And her name is Mariah. No, wait, wrong story. I wanted to talk about Name of the Wind and it’s sequel The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Bonus points though if you get the Mariah reference and if you put it in the comments, I’ll think of a really cool prize…
But back on topic. Rothfuss has started us on an epic tri-part story in his Kingkiller Chronicles, starting with Name of the Wind and continued with The Wise Man’s Fear. There is no third as of yet, and only the briefest hint of one (there’s a title on Wikipedia) but no projected publication date or anything. When I got to the end of the second one and reached for the third, I yelled at my father for recommending an incomplete trilogy to me. (Rothfuss, you damn well better write the third before you pop off!)
If my aside gives you any indication, these books are addictive. Like crack. And just about as bad for you, too. The story is following Kvothe, a young man who goes off to learn at the University and study what appears to be a mix of magic and science. Not a bad premise, and in fact the plot line and characters I have no problems with, which is unique for something as high fantasy as this. They are solid, well written, and engaging. And it’s that story that makes me want to keep reading because he drops tantalizing hints all the way through of things to come that–if he pulls it off–will make the third book the most goddamn exciting thing I’ve read for a while.
No, it is not the story of the characters with which I find fault. It is the method of delivery. This trilogy is couched in a storytellers format with the current timeline taking place in Kvothe’s tavern where he is hiding out and telling his life story to a traveling historian called Chronicler. So there’s that going on. And then we have the story that Kvothe is actually telling.
Now, sometimes this is done extraordinarily well, where either the back story or the current story are kept mercifully brief and unobtrusive. A prologue and an epilogue, say, of the storyteller. Or a chapter here and there of flashback. But the story takes place in one timeline or another. With Kingkiller Chronicles, it feels almost like Rothfuss is trying desperately to drag us up to the current timeline cause there’s just so many exciting things happening today, but there is so much that leads up to and informs current events that we need over a thousand pages dedicated to it. And to top it off, the current timeline keeps interrupting the main block of storytelling, sometimes literally in mid-sentence.
That’s when I yelled at the book. Once I figured what in hell was going on with the end of the chapter and it wasn’t just an e-book error. Poor choice, Rothfuss. And the current events just keep interrupting! We get it, shit’s bad, go away and let me GET to you already. Here we are, 1500 pages in, and we still don’t know how you hooked up with the demon man or even what your relationship actually is with him; we don’t know what the damn spider things are that are wreaking havoc; we don’t know why you’re called a Kingkiller cause all you’ve done up until now is save a King here and there. You talk about long arduous days at the university but then entirely SKIP OVER stories about mayhem and storms on the high sea. I’m much, much more interested in hearing about being captured by pirates then I am about you griping about not having money. Or did your editor insist you take parts out because it was too long to print, so you just decided to summarize in one paragraph what should have been a kickass couple of chapters? Here’s an idea, go back through and make your character quit his whining. We got it already, he spends most of his time broke and missing the crazy chick. Check.
But for all of this, you want your next fix. I crave the third book even though I know Rothfuss is going to have me yelling and throwing a tantrum over being interrupted YET AGAIN by something happening in the current timeline because I just don’t care. Kvothe’s storytelling is much more interesting. This concludes my withdrawal rantings about the Kingkiller Chronicles. If you want to read them, the story is fantastic, but I might wait until the third book is out, if I were you. The story shakes aren’t all that pleasant.