- "THE WISE MAN'S FEAR is a beautiful book to read. Masterful prose, a sense of cohesion to the storytelling, a wonderful sense of pacing…. There is a beauty to Pat’s writing that defies description."
- ―Brandon Sanderson
The Wise Man's Fear is the second of three novels in The Kingkiller Chronicle series by American author Patrick Rothfuss. The book was first published on March 1, 2011 by DAW Books in the United States.
In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of his family, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.
Now, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.
The book begins with the dawn of a new day in Kote's inn. After breakfast, Kvothe continues his story beginning with the admissions for the next university term. On the day of his interview, Ambrose slips him a Plum bob, an alchemical potion which removes the ingester's moral inhibitions. As a result, he has to take his interviews later. To pay for his tuition, Kvothe borrows money from the moneylender Devi. Master Elodin allows Kvothe to join his new class on naming and subsequently convinces Master Lorren to allow Kvothe back into the Archives.
Denna reveals that Ambrose has a ring that belongs to her. Kvothe plans to please Denna by breaking into Ambrose's room and stealing the ring back. However, Ambrose returns early, forcing Kvothe to leave by rushing out the window before he is able to steal the ring. Kvothe begins to experience odd problems with his body and concludes that he is the target of malfeasance, a magical attack from another (Sympathy, Naming, or otherwise). Though he first blames Ambrose, his friends convince him that it is more likely to be Devi, who extracted his blood as security against the loan. He confronts Devi, but loses the subsequent battle of sympathies and cultivates the hatred and mistrust of Devi, who eventually is revealed to be innocent.
He then concludes that Ambrose has his blood and attempts to make a defensive device against sympathy called a gram, but cannot without the necessary schema. After extensive foraging, Kvothe, Fela, Wil and Sim find a schema in the archives and Kvothe completes the gram under the guise of a special artifice project for Kilvin (since it is only allowed to the El'the). Kvothe and his group with the addition of Mola and Devi (who are revealed to be good friends, along with Fela) hatch and execute a comical revenge plan together, all having in common an enmity against Ambrose. He also destroys his blood sample by setting fire to Ambrose's rooms with the help of his friends.
Kvothe is then arrested for a previous incident in The Name of the Wind where he inadvertently attacked Ambrose by calling the name of the wind and breaking his arm. Though he is later cleared of all charges, it is suggested to him by Elxa Dal, among others, that he should leave the University for a few months, time long enough for the incident to blow over and gain practical knowledge. Count Threpe persuades him to go to Severen, where the powerful Vintish noble Maer Alveron, virtually the ruler of Severen, with powers tantamount to a king, has need of a talented musician.
In Severen, the Maer reveals that he needs Kvothe's help to woo the Lady Meluan Lackless. Kvothe finds out that the Maer is being poisoned by his resident arcanist, Caudicus. While researching Meluan, he learns that she hates the Ruh because her sister ran off with one. Kvothe also finds Denna during one of his excursions to Severen-Low. He uses his feelings for her to write letters, songs and poems he then dedicates to Meluan. The wooing proves successful and Kvothe rises higher in the Maer's favor. The Maer persuades Kvothe to lead a party of four mercenaries, to get rid of bandits who were waylaying the Maer's tax collectors.
Kvothe's mercenary companions are the hulking and obnoxious Dedan, who makes abundant trouble for Kvothe, the hard and reserved Hespe, and the experienced and accommodating Marten and Tempi. Tempi is an Adem—famous warriors of unequaled skill. Kvothe persuades him to teach him Ketan and the Lethani, the philosophy all Adem follow. The group eventually finds the bandits and, although heavily outnumbered, manages to kill them due to Kvothe´s clever use of sympathy. Their leader, who seems familiar to Kvothe and is indifferent to arrow wounds, escapes. While returning, they encounter Felurian, one of the mythical Fae women known for seducing men and keeping them until they die. Kvothe chases after her out of youthful recklessness while his companions do not follow but struggle to resist the allure of Felurian.
Kvothe is initially seduced by Felurian, but regains control of his mind and is able to resist her to an admirable extent. Kvothe's struggle to remain sane escalates to a state close to broken, but he miraculously collects himself and calls her true name (although he believes himself to be calling the name of the wind at the time) and is able to temporarily throw off her magic. He is able to kill her during that time but chooses not to. He composes half a song about her, and convinces Felurian to release him, so that he will be able to spread the song he has written about her among humans. Felurian agrees to let him go, provided he promises to come back. She weaves him a cloak of shadow, called a shaed, to keep him safe. While staying with Felurian, Kvothe meets the Cthaeh, a malevolent, omniscient oracle whose influence is known by the Fae to bring about disaster. Kvothe eventually leaves Felurian and catches up to the rest of his group. Although to his friends and other humans he has only been gone three days, it is hinted that he was gone much longer.
