At a recent spotlight panel at Emerald City Comic-Con, Patrick Rothfuss gave fans some indirect intel on The Doors of Stone, the eagerly-awaited third book in his epic fantasy trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle. While it was neither a release date nor plot details, his answer to a fan question could recontextualize both the book and the trilogy as a whole: When asked by if he’s “a DM [Dungeon Master] taking us on a journey where the bard is the hero of the story?”, Rothfuss responded, “It’s way worse than that. I am an author who has tricked you into reading a trilogy that is a million-word prologue.”
Does that mean that The Kingkiller Chronicle—in which legendary-bard-Kvothe-turned-humble-innkeeper-Kote tells his life story to a Chronicler over three days—is all just setup? After learning Kvothe’s tragic origin story, including the brutal murder of his parents, readers have long expected to learn of the particular downfall that causes him to flee into obscurity. Yet, rather than that be the final narrative of the series, it would appear that Kote’s story is part of a larger, presumably even more epic, story that’s just gaining steam. As Newsweek points out, while readers don’t know what bad fortune befell Kvothe, they do know that its ramifications have spread to the land of Temerant, causing wars, famines, and more. As Kote himself says: “All of this is my fault. The scrael, the war. All my fault.”
This isn’t the first time that Rothfuss has mentioned having future books planned in the Kingkiller universe. During a livestream Q&A in early 2017, in which he announced the tenth anniversary edition of The Name of the Wind, he also clarified that while book 3 would be the last book in this particular series, that didn’t mean it was the ending:
Book 3 closes this arc of story. Book 3 will not be the final book set in this world. Big distinction there!
He went on to reference how the Lord of the Rings trilogy wrapped up its epic story without providing closure on every single character or world detail, comparing it to his own intentions for book 3:
There’s a ton of unanswered questions—so yeah, that’s actually the mark of a good story, and so I won’t be answering everything, but the truth is, you don’t want me to. You might think you want me to, but you don’t. And even if you really do, I still won’t. Just because it’s impossible.
What’s interesting is that back in 2012, a year after The Wise Man’s Fear was published, Locus Magazine announced a book sale by Rothfuss to DAW Books (the publisher of Kingkiller). The sale was described as “the first book in a new fantasy series.” Could this post-“prologue” series have been in the works for six or more years?
We know that Rothfuss has plenty of ideas to expand the world of Temerant, as the forthcoming Kingkiller Chronicle adaptation includes both a movie version of The Name of the Wind (directed by Sam Raimi) and a prequel television series (overseen by Lin-Manuel Miranda).
You can watch the ECCC panel, the first portion in SYFY WIRE’s six-hour livestream below. Rothfuss’ answer comes at about the 1:06:00 mark:
Patrick Rothfuss photo credit: Alvintrusty under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license