When people ask why I read fantasy, I never know what to say, and mumble something about ‘escapism’. Which on some level is probably true, but no truer for fantasy than any other kind of book. I don’t really read that much fantasy, either – I love words and expressions, and some fantasy books are peppered with embarrassing dialogue and formulaic plotlines. It often feels as though fantasy books are geared toward people who are explicitly desirous of escapism, and these are the books that I put down in disgust or eventually, resignation. The Wise Man’s Fear, however, is great.
I have a tendency to forget the content of books and movies after having read or seen them, but retain the impression they made years afterwards. I loved In the Name of the Wind. I bought it on a whim and devoured it, having read the blurb numerous times and put it back with no real thought. I was a bit sad, but mostly angry when it finished, gagging for the as yet unwritten follow up.
I don’t even remember what really happened in In the Name of the Wind, not in any great detail. I was going to re-read it before starting The Wise Man’s Fear but was given it as an end of exams present and was so involved so quickly that there was no chance of stopping to go back. It’s so good that I actually bought a kindle primarily to enable me to read it on the tram. It’s not a book for the small handed or weak wristed (which I shouldn’t be after years of epic tomes). Alas.
Kvothe is a wiser, more likeable character in this book. He is less clumsy and irritating than I remember him as being. Characters I had forgotten like Aurie, who in my head is a gorgeous little Luna from Harry Potter-like thing, and Devi, who is Helena Bonham Carter.. they’re great. I have such a wonderful visual map in my head of the University, of the towns, the bridges, the houses and inns. Kvothe’s room, the Fishery, the gardens of the Maer’s estate. It’s swirling around my head and I’m devastated that it’s over again, until the final book is written.
I read a few reviews this morning, mainly negative ones, which seem focused on various traits and annoyances that I didn’t even pick up on or take note of. I found the romp with Felurian a bit long, but I can’t conceive of books like this as being about getting a story out in so many pages. The joy is in the reading, and it’s not a race to the end. The only bits I raced through were the dalliances with Denna, because she’s so fickle and likeable and god, I wanted Kvothe to find her so much more than he himself did.
Kvothe being too young to be the lover that he is. I don’t know whether some people labour this point too much, or I failed to grasp its significance, but Kvothe’s age seems as irrelevant as his sexual prowess. And that didn’t strike me as particularly apparent from the book anyway. It seemed to me that his enigma, reputation and flightiness were of mort import than his skills in the sack.
Parts of this book are so inventive, I actually slumped back against the side of the tram or dropped the book on to the bed while digesting them, thinking how the hell did you THINK of that. Contraptions, twists and turns, little connections between parts of the story that could so easily be glossed over. I’m sure there are many that I missed.
Mostly, I loved this book because I was constantly caught in a need to know what’s going to happen and how things are going to work themselves out. Maybe it’s my stunted imagination and tendency to forget things so quickly and easily, but I was surprised a lot, and kept on my toes. It’s a delicious book, really. I can’t wait to forget it and read it again, for almost the first time!