The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss I really wish Goodreads did half-stars because I'm giving "The Wise Man's Fear" a 4.5. I'm rounding up, however, to indicate I liked it better than the first book, "The Name of the Wind".

As to why I liked this sequel better, first of all, I felt that so much more simply happened in this one. Admittedly, I did not enjoy the heavy focus of Kvothe's time at the university in the first novel, and so much of it felt tedious to me, despite how well-written those chapters were. I could only stand to read so much of his never-ending quest to afford tuition. Needless to say, I was a little worried when I picked up WMF and saw that it started right where NotW left off, with Kvothe continuing his studies at the academy. However, about a quarter of the way into the book, everything changed for me.

Let me just say how much more I appreciated Kvothe as a character when he's out in the world doing much more interesting things and not constantly worrying about making money. Here, I finally got a taste of the adventure I was looking for. And Kvothe, who was the arrogant, juvenile, slightly annoying character that I barely tolerated in NotW finally began his change into the admirable protagonist I knew he would become. His actions and motivations became a lot more "real" to me in this book, making me like him more than I ever did in the previous one.

In the end, I think what ultimately made me like WMF more than I did NotW was a shift in my own attitude while reading this book. Soon after Kvothe left the academy, something "clicked" in my head and I finally understood what I had felt was missing in the first book...really wasn't missing at all. Looking back, one of my biggest issues with NotW had been my feelings of being left unsatisfied by the way the story had unfolded and how it ended -- who were the Chandrian and why didn't Kvothe seem to be doing more to stop them? Why did it seem like he was dawdling his time away at the University?

Well, I realized after reading about Kvothe's first adventure that I had been going at it all wrong. Many fantasy books have a hero and his or her friends journeying off to defeat an evil villain, and in turn that villain does everything he can to stop them, throwing obstacles in their way or ordering his minions to harass our heroes. What my stubborn mind had been doing, was trying to apply NotW to these expectations. No wonder I didn't really feel like anything happened! I'd missed the point of the series!

While I have no doubt Kvothe will be our hero and that the Chandrian are indeed villains that are as evil as they come, I have a feeling that this thread is only going to be one of the MANY themes to flow through this series. Once I realized we weren't going to tackle it right away and became aware that these books are about so much more, that was when I was finally able to sit back and relax and just enjoy the many places WMF takes us. I came to terms with the fact this story is going to be more about the gradual character development of Kvothe through recounting his adventures (he's not just "dawdling"), and about stories (lots and lots of them!) and the wonderful, magical nature of them.

And because in the book what we read is really just another story within a story, I almost started thinking of Kvothe's narrative as a satire. I also started picking up on other symbolic double meanings in the writing and the book's events along the way, which I was only able to do once I released my mind and let it go wherever the storytelling decided to go.

Speaking of which, Rothfuss is one hell of talented world-builder. Yes, I felt his wording could be a little cliched and overly flowery at times, and some of Kvothe's adventures are more interesting than others, but that doesn't change the fact I love this man's unique ideas in the descriptions of the people, worlds, and cultures he brings to life.