Book Review: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man's Fear

As this is a plant blog, I will start with my plant reference.  Every book has them.  It can’t be denied….plants are everywhere! This scene is when the young hero, Kvothe, is wandering in the Fae.  He spies a tree…..

“It was no type of tree I had ever seen before, and I approached it slowly.  It resembled a vast spreading willow, with broader leaves of a darker green.  The tree had deep, hanging foliage scattered with pale, powder-blue blossoms. 

The wind shifted, and as the leaves stirred I smelled a strange, sweet smell.  It was like smoke and spice and leather and lemon.  It was a compelling smell.  Not in the same way that food smells appealing.  It didn’t make my mouth water or my stomach growl.  Despite this, if I’d seen something sitting on a table that smelled this way, even if it were a lump of stone or a piece of wood, I would have felt compelled to put it in my mouth.  Not out of hunger, but from sheer curiosity, much like a child might.”

It turns out to be an evil tree.  How can a tree be evil?  You’ll have to read the book to find out why.  Yes, I do recommend this story, but only after the first book, The Name of the Wind, because they are tied tightly together.  They are both subtitled, The Kingkiller Chronicles.  The Name of the Wind is Day 1 and The Wise Man’s Fear is Day 2. One story. Compelling. Well-written. Nice and long, the way I like a good epic fantasy.

I carried it close for a week, not wanting to put it down.  Until page 640 or so, when I suddenly stopped for two days.  I couldn’t take the Felurian descriptions anymore.  The most beautiful face, the most beautiful body, the most beautiful feet.  On and on they went and I thought, too much perfection, it’s the imperfections that make life intriguing.  And as a woman I began to dislike the portrayal of female characters. I can’t help but identify myself with the characters in the books I read, and I wasn’t finding much to work with here. Enough running around naked in fairy-land!  But then she made a cloak out of shadows and sewed it together with starlight and moonbeams, and things got interesting again.  Also, the main character stayed in each place a little too long for me.  This story is about his adventures and travels and when he was in the Fae and then again in Ademre I kept thinking, okay, enough of this, time to move on.

But he always did move on.  And had some great adventures.  I loved the part about names.  “There are two things you must remember.  first, our names shape us, and we shape our names in turn….Second, even the simplest name is so complex that your mind could never begin to feel the boundaries of it, let alone understand it well enough for you to speak it.”   I like how he describes the importance of knowing something or someones name, I quite agree.  When he captures the name of the wind, it’s fascinating.

“And then, my mind open and empty, I saw the wind spread out before me.  It was like frost forming on a blank sheet of window glass.  One moment, nothing.  The next, I could see the name of the wind as clearly as the back of my own hand.  

I looked around for a moment, marveling in it.  I tasted the shape of it on my tongue and knew if desired I could stir it to a storm.  I could hush it to a whisper, leaving the sword tree hanging empty and still.:

But that seemed wrong.  Instead I simply opened my eyes wide to the wind, watching where it would choose to push the branches.  Watching where it would flick the leaves.”

After reading this, I thought, maybe I could learn the name of the wind too?  I really enjoyed this book by Patrick Rothfuss and look forward to The Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 3 (please don’t make us wait too long!)

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