Today I delve into the controversial topic that is the waiting time between books in trilogies and analyse both sides of the ticking hand. Who is right in this discussion?
Since the first trilogy ever written (I tried to research if such a thing was listed but didn’t find anything), readers have been demanding the next book in as little time as possible, or if the author has given a date, then demanding they at least stick to that date.
This has led to many clashes over the years, the authors having to deal with daily doses of criticism regarding their ‘time-management problems’. Some of the authors that have to deal with this are George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss.
I’m going to use Rothfuss as an example as I follow him more closely than Martin/others.
From the comments I have read, I see a range of different excuses on why Patrick should or shouldn’t listen to his readers and publish the third book to his fantastic trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle. My aim is to assimilate them all into this blog post and determine who has the higher ground in this matter.
So, why should he listen?
There has been one comment in particular that caught my attention. It was in this post that I first witnessed the conflict between Rothfuss (and those readers that defend him) and his readers. I recommend checking this out.
The first argument I noticed was that some readers feel entitled to the final book because they invested time and money into his trilogy. It was an interesting argument to read and I applaud the commenters for being civil and not resorting to name calling (as is the expected response when someone is confronted online). Building on this point, they go on to say that Rothfuss promised them a final book and so feel right in bombarding him with snarky comments, at every chance they get, until he releases the final book.
Now I ask, isn’t this a recipe for disaster?
Maintaining this kind of attitude towards Rothfuss and the final book will only build a negative mindset that will be very hard to set aside if/when the time comes to read the book. The end result can only be an unsatisfying read as the book will never live up to such unfair expectations.
For others, the wait is too much. They have declared themselves uncaring and have moved on to faster-growing pastures. Adieu.
Is this surprising?
You see, Rothfuss hasn’t really done himself any favours with how he has reacted to the endless questions and barbed comments. Silence. Rothfuss says he will post updates on the book when he feels there is something to update his readers on, but those have been few and far between. Only from scouring the posts and comments on Rothfuss’ blog have I pieced together the reality of the situation. Rothfuss is struggling to finish/polish/confront the book. I can easily imagine that his final book must look like a colossal mountain that he has to climb, only publishing it when he has reached the top, and I certainly don’t envy him that climb.
What makes Rothfuss such a special case to me is that this is a trilogy that has been in production for more than ten years (his first book published 10 years ago). That is pretty crazy to me*. This isn’t an epic series like “The Wheel of Time” or “A Song of Ice and Fire”, for which one can understand the wait, right? Granted he has written a couple of novellas (I haven’t read The Slow Regard of Silent Things – yet!) and I don’t doubt they are quality pieces of work, but still, 10 years.
*If you know other trilogies that have taken that long, let me know! This is my feeling but it might be the case that this isn’t such a long time…
So could Rothfuss handle the situation a little better?
Perhaps. Perhaps he could update his readers every single day on his mental state and every time he edits a word. Would that be fair?
Having talked about the readers who feel justified in their reasons for pestering him every day, I also want to mention those who stand beside him, that have some idea of the struggles he must be facing (after all, he does a lot and has A LOT on his plate), and are sympathetic to his situation.
For every snarky comment meant to “motivate”, there have been those who bring an understanding nature into the mix.
What do they say?
Rothfuss has every right to take his time as it’s his book and if he wants it to be as perfect as can be, we will deal with waiting. There doesn’t have to be a great amount of pressure placed on Rothfuss about finishing the final book.
There are tonnes and tonnes of amazing books at our fingertips. While Rothfuss fights his demons, we can easily satisfy our bookish needs with other works (I recommend Robin Hobb – the whole lot – though she hasn’t finished either, so take your time).
I, like many others, believe Rothfuss shouldn’t have to apologise for the wait. I’m just going to be happy to reacquaint myself with the sexy Kvothe and his antics.
So don’t worry Rothfuss, you take as long as you need.