Monday, 25 May 2015

'The Wise Man's Fear' by Patrick Rothfuss (2011)

Synopsis: The Wise Man's Fear is the second book of The Kingkiller Chronicle. It's the second day of the Chronicler's stay at the Waystone Inn and Kvothe soon begins to resume his narrative. In the narrative, the younger Kvothe resumes his studies at the University but his feud with Ambrose Jakis continues to escalate, to the point where it's suggested that he should take a sabbatical from the university. Kvothe is then persuaded to travel to the land of Vintas where a powerful nobleman called Maer Alveron is in need of a talented musician. During his stay at court Kvothe manages to find the Maer a wife and ends up foiling an assassination plot. Kvothe is then asked to deal with bandits who are attacking tax collectors on the King's Road. He spends time with a group of mercenaries in the wild and begins to learn swordfighting and martial arts from a mercenary called Tempi. Kvothe then ends up straying into the Fae realm and meets the beautiful Felurian, a fairy woman whom no mortal man has been able to resist or survive. When Kvothe eventually persuades Felurian to release him from her realm, he reunites with Tempi and accompanies him to his home-land in the Stormwal mountains in the hope of learning more about the Chandrian. Meanwhile in the present day Bast and the Chronicler attempt to return Kvothe to his former self.

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

I hadn't planned to read The Wise Man's Fear so soon after finishing The Name of the Wind but I just couldn't help myself! When I usually read a series I try to spread the books out a little bit so I can prolong the experience but when I tried to read a different book after The Name of the Wind I just couldn't get into it because all I could think about were the characters from that book. I believe this is what they call a book hangover :D

I have to say that I didn't love The Wise Man's Fear as as much as I loved The Name of the Wind. I liked Kvothe's love-interest Denna a little bit more in this book but I'm still not really a fan of her character and I have a very hard time understanding how Kvothe can be so obsessed with her when there are other much more likeable and interesting females in this series like Fela, Devi and Auri. But the main reason for my not liking this book as much as The Name of the Wind is because Kvothe's time with the Dothraki ninjas Adem bored me to tears. The section is necessary to the overall plot but it takes up far too much page-time with most of Kvothe's training scenes being extremely repetitive and draggy. And yet there are other sections in this book that sound absolutely fascinating and are completely glossed over! For example: Kvothe's court-room trial in Imre and his voyage to Vintas. I would have loved to have read about Kvothe fighting pirates and having to deal with a mutiny and a terrible shipwreck!

The good things about this book far outweigh the bad though and overall I still really enjoyed The Wise Man's Fear. Patrick Rothfuss's writing continues to be beautiful and poetic and the majority of Kvothe's adventures were huge fun to read about. I absolutely loved the parts at the University, Kvothe's time with Maer Alveron, and Kvothe's scenes with the mercenaries in the Eld. I wasn't expecting to enjoy Kvothe's time with Felurian because of some of the reviews that I'd read but to my surprise I really liked that section of the book as well. Kvothe's scene with the Cthaeh is awesome and I loved how creepy and mysterious the Fae realm was. I thought it was clever of Rothfuss to have Felurian speak in verse and I very much appreciated that the scenes between Kvothe and Felurian were tastefully-written and not graphic. The characters are developed even further in this book as well. I love so many of the characters in this series but my favourite character in this series (besides Kvothe) is definitely Elodin. He gets so many great moments in The Wise Man's Fear. He's a brilliant character who deserves his very own book.

I can't WAIT to read The Doors of Stone! 

