Katherine Coble's Reviews > The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
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it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-force-on-everyrone-i-meet
Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys Fantasy; Epic storytelling
Read 2 times. Last read October 26, 2011 to November 8, 2011.

I bought this the day it came out, but was right in the middle of re-reading GRRM in preparation for his summer release. So I held onto _Wise Man's Fear_ for a rainy day. Being me, however, I started peeking on Amazon and Goodreads to see the reviews. There were the expected "ZOMG! BEST BOOK EVAR!" lauditory nothings that you usually get with most things...but there were also more than a few low ratings. The reviews that went with those 2- 3- and 4- stars all said versions of the same thing. "Not as good as the first"; "Kvothe is a manwhore in this one"; "too much time in this place or that place"; "Nothing happens".

I started to get nervous. I found myself wanting to read the book less and less as I didn't want to deal with the disappointment. It took months for me to decide to finally dive in.

Now I've dived, read, laughed, cried and come out the other side.

This is a five-star book. I say that with as critical an eye as possible; I don't hand out 5 stars to just anybody.

The other thing I don't do very often is read Fantasy, and I think that may be what has kept me from viewing _Wise Man's Fear_ with a jaundiced eye. It seems to me that many of the bringers of the dislike for this book are approaching it from the place of wanting their Fantasy reads to be more like action movies. Give boy training, give boy sword, boy fights trolls, boy fights dragons. _Wise Man's Fear_ ,on the other hand, is more a story about exploring ideas. There is a grand lot of stuff which happens in this book, but much of it is not flashy. It is instead subtle and beautiful; we get to watch Kvothe grow up in the confines of his universe. We get to learn a great deal about that universe in the process.

I can only assume that the vast level of detail we received about The Four Corners will come in quite handy once the third book rolls around. In the meantime, gathering that detail made for by far the most pleasurable read I had this year.


1. Is Kvothe a Manwhore?

I read so many complaints about the sexuality in this book that I was quite honestly expecting long stretches of Fantasy Erotica. I'm sorry, but that is just not the case. During his time with Felurian Kvothe is schooled in the sexual arts, receiving tutelage from the Fae love queen in something that sounds not unlike the Kama Sutra. But _all_ of the sexplay is given nondescript names like Thousand Hands and the actual description of Kvothe's couplings with Felurian is of the fade-to-black variety. I've seen more sex in a sitcom. Once he leaves Felurian he is obviously not a virgin, and the book mentions a couple of other sexual encounters he has during his travels. Those are also fade-to-black.

When Kvothe trains with the Ademre he takes two sexual partners (in subsequence) but that is used as a plot device for the explaining of the Ademre cultural attitude toward sexual mores. In that place sex is viewed as a sort of extra-fun workout. I personally would not groove on the Ademre way, but I'm a barbarian. I imagine pretty much every 17 year old boy, though, would think having sex whenever you felt like it with no strings attached would be the best thing ever. Again, though, this is all fade to black stuff. So even though there are a few pages spent discussing how sex fits into the society we don't get any detail about how Kvothe fits into the women.

That's pretty much it for the head-on details about Kvothe's sexuality, and it's about as tame as anything dealing with said topic could get.

2. Does Kvothe spend too much time in any one place?

There are big chunks of the book spent away from the now-familiar setting of Imre and The University. But in each section (The Maer; The Bandit Trek; Felurian; Ademre) we get essential ingredients added to the Kvothe stew. Stuff REALLY does happen, but much of it is subtle. There are battles, but not the epic Death Star explosions some folks come to expect. For Kvothe's story, though, the conflicts all shape him into the legendary Arcanist and Namer he becomes. I enjoyed every minute in every new location.

3. Nothing happens

Oh, please. Stop expecting every story to be Batman. I don't want to go into perverse amounts of detail about what happens where. But one spoilery example I WILL give is that in the Felurian section--which most negative reviewers dismiss as being all about sex and nothing else--quite a few VERY key things happen.

--Kvothe calls the wind and uses it to subdue Felurian. This is the first time he realises some sort of true mastery over the Wind. He also (we later find) has knowledge of Felurian's true self in his sleeping mind. This speaks of great power in him.

--Kvothe learns stuff about sex and how to pleasure women.

--Kvothe gets his shaed, which is instrumental later on in saving his life.

--Kvothe encounters a magic creature whose name I can't spell (the Cthaeh?) but who is really instrumental to the overall tale. He gets a version of a prophecy which thankfully isn't spelled out in some ganky rhyme like most of these books do.

This is quite a lot to have go down in a section where most folks feel nothing to be happening. The rest of the book is like that too. Perhaps they should say "nothing hugely flashy happens."


To sum it all up, I think this wonderful book is something most people aren't used to. It's a STORY. A well-written and beautifully told story. If what you are expecting is a series of episodes (what many fantasy books actually are) then perhaps to you it will be less than perfect. To me, a lover of story, this is about as good as I can imagine a book ever getting.
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Quotes Katherine Liked

Patrick Rothfuss
“A great spider of lightning crawled across the sky,”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear

Reading Progress

Finished Reading (ebook Edition)
March 26, 2011 – Shelved (ebook Edition)
October 26, 2011 – Started Reading
October 26, 2011 – Shelved
November 8, 2011 – Shelved as: books-i-force-on-everyrone-i-meet
November 8, 2011 – Finished Reading

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