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The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2) Hardcover – March 1, 2011
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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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If you liked The Name of the Wind, I think that you will like this book. The stories are interesting and compelling. I found it a "page turner". At times I feel that Kvothe acts in egregiously stupid ways, but some of this is male ego. I have to confess that at times I find myself acting in egregiously stupid ways as well since I also suffer from testosterone poisoning. Even when Kvothe acts in ill considered ways, it's still an interesting story.
As any reader of The Name of the Wind (or anyone reading this early pages of this book) will know, the story is told by the central character, Kvothe, at a later point in his life, when the adventures he recounts are behind him. At that point we might assume that Kvothe is in his thirties. At the end of The Wise Man's Fear he is not yet out of his late teens. Many of the adventures that are hinted at are still in his future and await a sequel.
I am writing this review in 2017. The Wise Man's Fear was published in 2011, six years ago. Looking at Patrick Rothfuss' blog, there doesn't appear to be much progress toward a sequel.
The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear have many interesting adventures, but they don't move the story forward in any direct way. At the current pace of the story several sequels would be necessary to finish the story and these sequels don't seem to be forthcoming. Which is disappointing for the many people who have enjoyed these books. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss is not your bitch. He doesn't owe his readers additional books. So enjoy what you have and don't expect anything else, because at this point it doesn't appear that there will be any sequels.
The Wise Man's Fear ought to have been divided into two or three books. The first part echoes The Name of the Wind with Kvothe (no possible pronunciation) galavanting around the University and displaying alternately ingenious ability and juvenile stupidity. Then, without any of the tentative story lines being resolved, he is sent to another part of the world where he engages in a new adventure of multiple parts. In the middle of the second part of this adventure, he disappears for hundreds of pages to cavort with a faerie. (I kid you not.)
That was enough for me. Please don't read this book. Rothfuss, DAW Press, and his editor need to understand that although they can bribe Brandon Sanderson and George R.R. Martin to write fancy blurbs for Rothfuss that doesn't mean readers are going to put up with Kvothe's aimless cavorting.
This book fails in several ways. Rarely did I feel that Kvothe ever made choice or acted, so much as he was carried along on his journey by the formulaic requirements of the plot. He goes among the Fae to become the world's greatest lover. He then goes to Ademre and learns kung fu. Then he returns to Severen, his first stop on his journey, and becomes financially secure. This takes a little over 1000 pages. By the end of it we know very little more about the Chandrian, the Amyr, and Denna; and maybe care a little less. The pace lags throughout, and Kvothe -- having achieved this ideal of adolescent perfection -- ends up becoming a lot less interesting by the end of the book. Admittedly he's an unreliable narrator, and not supposed to be entirely likeable, but he's a lot more boring than he should be.
When The Name of the Wind came out, I remember reading somewhere that Patrick Rothfuss had the entire Kingkiller Chronicle written. Clearly this was not the case. In any long series or novel, too often we see an author start with a fantastic premise, but they just can't finish. This is what I'm seeing here. This isn't to say Rothfuss can't bring it all together in the final book, but he lost a lot of momentum with this one. The Name of the Wind was something fresh. The Wise Man's Fear was not.
As stated earlier, there was a four year gap between Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear. It's now over six years and counting for the third book, Doors of Stone. As far as I'm concerned, he can take all the time he needs, and likewise I'm in no rush to buy it. Better books in this genre have come out since. Try Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series, or Naomi Novik's Uprooted.