I finished reading Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear last night, and I was awestruck. The sheer craftsmanship that went into the story - not just the plot, but the world and the cultures and the layers upon layers of perfection... my mind is still too boggled to even contemplate how much work went into that.
I am a writer. And I damn well want to be a published money-making
author one day. But I doubt I will ever write anything as intricate as
this story. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd even want to.
Not that the book isn't a masterpiece. The way the two timelines mirror each
other, the way the different threads of story weave together and apart again as Kvothe faces
adventure and disaster again and again somehow always coming out a
little more on top - and yet all the while, thanks to the 'present day'
narration, you know roughly how it ends and so you wait for the other shoe
It's agonizing, delicious and has driven me a little bit insane. If I could write like that I would weep for the sheer beauty of
the craft, but that is not how I aspire to write. That kind of epic
story is not the kind of story I want to tell.
Over the roughly four days, three late nights and most of last evening
that it took me to read The Wise Man's Fear, I was nearly always caught in the
grips of the story. But when I wasn't, I was lamenting its winding
nature, the way things always go wrong, and how the
only stated goal is something we KNOW is going to fail.
I don't write tragedies.* I may have written a story in which the main character's entire family dies - but it wasn't a tragedy. I don't write tragedies and I certainly don't read them if I can help it.
The Wise Man's Fear reads a little bit like a tragedy, because we know where the main character ends up, and it isn't pretty. I would not have
picked up The Name of the Wind (book one) if I had known this, because I can't stand the thought of the sad 'present day' being the end of Kvothe's story. (this also means I will come back for more, but I digress...)
In my stories, yes, I torture my characters. Murder your darlings, after
all. And in my main WIP I kill off most of the cast, including a love
interest, and at the end leave the main character locked up in the last
place she wants to be. But it's not a tragedy because despite all of
that stuff I just mentioned, if you look at things a certain way, you can see that she "wins". She got what she wanted, even if the price she had to pay was many times higher than she expected.
I guess what it all comes down to is that people have plenty of
different kinds of stories they like to tell, and that they like to
read. As both a writer and a reader I can admire Patrick Rothfuss's
work with the awe it deserves. But if I want to love my stories and have that love push me to craft them to be the best they can be, I have to know what kind of stories I have it in me to tell.
I don't write tragedies. I don't write "setting" books. I don't write epics. But sometimes, when the story is good enough, I like to read a book that is a breathtaking combination of all three.
*Well, I did write this slightly creepy contest winning horror story off of the prompt
"love". But that doesn't count. Right?
Have you read The Wise Man's Fear? What did you think of it? What kind of stories do you have it in you to write?