Patrick Rothfuss was my gateway drug

My name is Elliot Parker and I am addicted to High Fantasy.  How did I get here?  Where did it all go wrong? I only read Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, the occasional Sci-Fi novel or mainstream Daniel Silva or the like.  Now I’m here devoting hours and hours to scenery and world building, learning about different species, languages, calendars, religions.  It. Is. Out. Of. Control.  This isn’t me! I love fast-paced plot, blinding action, female protagonists, minor world building.

I remember how it all started.  One day I wandered into the outskirts of my genre by reading Sara J Maas’ series Court of Thorns and Roses.  This is considered an Epic Fantasy and also Teen/YA.  These books were paced slower than I’m used to but still had many of the hallmarks that I call home in my reading space.  I finished the series and began looking around for something else to read.  None of my favorite authors had new releases out, I had re-read my favorite books too many times.  So I started wandering around the “suggested for you” pages on Amazon and GoodReads.  One book kept haunting all my clicks.  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Now, immediately I’m intrigued by the series name more than the novel’s name, “The Kingkiller Chronicle”.  The blurbs are not grabbing me, and George RR Martin keeps giving it one line promotions, which also deters me because I’ve tried several of his books with no luck.  I ignore it for a few more days.  Finally, in the most non-committal way possible, I decided to check out the audiobook from the library. That way if I hate it, I can return it with no money lost.

I was not immediately hooked, but I was intrigued.  It starts out in a very “Inceptionesque” (its a word now), way.  It was a story, within a story, within a story. Literally, a guy sitting in a pub, telling a story about being younger and listening to another guy tell a story.   From there it simplifies slightly, just a guy in a pub telling the story of his life.  When you are in the pub it’s third-person, when he’s telling the story of his younger self it’s first-person.  I usually hate POV switches, but this one worked for me.

The action is slow (for me) but the characters are SUPERB! I couldn’t wait to hear what happened next.  I devoted 27 hours and 56 minutes of my time to this book. More than double what an audiobook usually costs me in time.  I listened in the car, on walks with the dogs, at night before I went to bed.  My nine-year-old daughter even got invested and insisted we only listen together so she could hear what happens with Kvothe.

I consumed the second book with equal fervor and the novella, and now I am stuck in the curse of all fantasy readers…” what the h@ll is taking so long”.   At first, I was outraged. Why do fantasy authors get triple and quadruple the time from their editors and publishing houses than any other genres writers get?  But I pumped my breaks for a moment and thought about the books.  There are at least twenty loose ends by the middle of the book, plot lines going you don’t know where, and by the end, they are tied up so seamlessly and beautifully.   I have one main plot and a max of two subplots when I write.  Other authors I’ve seen can manage one main and up to five subplots.  This is exponentially more complicated than that.  So I will wait patiently for the third book to be released.

In the meantime, I have moved onto the hard drugs.  Patrick Rothfuss was my gateway drug.  I am knee deep in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series.  I have no idea what’s going on, I haven’t figured out the calendar, the timelines, the creatures, the magic, or the point of the whole thing. But I can’t stop.  I’m scratching my neck and twitching asking fellow nerds for more high fantasy reads.  Before now I had an intellectual idea about high fantasy because it is the grandmother (see what I did there) to my genre, but now that I’m in it, experiencing it for myself, it is a whole new Shardblade.

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