Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear

The good thing about pretty much no one reading my blog is that I can write a review and I don’t care how many spoilers I shove into it. Review sites are great – I would live off them if my body didn’t require protein and carbohydrates – but there is so much they can’t talk about.

Naturally, these are all the good, meaty discussions.

So Hey Assholes-who-think-it’s-okay-to-complain-because-it’s-in-the-comments-section-though-they-probably-complain-at-everything-in-real-life-too: There are SPOILERS in this post. Well, I guess as spoiler-y as you can get with this book. We already know Kvothe's life is going to spiral into misery, we only don't know the mechanisms behind it. For the second book in a three book series, there is still no hint of what happens to cause this. I have some suspicions, but none I would voice on the blog. I mentioned spoilers above because there are many things about this story that have already been given away, and knowing what is going to happen in a book is different from finally getting to read it and seeing it as it happens. But I would never give away a secret. Some things just aren't the same unless you can read it on your own. And let me tell you, there's a mindfuck like no other at the end of this book. Even I can't bear to give that away, so rest assured you can read this post and still be appropriately blown away by the book.

The book opens up in familiar territory at the University. Watching a character learn magic and hone their skills never gets old. I continued to hate Ambrose to a level I never imagined possible, you know, that one topped by Umbridge in Harry Potter 5, which made the book so unbelievably frustrating and OMGicantstopreading. We get to see some really awesome magic and learn how kickass Kvothe really is. But eventually Kvothe leaves the University, because he had to leave sometime, right?

My favorite section in this book and possibly in my Top Five of all books is when Kvothe is on the King’s Road hunting bandits, and he befriends the silent, seemingly dumb Adem mercenary, Tempi. At first, all we know about Tempi is that he doesn’t speak, twitches a lot, and is supposed to be a legendary fighter. The other members of the mercenary band snub him, but slowly Kvothe starts to see the edges of the fire in him, and he keeps trying. We finally found out that Tempi simply doesn’t share a common language.

I know how frustrating it is to work with people who don’t speak English, who are goddamn intelligent but can’t do anything about it in this country because of the language barrier, and goddamn American schools who think English is so high and mighty and don’t start teaching foreign language until high school. During the summer in college I worked as a janitor, and I’ll tell you, there aren’t many non-ESL janitors out there. Until you’ve really had to communicate with people you absolutely cannot understand I’d imagine this section was full of lots of nonsensical hand waving. But I love languages to begin with, and watching Kvothe struggle with something so foreign was a treat. Ademic isn’t just a spoken language that can be mastered with rote memorization, but practically a magic in itself with meaningful inflections and hand signs. I loved every minute of it, how Tempi changed from a stupid piece of mute cardboard to a person with a meaningful culture and intense morals.

One of the biggest complaints of WMF is all the casual sex that takes place in the second half of the book. First of all, it's sex, not child rape, so all of you yumyums who can't say "penis" without gagging or giggling can just grow the fuck up. And remember, Kvothe is SIXTEEN. OF course he's going to be thinking about sex! BUT I still had a problem with the Felurian section. It was a whole lot of nothing but sex, for about six chapters, and it was just boring. Yes, yes, Felurian is the most beutiful woman of all and she can blow your mind in bed. Great. This has nothing to do with the progression of the book. Actually, I imagine that's what the problem is with this section. These books are trimmed and edited to within an inch of their lives, and as a result there is no word is wasted. But these chapters were FLUFFY. Nothing of import happens until Kvothe finally decides to leave. That's when Felurian makes his Shaed and when we get to see how powerful he is to get out of her grasp. But those five chapters before? Pointless. I was a teenager once, I know what awkward sex was like. It did nothing to move the plot.

Directly following the Felurian section is training with the Adem, who also have no compunctions about being naked or having sex. However, this section has a completely different feel than Felurian's. Sex is natural, it wasn't glorified, it's just a way of life. Sex with the Adem is far more casual than it was with Felurian, but this section is far easiler to handle. I can't exactly pinpoint why, possibly because the plot was still progressing, possibly because the comparisons with the barbarian's views of sex are so satirical of our own society's. I don't know. But I had no problem with people walking around Haert naked amongst the other clothed people as opposed to Kvothe and Felurian existing naked in Fae.

The second day of storytelling ends on a contrastingly happy ending in the story and a supremely miserable night at the inn. And I have to say, as genious as Kvothe is and as easily as he can pick up anything, the real genious lies in Devon, I think. He is incredibly insightful, and play's on Kote's emotions the way Kvothe did to others in his time. I'm eager to see what part he is going to play in the third book.

For as far as we've come, we still have no idea why the series is called "The Kingkiller Chronicle."

I can't believe I was ever eager to finish this book. I blame this on my hrrifically human desire to know what happens. Now that it is finished (and we are left on such a hanging thread as the first book, with NOTHING resolved) I am ready to read it again. I honestly think this is the most in depth and engaging story I have ever read in my life, and I don't say that lightly. I'm nervous to see how the third book is going to go. We have to finish Kvothe's story, and hopefully introduce some semblance of a normal plot. What if we don't find anything out about the Chandrian? What if Kvothe finishes his story, Chronicler packs up his pens and departs, and things just go on? What if this series ends with absolutely no closure? I understand that Kvothe's glory days are over. But we also know he is still capable of great things, from the scrael attack in the first book. I don't want to assume anything about Pat Rothfuss's writing. I just want to end the series with a sense of satisfaction. It doesn't have to be a happy ending, just satisfying. I just want Kvothe to open his wooden chest. It'll probably be six years before we see the last book, but I'm okay with that. Rothfuss has a lot of work ahead of him.

It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.

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