Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear

Anytime you begin a series of books or films and said film or, in this case, book is more than you could have hoped, it's difficult not to raise your expectations for the follow-up to unreachable heights. The wise man's fear, in this case, is that the book won't measure up to the first and, therefore, the wise man keeps from being too sorely disappointed.

Years ago I read a book titled The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Not one for fantasy, I picked it up per a co-worker's recommendation and did not regret it. It was storytelling in the grand tradition and did not rely too heavily on purple prose and goblins and elves. It was like Harry Potter for grown-ups and I was excited to read the sequel.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one. Rothfuss has been taking some time with his second book and many's the fan that awaited it with baited breath. After some time passed, some of those same fans wondered if Rothfuss had it in him to write.

Well write it he did and read it I just finished doing. And while it's no Name of the Wind, it is still a stunning good yarn.

Rothfuss' first book felt like he had taken his time, probably because he had, probably because he could. His second book feels rushed, despite how long fans felt they've had to wait. That is to say, the first third of  the second book feels rushed, and I worried that the entire thing would be one big disappointment.

Turns out, Rothfuss was just rushing to get to the good part and, while it still feels rushed, the good part is very good. The sequel, at its best, is as good as the best parts of the original work. That said, it is not always at its best.

But fans will not be disappointed. The characters we've come to love are all here and so are many welcome additions. Good stuff all around. I still wish Rothfuss has taken another 6 months on the first third, but what he ended up with is more than fine.

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