Pat Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle [spoilers] - the rambling review of an undecided reader

Jakyro

Journeyed there and back again
I really regret buying Rothfuss’ books. I was really getting back into fantasy when I saw them at a decent Price. As I knew from the best of lists that this was one of the current top series in fantasy I bought both book 1 and 2. It was only afterwards that I learned that the third book was taking a lot of time to be completer. If I had known earlier I wouldn’t have bought them. I’m now stuck with two books I’ll only read once the third book is released ... so I’ll probably never read them

I learned an important lesson ... to never buy books of unfinished series. There are authors I’ll buy nonetheless, but in general I’ve become much more cautious.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
I don't think writing is like other jobs where you just get on with it, like it or not. I work for a living and write for enjoyment. When I have to, I put my head down and mark assignments, or go to meetings, or teach a class. I can do that because professionally it's expected of me. When the writing won't flow, it's much harder. I have many books in trunks that will go nowhere because nothing, but nothing, but nothing will make them work. I want them to, I still like the worlds, but it just won't happen. Who is to know what's stopping the muse working. I'm sure both of them would prefer to get the work out there than take the grief they do about it - but it's not happening. For whatever reason. And that might have nothing whatsoever to do with professionalism. Who are we to judge?
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
I think if Rothfuss hadn’t written anything else and said something like “Hey, sorry guys I understand your frustration and appreciate your interest and past support but I’ve had personal issues that prevent me from writing.” I think most people would understand that despite their frustration. But when he says stuff to the effect of “STFU peons. Genuflect to the rich king.” and then taunts us, I personally feel feel very comfortable and justified judging him an egotistical tool.
 

Khartun

Journeyed there and back again
I think if Rothfuss hadn’t written anything else and said something like “Hey, sorry guys I understand your frustration and appreciate your interest and past support but I’ve had personal issues that prevent me from writing.” I think most people would understand that despite their frustration. But when he says stuff to the effect of “STFU peons. Genuflect to the rich king.” and then taunts us, I personally feel feel very comfortable and justified judging him an egotistical tool.
I hadn't heard he said stuff like that. What exactly did he say?

I know that Neil Gaiman said the "Martin is not your bitch" stuff but I hadn't hear Rothfuss saying stuff like that.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
I hadn't heard he said stuff like that. What exactly did he say?

I know that Neil Gaiman said the "Martin is not your bitch" stuff but I hadn't hear Rothfuss saying stuff like that.
Of course not. But “Martin isn’t your bitch”! amounts to the same thing in my book. Telling fans I’ll publish it when I want, it’s been done for 11 years and it’s awesome, his actions amounting to (my interpretation) buy the other stuff I wrote instead because I already know book 3 will fly off the shelves so I will milk the cash cow since you’re too dumb to realize it’s harder (my assumption)to write a 200 page book than edit a completed one. People can pity and/or defend him but count me out. Depression is a serious illness and I cannot diagnose him but I can certainly speculate and call it a bullshit reason when he writes other books and is well enough to find other ways to buy a dozen more yachts and another mansion in a new location. No, I don’t know what he’s really doing with his money and don’t care.

If people choose to buy what I consider his bullshit reasoning and attitude and spend more money on his side stuff, that’s cool. Me, I don’t like him. It pissed me off when in the middle of WOT Jordan wrote the Moiraine and Lan story. Well, guess what? You bullshitted around in books 7-10 wrote another new side story and unfortunately croaked before finishing what could, IMO, been completed and much better if you did it in 7 or 8 books. I’m sorry he died before finishing but karma is a bitch, ain’t it?
 
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Khartun

Journeyed there and back again
Tttym


Of course not. But “Martin isn’t your bitch”! amounts to the same thing in my book. Telling fans I’ll publish it when I want, it’s been done for 11 years and it’s awesome, his actions amounting to (my interpretation) buy the other stuff I wrote instead because I already know book 3 will fly off the shelves so I will milk the cash cow since you’re too dumb to realize it’s harder (my assumption)to write a 200 page book than edit a completed one. People can pity and/or defend him but count me out. Depression is a serious illness and I cannot diagnose him but I can certainly speculate and call it a bullshit reason when he writes other books and is well enough to find other ways to buy a dozen more yachts and another mansion in a new location. No, I don’t know what he’s really doing with his money and don’t care.

