Gavin's Reviews > The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
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's review
Oct 03, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy

So, there's an established phenomenon that I don't think anyone has coined a snappy title for yet, in my head I call it "Fabulous but Unpredicted Success Leads to a Complete lack of Editorial Constraint or Outside Input Whatsoever which-in-turn Leads to Creative Stagnation and Catastrophe". FUSLCECOIWLCSC. Foo-Sil-Kec-Oiw-Lecuscu. Not going to be printed in a newspaper any time soon, but it's true in all kinds of media.

1. Someone outside the established system will bring in something new that no one has a great deal of faith in
2. They fight tooth and nail to have "their vision" produced as they want it
3. They make more money than God when it's released, terrifying those inside the system that they may no longer know what the audience wants.
4. Those inside the system, shocked and numb, relinquish any sort of control
5. The outsider is left to run roughshod over their own projects and ruin whatever originally great thing it was they had made.

In film: George Lucas/The Wachowski's
In Games: Peter Molyneaux
In Books: Patrick Rothfuss

I think it's an important preamble, because very nearly every page of this 1000 page epic screams "edit me". It needs the book-world equivalent of Roger Corman to enter the room with something pointy, and stand over the shoulder of this bearded, smug, chubby goon and jab him with it until he gets on with telling the damn story he set out to tell, before he becomes Robert Jordan Jr in earnest.

On the positive side of things, if you pick this book up you will have to fight with yourself to put it down. The truly sad thing about Rothfuss is that he can quite literally write about Kvothe buttering toast and trying on clothes and make it bubble-gum-paper unputdownable. His skill with pacing, narrative and prose is such that, until you start to think really hard about what it is you're reading, your brain is lulled into a quiet, appreciative silence for the 390,000 words contained herein. I mention the word count, because allegedly the only guidance he received from his editor was "not to make it so long that it can't be bound in a paperback format". i.e. over 420,000 words.

I know this is very "meta" so far, but it's absolutely crucial to understand that it's not Pat's fault. Well, obviously it is, but it really isn't entirely his fault. His success with a book that, let's face it, is Earthsea viewed through J.K. Rowling has benumbed anyone around him that could offer criticism, constructive or otherwise.

On the negatives, for those that are interested, here's a quick laundry list of the lowlights:

- The end of chapter 107 is the most hilariously offensive thing I've ever read on the subject of women. I mean, wow.

- The Adem were the ultimate "noble savage" society. That they happened to be more or less based on Chinese/Japanese culture may have been coincidence, but I don't think so.

- While he's a good writer, he can't put an exciting action scene together for chips.

- Almost all the sub-plots of the first third are completely cyclical.

- Auri and Devi are abysmal characters that feel stapled on. Apparently in an interview he has now admitted they weren't in the original story as he wrote it. It really, really shows.

I can't go any further into the faults without completely ruining it for you, but suffice to say it's flabby where we don't care, lean where we do, Denna dominates fully 100 pages of screen-time (and is even more annoying this time around) and there are 60 full pages of egregious faery boning, wherein Kvothe is schooled in the arts of love by an ancient mythical Fuck-Goddess.

Lastly, and maybe I was spoiled by an Abercrombie special before I read this in the shape of The Heroes: There was no character development in this book. Everyone in here feels flat, one dimensional (two dimensions tops for central characters) and dull. Until you really force yourself to think about this, you won't even notice it, because his writing is that good.

I have no doubt I'll read the third one because at least half the book was an absolute blast, but please, please: Edit him.

