The Real Reason Rothfuss’ Kingkiller 3 Is Not Here Yet

Kenny Brechner -- April 27th, 2017

One thing many booksellers have in common is a weariness of answering questions about the publication date of the third book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller trilogy. It is a weariness shared by others connected to the book as well. The author is sick of being asked about it, the publisher is sick of being asked about it, and readers are sick of asking booksellers about it. It has been over 11 years since my former Penguin rep, Peter Giannoni, mailed me an ARC 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. 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 BrooksThough 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!


21 thoughts on “The Real Reason Rothfuss’ Kingkiller 3 Is Not Here Yet

  1. Gav

    In my opinion there are a couple of main reasons he hasn’t finished the book. Either he has written himself into a corner and is struggling with the conclusion of the book and it has been easier to concentrate on the Wordbuilders stuff and other pursuits as a distraction. Or he is trying to worldbuild (pardon the play on Wordbuild) in the sense that he is getting the merch out there like cards, t shirts, fancy cartography etc. As he agreed a TV deal for the first two books he may be waiting for those to become a complete commercial and financial success it would make sense to try and win over a whole new audience so when the last book is released the expectation has reached fever pitch.

    The guy has a family and deserves to make money like everyone else so I don’t begrudge him holding out for the ideal time to release the book but 7 years is too long and I get the fans frustration at this point. An author can run the risk of leaving it too long and people actually losing interest or forgetting large parts the backstory and becoming apathetic to rereading them again. I think if it drags on much longer (Beyond 2018) fans could become angry and turn away, especially if the TV show bombs.

  2. Vystrel

    We all saw the picture of the completed manuscript from like 5 years ago or whatever it was. The reason why he never appears to be working on the book anymore is because he isn’t. Because it’s done. He just decided he didn’t like it, or that it wouldn’t be well received, or that if he published it that it wouldn’t be his anymore, or who knows what pathetic other reason. He’s a manchild that completely takes his readers/customers for granted. People don’t buy books in a series without the expectation of the series being finished in a timely manner, and authors shouldn’t sell any books of a planned series if they don’t intend to take finishing the series very seriously. As in, ‘hey, this is my job, and I sold something to people on the promise of finishing what I started, so I better get to work.’. In my opinion, Rothfus doesn’t ever want/intend to finish/release the last book. He wants to pull a GRRM (who will also never finish his series now, mark my words) and let a TV show (and team of writers) finish it for him instead. He strikes me as an incredibly lazy guy, and I think this is a very appealing path for someone like him. In any case, his first two books were pretty good, but certainly not the spun gold some people act like. My real anger stems from the fact that I was misled and only realized it after investing many hours of my life on a false promise.

    1. Abenthy

      In the words of Rothfuss himself, authors “are not your bitch”. It’s his story, his property, and he can choose whether to share it with you or not. he does not have some kind of contract with you, or some obligation to appeal to your feelings. try writing for more than 4 hours every day and produce something of perfect substance, all the while having your own family and problems to deal with. you guys act like authors have nothing other then writing for you and it’s ridiculous.

      1. Victor Hester

        It’s been 7 years. He could write a half of a page per day and it would have been done last year. Your a fool if you think he is working on it. there is an implied contract here, so yes he owes me and the other millions of people the last book. So he is my bitch. He is lazy pc of crap, if he had any work ethic at all he would have finished this 5 years ago. You have 10’s of thousands of examples of people who wrote all 3 books in less than 5 years. Many in 3 or less. If he wanted to take 12 years or 20, totally 100% his prerogative, but then hold the first two until the thirds done. Don’t ask us (the people buying the books) to front you millions of dollars and then walk away. You excuse makers make me sick. “Oh, he is just trying to write the best book possible”. Yea right, he hasn’t touched this book in years and until you lame-o’s stop making excuses for him he will never change. I for one am going to boycott DAW books until they force this jerk to fulfill his contract.

  3. Tracie

    My hat is off to Kenny, as these are my favorite and the best most likely reasons for the delay. Thank you, And may I also suggest you write your version of the “probable” ending to The Doors of Stone.

  4. jim bean

    if i had known he took 18 years to finish the first one i wouldn’t have started reading this most beautiful fantasy. it looks like i might die before pat finishes it. i’m 73.

    1. Bob Narly

      It’s easy to come up with an idea for a story, it’s always harder to come up with a good ending, like the wheel of time books, series should have been a trilogy, but Robert Jordan’s rambling just kept it going(why did I waste my time). Lucky for us he died and we got Brandon Sanderson to finally finish it. My guess is he isn’t creative enough to find a way to end the series and he fears losing his popularity, because as long as he doesn’t publish people still think he is a good writer. I’m sure he already has more money then him or his family will ever need, so it will never be done for that reason.

