What we have forgotten of the Kingkiller Chronicles

“It was night again. The Way stone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”

How can you not want to continue reading a book which begins with an atmospheric line like that? It sets the tone of the book; the reader is able to anticipate the mystery and magic and want to go on. And therein lies the problem, because you want to read right through to the end till all the mystery is solved and the full story revealed. Instead, the biggest mystery that the author has landed us with is when will the next book come out?

For those of you on the side lines of the SFF genre, Patrick Rothfuss’s book ‘The Name of The Wind’ came out in 2007 and typically he was hailed as the new J.R.R.T, G.R.R.M and J.K.R. Amazon called it the new series for all fans of Harry Potter undergoing withdrawal symptoms.

Patrick Rothfuss, modest man that he is, seems to attribute his life’s awesomeness to his parents and not to any capability of his in leaving readers dangling two thirds through the series. We really suspect that he is a bit of a masochist and is enjoying causing his readers to wait. In an interview to the SFFworld.com in August 2007(In reply to a question about what readers can expect from the sequels), he said, and we quote “Well…I’ve already written them. So you won’t have to wait forever for them to come out. They’ll be released on a regular schedule. ONE PER YEAR.” (Emphasis provided)

Either that was another instance of famous last words, or he had realised by then that it is much more fun to delay things and hear all the speculation about the next release date. The second book came out in 2011 and the third is long awaited but unlikely to happen before 2015 as most people are guessing. Although it seems that on Goodreads some people have not only given the next book five stars already but have also reviewed it. Patrick Rothfuss says he is puzzled by this but surely he must be secretly enjoying the delirium experienced by his hallucinating readers. Since we have not as yet succumbed to the powers of our imagination and become one with the time travelling classes, we will just have to wait like mere mortals for him to get around to finishing the damn thing.

LL: The only thing was that we lucked out and found the first book after the second one had come out. Reading one after the other meant there was some continuity in two thirds of the story. Now I hardly remember anything. I just know I want the next book but I don’t recall what has to be tied up as far as the story is concerned.

PS: That’s just it, I have a vague recollection of the first two books. I only remember I enjoyed reading them and that there were a number of things left hanging in the air. What I do remember very clearly is that Kvothe, while pretending to be a retired innkeeper, keeps cleaning his inn. I found that desire to clean very satisfying on some deep level.

LL: Well, yes you would. Not me though. I just remember that prior to being an innkeeper he was some famous sorcerer and that each book is meant to be one day of storytelling by him to a guy called the Chronicler who had arrived at the inn with the intention of getting Kvothe’s life story out of him.

PS: Yes, at the beginning of recounting his story, he says something which indicates that he is already a great legend and everyone knows of him but there is some mystery surrounding him. The two books don’t reveal why he is hiding out in a non-descript town with a non-human companion after having travelled all around the world, attended the great University and had an affair with the Queen of the Fairies, no less. We also have to find out who the King is that he kills and about the mystery surrounding Kvothe’s parents’ death.

LL: The deal with naming things and who is Auri.

PS: Apparently P.R. has come out with a novella about Auri.

LL: And what is the point of that? I thought the mystery of who she was would be addressed in the third book. She is one of the more interesting characters, demystifying her outside the series will take away some of the interest level in the main story.

PS: I just think he is stuck with the main book so he is spending his time writing these novellas to keep his publishers happy. I wonder whether a writer writing a series gets bored of practically living with the same characters for years together. Surely that could lead to a writer’s block.

LL: He is exhibiting all the typical signs; doing everything else in the meantime. Maybe the characters start to play truant after a while and either disappear or refuse to do what the writer wants them to so it becomes difficult to stick to the storyline he had in mind. I think J. K. Rowling managed to keep her characters well in control which enabled her to come out with a book a year. At least that way the readers didn’t lose track of what was going on.

PS: Plus there were movies coming out so one didn’t really lose touch entirely. Looks like we’ll have to do intensive revision of the first two books of the Kingkiller Chronicle before the third one is out. The question which must be considered here is that if readers are a dying breed then don’t they have to be pandered to more than the writers’ idiosyncrasies. And the least said the better about GRRM and the Game of Thrones.

LL: It is probably easier for the readers to be pacified with the TV series while he takes his time. Do you know the Queen refused to sit on the throne of swords when she visited the set?

PS: I don’t blame her, it looks decidedly uncomfortable. Speaking of Queens, I wonder how long Hillary Mantel is going to take to come out with the third Wolf Hall book. Even she is writing other things in between.

LL: That seems to have become a disease! But at least with her books we know what the end is going to be. I am more interested in knowing whether she wins a third Booker or not.

So we wonder in what zone writers like Patrick Rothfuss and his ilk (i.e. those in the process of writing sequels) disappear. Does their mental process get abducted by their characters, the overwhelming thought of their own success, and the pressure of the publishers or publicists who want just anything churned out while they are on the roll or just sheer boredom leading to a mental block. If Patrick Rothfuss, after writing two bestselling novels, various novellas, developing Name of the Wind playing cards, has decided to become a nondescript innkeeper somewhere, can we really expect more?


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