not merely superfluous, but ridiculous
this post was originally published on my Goodreads account.
The middle chapter of Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle still feels like one third of a much larger book, and there’s little here structurally to suggest Rothfuss ever thought of this as a book in its own right. It’s a series of events continued from the first book, to be completed in the third, and if you want to find out what happens next you’ll read the next chapter. Fortunately, Rothfuss is excellent at getting you to wonder what happens next.
The two places I really felt The Name of the Wind stumbled were in the conception of its central character, who seemed a little too flawless at times, and the world it created, which seemed to be highly theoretical beyond the bounds of the Arcanum and Imre. The Wise Man’s Fear answers both these problems extremely well, the latter by showing us larger parts of the world in greater detail, and the former by emphasizing the subjective nature of Kvothe’s recollections. Indeed, given some of the revelations we learn about two thirds of the way through the book, there seems to be some question of whether Kvothe will end up being the hero of this tale at all. It seems to be slowly turning the premise of the series on its head while keeping everything that makes the series interesting intact, and there’s no doubt I’m going to be reading the third book when it comes out. Probably I’ll read The Slow Regard of Silent Things and any other spinoffs that come out as well.
That said, the second half of the book does have some parts that need to be powered through, and the gradual explication of the cultures within Rothfuss’s world are not universally interesting. And I don’t like to nitpick the sensibility behind a book too much, but I did find it odd how the book rewards Kvothe for rebelling against the traditions and mores of his own civilization, but then turns around and rewards him for accepting and subordinating himself to the traditions and mores of the foreign civilization he visits with as few questions as possible. I suppose you could see it as the character growing, learning that rebellion for rebellion’s sake isn’t the most useful thing in the world, but there seems to be a sort of soft paternalism at play, a sense that the exotic and foreign culture ought not be held to the same standards demanded of the dominant one. A minor thing, in the larger scheme of this book, but one that tugged at me.
And so now I find myself in a familiar position: in an effort to avoid going crazy waiting for A Song of Ice and Fire to finish, I turned to these books to get my fantasy fix, and now I’m finished with them and will soon be going crazy waiting for the next one to come out as well. I suppose Wheel of Time will have to be next.