The Wise Man’s Fear is the second installment in Patrick Rothfuss’ King Killer Chronicles. It suffers from many of the same problems that the first book did, but to a much lesser degree. Rothfuss’ writing has improved, which, given my praise of his writing in the first book, was impressive. However, his abilities as a storyteller still feel a bit underdeveloped to me. One of the biggest improvements to this book was the fact that it had an actual ending. Ultimately, if you enjoyed the first book, I’d be comfortable saying that you’d enjoy this one as well. If you haven’t read the first book…well, I’d suggest you go and do that, because this book isn’t going to make much sense without having read the first one (not to mention it’s an enjoyable fantasy read.)
- The pacing, while not nearly as bad the first book, is probably its largest weakness. A great deal happens over the course of the book, but the majority of the events that Kvothe experiences feel unnecessarily drawn out (his time with Felurian comes to mind). In turn, this makes the book itself feel overly long.
- I understand that we’re following the story of a legendary figure, and he’s exposing all the ugly little truths about the events that forged him into who he is, but most of the things Kvothe does in this book feel inconsequential. I believe that Rothfuss is trying to reveal the stories behind all of the names that people use for Kvothe, but ultimately it ends up feeling like a big messy collection of loosely connected story fragments.
- I’m not entirely sure how to phrase it (and what I’ve come up with certainly isn’t the best way), but I feel like book two isn’t delivering on some of the promises made in book one. Kvothe knows almost nothing new about the Chandrian or the Amyr, and we have no idea how he brought about the Scrael, or the war. Book three is going to be a whirlwind of fire and storytelling if Rothfuss plans to tie all his loose ends together. Suffice to say, I will not be surprised if this series outgrows the trilogy format.
- The ending has a feeling of closure. Kvothe has resolved a few of his problems and has grown enough to make the reader feel like he’s not the same person he was at the start of the book. It feels like an actual ending. This is a huge improvement over the way Rothfuss closed the first book in Kvothe’s story.
- Rothfuss’ technical abilities as a writer have clearly improved. He is able to keep his wording tight and inventive, and avoids it ever becoming distracting. I think this is a pretty large portion of why I enjoyed the book.
- While I did complain that the story feels fragmented, this is somewhat of an improvement over the first book. It was enjoyable to see Kvothe find himself in more than two different locations over the course of the book.
- Kvothe and Denna keep running into each other. They run into each other pretty much everywhere they go. You could use a specific encounter between Kvothe and a certain Faen creature to explain this away, but to me they run into each other far too frequently for it to not feel like a forced storybook meeting.
- **Bit of a Spoiler** Kvothe’s time with Felurian felt a bit like it was written by a fifteen year old who just discovered what boobs are. There is entirely too much inconsequential sex; the entire part of the book itself seems mostly unnecessary, and it is entirely too long
Writing the synopsis for this book actually has me somewhat stumped, and I feel like that is a bit of a testament to the fragmented nature of the book. Instead of having one flowing storyline, I was presented with four or five separate, shorter stories that all involved Kvothe. Suffice it to say that in this book, as promised, Kvothe tells more of his life story to Chronicler and the reader will get to see follow Kvothe as he thwarts a murderous arcanists, defeats a group of bandits, wins and loses the favor of a powerful man, get intimate with a fae creature, and studies the ways of the Adem.