Rating: overall a very strong 4/5

Sunday, 3 May 2015

'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)

Synopsis: The Name of the Wind is the first novel in a high fantasy/coming-of-age trilogy called The Kingkiller Chronicle. The series is set in a world called The Four Corners of Civilisation. Kote is an innkeeper who is living in a rural town called Newarre. He's probably in his late twenties. Kote runs his inn with the assistance of his friend and apprentice Bast. One night Kote saves the life of a travelling scribe from vicious giant spiders called the Scrael. Kote then discovers that the scribe is a man called The Chronicler who has been searching for Kote for some time. The scribe knows his true identity: that Kote is in fact a fugitive called Kvothe (pronounced almost like "Quothe"). Kvothe is a legendary swordfighter, singer, musician and wizard. He's a hero to some and a villain to others. The Chronicler is eager to record his life-story and to find out the truth behind all of the various rumours. Kvothe eventually agrees to this but insists that it would take him a full three days to recount his entire life. In The Name of the Wind, Kvothe recounts his childhood and his first year at university. He describes how he was born into a family of gypsy-like court performers who were then brutally murdered by mysterious beings called the Chandrian (believed by most to be mythological). The younger Kvothe then spends several years living on the streets of a crime-ridden city called Tarbean before making a brazen yet successful attempt to enter into a prestigious university of magic.

'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me'

Well, I guess I should start this review off by saying that The Name of the Wind's story is amazing. Amazing! The book is full of adventure and its story is one of the most fascinating and suspenseful that I've come across in a very long time and yet its story reminded me of many of my other favourite stories. It reminded me of David Copperfield, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, Doctor WhoWicked the Musical, Disney's Aladdin, Arthurian mythology and the film The Fall. This book completely captivated me and there was so much that I loved about it! For one thing Patrick Rothfuss's writing is just brilliant. The writing is beautiful, lyrical, vivid, atmospheric, foreboding, funny and full of passion. Another thing that I loved about this book was that it's very much like The Lord of the Rings in that there's a real love of music and quite a few songs in the story. Kvothe adores music and two of the most suspenseful and emotional parts in the entire book are scenes where he simply sings and plays his lute. I guess that might not sound like very much but I found those scenes extremely moving. The world-building in this book is also very rich and detailed (covering languages, currencies, history, religion, folklore, geography, politics and creatures) and its system of magic is extremely unique and interesting. The magic in this book involves thermodynamics and energy manipulation: it's actually much closer to science than what we tend to think of as magic.

Kvothe is also an immensely engaging character. He's brave, sensitive, determined, romantic, inquisitive, witty, self-confident and incredibly talented and intelligent. He has some major character flaws though and is very far from perfect. He has a temper. He's arrogant. He can be reckless at times and surprisingly dense. There are even a few occasions where he's a little bit sinister! But despite those flaws Kvothe has so many positive qualities and I found him hugely loveable. Because of the book's framing device it was fascinating to compare the younger and older versions of his character as well. The younger Kvothe goes through some dreadful things in this story but he still has a huge amount of energy, wit and spirit whereas the Kvothe (or Kote) of the Waystone Inn is world-weary, brooding and lonely. The secondary characters in this book aren't as well-developed as Kvothe but then it is very much Kvothe's story and there are still some very memorable and fascinating characters: Bast, Elodin, Auri, Devi, Abenthy, Ambrose, etc.

Kvothe. A gorgeous piece of fan-art taken from here

If you're a fantasy fan and are a mature reader (as there is a bit of adult content in this book) then I'd completely recommend this one. If my recommendation alone isn't enough to convince you some famous fans of this book are Neil Gaiman, Felicia Day, Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card. I can't say that I thought The Name of the Wind was 100% perfect though as I found Kvothe's love-interest Denna bland and the ending to the younger Kvothe's story a bit weak. But these minor things aside I adored this book and I'm loving what I've read of its sequel The Wise Man's Fear. The final book in The Kingkiller Chronicle is called The Doors of Stone and I think it should be coming out sometime this year...? I hope! A TV adaptation of these books is being developed as well and the show is already being tipped to be the next Game of Thrones. Speaking of Game of Thrones... I think I actually prefer The Kingkiller Chronicle to that show and the A Song of Ice and Fire books. The ASoIaF and Game of Thrones have a wider scope and are more innovative but I much prefer the prose and the pacing of the Kingkiller Chronicle books. Also, these books are just way more fun!

Anyway, I'm going to wrap up this post up now because I want to get back to reading The Wise Man's Fear :)

Rating: 5/5