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The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two Mass Market Paperback – April 2, 2013
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2011: The Wise Man's Fear continues the mesmerizing slow reveal of the story of Kvothe the Bloodless, an orphaned actor who became a fearsome hero before banishing himself to a tiny town in the middle of Newarre. The readers of Patrick Rothfuss's outstanding first book, The Name of the Wind, which has gathered both a cult following and a wide readership in the four years since it came out, will remember that Kvothe promised to tell his tale of wonder and woe to Chronicler, the king's scribe, in three days. The Wise Man's Fear makes up day two, and uncovers enough to satisfy readers and make them desperate for the full tale, from Kvothe's rapidly escalating feud with Ambrose to the shockingly brutal events that mark his transformation into a true warrior, and to his encounters with Felurian and the Adem. Rothfuss remains a remarkably adept and inventive storyteller, and Kvothe's is a riveting tale about a boy who becomes a man who becomes a hero and a killer, spinning his own mythology out of the ether until he traps himself within it. Drop everything and read these books. --Daphne Durham
Author One-on-One: Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson
In an exclusive interview for Amazon.com, epic fantasy authors Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man's Fear) and Brandon Sanderson (Towers of Midnight) sat down to discuss collaborating with publishers, dealing with success, and what goes into creating and editing their work.
Rothfuss: Heya Brandon.
Sanderson: Hey there, Pat. Nice talking with you again.
Rothfuss: Thanks for being willing to do this. I know you're insanely busy these days.
Okay. Let me just jump right in here with a question. How long was Way of Kings? I heard a rumor that the ARC I read was 400,000 words long. It didn't really feel like it…
Sanderson: Let me see. I will open it right now and word count it, so you have an exact number. It’s 386,470 words, though the version you read was an advance manuscript, before I did my final 10% tightening draft, which was 423,557 words.
I didn’t really want it to be that long. At that length we’re running into problems with foreign publishers having to split it and all sorts of issues with making the paperback have enough space. I didn’t set out to write a thousand-page, 400,000-word book. It’s just what the novel demanded.
Rothfuss: Wise Man's Fear ended up being 395,000 words. And that's despite the fact that I've been pruning it back at every opportunity for more than a year. I'd spend weeks trimming superfluous words and phrases, extra lines of dialogue, slightly redundant description until the book was 12,000 words shorter.
Then a month later I'd realize I needed to add a scene to bring better resolution to a plot line. Then I'd add a couple paragraphs to clarify some some character interaction. Then I'd expand an action scene to improve tension. Suddenly the book's 8,000 words longer again.
Sanderson: Yeah, that’s exactly how it goes.
It’s very rare that I’m able to cut entire scenes. If I can cut entire scenes that means there’s something fundamentally not working with the sequence and I usually end up tossing the whole thing and rewriting it. But trimming, or pruning as you described it, works very well with my fiction.
I can usually cut fifteen percent off just by nurturing the text, pruning it, looking for the extraneous words and phrases. But I wonder if in doing that there’s a tendency to compensate. There’s a concept in dieting that if someone starts working out really hard, they start to say, “Well, that means I can now eat more,” and you’ll find people compensating for the extra calorie loss by eating more because they feel they can. I wonder if we do that with our fiction. I mean, I will get done with this big long trim and I’ll say, “Great, now I have the space to do this extra thing that I really think the story needs,” and then the story ends up going back to just as long.
Though at least in my case I can blame my editor too. He’s very good with helping me with line edits, but where we perhaps fuel each other in the wrong way is that he’ll say, “Ooh, it’d be awesome if you add this,” or “This scene needs this,” or “Can you explain this?” And I say, “Yes! I can explain that. I’d love to!” And then of course the book gets longer and then we both have to go to Tom Doherty with our eyes downward saying, “Um, the book is really long again, Tom. Sorry.”
I have a question for you, then. Did you always intend the Kingkiller Chronicle to be three days split across three books? Or did you start writing it as one book and then split it? What’s the real story behind that?
Rothfuss: Assuming I had any sort of plan at the beginning is a big mistake. I just started writing. I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what I was doing.
For years and years I just thought of it as The Book in my head. I've always thought of it as one big story. Then, eventually I realized it would need to be broken up into volumes.
I can't say why I picked three books except that three is a good number. It's sort of the classic number. And while the story is working well in this format, part of me wishes I'd broken it into smaller chunks. This second book has so many plotlines. If I'd written this trilogy as say, 10 books, each one would be much shorter and self contained. More like the Dresden Files.
That's pointless musing though. I'm sure if I'd written smaller volumes right now I'd be thinking, "Oh! if only I'd written these as longer books I could play more with interwoven plot lines…"Read the full interview
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As seamless and lyrical as a song from the lute-playing adventurer and arcanist Kvothe, this mesmerizing sequel to Rothfuss's 2007's debut, The Name of the Wind, is a towering work of fantasy. As Kvothe, now the unassuming keeper of the Waystone Inn, continues to share his astounding life story—a history that includes saving an influential lord from treachery, defeating a band of dangerous bandits, and surviving an encounter with a legendary Fae seductress—he also offers glimpses into his life's true pursuit: figuring out how to vanquish the mythical Chandrian, a group of seven godlike destroyers that brutally murdered his family and left him an orphan. But while Kvothe recalls the events of his past, his future is conspiring just outside the inn's doors. This breathtakingly epic story is heartrending in its intimacy and masterful in its narrative essence, and will leave fans waiting on tenterhooks for the final installment. (Mar.)
