Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Reading: The Wise Man's Fear

Last week, I said I should avoid reading until I finished my screenplay. But when I can borrow library eBooks without leaving my couch, the temptation can be overwhelming. So I did things backward: I borrowed Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear, finished all 1000 pages by Sunday night, and then finished my screenplay. 

The Wise Man's Fear is the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle and the sequel to The Name of the Wind. In this one, Kvothe finally travels far beyond the University, which means we learn more about the world Rothfuss has created. This includes...

... Adem mercenaries and their country
... Fairies, and not the cute kind (finally! we knew they were part of the story, because Bast is in the inn, but we didn't know at what point Kvothe started to believe in them)
... other cultures and languages

I should probably warn you that Kvothe didn't just learn the language, politics, and favored fighting styles of the cultures he visited; he also learned their views on sex... first hand. I sort of skimmed through those parts. I wouldn't say they were extremely explicit, but I wouldn't recommend it to my more sensitive teenage self, either. 

I personally think the book wouldn't be hurt if those scenes were shaved down to something more PG. But the discussions about sex on a cultural level were interesting—Kvothe came from a more conservative culture than some that he visited. Meanwhile, here in the real word, conservative and liberal subcultures are at odds about sex, reproduction, and surrounding issues. The Wise Man's Fear may be an epic fantasy, but it's definitely a product of its time. 

Since I fall on the more conservative side of the spectrum (for a more complex reason than "because the Bible says sex outside of marriage is a no-go," though God's Word would be reason enough), I could get too annoyed about Kvothe's... adventures and miss out on the story. Instead, I enjoy the insight into a decidedly non-Christian perspective. Don't misunderstand: I know that the characters' actions and words do not always represent the author's beliefs. The characters themselves disagree with each other. But I've stopped by Rothfuss's blog, and as much as I enjoy his writing, I won't be putting his posts on my church's overhead projector.

It's almost midnight PST, so I'd better wrap this up: I still love the Kingkiller Chronicles, and I look forward to the third book. There is a shorter, related book about one of the Kvothe's friends, and I'll probably pick that up this summer. But other than that, I'll just wait patiently for Day Three of Kvothe's storytelling.

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