EDIT: Score updated as I recently stumbled upon this blog post and now think that rather than being a bit of a hopeless goon, Patrick Rothfuss has probably got Real Actual brain problems he should seek therapy to help him address.
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Reading Progress

October 3, 2010 – Shelved
March 10, 2011 – Started Reading
March 12, 2011 –
page 110
11.07% "13% in. I have not read an author with so compelling a grasp of narrative since J.K. Rowling. It doesn't seem to matter what he writes, I have no choice but to read it."
March 14, 2011 –
page 329
March 16, 2011 –
page 600
60.36% "50 pages and the story hasn't advanced any of the plots I'm interested in, and hasn't even got to the bits that the first book teased."
March 20, 2011 – Finished Reading
February 29, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy

Comments (showing 1-42 of 42) (42 new)

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message 1: by Kaila (new)

Kaila The blog link isn't working for me :(

Gavin Here's the link in full:

I think it's an issue with phone browsing, as it doesn't work on my HTC but does on my PC.

message 3: by Kaila (new)

Kaila I umm...I'm speechless. That was so :psyduck: I don't even know where to begin. I'm glad I read your review!

message 4: by Sir (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sir Autumnos Excellent analysis of the more in-depth aspects of publishing, editing and writing. I have to agree on the "edit me". I also think Pat has let his ability to weave decent prose get into his head, I think it would do him good to realize he messed up with TWMF quite a bit. And more importantly, his publisher and editor should notice both it and their blunders for letting this loose flabby mess (albeit a very well written flabby mess) out of the print.

Carol. "There are 60 full pages of egregious faery boning, wherein Kvothe is schooled in the arts of love by an ancient mythical Fuck-Goddess"

Seriously. You made me laugh out loud.

Spot on review.

message 6: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben I wonder if in this age of ebooks we could see a 'directors cut' of this book released which still hits the same plot marks but has been edited a little bit more carefully.

Jacob The 1st album is so much better than the 2nd album, man.

Steve Bedford Great point about Lucas and Molyneaux. Encapsulates very well my feelings toward this book. Rothfuss obviously has a great voice, but somebody needed to go to town with a red pen on this book.

Whtever I agree with your point about editing completely. The parts with Denna and Felurian could have used some (let's be honest, a lot of) editing. Honestly most of the Denna chapters were useless and boring, not worth it for the little bits and pieces important to the story that we got out of them. Felurian.... Well I see why it is important to the story, and I have nothing against sex in books, but really? He should have dialed it down a bit... And that goes for the entire book, dial down on the sex.... I don't agree with you about Devi and Auri, I mean they aren't that important to the story yet, but they were fun and have a lot of potential to become important in book 3. And I liked the Adem. I don't really mind that they were based on Chinese or Japanese cultures, and the chapters while he is there are fun and important to the story (although, they could have used some pairing down too). That being said, I still liked the book. It has a lot of faults, but it also has great writing and some very good ideas.

message 10: by Nja (new)

Nja Love DBs that give a 1 star review that promise to read the next book.

Jason The Felurian chapters were way way way too long. I have to disagree on Auri though. She's actually my favorite character. Everytime she's in a scene, she makes me laugh or smile.

message 12: by Nja (new)

Nja Auri will be something special in book 3, as will Elodin. I hope :-)

Kevin Denna. Ugh. WTH is she?? A Las vegas escort?? Her relationship with Kvothe is the most boring, tedious relationship ever.

message 14: by L. (new) - rated it 2 stars

L. Lawson Boom. Perfect review. Thank you!

message 15: by Art (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art I'd give you five stars for "egregious faery boning" alone. Brilliant.

Petra This review is so spot-on, it is creepy. :)

message 17: by Valerie (new)

Valerie C Perfect review, thank you. Rothfuss glossed over a shipwreck - a shipwreck where Kvothe almost died! Why? So he could spend pages detailing an uneventful trek through the woods, sex, and basic training. I was entertained, but I wasted a lot of time expecting something to happen soon... surely on the next page... the next chapter... something pivotal will happen soon, right?

Rachel FUSLCECOIWLCSC --> Harry Potter

message 19: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Don't forget GRRM in Books. He's the 25-year reigning king of this. Though to be fair to him, he got a good three books into ASOIAF before letting it totally get away from him.

Susan "Denna dominates fully 100 pages of screen-time (and is even more annoying this time around)" oh yeah. So it´s not just me annoyed witless by this cunt. Good to know

Cristina I gave this a 4 star but still agree with just about every point you made in this review. What can I say, if a 994 page book compels me to read it every free moment, I gotta give it some credit. But the books moved from 'exciting new find' to 'guilty pleasure' quite quickly.

