Monday, March 18, 2013

CBR V Review #16: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

“Knowing your own ignorance is the first step to enlightenment.” 

The quote I've chosen for this, the second volume of The Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2 of Kote's retelling of his life as Kvothe, is really the overarching theme to this book.  Normally I pick a quote I just really like; sometimes it's because of how the line applies to the main character.  But here, I feel that this quote really outlines Kvothe's journey through WMF.  This is a book where Kvothe's sometimes willing ignorance gets him in to all kind of trouble, but also motivates his journey towards the path to greater enlightenment.  Wow, that sounded pretentious, and it's totally not, but it's still true.  Kvothe does some stupid things to start out, but once those kickstart his journey, he ends up learning so many important things he had lacked before.  It's all setting up a beautiful path to wherever the brilliant Patrick Rothfuss is taking us in the final book.

Kvothe's story here begins and ends at his beloved University, but it's where he travels in between that gives the story the most substance.  Rothfuss isn't content to leave his protagonist in one place for so long (which is doubly logical due to his Rue background - troupers seldom plant roots anywhere).  Still, the University is central to who Kvothe is, and his search for ever more knowledge.  I'm glad that we got to spend more time with him there.

At University, Kvothe's ongoing feud with Ambrose Jackis (one of literature's biggest douchebags) escalates.  As an added bonus, his previous clash with him, the one that motivated his first naming of the wind, comes back to bite him in the ass.  As such, it's not long before Kvothe finds himself taking some time off to go visit a potential patron, the Maer.  While helping him with his health and to woo a lady, Kvothe starts to learn some important things about politics, courtly graces, and the right way to deal with people in power.  From here, he is sent on a journey to stop some bandits.  This trip leads to sexual education with a fairy, learning to fight and speak like an Adem mercenary; and his return trip gets him steps closer to the answers he seeks, even if he doesn't realize it yet.  This last is a piece of fan theory that I'll keep from this review, but it's important just the same.

It took me forever to write this review because I adore this book, and I knew I couldn't do it justice.  Everything about it is wonderful.  I find it impossible to put this series down, and the culture gets into my brain enough that I'll do things like cursing in their idioms (ie Merciful Tehlu, or Blackened Body of God) instead of in my own.  I love watching Kvothe learn and grow as a character.  Tensions also ratchet up in Kote's timeline, but there's still a lot of mystery surrounding Bast and his motivations to return his Reshi to his old self.

This book also introduces us to one of the most devious villains in fiction - the Cthaeh.  The Cthaeh exists in the realm of the Fae, and knows everything.  I mean that literally - it knows every single future pathways that is possible.  If you come into contact with it, it will guide you towards whatever the most destructive pathway is, simply because it can.  The quiet malice of something like that is really effective.  

I love this series and can't wait for the next book. Pick it up ASAP.

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