Before I tear this book apart, I have to get something off my chest… Mr. Rothfuss, we get it. We get that Kvothe is the best musician, the best sympathist, the best arcanist and is already a living legend at age 17. We also get that Kvothe is basically your fantasy self-insert. We know. But spending one page telling us this kid sucks at math (and who doesn’t?) is not enough to make Kvothe a believable character. You’re lucky your prose are absolutely impeccable, or you might have lost me.
Now, let’s begin.
“The Wise Man’s Fear,” book two in the Kingkiller Chronicle, begins with Kvothe taking a break from the university because he made the wrong people a little bit too angry. Which, knowing Kvothe and his smart-alec tendencies, is not surprising whatsoever. He receives an invitation to the Maer’s mansion on the literal opposite side of the world, and he only has a week to get there. The Maer isn’t the King, but he’s so rich that he might as well be. Think Jeff Bezos in relation to the President of the United States. So of course our penniless hero Kvothe jumps at the opportunity to not be an inch from starvation for once in his life and heads off to live with the Maer for a bit.
Sounds like the start to a great book, no? Surely my man Kvothe will partake in an interesting adventure that moves the plot forward? If you thought any of those things, you would be wrong. This book is supposed to be the second out of a trilogy, it’s literally almost one thousand pages, and nothing gets accomplished. We follow our favorite snarky arcanist into the woods on a fool’s errand for the Maer and then he ends up learning martial arts for some reason, goes home and the book ends. That’s it.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a pretty good book. The action scenes, while sparse, are unmatched. Although I’m annoyed at his perfection, Kvothe continues to make just about anything seem interesting. However, I take back everything I said about this series being better than “The Lord of the Rings,” because Kvothe spends entirely too much time wandering in the woods in “The Wise Man’s Fear.” Also, I take back what I said about Rothfuss making quality female characters, because our love interest, Denna, is just terrible. How can a living legend like Kvothe still find this girl so hopelessly unattainable? At first it was a nice slow burn, but you mean to tell me that I’m around 1,600 pages into this series and absolutely nothing has happened between these two? Give me a break.
So now we’re left to wait for book three to get pretty much every answer we’ve been wanting since book one. I finally understand why Rothfuss is taking nine years to write the next book: the poor guy can’t figure out how to end the series. He dug himself into too deep of a hole by having Kvothe go off on his little bender for the entirety of “The Wise Man’s Fear”. There’s a rumor that book three is coming out this summer, but I honestly don’t know what to believe anymore. At the end of the day, I will be reading the next and final book, “The Doors of Stone,” when it comes out, probably some time in the next 50 years at this rate. I will not be purchasing it, but I will be reading it. I feel like Kvothe deserves at least that much.