Monday, Feb 28, 2011

Title: 2632

February 2011


Title: 2632

February 28, 2011
12:01 AM

Finally, as of Friday (Night? Morning? it was 5:30 A.M., so I guess we’ll go with Saturday Morning…) I have finished The Wise Man’s Fear. This was no small feat, because at nearly 1000 pages of moderately small type, it took quite a while to read. I probably put around 20 or more hours of reading in to finish this bad boy. Every chance I got, I was reading, and those chances are fewer and farther between nowadays than they used to be, let me tell you.

Before I go on, let me take you back to 2007, when I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of a book called The Name of the Wind by some guy nobody had heard of, and had no idea at the time that it would turn out to be the greatest freaking book I’d EVER READ, and that that guy wound up hitting #11 on the New York Times’ Bestseller list. Deservedly so, mind you. The Name of the Wind was, all hyperbole aside, a freaking masterpiece. It’s a story within a story, dictated by a man who was a legend in his own time, all the while cutting back to him in the present, living as a lowly innkeeper. Kvothe tells how the rumors and legends got started, and divulges what’s true, and what may have aged a bit with the telling.

What makes it so fascinating, however, is that this isn’t some Terry Goodkind schlock, where the hero bumbles through the story not really understanding his own power, but somehow rising to glory despite himself – everything Kvothe is, he made for himself, and nothing ever seems contrived or out of place. You see, in a completely believable and understandable way, how this boy pulls himself out of the worst conditions imaginable and goes on to make a name for himself at the University before most students are even allowed in. This is NOT, I must stress, a “Fantasy Novel”. This is a character story, first and foremost, and the “fantasy” element simply serves as the canvas on which it is painted. Think of it kind of like Firefly – it’s a character-oriented story that just HAPPENS to be set in outer space.

Anyway, now that that’s established, fast-forward 4 years to today, when The Wise Man’s Fear shows up at my doorstep. I’ve been waiting for this book for a Very Long Time, and part of me was concerned that it might not live up to the standard set by The Name of the Wind, or that it might be “The Two Towers” in the Kingkiller trilogy. (You know… long and boring, but a passable bridge between the first and last books.)

I am quite pleased to say my fears were unfounded. WILDLY unfounded. This is really, if anything, “The Godfather Part II” to The Name of the Wind’s “The Godfather”. It’s hard to compare the two, because it’s one cohesive story, but The Wise Man’s Fear is perhaps better to read simply because we’ve already got the ball rolling with Kvothe’s life story. We’re now in the middle of it, and over the course of the book, you see him grow from an inexperienced (if confident) adolescent into a man, wiser in the ways of the world and with more than a few scars to show for it. Pat’s writing is so genuine that you never find yourself rolling your eyes or thinking something is forced. There’s a scene in this book that is probably the most subtle but realistic description of love between two people that I’ve ever read. And there are things – minor things, not like the death of his family or anything like that – that just break my damn heart to read them. I thought I was excited for this book to come out. It’s nothing compared to how BADLY I want to read the conclusion now that I’ve reached the end of this one.

In any case, I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it until everyone I know has read it – read The Name of the Wind if you haven’t, and if you have, buy The Wise Man’s Fear RIGHT THE HELL NOW.