One reason I decided against a rating system of numbers or stars or the like is that how much I like a book can be hard to quantify. Yet, I still will give basic review on Good Reads. This can be hard when I am debating whether something should be two stars versus three, or four versus five.
This book, for the first time, illustrated something that perfectly illustrates what a five star book it. It is a book that, much like this, has flaws. Absolute, legitimate flaws, and yet is so strong in its own right that you are not only able to, but completely overlook them because they don’t detract from the story even as they might normally make me rant and rage and throw another book down and never pick it up again.
And The Wise Man’s Fear does have flaws.
Kvothe skirts the line of being a Marty Stu without crossing it. The author had an annoying habit of hand waving some really-interesting sounding stories because they exist solely to move Kvothe from point A to point B to move the narrative along. That brings me to my other major gripe about this book. The first third was more time spent at the University. It was too much. I don’t think anything from that span at the University truly added much new about Kvothe; I’d rather have seen 100-150 pages cut from there and spent instead on the stories that were only hinted at.
But you know what? That gripe is minor. Get past those 360 pages and the book really opens up and is so good that you forgive the earlier sins. You’ll meet a wide array of interesting characters (including any number of strong women, thank you!!) and see how deep his world building truly does go.
All in all: this was a very worthy successor (if not even slightly better than) The Name of the Wind. If you liked the first, it’s a no brainer. If you haven’t read Name of the Wind, go read it because this is quite literally the 2/3 of a story and won’t make sense without it. I’ve seen it called one of the best epic fantasy series in the last twenty years and I think it’s highly worth it. It’s a wonderful example of the genre that’s engrossing and engaging and yet not so dense that you need a chart to keep track of who is who. All in all, anyone who loves a good story will enjoy this.
Verdict: Buy it.