03 May, 2010

Rothfuss the One Trick Pony?

Every now and then a novel comes along that just blows readers away and The Name of the Wind (2007) by Patrick Rothfuss, was one such novel. It was fresh, exciting and while not flawless, a damn sight better than the competition. To the joy of readers around the world, it was learned that The Name of the Wind was only the first installment of a planned trilogy named the Kingkiller Chronicles.

I was one of those readers.

Now, close to four years and numerous drafts later, we hear from Patrick Rothuss’s blog that we might finally see book two of the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Wise Man’s Fear, hit stores sometime in March, 2011 – “come hell or high water”. Great, you might think, but is it?

Two points that I think are important to keep in mind. First, Pat has openly admitted that the first draft he sent to his editor was “pure crap”. Fair enough, that is part of the writing process, or so I am told. However, it was only until he submitted the third draft of Wise Man’s Fear to his editor that he began to be “proud” of his work. I am, admittedly, not an editor, but how many times are you allowed to submit a manuscript and have it sent back? The point I am trying to make is that a number signs point to Pat being a debut author who bit off more than he can chew. I obviously pray that this isn’t true, that the story of Kovthe will continue in all its glory, and that The Name of the Wind wasn’t just a fluke.

Second, and more subjectively (if that’s even possible), I just finished reading the Kovthe short story (re)published in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2009. It was frigidly uninspiring for someone who is already familiar and attached to Kovthe– I fear to imagine what it was like for someone without any knowledge of the character. If Wise Man’s Fear is no better, I fear for it, pun intended.

Lastly, I might very well be fabricating this whole anti-Rothfuss narrative to lower my own expectations. I don’t like being disappointed with sequels and their authors, and I desperately want Wise Man’s Fear to carry on the sense of enchantment The Name of The Wind induced.

Am I overacting here, or is four years of rewrites actually a bad thing? That, or Wise Man’s Fear will be such a massively good epic human eyes just won’t be able to look upon it without melting. Let us only hope that the publishers blurb is accurate:
Packed with as much magic, adventure and home-grown drama as The Name of the Wind, this is a sequel in every way the equal to it's predecessor and a must-read for all fantasy fans. Readable, engaging and gripping The Wise Man's Fear is the biggest and the best new fantasy novel out there.


ColdForged said...

Tough call. Obviously the proof will be in the pudding. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

Nathaniel Katz said...

I think that the delay's are more due to the success of the first novel, rather than any real problems with the second. Up until the first was out, Rothfuss was confident on the whole thing being quick. Once The Name of the Wind got huge, though, (I think) he started worrying that the second wasn't good enough, hence months of rewriters to make sure that it "lives up." Now, there is definitely a point where such attention can be bad for a book, and it's impossible for us to know if he's hit that point or not yet, but I don't think we necessarily have to worry yet.

Oh, and as to the editor thinking the work was crap, I doubt that's anything more than Rothfuss's own doubts/modesty; I doubt she would have bought the trilogy if she found his writing subpar.

bloggeratf said...

@ Coldforged

Yea, I'm also in that category for the most part. But I don't know if I want to wait another 5 years for the next book to come out...

@ The Evil Hat

Again, I agree. I do think the book making it big time changed Pat's perspective on the quality. Something that should also be mentioned is that they have a brand new baby as well.

It is weird knowing so much about an author through his blog, and yet actually knowing so little about the one thing that got you into him in the first place.

Sam said...

Aspiring novelists are constantly being told that if they are blessed with a book deal they will then be expected to produce at least one novel a year. The implication is that if an aspiring novelist doesn't feel they could live up to that commitment then they shouldn't bother.

I guess that doesn't apply to best-sellers?

Simcha said...

That's the danger of being so successful the first time around, an author has a higher pedestal to fall from. And the fact that the book has taken so longer to complete has only heightened the anticipation and given readers higher expectations. I'm really hoping that Wise Man's Fear will be all that we hope for, but my bigger concern is that the third book will also take 5 yrs to write, in which case I might be more reluctant to pick up any other books he writes in the future, and may even put off reading The Wise Man's Fear for a few years.

bloggeratf said...

@ Sam

It must not, although everyone else I can think of (with one notable exception) does pretty much manage to crank out something at least every two years. Anything longer than that and people just tend to loose touch with the series.

One of the reasons I waited so long to read The Name of the Wind was that I hoped it would shorten my wait for the sequel.... that obviously didn't work out all that well.

@ Simcha

That is pretty much my exact feeling on the subject! All we need is another GRRM... why can't authors of fantasy be more like authors of sci-fi...

Alec said...

Thinking is good Mel, thinking is good...

Yea, I think the consensus was that Name pretty much exploded on him and he wasn't 100% on how to handle that. My fear is now not only the delay, but also that he will over edit himself and we will loose the originality of the first book.

theexilesclan said...

In my opinion one and all should browse on it.

Unknown said...

Well, ten years later and not only was book 2 iffy in many respects, book 3 is nowhere to be found. Rothfuss seems to be living his best GRR Martin life (as in, never finishing another book). One trick pony indeed.