The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

A brief writeup about my favorite book. It's hard to write about it without ranting, theorizing, and spoiling like crazy! I also include a gallery of the copy I rebound in leather as a gift.
The spine of the book I bound in leather! Gallery and a few more details after the writeup.

My Favorite Book: A Writeup

My favorite book at the moment is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s the second book of his yet-to-be-completed trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle. The Wise Man’s Fear barely edges out its predecessor, The Name of the Wind, as my favorite novel. Some of the complaints I’ve heard about these books are well founded. The plot meanders. The narrator is unreliable. The protagonist is too good at everything, and his love interest is the worst. True, true, and true! BUT…

The plot meandering is something I love. Rothfuss puts stories in his stories. It’s not often I pick up one book and I get 10+ stories for the cost of admission. The narrator being unreliable makes me think twice and second guess everything that he says. The narration, a reminiscence by the protagonist Kvothe, is framed in such a way that he has no incentive to be truthful. He is admittedly a liar and is occasionally demonstrably so in his recounting of the story. Rothfuss hasn’t taken excessive advantage of this, but uses it brilliantly to make unexpected changes that contradict what the reader expected without building resentment for an intentional deceit. As for the protagonist being too good at everything and his love interest being a terrible character, there is no redemption. I don’t like either character, actually, but even that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the writing and the world that the books take place in.

What do I love about it? The prose and world-building. While many stories are narratively driven or character driven, this novel is built around how beautifully Rothfuss can write and create a world. He plays with the English language in a masterful way that I’ve never seen equaled. His plays on words, dualities of meaning, and hints so subtle that I didn’t recognize them for what they were until I read the book 10 times and had it explained to me twice. And I’m sure more of those will crawl out of woodwork and show their sneaky selves once book three is ready. His world building assumes an intelligent reader who can connect the dots and understand a complexity that clearly exists in Rothfuss’s imagination and he translates beautifully into text without encumbering the reader with excessive details. His magic system is novel, and its functioning fairly explicit. But for me, Rothfuss leaves enough to the reader’s imagination to not ruin immersion through clear departure from reason or the laws of the universe in which we live. He even makes an effort to incorporate some of those in a way that absolutely works for me. He builds his world through the stories that he weaves in around the main plot, and through subtleties of character interaction, and it’s beautiful.

I highly recommend this book to fans of the fantasy genre, or anybody whose eye was caught by my description. I hope somebody who reads this finds Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle as enjoyable as I do.

The Book Binding Project!

I absolutely love working with my hands. A few years ago, I had an idea that my dad and I could work on a project together: binding books in leather. Me for my girlfriend, and him for my stepmom. I chose The Wise Man’s Fear not realizing that my girlfriend preferred Rothfuss’s previous book, The Name of the Wind. This was our first foray into book binding, but I did some research into what materials I would need, I mapped out some layouts on a book, and I created a shopping list. I needed: a paperback copy of the book, a big enough piece of scrap leather, some nail sets of various sizes for engraving, a set of 6mm letter stamps, elmer’s glue, and some wrapping paper for the inner lining.

I got a paperback copy of the book because it’s cheaper, usually smaller, and the cover has to be torn off anyways to replace it with leather. For leather I got an unfinished single shoulder in 6-7oz weight after checking the size of the paperback copy and calculating the overhang I wanted for the cover. Elmer’s glue is polyvinyl acetate, the same as common bookbinding adhesive. And for the wrapping paper I decided on an old-fashioned, stylized map. I used an old cereal box cut to the calculated size as a template over which to glue, cut and fold the leather. I had to cut away some material from the inside of the folds in order to get everything to work decently.

For the designs, I decided on some imagery that was memorable and important to the story that I thought I was capable of tackling. In a format like this where I didn’t have much control over texture or color, I decided to go with the Cthaeh’s tree and the Selas flowers. I wish I had taken more pictures during the process as I cut, folded, glued, and dried at each stage. Check out the pictures I do have in the album below!

I was extremely happy with the result of my first attempt at leatherworking and book binding! The result is far from perfect, but it made a great and memorable gift, and it was an awesome excuse to spend time with my dad working on it.

If you have any questions about how to get started or which resources I used, or if you have suggestions for how to improve next time, please reach out to to me by email at feedback@thebrandofben.com or use the contact form on the website.