Book summary: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Here is my quick summary of Wise Men Fear:

Kvothe continues his study at the University. It all seems fairly predictable at first: try to come up with enough money for tuition, plays his lute at the Eolian, court Denna, take classes, work in the Fishery, fight with Ambrose. There are a few important new developments here though. Kvothe is taking a naming course from Elodin, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; it seems like a bunch of nonsense and a waste of time from Kvothe’s perspective. Ambrose tries to court Denna. Denna calls it off, but Ambrose keeps her ring. Kvothe tries to impress Denna by stealing the ring from Ambrose’s rooms. But Ambrose has his room booby trapped and nearly catches him. Even though Ambrose doesn’t know who it was, he does get some of the would-be thief’s blood. And he begins to perform malfeasance, threatening Kvothe’s life. Kvothe doesn’t know what is up at first, and he initially suspects it’s Devi, the gaelet to whom he is indebted. He ruins their relationship when he accuses her and threatens her. Kvothe makes himself a gram to protect him from any malfeasance attacks.

Kvothe is encouraged to go abroad for a bit, as he has caused quite a stir. Threpe, his friend in Imre, lines up a gig with the Maer, a rich nobleman in Vint. The Maer is very powerful, rivaling the king of Vint. The Maer is mysteriously ill for some unknown reason. Kvothe manages to impress the Maer (but also plays an extremely risky move) when he finds out Caudicus, the resident arcanist, has been poisoning the Maer. He further ingratiates himself with the Maer by helping him woo the lovely Lady Lockless (who unfortunately has a deep and abiding hatred of the Edema Ruh).

The Maer sends Kvothe on an expedition to take out some bandits along the roads who are stealing the Maer’s collected taxes. Maer is put in charge of three fellow mercenaries: Marten, a tracker, Dedan, a burly angry guy, Hespe, a woman, and Tempi, an Adem warrior dressed all in red. They start on their trip and spend weeks out in the woods trying to find the bandits. During this time, Kvothe grows close to Tempi who starts to teach him his language and eventually a martial practice known as the Ketan and moral code known as the Lethani. They eventually find the bandits, but there are way too many of them to take out. Dedan and Hespe ruin the element of surprise and the bandits start attacking. Quick on his feet, Kvothe uses some gruesome sympathy to take out some guards by using the dead body of a guard as a mommet. In a climactic moment, he uses an arrow to draw lightning down from the sky in a huge blast that wipes out the entire camp. The leader escapes, who we later find out was one of the Chandrian. The group are able to locate the stash of the king’s taxes and start on the return trip home.

On their way through the forest, they stumble upon a bewitchingly beautiful fairy known as Felurian. Kvothe rushes after her, eventually catches her, and starts having crazy amounts of s*x. But Felurian is a mystical creature who lures men to their deaths. Kvothe is eventually able to focus his Alar so he can concentrate. He somehow is able to learn the true name of Felurian and stops her from killing him. Felurian is willing to let him go, but only if he promises to write her a song and eventually come back to her. Felurian sets out to make him an enchanted cloak known as a schaed. While she is making the schaed, Kvothe stumbles upon an ancient creature known as the Cthaeh. The Cthaeh is an all-knowing and malicious being that can see all possible futures. It tells Kvothe a small bit about the Chandrian, and makes Kvothe feel extremely guilty by bringing up all the pain he caused Denna by running away. From the narrative framing of the story, Bast tells us the Cthaeh is the most dangerous being in existence. All catastrophes in history seem to trace back to the Cthaeh. We get the idea that Kvothe is a time bomb.

Kvothe eventually leaves Felurian and catches up with his crew. On their way back to the Maer, Tempi gets in trouble with his people because he has taught Kvothe the Ketan. This is a no-no for outsider barbarians. Kvothe accompanies Tempi back to his land to try to get things patched up. Tempi and Kvothe are in a whole lot of trouble. Tempi could be exiled, and Kvothe could be killed. Kvothe manages to impress the leader of the school, Shehyn, enough to not be killed. She offers to let him train to eventually be admitted to the school and an honorary Ademre. He is assigned to a tough teacher, Vashet, but proves his metal when he essentially offers to let her beat him to death (you proved you aren’t a coward!). He makes a new enemy, Carceret, a female Ademre along the way. Eventually he has trained enough to take the test to enter the school. The test involves dodging the fallen leaves of the sacred Sword Tree, which he does (but kind of cheats, as he calls the name of the wind). He impresses everyone. He leaves Ademre with a cool new sword, Saicere, and a new name that he can’t tell anyone.

Kvothe continues back to report back to the Maer. On the way, he encounters a troupe of Edema Ruh. Or what appear to be Edema Ruh. They have taken two young girls captive and have been raping them repeatedly. This tips Kvothe off; he knows Edema Ruh would never do this. So he kills them all and frees the girls. He brings the girls back to their village. He is worried he could get in some serious trouble for what he has done. Finally, he gets back to the Maer. He tells the Maer the whole story. When his wife finds out that he is Edema Ruh, she expresses her disgust and loathing of Kvothe. The Maer is forced to let Kvothe go, but leaves Kvothe with a promise to foot his tuition each quarter.

Kvothe returns to the University. He starts taking classes again and doesn’t have to worry about money ever again. The end.

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