If people choose to buy what I consider his bullshit reasoning and attitude and spend more money on his side stuff, that’s cool. Me, I don’t like him. It pissed me off when in the middle of WOT Jordan wrote the Moiraine and Lan story. Well, guess what? You bullshitted around in books 7-10 wrote another new side story and unfortunately croaked before finishing what could, IMO, been completed and much better if you did it in 7 or 8 books. I’m sorry he died before finishing but karma is a bitch, ain’t it?
Ah, ok. I see what you were saying.
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
I read the books a little over 2 years ago now. By that point the second had been out for 5 years? Never in a million years would have thought I'd still be one of those that got to wait for such a long time.

You know when the author himself says it's been done for years and just need to be edited a little you sort of take his word for it. Guess he fooled me too.
 

ExTended

Journeyed there and back again
I don't think that anyone here is or would attack Rothfuss in regards to his depression. He said that he had one after the 2nd book's release got delayed multiple times and that he have felt uncomfortable when everybody he meets asks him about the book, becuase he feels like he is letting down people and it messed his non-writing life too. That's a legit point, although he could've still been more respectful towards the fans. The problem is he haven't learned anything from his experience with the 2nd book.

He says that because of his 2nd book problems, he opted not to speak about potential release dates of the 4rd book. That's a somewhat legit point too. But instead of being completely quiet about it, he teases the fans with literally every chance he gets.

I'd just put a small, shy and unassuming link over here:
https://www.tor.com/2018/03/07/patr...chronicle-prologue-the-doors-of-stone-book-3/

And a direct quote of his for the lazy ones:
"I am an author who has tricked you into reading a trilogy that is a million-word prologue."

I call bastard on that. No other way around it.

G. R. R. Matrin's excuse about not being able to work, because someone offered him a free trip to Dubai for an interview and he likes FREE trips... you've' earned 200mil.$ from your books, if you cannot afford a 20k trip to Dubai on your own at a more convenient time and use that as an excuse for being too busy to write... well, that's just disrespectful to the readers' intellect.

That's the biggest problem with those two. They say one thing, act completely contrary to it, only to put on their innocently baffled costumes when people demand them to own to their lack of professional integrity. Say that you have better things to do, because you are famous and rich now. Everyone would understand. What annoys people is them playing possum.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
The admission of suffering from depression exonerates Rothfuss in my eyes. I've kind of sensed that side of him, as well as a bit of anxious shame about the delay for book 2. I wouldn't be surprised if he's got a high amount of work-related anxiety. Some people can't even focus on high-pressure projects without having panic attacks. It can take years of counseling, years of trying different combinations of meds. I can only imagine trying to write or even edit something intended to be a masterpiece while going through something like that. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that there are mental health issues holding him back.

That said, if he simply can't write the damn thing, and having not resolved his mental health issues over the last decade, I wish he'd find an alternative way to get the story out there. Collaborate with another author he respects and take a design/managerial/editing role. Idk. Something. He strikes me as not being a genuine asshole the way GRRM is, but if Rothfuss ultimately decides to let the series go unfinished then I guess I'm wrong.

I don't give GRRM this benefit of the doubt. His "I'll only write in one room, and only if I feel like it" shit is ridiculous petulance.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
The admission of suffering from depression exonerates Rothfuss in my eyes. I've kind of sensed that side of him, as well as a bit of anxious shame about the delay for book 2. I wouldn't be surprised if he's got a high amount of work-related anxiety. Some people can't even focus on high-pressure projects without having panic attacks. It can take years of counseling, years of trying different combinations of meds. I can only imagine trying to write or even edit something intended to be a masterpiece while going through something like that. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that there are mental health issues holding him back.

