Worth waiting for: Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear

I was fortunate enough to get to read an ARC of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear, which is due out from DAW on the first of March 2011. This is the Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2, the sequel to The Name of the Wind.

The Wise Man’s Fear was worth waiting for. It’s about as good as this kind of fantasy can possibly get.

Absolutely no spoilers whatsoever anywhere.

This is a long book set in a complex fantasy world. I’m not surprised it took a little while to write, and I’d much rather have something this good now than something less good sooner. If you liked The Name of the Wind, you’re going to like this. It is seamless. If you haven’t read The Name of the Wind, go and read it now, you have plenty of time anyway. Do not attempt to read this one first. This is not in any way a standalone book. It’s volume two of a trilogy, and while it has a shape, as the first one does, and doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, you absolutely need to read them in order for them to make sense.

There’s a lovely sequence of events, including some things I didn’t see coming. There are some lovely clever things. We learn a lot more about some things mentioned briefly in the frame in the first volume, like the Fae, swords, lots of things. It’s all light and easy to read and easy to absorb and be absorbed by. There are books that leave you feeling wrung out, and there are books that leave you feeling like you’ve had a vacation. This is definitely the latter kind.

The gender politics are much better than in the previous volume—there are sensible grown-up women. Denna continues to annoy me, but I thought that all the other female characters were a whole lot better. While Kvothe learns new skills here, we also see him being hopeless at them to begin with. He also grows up quite a bit and stops being so much of a jerk. There’s also an awesome language bit that has proxemics—it reminded me of Hellspark, and in a good way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of immersing myself completely in the world and the events. It’s such a great world, and the people are like real people, and what happens is endlessly entertaining. The only caveat I have is that there’s likely to be another long wait for the third one. But…it’s worth it.

And in March, once it has been published and everyone has the chance to read it, I’ll re-read both books together and do a long spoilerific post for us to gossip about the characters and the world. I’m really looking forward to that. There’s nothing better I can say when I’ve just finished a book than that I am already looking forward to reading it again.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and eight novels, most recently Lifelode. She has a ninth novel coming out in January, Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.


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