I've thought a lot about this book over the month I spent reading it. I should first say that I can normally read a book about half this length in a week (around working, family time, etc.) So for me to spend a month on one book is very rare. To be thinking quite often that I wanted to get back to it, and to be wondering what the next chapter held was a little bit like torture. When I get into a book, I don't like stopping, especially not for a long period of time. I start to care about the characters, and I want to know what adventures they are having...and I want to know now! But I will say, I am glad I savored this one because it is very likely to be a few years before Rothfuss is able to publish the third and final installment.
I liked a great deal about The Wise Man's Fear. I loved that for all this is at time a very dark and foreboding book - the bookended prologue and epilogue of both books sets the stage, as well as do events over the course of the books - that does not promise a happy or even a safe ending for our hero, I spent more time laughing out loud with this book than I have with any other one in the past. Maybe it's because I've spent the last year reading the author's blog, but I felt like I could see his thinking in the turn of some of the words, and jokes, and humorous moments. And the one-liners and hilarious situations, when they came, were a wonderful respite from the overall seriousness of the book.
Kvothe makes some mistakes here, on his various quests, always moving toward his purpose: locating the Chandrian and bringing about a reckoning for what they did to his family years past. And he grows as a person in some surprising and touching ways, showing reluctant vulnerability along the way, while still maintaining all the quirks that make him that character you love, and at times, love to hate. He's still a smartass, still more of a gentleman than he seems, and still one of my favorite male characters out of all the books I have read.
Some fascinating new characters join the cast, and we see old favorites Auri, Simmon, Bast, and Elodin among others, in a new light, as their personalities are further developed. One of the things I really admire about Patrick Rothfuss is his ability to create memorable characters, people you instantly love or hate, care about or wish away - but you can't forget them, or dismiss them. Not all authors have that.
At times the pacing did feel off - there were parts I felt lingered on too long, and areas I would have liked to have seen fleshed out that were over too quickly. Rothfuss has set himself up rather nicely for the third book; yet, I am a little scared to see the length of that novel. We know so much now about Kvothe's early years and the origins of some of the legends that surround the arcanist, but there is still a lot of ground to cover: the Chandrian, the rest of Kvothe's tenure at the Univeristy, etc. Still, if anyone can do it...
I don't have a lot of complaints about this book, but I will say it was a little scattered at times, almost like Rothfuss had too many irons in the fire, and that overall, it felt a little less cohesive than its predecessor. It is the transitional novel, so it would seem, but I have faith in the author. And this book touched me on a great many levels. Kvothe is a very believable character, who, when he shares his pain, will cut you to the quick. I laughed at him, and worried for him, both as his story unfolds, and in the present, as we see Kvothe the adult defeated, with little knowledge of how and why he has fallen so far. I cried several times, for him and for other characters (the always skittish and intriguing Denna being one of them), and once again, I am waiting anxiously for the next volume!