“It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.” (The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss)
Can fantasy writing ever be good? Without a doubt. For we have the Suzanna Clarkes, Neil Gaimans, and the T. H Whites of the world, do we not? These authors are more imaginative and precise with their prose any two literary authors taken together. But there is something about the genre that leads to bland, repetitive writing – perhaps because the genre tends to value plot over prose. Even some of the most famous authors, Rowling, Jordan, Martin, can be repetitive and overly descriptive. Rothfuss has a huge following of fans who would put his writing squarely in the first category, but I am less sure. Rothfuss is fantastic with imagery, excellent with the narrative voice, and exemplary with dialogue. But for all that, he is too overwritten for my taste.
On this second book in the presumed Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy, Rothfuss’s writing reminded me strongly of Pat Conroy’s. So strongly, in fact, that though they are on opposite ends of the fantasy scale, one being high-fantasy and the other being only mildly magical realism, I think that they would make tremendous read-alikes. They both have egotistical, arrogant narrators who know how to tell a story, and love reminding their audience of that fact. And they are both so overwritten that you don’t know whether to be embarrassed for their grandiose metaphors, or to allow yourself to enjoy them without judgement.
Overwritten or no, if book 3 of this trilogy came out today, I’d wait in line all night to read it.
Buy – Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Ending: not quite a cliff-hanger, but definitely not a complete work in-and-of itself
Incidental Learning: Lute playing, story telling
Further Reading: As I said, Conroy is your man if you like Rothfuss.