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The Wise Man's Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2    by Patrick Rothfuss order for
Wise Man's Fear
by Patrick Rothfuss
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Wise Man's Fear follows The Name of the Wind as the second tome in Patrick Rothfuss's extraordinary Kingkiller Chronicles. And as in the first volume, the number of pages (994 this time!) is a joy, not a burden.

The legendary (though still young) flame-haired Kvothe has been living for the past year as humble innkeeper Kote of the quiet Waystone Inn in a land at war. He's waiting to die, accompanied by loyal, otherworldly Bast, who avoids iron. In the first book (Day 1), Kvothe disposed of monsters approaching the inn and brought back with him the journeying Chronicler. The latter had been seeking Kvothe, in order to write his biography. Kvothe agreed to tell all in three days. The Name of the Wind covered the first day's storytelling.

Kvothe was a beloved child of the reviled Edema Ruh until the legendary Chandrian slaughtered his entire extended family. He was only twelve. Over time, he made his way to the University where he won a young acceptance, and made good friends (Sim, Wil and fey Auri) as well as a powerful, lifelong, enemy in Ambrose. He studied science and magic, rekindled his joy in music and fell hard for the elusive, lovely Denna. At the end, he rushed to the scene of a new Chandrian attack and there spoke, for the first time, the Name of the Wind.

The first third of Day 2 is familiar as Kvothe continues his studies at the University (which is beginning to feel like home), his enmity with Ambrose (who mounts magical and legal attacks on him), and his pursuit of Denna, to whom he says 'You are sweet wine in the mouth, a song in my throat, and laughter in my heart.' Master Elodin accepts him as a student, though his teaching methods are unfathomable. And Kvothe keeps up his search for knowledge of the Chandrian. Along the way, he learns of the Amyr whom the Chandrian feared and who might still secretly exist.

When one of Ambrose's plots forces Kvothe to leave the university, he seeks a powerful patron. Maer Alveron is looking for 'a young man who is good with words.' In Vintas, Kvothe saves the Maer's life, helps him woo a noblewoman who hates the Edema Ruh, rages at Denna, and leads mercenaries against highwaymen in the wilderness Eld. He spends time with Felurian in the Fae and meets the Cthaeth, who tells terrible truths. Kvothe does not die in Felurian's embrace (as all have done before him) but rather wins a shaed (a cloak of shadows). She warns him that 'a wise man views a moonless night with fear.'

After his time in the Fae, Kvothe accompanies mercenary Tempi - who has taught him some of his people's sign language, martial arts, and a little of their spiritual way, the Lethani - to Haert. There he is accepted as a student (previously unknown for a barbarian), makes friends and enemies, and wins a sword with a very long history. During his testing, he again invokes the name of the wind. And he learns more of the Chandrian. As he later tells Chonicler, 'Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass.'

But when Kvothe finally returns to Vintas, things go awry between him and the Maer who, despite all Kvothe has done for him, sends him away with a scant reward (payment of his university tuition). Kvothe's growing reputation precedes him. Back in Imre, he makes his peace with Denna. This second episode ends well for Kvothe with 'Money in my pocket for the first time in my life. Surrounded by friends.' But we know that dire times are ahead, as Kote moves through his inn in the third silence - 'the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.'

Patrick Rothfuss has subtly developed his story in The Wise Man's Fear, his hero training in magic and martial arts, while earning wisdom, knowledge of his Chandrian enemy, an ancient sword and a fae shadow cloak. What will he do with all this? We'll have to wait to find out and, even if the interval is as long as between Day 1 and Day 2, Day 3 will be well worth any wait. The Kingkiller Chronicles are rich and rare.

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