Eric's Reviews > The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
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Oct 04, 11

Read in June, 2011

This book has a clean feeling. I don't know what it is. It's something about the writing style and the structure of the various story threads. It's more of a feeling than a thought. In a way, that's nice because clean is nice. Maybe he's a skillful writer and really sands it down and polishes it up.

But in a way it may be the root of the issue I had with the first book in the series; it may be too clean. As much as the author tries to paint Kvothe as someone with a very hard life, too many things come too easily for him. It's distracting after a while and makes it seem like there's no challenge. You disinterestedly project forward to the inevitable saving of the princess and the slaying of the dragon and the happily ever after. I hope that doesn't happen but that's where the clean and easy flashback path feels like it's heading even though we know there's a big mess waiting in the present day.

On trial? No sweat. Talk your way out of it and gloss over the telling of it. Need to travel a thousand miles away? No big deal. Casually gloss over being shipwrecked, left to drown, starving and begging in the streets along the way, but hey, no big deal, got there just fine. Need to see the king? Easily bluff your way past layers of security. Powerful bad guy doing bad things? Pfft, easily figure out his game and send him packing. Need your lute back from the repair shop but it's after hours? Cleanly break in, easy as pie, and steal it back with no consequences. Only a teen? Not a problem, you can lead men in battle. Learn to be a professional wilderness tracker in two days. Learn your fifth language in a handful of weeks. Ho hum.

While the cleanness of the prose makes it easy and pleasant enough to skate along, I found myself basically going, "yeah yeah yeah" while I read and after a while didn't expect much from it. In that, I wasn't disappointed, which is to say that I was disappointed. More salt, please!

The structure of the story, which bounces between Kvothe retelling his life story from the present and that story as it happened in the past, has been an oddly unsatisfying thing for me from the start of the series. It tells you that whatever real drama may happen in the story will happen only after the story finally catches up to the present day. So even as you read about his scrapes at the university or out on the road, you know that it's all just backdrop and he'll wind up in the town with the inn where he is now.

Meanwhile only a couple of days of sitting around the inn bored have passed. They've waited disconsolately for two days for something to happen and we've waited for two books now, for four years and counting. Maybe this was done deliberately to build up tension and make people hungry for the real action, but for me it just makes the things in the past seem thin and cheap and disposable. I feel as bored as they do sitting around the inn passing time while the inevitable action in this story continues to hover vaguely somewhere offstage. I have to finish the series at this point just for the chance to salvage some value from my sunk costs, and because it's not bad enough to abandon, but I'll be happy when he wraps it up.
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message 1: by Nazmul (new)

Nazmul Hasan I gave up on the first book half way through but could not understand why I did so.

You sir read my mind and grabbed my thoughts from inside my head and dashed them out on paper.

Thank you.


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