of world-shattering secrets. Patrick shows he can still make readers hold our breath with suspense as Kvothe engages in a deadly dance with madmen, demons, and other dangerous beings. Along the way, we continue to learn the magical secrets of the universe alongside Kvothe, while trying to guess how his sleight-of-hand street smarts, fast-talking mouth, or arcane knowledge are going to save (or endanger) the bold yet squirrely hero this time. He gives off some serious Joseph Joestar vibes!

With The Name of the Wind focusing on Kvothe’s adolescent years and The Wise Man’s Fear focusing on his adult years, both collectively serve as a Part I and Part II preparing the reader for the climatic Part III that will be Patrick’s upcoming novel, The Doors of Stone. It is presumed to take place in the present of the setting, where Kvothe is an aged outlaw that may have to reluctantly come out of retirement to once again stand against the rising shadow of evil, if he isn’t executed first by the powers that be.

Much like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a comparison humbly made by Patrick himself, Patrick’s The Kingkiller Chronicle is best enjoyed as back-to-back reading, with the sum of the whole definitely outweighing individual parts. Sadly, we don’t have a release date for The Doors of Stone, but Patrick assures his beloved readers that it’s on the way, occasionally teasing details about the book’s plot on social media.

But that doesn’t mean you have to wait to experience more of Kvothe’s universe. Patrick has written a number of other novellas that take place in the very same fantasy setting that Kvothe is a part of, while not being part of the core trilogy. His 2014The Slow Regard of Silent Things is one such book you can expect me to be reviewing in the future, which focuses upon a very interesting roguish girl named Auri, a character whom Kvothe encounters on his journey.

At 994 pages, The Wise Man’s Fear is on the longer side novels I’ve read, but I couldn’t tell for the suspense and action I enjoyed as I went. If you’ve never experienced Patrick’s writing before, I’d easily place him up there with other classic names in the magical fantasy genre, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Andrzej Sapkowski, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and C.S. Lewis. If you’re a fan of fantasy universes like The Elder Scrolls or Dungeons and Dragons, you’d feel right at home reading Patrick’s books. His stories are just the type you’d hope to see in movie form one day (while also hoping that Hollywood wouldn’t lose the plot in translation).

I’d highly recommend that you read The Name of the Wind before The Wise Man’s Fear. Otherwise, you’d be missing a lot of context for the plot. Patrick’s The Kingkiller Chronicle series, and all its sidequels and prequels, are definitely must reads for any fans of heroic fantasy out there. So sayeth Kvothe!

Donavon Anderson is a Reference Library Assistant at May Memorial Library. He can be reached at danderson@alamancelibraries.org.