So, there's an established phenomenon that I don't think anyone has coined a snappy title for yet, in my head I call it "Fabulous but Unpredicted Success Leads to a Complete lack of Editorial Constraint or Outside Input Whatsoever which-in-turn Leads to Creative Stagnation and Catastrophe". FUSLCECOIWLCSC. Foo-Sil-Kec-Oiw-Lecuscu. Not going to be printed in a newspaper any time soon, but it's true in all kinds of media.
1. Someone outside the established system will bring in something new that no one has a great deal of faith in
2. They fight tooth and nail to have "their vision" produced as they want it
3. They make more money than God when it's released, terrifying those inside the system that they may no longer know what the audience wants.
4. Those inside the system, shocked and numb, relinquish any sort of control
5. The outsider is left to run roughshod over their own projects and ruin whatever originally great thing it was they had made.
In film: George Lucas/The Wachowski's
In Games: Peter Molyneaux
In Books: Patrick Rothfuss
I think it's an important preamble, because very nearly every page of this 1000 page epic screams "edit me". It needs the book-world equivalent of Roger Corman to enter the room with something pointy, and stand over the shoulder of this bearded, smug, chubby goon
and jab him with it until he gets on with telling the damn story he set out to tell, before he becomes Robert Jordan Jr in earnest.
On the positive side of things, if you pick this book up you will have to fight with yourself to put it down. The truly sad thing about Rothfuss is that he can quite literally write about Kvothe buttering toast and trying on clothes and make it bubble-gum-paper unputdownable. His skill with pacing, narrative and prose is such that, until you start to think really hard about what it is you're reading, your brain is lulled into a quiet, appreciative silence for the 390,000 words contained herein. I mention the word count, because allegedly the only guidance he received from his editor was "not to make it so long that it can't be bound in a paperback format". i.e. over 420,000 words.
I know this is very "meta" so far, but it's absolutely crucial to understand that it's not Pat's fault. Well, obviously it is, but it really isn't entirely
his fault. His success with a book that, let's face it, is Earthsea viewed through J.K. Rowling has benumbed anyone around him that could offer criticism, constructive or otherwise.
On the negatives, for those that are interested, here's a quick laundry list of the lowlights:
- The end of chapter 107 is the most hilariously offensive thing I've ever read on the subject of women. I mean, wow.
- The Adem were the ultimate "noble savage" society. That they happened to be more or less based on Chinese/Japanese culture may have been coincidence, but I don't think so.
- While he's a good writer, he can't put an exciting action scene together for chips.
- Almost all the sub-plots of the first third are completely cyclical.
- Auri and Devi are abysmal characters that feel stapled on. Apparently in an interview he has now admitted they weren't in the original story as he wrote it. It really, really
I can't go any further into the faults without completely ruining it for you, but suffice to say it's flabby where we don't care, lean where we do, Denna dominates fully 100 pages of screen-time (and is even more annoying this time around) and there are 60 full pages of egregious faery boning, wherein Kvothe is schooled in the arts of love by an ancient mythical Fuck-Goddess.
Lastly, and maybe I was spoiled by an Abercrombie special before I read this in the shape of The Heroes: There was no character development in this book. Everyone in here feels flat, one dimensional (two dimensions tops for central characters) and dull. Until you really force yourself to think about this, you won't even notice it, because his writing is that good
I have no doubt I'll read the third one because at least half the book was an absolute blast, but please, please: Edit
EDIT: Score updated as I recently stumbled upon this
blog post and now think that rather than being a bit of a hopeless goon, Patrick Rothfuss has probably got Real Actual brain problems he should seek therapy to help him address.