[whoops! The formatting on my kindle version is slightly odd and it looks like I did not in fact read the entire first chapter, there’s still plenty more to go. I’ll do the next in a followup post]
IT’S ROTHFUSS TIME Y’ALL
Unfortunately this isn’t Book 3 in the Saga of Kvothe, it’s just a 150-ish page novella. And that means we’re going to squeeze every last drop of blog-scrutiny we can out of it, starting with the cover:
This is the
European US cover. It has some stairs in it, and a church or something that I guess is supposed to be wizard school. It’s not very interesting.
And here’s the more visually interesting
US European cover, which depicts Auri as looking about eight years old. In keeping with how these books usually treat her, then.
Looking over the early fan reactions I’m seeing a lot of negativity, not necessarily to the book itself but because some people are mad as hell about Doors of Stone not coming out sooner. This raises the always-fascinating question of whether authors have some sort of obligation to their fans to finish new books on time (see also George RR Martin). On one hand I can understand people’s frustration, and Rothfuss himself didn’t really help by announcing way back in 2007 that the entire trilogy was more or less finished, but on the other hand a lot of weird assumptions tend to go into these attitudes. I think people forget how much control the publisher has over a book’s release- Rothfuss can decide a book is almost ready to go all he wants, but if his editor disagrees then it’s not coming out yet. He’s already said in the past that The Name of The Wind required substantial editing, so I’d wager those “almost finished” second and third books turned out to not be quite as almost finished as he thought.
A lot of fans are also castigating the guy for running fundraisers and giving interviews. Hey, news flash: authors do like to have a life outside of writing, and publicizing yourself and your books is part of the business.
Anyway, the book itself is prefaced with a somewhat odd author’s note that comes across as both defensive and self-aggrandizing. In it Rothfuss warns potential readers off of buying it because it’s “a strange story” and “doesn’t do a lot of things a classic story is supposed to do”, both of which are the equivalent of saying that people hate your protagonist because they’re too cool and interesting.
The marketing people aren’t going to like this. My editor is going to have a fit.
If that was true I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been published.
On the other hand , if you’d like to learn more about Auri, this story has a lot to offer. If you love words and mysteries and secrets. If you’re curious about the Underthing and alchemy. If you want to know more about the hidden turnings of my world. . . .
Boy do I ever!
Chapter 1: The Far Below Bottom of Things
Christ these chapter titles
We open with Auri in the Underthing, which if you’ve forgotten is the network of hidden tunnels below Wizard School that no one seems to actually use for anything. She’s preparing for a visit from (I’m guessing) Kvothe in seven days. Everything is very twee and whimsical.
It was a white day, then. A deep day. A finding day.
Then Auri looked around. She saw her perfect bed. Just her size. Just so. She checked her sitting chair. Her cedar box. Her tiny silver cup.
If I point out all of the twee and whimsy we’re going to be here till the sun explodes, but basically the entire book appears to be written like this. It’s not quite as bad as Auri’s actual dialogue from the previous two books- I have yet to come across any walnuts made out of secrets or whatever the fuck- but still pretty grating.
And above that was the mantelpiece : her yellow leaf, her box of stone,
I wonder if this is any way plot-relevant, Mystery Boxes being a big thing in this world.
Nothing was nothing else. Nothing was anything it shouldn’t be.
So back in the previous two let’s reads I complained that Auri appeared to be a horrendously poorly written stab at depicting mental illness. I stand by that, but in the interest of fairness I should point out that while preparing for these posts I came across several Rothfuss fans who said that Auri’s apparent OCD spoke to their own struggles with the condition. Hell, maybe Rothfuss is writing from personal experience with that aspect.
Auri has some sort of alchemical…. thing called Foxen, which she activates using drops of a mysterious liquid.
Still more his brightness grew till he was all-over tremulant with shine. Then he sat proudly in his dish, looking like a blue-green ember slightly larger than a coin.
Now I’m just picturing this thing having a Calcifer-style googly-eyed face.
There were three ways out of Mantle. There was a hallway, and a doorway, and a door. The last of these was not for her.
Mystery Doors are also a big thing in Kvotheland, of course.
Auri twees and whimsies about some more, looking at various random objects that she’s ferreted away in her hiding place. Among these are holly branches, which we previously learned ward off fairies. Eventually she unwraps some linen from a pipe.
I get the feeling this was mainly written so Rothfuss could have fun playing with language. Which is fine, the dude can be genuinely inventive at times, but my problem is that often him playing with language consists of meaningless nonsense like this:
The Twelve was one of the rare changing places of the Underthing. It was wise enough to know itself, and brave enough to be itself, and wild enough to change itself while somehow staying altogether true.
I also wish that he’d occasionally remember to tell a story while he was at it.
[Note: as I said previously, updates to this are going to be slower than normal due to
all the interviews I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, so please have patience]