I should have written a novel in November (since it is National Novel Writing Month), but now it’s December and apparently I didn’t. But I have two really great excuses:
- Writing is Hard Work
- Patrick Rothfuss’ sequel to The Name of the Wind is 1100 pages long, and it was too hard for me to put down.
I’ll totally write a novel next November. But right now, I want to talk briefly about this excellent sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear. This review will not be any more spoilery than the book’s dust-jacket blurb. Trust me, warrior.
I read The Name of the Wind last year, and it was excellent. It was part one of a trilogy where a legendary figure, Kvothe, is having his memoir written. Kvothe has done some heroic things (but not quite all the heroic things that are said about him) and some terrible things (but perhaps not all of the terrible things that are said about him) and some secret things that very few know of. Kvothe is setting the story straight. It’s fascinating.
The Name of the Wind covers a few years in Kvothe’s mid-teens, and The Wise Man’s Fear picks up where the first book left off, with Kvothe a bit older and debatably wiser. (He’s a wise-ass in both books.)
Kvothe has considerably more complex experiences in the second book than in the first book (at least in the telling of the adventures of younger Kvothe), and the reader starts to get to see the truth of the legendary Kvothe that the first book hints at.
There is a plot point in the second book, that I won’t talk about here, since it’s too spoilery, that was just outstanding. I’ve read a fair amount of fantasy novels in my time, and these things are often formulaic. I know what I’m saying isn’t that much of a surprise. I’m usually entertained by plot twists, but I’m rarely surprised or presented with something that went counter to some expectation that had been forming in my reading mind. (The big exceptions would be A Game of Thrones and A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin.) If there is a big surprise that defies my expectations, it’s usually something way too contrived or unearned.
The event I’m hinting at in The Wise Man’s Fear was surprising, counter-to-my-expectations, and totally believable. If you’ve read the book, or don’t care about being spoiled (it’s kind of a minor spoiler, really, but I want to be sensitive) feel free to read my longer commentary here.
I grew up reading Roger Zelazny’s fantasy and science fiction stories, and I consider him my favorite, hands down. I get a strong Zelazny vibe when I read a Rothfuss novel, and that’s a good thing. The Big Z’s characters always felt very consistent with the setting they were part of, but also felt very contemporary to me and relatable. They never seemed quaint or archaic like other fantasy book characters. I feel the same way about Kvothe and those he encounters.
Anyway, if you are interested in some good reading, checking out The Name of the Wind and its excellent sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear would be my solid recommendation.
Then you can start worrying about when Book Three will be out.