Fantasy-themed novels tend to get lumped into a single category, but most people don’t realize that the differences between them can be vast. The “fantasy” label doesn’t even say much about a book aside from that fact that it isn’t based on reality. Even so, critics of the genre like to say that all fantasy books are the same. “Once you’ve read one, you’ve read them all,” they say. Well, that’s simply not the case with The Wise Man’s Fear.
Plot and Initial Impressions
This continuation of The Name of the Wind is the second chapter in the epic KingKiller Chronicles trilogy about the adventures of a man named Kvothe. Now living the simple life as the caretaker of an inn, Kvothe continues to reveal his mysterious past to a well-renowned writer who goes by the name of Chronicler. The Wise Man’s Fear covers everything that our protagonist experienced in his second-day account of the past that few know about. Kvothe delves deeper into his University years and talks about all of the traveling that he did during that time, all of the breathtaking sights that he saw, all of the new and fascinating people that he met, all of the exciting activities that he partook in, and all of the dangers that he encountered along the way.
The Wise Man’s Fear opens up with a scene involving our protagonist and his student, Bast, who are both trying to understand the events of the previous night. Whatever happened left a dead human and unknown creature’s body on the floor of their inn. Before we find out anymore, Chronicler jumps in and asks Kvothe to continue with his story.
As you might already know from reading the first title in the series, Kvothe is still on a treacherous quest to avenge the death of his parents at the hand of the demonic Chandrian. He is also chasing an enchanting young woman named Denna against the advice of his friends. After discovering that Denna is in great danger, Kvothe halts his arcane studies and makes a promise to save her. From here, our hero takes on one of the biggest challenges of his life.
While searching for Denna, he travels to the city of Severen and agrees to complete a series of tasks given to him by its governor, Maer Alveron. Kvothe finds himself taking on vicious bandits alongside mercenary allies in the Eld Forest, being captivated by the beautiful faerie queen Felurian and following her to the faerie world, meeting with a sinister being called the Cthaeh that can see the future, getting to know the mercenary Tempi from the Ademre warrior tribe and improving his own fighting skills, crossing paths with deceitful thieves and more.
Sadly, that’s about all I can reveal without revealing too much. Even if I was to say more, listening to the audiobook is the only way to experience The Wise Man’s Fear in its full glory. You won’t even come close to getting the entire effect of this amazing tale and audiobook unless it’s with your ears.
In the end, The Wise Man’s Fear still shines far more brightly than just about every other fantasy novel that I’ve read to this date. This second part of the series is a pretty clear indication that The Name of the Wind was not a one-hit wonder. If anything, the series had evolved to become even more interesting and exhilarating than it already was.
While it’s obvious that this book is about the experiences of a special young man, it also gives readers–or listeners, I should say–a good glimpse into his soul. When Kvothe expresses feelings of joy, anger, sadness, hopelessness, doubt, fright and more, we can truly feel what the protagonist feels. The storytelling is done in such detail and artistic form that it evokes the same emotions in us readers. I can recount many instances where I had tears welling up in my eyes, where I was so angry for Kvothe that I had balled up my fists like I could do something to help out, and where my heart was beating like a drum because the suspense of a particular moment was just so great. These experiences are all signs of an extraordinary novel, brought to life by the extraordinary genius of Patrick Rothfuss’ mind and the oral talent of Podehl.
A huge contributor to the creation of these mindblowing experiences was the pinpoint-precise timing of the author. Just when you think that things are dragging out and boredom is about to set in, something completely unexpected throws you right off. These surprises are pleasant and refreshing, and they will keep you entertained until the very end.
It’s safe to say that the experience would not have been the same without Podehl’s incredible voice acting. Since this second chapter contains tons of fancy narration including songs and fairy tales that require precise rhythm and poise, it was an absolute necessity to have the right narrator for the full effect. Undoubtedly, Podehl did the story justice. Unlike The Name of the Wind, which had a lot of slow and steady narration, the continuation required a lot more energy, enthusiasm, and skill from Podehl. His depictions of all the various characters from Kvothe to the nobles, the masters, and all the others are believable and very well done, and Podehl deserves every last drop of credit for his amazing performance because he definitely brings Rothfuss’ imaginary world to life.
The Wise Man’s Fear audiobook is a fantasy novel that will surely entertain individuals with all kinds of reading preferences. This connection to the listener is achieved through pure and unadulterated emotion. The range in emotions expressed guarantee that there isn’t some moment in the story that won’t strike a chord with a certain reader. Even though the book is categorized as a fantasy novel, the only thing fantastical about it is that it’s a fictitious tale. The experiences and emotions are all too human. If you are looking for a book that will move you to the core, The Wise Man’s Fear is the perfect candidate for the job. You will never forget Kvothe after you’ve entered his magical realm.
* Please note: this review references the original narration by Nick Podehl. The Wise Man’s Fear audiobook has recently been updated with new narration by Rupert Degas.