That said, if he simply can't write the damn thing, and having not resolved his mental health issues over the last decade, I wish he'd find an alternative way to get the story out there. Collaborate with another author he respects and take a design/managerial/editing role. Idk. Something. He strikes me as not being a genuine asshole the way GRRM is, but if Rothfuss ultimately decides to let the series go unfinished then I guess I'm wrong.

I don't give GRRM this benefit of the doubt. His "I'll only write in one room, and only if I feel like it" shit is ridiculous petulance.
Collaboration. What a great idea! Sanderson could edit it in two weeks. But not the right guy, IMO. Rothfuss’ ego would prevent collaboration with anyone, but just for fun, I was trying to think of someone who, with a similar style, would do a great job (ignoring the if “they would be willing” to help part). Hmmm...
 

ExTended

Journeyed there and back again
Collaboration. What a great idea! Sanderson could edit it in two weeks. But not the right guy, IMO. Rothfuss’ ego would prevent collaboration with anyone, but just for fun, I was trying to think of someone who, with a similar style, would do a great job (ignoring the if “they would be willing” to help part). Hmmm...
The only one with similar prose I can think of is Seanan McGuire. Her style is offly similar to that of Rothfuss.

But strangely enough - she is probably the only author in the world who's average published words per year are less than those of Rothfuss. :D
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
Who are we to judge?
His readers? The ones that made him crazy rich?

I get your explanation Jo, I really do. But also look at it from a reader's perspective. Take the ones here on this message board. We are a critical bunch. We give credit where credit is due, but we also call bullshit when we sense something is awry. And who better to pass judgement then your readers?

With this I'm not talking about his depression or him losing his muse or anything, just to the delay itself and the way Rothfuss (and GRRM for that matter) are communicating with their fans in regard to this topic.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
His readers? The ones that made him crazy rich?

I get your explanation Jo, I really do. But also look at it from a reader's perspective. Take the ones here on this message board. We are a critical bunch. We give credit where credit is due, but we also call bullshit when we sense something is awry. And who better to pass judgement then your readers?

With this I'm not talking about his depression or him losing his muse or anything, just to the delay itself and the way Rothfuss (and GRRM for that matter) are communicating with their fans in regard to this topic.
I get that. I enjoyed the first two books and want the third one to come out. I understand their communication is just crap (well, Rothfuss's more than Martin's, who at least does talk about it in his blog and gives some limited updates).

On a personal note, what makes me maddest about this sort of thing is that it does stop readers investing in trilogies and series that are incomplete. That, in turn, damages emerging authors who, if they don't make their sales targets, get dropped. (Happened to a good friend of mine, and it was devastating for them.) So I get the anger, and the knock on effects. But, at the same time - authors are people. Life happens. Crap happens. I don't know either of them well enough to know why it's happened. I do know I spent three years getting requests to write a sequel to Inish Carraig (although to be fair, I never promised one at the outset) and could not do it. The story would not work. Now it is and yippee.

Just because a book is written does not mean an editor is not going to want changes. Once one line changes, the whole book changes. In a big book, that can lead to a muddled mess that feels like it cannot be remedied. It's the worst time, when your book is not what it had been, and doesn't look like it will ever be what it needs to be. How do I know this isn't the case with them - and, if so, if everyone was putting pressure on me to fix it, and I didn't know how to, and it had to be me that did so, I'd panic for about ten years. :D
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
I get that. I enjoyed the first two books and want the third one to come out. I understand their communication is just crap (well, Rothfuss's more than Martin's, who at least does talk about it in his blog and gives some limited updates).

On a personal note, what makes me maddest about this sort of thing is that it does stop readers investing in trilogies and series that are incomplete. That, in turn, damages emerging authors who, if they don't make their sales targets, get dropped. (Happened to a good friend of mine, and it was devastating for them.) So I get the anger, and the knock on effects. But, at the same time - authors are people. Life happens. Crap happens. I don't know either of them well enough to know why it's happened. I do know I spent three years getting requests to write a sequel to Inish Carraig (although to be fair, I never promised one at the outset) and could not do it. The story would not work. Now it is and yippee.

