Words on Words: On books, patience and Chronoglacialis

6 mins read

We often field questions at the bookstore regarding the release dates of series books, particularly ones whose appearance on the horizon is a bit overdue. The world champion in this regard is Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller trilogy.

There are two reasons for this. First, it is a store favorite and widely enjoyed in the community. Second, it is years and years overdue. The author is sick of being asked about it, the publisher is sick of being asked about it.  We tire of having no information to pass on.

Personally, it has been more than 11 years since my former Penguin publishers representative, Peter Giannoni, mailed me an Advanced Reader of book one, The Name of the Wind, telling me that he thought I would like it (true) and that the author had written all three books while he was in grad school so there wouldn’t be a wait involved beyond the usual one year between each release (not true). At this point, seven years out from when I read book two, Wise Man’s Fear, it seemed time to get some hard facts about the cause for the continuing absence of book three.

The way I decided to approach this was to pull together a list of possible causes, and then ask someone who would know for sure if any of them were true. Fortunately Bast himself, one of the book’s characters, agreed to review the materials and give his assessment. First of all here’s the list.

  1. Though the Chronicler is a fictional character, Kvothe really did make a deal with Patrick Rothfuss himself to relate his story. Unfortunately Kvothe changed his mind after the second day, and disappeared so that the third book will never come out unless Kvothe reappears.
  2. Rothfuss always intended to write a two-book unfinished trilogy as a kind of malevolent art form which he hoped would impress Andy Warhol’s ghost.
  3. Patrick Rothfuss

    Rothfuss has played an infamous practical joke on the universe by publishing the Kingkiller conclusion without anyone realizing it. Book three, whose announced title is The Doors of Stone, was published with a different title and attributed author, The Darkling Child, by Terry Brooks. Though published as though it were the fourth book in The Defenders of Shannara series it is actually The Doors of Stone written by Rothfuss. This was diabolically clever because no one actually read The Darkling Child so it was the perfect crime.

  4. Though changelings are traditionally infants left in cradles, an enterprising goblin replaced the actual Patrick Rothfuss with the person who is currently masquerading as actually working on book three.
  5. Rothfuss has a rare condition, chronoglacialis, in which the sufferer experiences life at one-sixth the speed of normal time. Thus, those complaining about the long delay are being spectacularly insensitive.
  6. Kvothe cast two interwoven Sisyphean  spells on Rothfuss. The first making perfection a compulsory absolute and the second allowing him to see an infinite number of perspectives on his work making perfection and imperfection alternate indefinitely as the endless supply of perspectives appear successively, each one undoing the perfection attained by the last.

Kenny:  You seem like someone who knows a good deal about what is going on behind the normal field of vision.

Bast: Would you like to have me test that theory out on yourself?

Kenny: Umm. Absolutely not.

Bast: You are not quite as much of a fool as I supposed.

Kenny: Well, there’s still time here to prove yourself right.

Bast: Very true, but how can I help you?

Kenny: I was hoping you could assess the list above and tell us whether any of them is true.

Bast: Yes, one of them is the truth.

Kenny: Aha. Which one?

Bast: Wouldn’t you like to know!

Kenny: I see, well can you rule any of them out?

Bast: Is this part of your effort to have me reassess your character?

Kenny: Not at all.

Bast: Okay then. I’ll tell you that it’s not number two because Warhol is not dead. I personally helped fake his death.

Kenny: I see. Can you tell me where he is now?

Bast: No.

Kenny: Okay, are there any other ones we can eliminate from consideration?

Bast: Yes I would suggest eliminating the five which are wrong. Think, man!

Kenny: Hmmn, well I just took a look at The Darkling Child. Ouch. It is definitely not answer three. There are no goblins in the Kingkiller world so I’ll strike that one out too. If Rothfuss had chronoglacialis he would still be making more progress than he has. Hmmn. I don’t think Kvothe would just run off. I think the casting of the spells, answer 6, is the only really likely explanation.

Bast: I agree.

Kenny: You do?

Bast: I do. and now we turn to the little matter of my fee.

Kenny: Umm. Signing off here!

(Note the interview portion above originally appeared in Publishers Weekly’s Shelftalker)

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