Kandace Dick This is the perfect review of this book. Holy shit, you got it all. And like you, I'm gonna have to take back the benefit of a doubt I loaned him for all the weird, crazy, sexism-in-disguise and update my rating after reading that awful blog post. Jesus. Great review!

message 23: by Liam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liam Kane Good summary of some of the problematic elements of this book - the glaring ones being the agency of female characters (or lack thereof) and treatment of sex. The 'Fuck-Goddess' section did really surprise me. Read little bit like someones sweaty wank. I still really enjoyed this book.

Mighty Rasing totally agree with your review. the parts with Felurian and the Adem training was so long, they could have been released as separate novellas - more money for Rothfuss and the publishers, and it would have tipped the book towards awesome (at least for me). That said, I sure hope that Day 3 would be under 1,000 pages long. Otherwise, I might just skim through some sections.

message 25: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Cheeseman "The Adem were the ultimate "noble savage" society. That they happened to be more or less based on Chinese/Japanese culture may have been coincidence, but I don't think so." How is that a negative? Were they exactly the same? No. I found the whole book immensely enjoyable and from his sales thousands of other people have so if you dont like them dont read anymore of them.

message 26: by Kaila (new)

Kaila Because we always know what we're going to think of a book before we read it.

message 27: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Cheeseman I think you misunderstood, rothfuss has written 2 books, the reviewer has read both and disliked both so he probably isn't going to like any of his future books.

message 28: by Kaila (new)

Kaila Gavin can probably speak for himself on this but I'm pretty sure he quite liked the first book, despite some flaws.

Hrishi this is brilliant. you've mentioned EVERYTHING that bothered me. brilliant.

message 30: by Frank (new)

Frank "Real Actual brain problems" made me lol. Great review.

message 31: by Jean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jean Fausto I loved your review, because it captured the main things which had been bothering me since I finished the first book a few days ago: the Robert Jordan Syndrome (during my read of this second book I wondered whether Patrick was married to his editor as well haha) and the downplay of woman agency and characterization. I think you summed up pretty well most my complaints. But the damn metaphors he uses. Wow, that bothers me too. A lot.

message 32: by Gavin (new) - rated it 1 star

Gavin I wrote this review four years ago and there's still no date announced for the third, final book in the trilogy. Which he claimed would be finished and done by 2010 just after Name of The Wind dropped.

Hrishi I have bad feeling about this.
The more time Rothfuss takes, bigger the third book will be.

Kevin At my age, I'm going to have to re-read the first two books just to remember the plot lines. The name Kvothe rings a bell. Isn't she a main character??

message 35: by Mojo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mojo Really enjoyed the first book thought the second was good with a few large trouble areas. Now that PR is slipping into full on David Gerrold territory I'm not sure I'll even read the third. so much time has passed, almost 5 years past the date PR set, that I can barely remember the main plot points and I don't want to re read those tomes.

message 36: by Amy (new)

Amy Musser Thank you for this review. I was really on the fence about reading the second book, after feeling like the first one was a really well written story I didn't care at all about. So now I can move on....

message 37: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Xil Is it possible to give some examples of where editing is/was needed? Very curious.

message 38: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Also in film: Q. Tarantino. Completely agree with your FUSCLCECOIWLCSC assessment.

message 39: by J. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J. What an amazing review! I think you nailed it describing the shortcomings of this book, and what's more, I didn't even realize this book had shortcomings before reading your review. I was just so happily engrossed in sucking up every single word Rothfuss wrote. Except for the chapters on Denna, I couldn't stand her. And Auri too, I just couldn't bring myself to like that girl, or feel curious or anything.

Isaurathewriter Your review mentions many of the points that made me dislike the book, thank you.

Sabrina It was only 60 pages of fairy-boning? Man, it felt like at least 500 pages of that crap. And another 500 pages of boring nothingness in Ademre. And another 500 pages of stupid Denna.

David Townsend "your brain is lulled into a quiet, appreciative silence for the 390,000 words contained herein". Brilliant. You close the book and think "errr... that's finished, but I was bored rigid, why didn't I stop"

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