On the road back to Severen, Kvothe and Tempi encounter a group of Adem mercenaries, who become angry with Tempi for teaching Kvothe the Ketan and the Lethani. Kvothe agrees to travel back with him to help defend Tempi's choice to his superior, Shehyn. When Kvothe arrives in Ademre, Shehyn agrees to apprentice Kvothe after testing him and appoints the teacher Vashet to teach Kvothe. Kvothe is definitively an outcast in Ademre and is shunned by most as he lives among them, especially by the spiteful Carceret. Kvothe's training proved very quick and eventful, with Vashet close several times to rendering him unteachable and therefore executable. Kvothe still makes good friends of several Adem, particularly the energetic and hospitable Penthe (who is able to best Shehyn in a spar) and Kvothe's sparring partner Celean who is ten years old and regularly beats Kvothe in duels. Kvothe finally passes two tests, calling the name of the wind to pass one of them, and proves himself a member of the Adem. He earns himself a new name, Maedre (meaning either The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree), and a two-thousand year old sword called Saicere (meaning 'the broken breath'), although Kvothe renames it Caesura (meaning a pause or break in a song or a line of a poem). He then leaves for Severen.
On his way to Severen, he runs into a traveling troupe, claiming to be Edema Ruh, but their odd behavior makes him suspicious. After finding out that they have kidnapped and raped two girls from a nearby town, Kvothe poisons their food and slaughters the sick troupers gruesomely during the night, branding them denounced/exiled Ruh before he burns the bodies. Kvothe leaves their leader mortally wounded but alive and interrogates him. He discovers that the Ruh impersonators were masquerading as a troupe for cover. Kvothe leads the two traumatized girls back to their town, where he is heralded, and then resumes his journey to Severen. Kvothe is visibly disturbed by event, especially revisited by the way he killed the troupers, and he hurries his journey to reach the Maer before rumor of his crime spreads.
In Severen, he shares his theory about the Amyr with the Maer, who has come to the same conclusion: that the Amyr still exist, but are in hiding, and to protect themselves are expunging any information about themselves in any records they can find. The Maer and Meluan (who have been married in the meantime) show Kvothe the Lackless heirloom which is shut in a chest. Kvothe attempts to tell the Maer about his run-in with the Ruh impersonators in private, but Meluan sits in on the meeting and makes clear her deep hatred and disgust of the Ruh due to her sister, Natalia, eloping with one. Enraged, Kvothe reveals that he is also of the Ruh and consequently insults her by insinuating that a Ruh trouper had seduced her as well. Kvothe is dismissed by the Maer and told via letter to leave Severen. However, for the services Kvothe has rendered, the Maer pardons Kvothe for any wrongdoing in the slaughter of the Edema Ruh impersonators, grants him a writ (not a full writ of patronage) allowing him to perform anywhere in Vintas under the Maer's name, and agrees to pay Kvothe's tuition at the University indefinitely. Kvothe also receives a wooden ring sent from Meluan, considered a extreme insult.
Kvothe returns to the University, where he learns that he was presumed dead. He makes a deal with the University bursar (treasurer) to drive up his own tuitions in return for half the tuition above ten talents. He also starts earning royalties for sales of his Arrow Catch, which was renamed Bloodless by Master Elodin and became extremely popular in his absence. As a result, he achieves financial stability. He reduces his work at the Fishery, and uses the time to further his naming studies. Stories about his time with Felurian, the Adem and Trebon have become famous even in Imre and the University.
During a trip to Tarbean, he encounters Denna by coincidence and saves her from an inability to breathe by calling the name of the wind, similar to what Abenthy did for Kvothe in The Name of the Wind. They return to Imre together and reconnect to some degree, but suffer some grim silences as they ponder their past tensions and how to proceed with their relationship. Only when he presents her with her lost ring do they return to high spirits. The two part on uncertain terms as she heads north while Kvothe remains at the University.
During the present day, people stop by occasionally to make use of Chronicler's writing abilities. During one of these interludes, Chronicler gets one of the locals to tell a story about Kvothe to try to influence him to share the story of his arrest and subsequent trial, arguing that this is the first and most notorious story ever spread of Kvothe in which he learned Tema in a single day, but Kvothe makes up a story about Chronicler with Bast's help and Chronicler gives in. During another interlude, when Bast goes off to Shep's wake, two soldiers enter the inn to rob it. Kvothe steps forward to fight them but is badly beaten. When Bast returns, he helps to heal him.