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Top Customer Reviews
Assuming you've read The Name of the Wind you should know that The Kingkiller chronicle is not a story like, for instance, A Song Of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones). The latter gains much of its power from rich world-building, a myriad of characters connected by intricate web-like plot-lines, and more than a few story events that are world changing on a grand scale. Rothfuss's story is more self contained, character-driven, and subtle, but if this is the kind of thing you can't get behind you probably didn't make it through The Name of the Wind anyway. Of The Wise Man's Fear more specifically, I've seen a few commenters who felt it was more a continuation of the first book rather than a true second act, that it didn't move the story along enough for their liking, and that too many questions seem unanswered going into the (as of now) unreleased third book. I felt strongly to the contrary of each of these, for the following reasons.
The Wise Man's Fear picks up right where The Name of The Wind left off, in the University, with Kvothe expanding on many of the prior novel's plot-lines. This is satisfying but not until later in the story do you truly appreciate that Rothfuss isn't just tying up loose ends and replacing them with new ones. Rather, he's laying the groundwork for much of what is to come. Indeed, when the story shifts settings about halfway through it feels somewhat abrupt, but later it becomes clear how this transition is part of a larger natural progression of what Kvothe's character needed to grow. Without spoiling too much, let it suffice to say that Kvothe spends time in a few new settings where he picks up different pieces of the man he is to become, specifically pieces he couldn't have gotten at the University. Many times Kvothe doesn't realize the ways each of these new encounters change and shape him until after the fact. As such, The Wise Man's Fear is very much a story of Kvothe growing from a man of raw and untapped potential into one who actually fulfills that potential, often through unsuspected turns. At one point early in The Wise Man's Fear he reflects that, while much of his reputation had previously needed to be fueled by showmanship and artfully crafted deceptions (think of the story that he doesn't bleed, which was really just the result a medicinal trick and a great performance), some of his newer exploits needed less embellishment. This proves prophetic, and by the end of the book he actually has to alter some of the stories he tells in the opposite way because he feels the whole truth of them is actually too fantastic to be believable, or sometimes too dangerous.
Through this all, we learn more about the Chandrian, the Amyr, the Fae, and other core mysteries in the story. No revelations are particularly explicit; most require some inference on the part of the reader. Rothfuss has a great knack for subtle storytelling, and I felt he did this even better in The Wise Man's Fear than the first book, especially in the second half. Much of what the reader learns of these mysteries doesn't actually provide answers to the story's core questions, but rather brings better into focus the questions themselves. This sets things up nicely for a third volume to bring things neatly together. Likewise, in the "present day" a deeper appreciation is gained for the anguished "third silence" of Kote and his current state of being. At the end of The Wise Man's Fear Rothfuss hasn't directly connected many more plot elements than at the end of The Name of The Wind; but rather all such elements are brought into much closer proximity to one another, leaving the reader with a satisfying feeling of a story slowly, subtlety, and steadily coalescing. This, to me, is the mark of any good second act.
I received Wise Man's Fear from Amazon early Tuesday morning and devoured it. I was never bored while reading it - the characters were sharp, Rothfuss is a ridiculously skilled writer, and there's plenty in this book to keep you engrossed and entertained.
So why three stars? Why am I not falling all over myself to praise this one?
Because it's kind of a mess. An engrossing, brilliant, hot and swanky mess, but a mess just the same.
My biggest problem is that, with some minor, token exceptions, I know exactly as much about the Chandrian as I did before I read this book. Same goes for the Amyr and the Valeritas door in the archives. I actually feel like I know less about the framing story with the Scrael and Kvothe's slow-mo death wish. All the new things Rothfuss reveals in Book II are things that are kind of cool and groovy in their own right, but they seem fairly inconsequential to the overall story, and often they feel as if they've been dragged in from the Kvothe band's inferior opening act. It's like I've watched an entire season of a Kvothe TV series that is saving all the good bits for sweeps, which presumably doesn't arrive until Book III.
And, to dangerously and alchemically mix metaphors, Book III is going to have to do a whole lot of heavy lifting to tie up all the loose ends. I would not be surprised if the Kingkiller Chronicles isn't really as trilological as Rothfuss initially intended. (No, trililogical isn't really a word. Shut up.)
And, to move from the trililogical to the puritanical, I found it jarring that Kvothe shifted from Gentlemanly Prude to Sheenlike Horndog in about twenty pages. Lots more sex in this book than the recommended daily allowance. Kvothe also kills a lot of people in very gruesome and bloody ways, and, disconcertingly, he seems to enjoy it altogether more than he ought. He's a very interesting, compelling character, but I don't like him nearly as much as I did before this book started. But what do I know? He's on a drug called Kvothe, and if you took it, your children would weep over your exploded body. (For the record, I don't really like Charlie Sheen that much, either.)
Oh, that leads me to a minor spoiler: Kvothe also, apparently, nibbles on some obscure birth control root on a regular basis to keep his Kvothified spermies in check. This was the only moment in the book that I thought was unqualifiedly ridiculous. Kvothe loses everything he owns multiple times in this book, but somehow, someway, he holds onto his arboreal condoms? Please.
To sum up: Wise Man's Fear is a mixed, messy bag. Still love Rothfuss; still love The Name of the Wind, and will buy and devour the third book on the first day of its release.
I read this book because the first book showed a lot of potential if it could just get on with the actual story. I was disappointed. It doesn't advance the plot at all or even pretend as though a plot exists. Like the first book, the second is technically well written, and shows Rothfuss' excellent talent with using words to describe a world and happenings. Also like the first book, the actual story falls short. I won't bother with the third.