Just because a book is written does not mean an editor is not going to want changes. Once one line changes, the whole book changes. In a big book, that can lead to a muddled mess that feels like it cannot be remedied. It's the worst time, when your book is not what it had been, and doesn't look like it will ever be what it needs to be. How do I know this isn't the case with them - and, if so, if everyone was putting pressure on me to fix it, and I didn't know how to, and it had to be me that did so, I'd panic for about ten years. :D

I think your personal note is an understandable and legitimate concern/complaint. Who is to blame? The reader (the ones who over generalize) or a couple of famous writers (a couple of bad apple spoiling the whole bunch)?

Personally, I think most writers are really ((what IMO I call) conscientious. Sanderson, Abraham, Weeks, Butcher, yourself. In the past I read almost only series. Did Rothfuss spoil that. Honestly I’m not sure. Maybe a little. But there are so many great completed series out there that I choose to finish the ones that interest me out of those off first. Why wait a year for the next installment? I don’t think it’s fair that “new” writers like you suffer for the “sins” of others but it’s part of the risk you take writing a series. The benefits are that it’s what you enjoy writing (your forte?) and many people are content waiting a year.

I can see where that sucks for newbies and I empathize with them. But it’s just a personal preference. I like mysteries but not the hard boiled ones. I don’t like pure cutsie “cozies” either. So until I knock off the finished ones that appeal to me first why switch? I don’t think lt’s fair to hold my preferences against me.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
I get that. I enjoyed the first two books and want the third one to come out. I understand their communication is just crap (well, Rothfuss's more than Martin's, who at least does talk about it in his blog and gives some limited updates).

On a personal note, what makes me maddest about this sort of thing is that it does stop readers investing in trilogies and series that are incomplete. That, in turn, damages emerging authors who, if they don't make their sales targets, get dropped. (Happened to a good friend of mine, and it was devastating for them.) So I get the anger, and the knock on effects. But, at the same time - authors are people. Life happens. Crap happens. I don't know either of them well enough to know why it's happened. I do know I spent three years getting requests to write a sequel to Inish Carraig (although to be fair, I never promised one at the outset) and could not do it. The story would not work. Now it is and yippee.

Just because a book is written does not mean an editor is not going to want changes. Once one line changes, the whole book changes. In a big book, that can lead to a muddled mess that feels like it cannot be remedied. It's the worst time, when your book is not what it had been, and doesn't look like it will ever be what it needs to be. How do I know this isn't the case with them - and, if so, if everyone was putting pressure on me to fix it, and I didn't know how to, and it had to be me that did so, I'd panic for about ten years. :D
That's a great insight Jo. Did GRRM and Rothfuss killed my appetite for unfinished series? I do actually think so. I do read unfinished series -for example Stormlight Archive and the Traitors Son Cycle-, but that's only because those authors have a proven track-record for publishing books at a regular rate. My experiences with Robert Jordan, GRRM and Rothfuss have made me very apprehensive about unfinished series though and I guess if more people feel the same way, new authors might be duped.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
I’m not holding anything against anyone - but I am putting into context what happens at the other end of things (Mark Lawrence blogged about it once).

If you are with a big publisher they have projected sales. Fail to meet them and book two and three might never be released = unfinished series.

If you are a self publisher time becomes more difficult with each book you are managing. Lack of sales = no income = day job = unfinished series.

What I try to do is support new authors whose work I like. I have more 99p kindle books than I’ll ever read (buying on 99p is perfectly okay - authors want sales when on promo).

For more established authors I’ll often wait longer - especially if they’re trad as publishing scheldules are often slower.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
This. If people want to treat an author starting a series as being akin to an unspoken business contract, then you have to accept every business contract in the world has break clauses. No purchaser in the world has the right to lock the supplier in a room and say "You can't quit". They can and they will and the history of half-assed albums/greatest hits compilations etc.etc. in the music industry should give pause to anyone who thinks forcing creatives to do things they don't want to for fear of financial penalty is a good idea.
Not a business contract, no. But the problem - as others have pointed out - is that Rothfuss claimed over a decade ago, when his first book was published, that the entire trilogy was already complete and just needed some editing and tweaking. In retrospect, that seems disingenuous. He even committed hubris by saying something to the effect of how he wasn't going to be one of those authors who keeps readers dangling for years. Umm, oops...