  5. Kris

    The real reason? Because he doesn’t have to. Just because something is a non-profit doesn’t mean that he can’t be paid a modest salary from his World Builder charity. As someone else noted, there is no shortage of people willing to buy the various pieces of merchandise that he funds through kickstarter and the like. The most recent deck of cards campaign has over $500K pledged on something that had an original goal of $25K. I will grant you that they are a very well done and beautiful set of cards that I’m sure took a lot of work to collaborate and produce, still it’s a fairly inexpensive thing to actually produce. So there’s quite a bit of profit to be had there.

    I will caveat the above with saying that I firmly believe Mr. Rothfuss is actually one hell of an outstanding guy. I have no doubt that everything he’s involved in is because he believes in it, and honestly wants to make a difference and help people. Nor would I begrudge him a salary from those efforts to help support himself as he takes on the immense amount of work needed to organize and run the fundraisers every year. I am merely pointing out that because he may (and I honestly do not know if he does) be able to support himself and his family from that effort, there might be less pressure to produce the next book.

    And I also believe that he has a bit of a quandary story wise. With one book to go, we have probably 10 years to cover from where we left off the last book, and where we found him at the beginning of the first. You can’t gloss over too much, because the sheer detail and depth of these stories is what a lot of people really enjoy. His universe is broad enough to support more than just a trilogy, but he still has to wrap up THIS story in just one book.

    Brandon Sanderson faced something similar when tasked with completing the Wheel of Time series. Simply too much story to be told to wrap up in one book. I look forward to the next book in the series, and I enjoy re-reading the two he’s published. However I have no illusions that he will finish this trilogy anytime within the next several years.

  6. The Nightguy

    I believe Rothfuss’ delay is an act of professional courtesy.
    He is simply allowing George R. R. Martin to finish his long overdue conclusion(s) to GoT.
    Overall a very respectful attitude worthy of acclaim, not the growing crowd of pitchfork wielding fans in evidence on a daily basis. 😉

    **heads off to sharpen his tines**

  7. Addiction314

    Here is the problem with the final book of the trilogy: it is a little-known fact that Tool’s next album is a concept piece based on the Kingkiller Chronicle…and can’t be finished until the final book of the trilogy is complete (Maynard is a HUGE Rothfuss fan throughout all aspects of the wine-making process). No issues yet…Tool can do what they want, right? But Rothfuss has promised himself to base Kvothe’s music in The Doors of Stone on Tool’s forthcoming album to show the angst and darker side of a teenager in his 17+ years…and now you see the problem. Neither artist(s) can finish their promised work until the other does…and we wait in futility.

  8. Steven M. Vance

    I suspect that this series may have gone the way of Diane Duane’s Door Into Fire/Door Into Shadow/Door Into (???). She, apparently, prefers writing Star Trek and young adult novels. A real shame, from my perspective. She came up with something truly original and ahead of its time, then walked away from it.

    I can understand Patrick Rothfuss might be tired of hearing the “When…?” question. Of course, the flip side of that is why would I buy all his “add-on” products (card decks, t-shirts, special editions, etc.) when I don’t even know if the series will be finished? It all comes back to communication. At least take the time to tell your fans how it is going…if you want to keep them.

  9. Zirth of 3 Ghosts

    I hate the wait but will continue to wait as long as the story is told in full. If that means a third and final book or 5 more books at 1100 pages so be it. I prefer the 5 books at 1100 pages.

  10. Clifton Hill

    Well, and here’s the issue with writing: The author labors to make a masterpiece to make sure it sells and explodes across the scene. If successful they now have to replicate said success, but make it even better with a sequel. And of course the issue is only compounded by follow-ups.

    Great expectations and all. How can an author of such a respected work do it justice when expectations are so high? They will only want the best for their fans and to do their work justice, but that is like diving down the rabbit hole head first.

    I can only imagine that Rothfuss wishes he had truly finished all 3 books out the gate before the books grew to such unsustainable expectations. The sequels might not have been quite as well-tuned and amazing as they no doubt are—a hypothesis based on Wise Man’s Fear—but any creative can be plagued by the wish to make their work better.

    Here’s hoping that Rothfuss gains the comfort with the final book(s) of the work and his publisher hits “send.”

  11. Ashley Hardwick

    An entertaining read! You showed up on my google search to see what if any progress had been made towards publishing and releasing the third volume. Thus, while I enjoyed your post, I wish you did have some real reasons for the absence of the third volume.

  12. Donna Martin

    I check periodically for release date, but I think Mr. Rothfuss wants us all to die unfinished like his story. It seems a cruel and unusual punishment for us all
    I would never do that if I wrote such a wonderful story. Perhaps he can’t figure out how to finish.

  13. An'e

    I think Kenny with your imajination and obvious knowlege of P.R.’s characters that u should finish the darn book. I used to love mr.Rothfussy but that is over. No author who creates a story like that and then leaves those, who adore him for it ,hanging in pain for this many years is heartless. To mr.Rothfussy:
    No man can be awesome without a heart. Have a care Tin man

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