Patrick Rothfuss – A to Z: P
Posted by Amos M. Carpenter
P is for Patrick Rothfuss, a fantasy author who has written two of my favourite books and is currently working on the third of the series (The Kingkiller Chronicle).
He looks a little like a cross between a yeti and a hobbit, or maybe between Hagrid and a garden gnome, but I mean that in the nicest way. According to his about page, his breakthrough in his attempts to sell his manuscript came when he won a writing competition by submitting a chapter of his book. (See, even those seemingly dull short story competitions can be useful!)
Book 1 of The Kingkiller Chronicle was published in 2007 and is called The Name of the Wind. Book 2, The Wise Man’s Fear, followed in 2011. Although I only came across them relatively late (reading them in 2012/2013, both are excellent reads and I can highly recommend them.
One of the little things that nag me in his books is that Rothfuss is one of those people who believes that “a couple” should no longer be followed by “of”, as you sometimes hear in spoken (mainly American) English. To me, written English shouldn’t drop the “of” and every time I read something like “a couple minutes later…” or “… gave me a couple apples” the (to me) sloppy grammar rips me out of the story enough to “break my immersion”. There are a couple of other quirks and several errors (which I can never help but notice, whether I want to or not), but mainly Rothfuss writes very well, interspersing the narrative with the occasional use of great poetry, and creating some wonderfully memorable characters (how great is Auri? Or Elodin?) along the way. The great dialogue between the characters makes the story very believable within the context of the carefully crafted fantasy world, rich with its own history and legends. The magic in his books is one of the most well-thought-out I’ve ever come across, to the point that each of the “laws” governing it make immediate sense to the reader.
What I also really like (possibly because I’m attempting to do something similar in the manuscript I’m working on, maybe I’m biased there) is the use of a “story around the story”. In it, the main character, Kvothe, is recounting tales of his life to “The Chronicler”, who writes them down over the course of three days while staying in Kvothe’s inn. Kvothe, once famous (and indeed notorious), has settled in an out-of-the-way village and is only known there as “Kote”, not wishing to reveal his true identity. Each of the books covers one day of storytelling, and the reader is left to wonder at the discrepancy between the lively younger Kvothe and the older version who seemingly wants nothing to do with his own history.
In the “story within the story”, the characters tell more stories, making it a case of “stories within the story within the story”, if you’re still following me. (Reminds me a little of Inception, where you have a dream within a dream within a dream….) I think it’s a great way to give the reader a hint of things to come without spoiling it; that is, the reader still desperately wants to know what exactly happened to get Kvothe from his younger self to his older one. Fascinatingly, the switches between the “inner” and “outer” story (in “interlude” chapters) never broke my “sense of immersion” at all.
The blurb on the first book has to be one of the best I’ve ever seen – this is how to immediately give the reader picking up your book in a book store a sense that she is holding something epic, something special:
My name is Kvothe
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
With all the makings of one of the grand epic fantasy series of this century (I know it’s a bit early, but still), I am eagerly anticipating the release of the third and final book, The Doors of Stone.
About Amos M. CarpenterWeb dev by day, author by night, and generally interested in (and opinionated about) way too many things.
Posted on 19 April, 2014, in A to Z Challenge Part II, Books, Writing and tagged atozchallenge, author, books, epic fantasy, fantasy, patrick rothfuss, review, story within a story, the kingkiller chronicle, the name of the wind, the wise man's fear. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.