He also gets angry when people ask him about the book, but still he constantly trolls his readers with pictures of huge piles of manuscripts and other annoying social media shenanigans. This has nothing to do with his depression, as he did this long before he got that. It's him being disrespectful against his audience.
This. If Rothfuss and GRRM think it's annoying to be repeatedly asked about their next book, how would they like it if everyone stopped giving a shit and no one cared whether their series finished or not, and their proud works were just forgotten?

The same applies to a writer like GRRM. I vividly remember him giving the finger during a Comic Con when his audience asked when he would finish the Winds of Winter.
If I remember, that was more in response to questions about whether he was going to pull a Robert Jordan and die before finishing the series. As annoying as his procrastination has been, I think giving the finger to people asking if he would please finish the book before dying is actually an acceptable response.

Rothfuss delay is something I just don't get. He said the original trilogy was done or something close to it. So why such a long delay? I think part of it is this endless desire to be perfect in his writing. And because that isn't possible it's one thing that drove him to depression or maybe has him quit writing.
Same here. For a guy to go from claiming the series was already finished to his being unable to give a final time-frame a decade later is just... bizarre. Was he actively lying when he said that? Or is there some reason he has had to re-write the books so heavily, that it is essentially as if he has to start from scratch? Or, as you say, is he just an OCD-level perfectionist who refuses to release the book until every punctuation mark has been revised?

I learned an important lesson ... to never buy books of unfinished series. There are authors I’ll buy nonetheless, but in general I’ve become much more cautious.
That would be a shame. Unless an author is Sanderson or JK Rowling or someone else who is assured of every book selling by the truck load, readers not buying books in a series will be a detriment to the author. With weak sales of their current books, the publishers will simply assume that the series is not doing well, and might actually abandon the project.

Other authors should not be punished for the frustration you feel with a select few.

But instead of being completely quiet about it, he teases the fans with literally every chance he gets.

I'd just put a small, shy and unassuming link over here:
https://www.tor.com/2018/03/07/patr...chronicle-prologue-the-doors-of-stone-book-3/

And a direct quote of his for the lazy ones:
"I am an author who has tricked you into reading a trilogy that is a million-word prologue."

I call bastard on that. No other way around it.

G. R. R. Matrin's excuse about not being able to work, because someone offered him a free trip to Dubai for an interview and he likes FREE trips... you've' earned 200mil.$ from your books, if you cannot afford a 20k trip to Dubai on your own at a more convenient time and use that as an excuse for being too busy to write... well, that's just disrespectful to the readers' intellect.
I don't know what Rothfuss's issue is (apart from the depression, which is awful but doesn't quite seem to be the full reason for the delay), but I think GRRM's is pretty clear - he doesn't know how to finish the series, and has enough money now that doing so isn't his primary concern in life.

He stretched himself too far with the various sub-plots of ASoIaF. The very thing he frequently gets praised for - how the series is complex and impressively detailed, realistically depicted, etc. - is the thing that is preventing him from finishing it. It's too complex, there are too many sub-plots, he has too many balls in the air. There is a 0.0% chance that ASoIaF gets completed.

He strikes me as not being a genuine asshole the way GRRM is, but if Rothfuss ultimately decides to let the series go unfinished then I guess I'm wrong.

I don't give GRRM this benefit of the doubt. His "I'll only write in one room, and only if I feel like it" shit is ridiculous petulance.
Interesting. From the comments here, it seems Rothfuss comes across as more of an asshole than GRRM.


All in all, I would say that the best way for fans to get their message across is to vote with their wallets. Do not buy anything that Rothfuss and Martin write. Even more, stop asking them about their series. Where no amount of prodding or pleading has worked, perhaps the trick to get their asses into gear is to make them fear that people have forgotten about them.

Being irrelevant can, sometimes, be worse than being hated.