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This has been puzzling me. Book 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicles is called The Wise Man's Fear. Why is it called this? There is no mention of any "wise man" anywhere in the book, and no mention either of a sea in storm, a night with no moon, or the anger of a gentle man. I got those three things from this description of the book.

So why is this book called The Wise Man's Fear?

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2 Answers 2

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The reference is to a philosopher's phrase that Kvothe is familiar with.

From The Name of the Wind, Chapter 43, The Flickering Way, after being caught with a candle in the Archives:

Before anything else could be said, Lorren stormed into the room. His normally placid expression was fierce and hard. I felt myself sweat cold and I thought of what Teccam wrote in his Theophany: There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

The phrase is referenced again by Count Threpe in The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 51, titled appropriately enough All Wise Men Fear, as Kvothe is about to leave Imre for Vintas:

But he caught my sleeve as I turned. "Be careful on your way there," he said, his expression anxious. "Remember: There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man."

It's worth noting that Kvothe runs into all three of these things literally at one point or another in his story, and there are other more subtle references as well in Kvothe's storytelling (Felurian is once referred to as a "sea in storm"). Whether he is wise or not when he does, well, I'll leave that to each reader's opinion.

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While Radhil gave a great answer, there are great a many more references to a what a wise man's fear is.

Quite obviously, there is a recurring red thread within the story of Kvothe. Lots of this is based on the titles; "The Name of the Wind", "A Wise Man's Fear" and presumably "Doors of Stone". All of them basically have to do with the origin story of the world as they know it, main subjects of the story in general and the metastory.

Why is there a mortal realm and a Fae realm? There are certain universal truths true for both worlds, such as the undisputed power of names. Kvothe was able to, if he so willed it, destroy Felurian after learning her name. Nevertheless, most mortals would perish under the power of Felurian. It is safe to assume that there are a great many of the Fae with immense powers, as long as these remain in the Fae realm. "A wise man views a moonless night with fear", as chapter 102 was concluded by Felurian. Why? Because, "each step you take might you in the dark moon's wake, and pull you all unwitting into fae, where you will have no choice but stay. And on such unfamiliar ground, how can a mortal help but drown?". Obviously, this is important information. Not only for understanding the universe, but this might explain the sudden disappearance of the Outlaw's leader a few nights before this happened. Despite having an experienced tracker, there were no signs of any trail.

Felurian refuses vehemently to any information giving on the Chandrian. This implies a strong link or influence of the Chandrian on the Fae.

Also, the importance of this link of the wise man's fear is emphasized in the beginning of the book by Elodin at Kvothe's tuition at page 88: "You want me to ask him questions only a namer can answer? Fine. Where does the moon go when it is no longer in our sky?"

It is linked with the title "Doors of Stone", at page 670 Felurian describes the namer responsible for the divergence between the Fae and mortal realms "I will not speak of that one, though he is shut beyond the doors of stone."

I'll write a more coherent segment on this later, but if you are frustrated with the title of the book, there are actually loads of potential references and meanings one may extract.

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