During the night, Chronicler sneaks into Bast's room and speaks to him about the Cthaeh, convincing him that he can still live and act in defiance of the predictions. In the end, Bast leaves the inn and confronts the two soldiers at their campfire, having staged the entire thing in an attempt to wake Kvothe from his fighting stupor and it having failed spectacularly. Appearing hostile, he speaks an incantation of unknown effect to them.
In the epilogue, Kvothe attempts to open his Thrice-locked Chest but is unable to remove the lid. Frustrated, he begins to practice the Ketan alone.
Background and publication
In May 2009, Rothfuss revealed on his blog that he had submitted the first draft of the manuscript of The Wise Man's Fear to his editor. A year later, Rothfuss confirmed the book's release date as March 1, 2011, nearly three years after its originally-anticipated 2008 release. He said that he anticipated several sets of revisions before completion in September, at which point the publication process would delay the release for several months, as is the norm in any publication but especially since the book is "two to three times longer than most books."
Faren Miller of Locus Magazine praised Rothfuss for his "undiminished ability to transmute what looks like just another ‘doorstop fantasy’ into a narrative far more fluid and unexpected than the norm" and stated that "The Wise Man’s Fear fairly leaps off the page, whatever the setting and circumstances." Publisher's Weekly was glowing about the book, claiming that "As seamless and lyrical as a song from the lute-playing adventurer and arcanist Kvothe, this mesmerizing sequel to Rothfuss's 2007's debut, The Name of the Wind, is a towering work of fantasy."
In contrast, genre review site SFReviews.net described the book as "meandering," "undisciplined" and "monotonous," and the product of excessive hype, stating, "Some of it is interesting. Some of it is downright tedious. At no point does the book get your pulse racing. At no point are you at the edge of your seat, flipping pages in breathless anticipation of what is to come."
Awards and honors
|2011||Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Epic Fantasy Novel||Romantic Times||Finalist|
|Goodreads Readers Choice Award for Best Fantasy||Goodreads||3rd|
|2012||Tor.com Readers' Choice Awards for Best Novel||TOR||Winner|
|SF Site Readers' Choice||SF Site||3rd|
|David Gemmell Legend Award||The David Gemmell Awards committee||Winner|
|Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel||Locus magazine||4th|
|Deutscher Phantastik Preis for Bester internationaler Roman (Die Furcht des Weisen 1)||Phantastik-News.de||Winner|
|2013||Deutscher Phantastik Preis for Bester internationaler Roman (Die Furcht des Weisen 2)||Phantastik-News.de||2nd|
- Penguin Books USA. The Wise Man's Fear
- SFF World. Interview with Patrick Rothfuss (Mar 26, 2007)
- Patrick Rothfuss Blog. When in Rome… (May 12, 2009)
- Patrick Rothfuss Blog. I said I’d tell you when I knew…. (April 28, 2010)
- Patrick Rothfuss Blog. Is it drafty in here? (February 26, 2010)
- The New York Times. Best Sellers (March 20, 2011)
- Patrick Rothfuss Blog. Just a little bit rockstar… (March 21, 2011)
- Faren Miller reviews Patrick Rothfuss (March 19, 2011)
- Publisher's Weekly. Fiction Book Review: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (January 24, 2011)
- SFReviews.net The Wise Man's Fear / Patrick Rothfuss
- RT Book Reviews. Epic Fantasy Novel
- Goodreads Choice Awards. Best Fantasy Books 2011 (December 6, 2011)
- Tor.com Announcing the Winners of the 2011 Tor.com Readers’ Choice Awards (February 20, 2012)
- The SF Site. Readers' Choice: Best Read of 2011 (Apr 1, 2012)
- The David Gemmell Awards. David Gemmell Legend Award Winners 2012 Announced (June 15, 2012)
- Locus Online News. 2012 Locus Awards Winners (June 16, 2012)
- Deutscher Phantastik Preis. Die Gewinner 2012 (October 14, 2012)
- Deutscher Phantastik Preis. Deutscher Phantastik Preis 2013: Die Gewinner (October 12, 2013)
|Works in the The Kingkiller Chronicle series|
|Novels||The Name of the Wind (2007) ▪ The Wise Man's Fear (2011) ▪ The Doors of Stone (to be released)|
|Companion tales||How Old Holly Came to Be in Unfettered (2013) ▪ The Lightning Tree in Rogues (2014) ▪ The Slow Regard of Silent Things (2014) ▪ The Tale of Laniel Young-Again (to be released)|
|Derived works||Cealdish Currency (2013) ▪ The Name of the Wind Playing Cards (2014) ▪ Pairs (2014) ▪ TV Series, Movie and Video Game (optioned)|