When reading a sequel, I like to re-read the previous book(s). I wasn’t able to do that here, though I did brush up with the author’s and other summaries of The Name of the Wind. I gave that book 4 stars, and through the first third of this one, I wondered whether 5 might have been more appropriate.
The first third of the book is great – interesting and fun, with mysteries and likeable characters. And then, for no good reason I can see, Rothfuss suddenly takes us off on a couple of long digressions that lead to little. Remember the 7th or 8th of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books? Where you’d read 500 pages and realize that virtually nothing actually happened? The back half of this book is like that. It’s very well written, but despite that, not terribly interesting. In part, that’s because it just doesn’t move fast enough to be the middle of a trilogy. At its end, Kvothe is still a teenager, and Rothfuss has set up a number of loose ends that will need tying. The book reads more like the setup for a 5-6 book series. It’s hard to see how Rothfuss will satisfyingly tie this up even in a 1,000 page conclusion.
Also, Rothfuss, whose first book I liked in large part because of realistic, engaging characters, gets a bit lazy in places here. Some of the players and actions are lightly-painted stock, and they don’t fit well with what we expect from a talented writer. More troubling is a hint of Heinlein-Jordan syndrome – a proliferation of women who know everything and can do no wrong. In individual characters, that’s great. As a general rule, it’s no more enticing than Doc Smith’s (or Heinlein’s) rule of strong, silent men to whom all women submit.
All in all, a good book, well worth reading, but not as worthy a successor as I had hoped for.