The Wise Man’s Fear is the second novel in Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle, following the second day of protagonist Kvothe telling his autobiography. I read the first novel in the series, The Name of the Wind, earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so if you have not started this series yet you can go and check out my review of that here. In this second novel we follow Kvothe as he leaves the University after his rivalry with Ambrose, the first-born son of a wealthy, powerful nobleman from Vintas, escalates. We see Kvothe travel to Vintas and get caught up in courtly society, uncover an assassination attempt, lead a group of mercenaries into the wild, be put on trial by Adem mercenaries and also meet Felurian, a faerie who no man can resist nor survive.
This novel had all the elements that I loved in the first novel; the unique and wonderfully crafted fantasy world in which it was set was, if anything, even more impressive, with more intricacies and dimensions added to it making it even more believable and real feeling. I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about the magic system, and now that Kvothe has mastered his magic to a much more advanced level he utilised it in really interesting ways, making the story at times action filled and incredibly tense. I also thoroughly enjoy Rothfuss’ writing style; it is simple but beautiful with the perfect amount of description, and is the perfect foundation for the story it tells.
I felt like the character development in this novel was strong. Kvothe is incredibly intelligent, witty and believably flawed and as I read I was completely sold on the way his character is developing, and sympathised with his situations. Specifically, reading about how Kvothe embraced his slow building fame was really interesting. Furthermore, the secondary story line in which we follow Kvothe in present day – keeping his true identity hidden behind Kote the innkeeper – was developed and caught my interest. I am now much more interested in present day Kote than I was before, and keen to find out what will happen to the other characters in present day. I was, however, slightly disappointed with the lack of character development in the side characters. As noted in my The Name of the Wind review, I really hoped to get to know some characters better, such as Kvothe’s friends from the University Sim and Willem. We didn’t get to see them enough for my liking, and once again I hope to see more of them in the next instalment.
I enjoyed the first half of the book more than I enjoyed the second half; I love reading about life at the University and the characters who live there. While I didn’t dislike Kvothe venturing off into different parts of the world, and would have anticipated that to be aspect of the novel to be completely engrossing, I definitely felt the pace slow down for me through these parts, and my interest in the story line did drop a little. That being said I did love learning about the culture of Ademre, their language and style of fighting being fascinating, and I felt this really added a more special and complex depth to Rothfuss’ world.
I would definitely recommend you read this book if you have read the first one; while it was not quite as brilliant as I had hoped, Rothfuss is such a fantastic storyteller and I am completely engrossed by the series as a whole. This series creates that feeling while reading that you are warm and at home, and I think its genuinely magical.