Wednesday, April 27, 2011

[Not a Review]How Pat Rothfuss has Ruined my Life

Dearest Readers,

Remember me? I used to write reviews here all the time! I used to read 50 books a year! I used to have all sorts of passionate things to say about fantasy literature, both good and bad!

But then a mean, mean man named Pat Rothfuss came along. After a long and painful 3 year wait, he released the second book in a trilogy of his; a trilogy called the Kingkiller Chronicle. Knowing that this excellent novel would soon be in my hands, I re-read the first novel in the series. This was no mean feat, as it clocks in near 1000 pages. Then I worked my way greedily through the newest installment, The Wise Man's Fear, also quite lengthy. I laughed, I cried, I yelled, and I did nothing but read for over a week. When I finished it, I turned it over and started reading it again.

"But Lisa," you may ask, "How could such a wonderful experience possible ruin you in any way?"

Here's how, gentle readers: nothing else is good enough anymore. I've tried all of my tricks for getting out of a "reading rut" and nothing seems to work.

I've tried a little low quality smut (Two! Freaking TWO Laurell K. Hamilton books). Usually if I read something throw-away it will clear out my system and make me excited to get back to "the good stuff". But no. This time it just made me angry that such utter crap could exist and be making money when shining paragons of perfection like Wise Man's Fear exist.

I've tried reading fantasy at the opposite end of the spectrum. Surely some nice gritty, bloody, cursing-filled Joe Abercrombie would reset my fantastical moral compass? I made it to the last 80 pages of The Heroes and then I completely ran out of steam. I couldn't force myself to continue reading anything that engaged me emotionally so little. The characters were real, but they weren't lovable... and once you have loved Bast and Kvothe, how can you care about anyone less worthy?

I've tried some non-modern fantasy, in a sub-genre I've never touched before: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart is a 40-year-old novel in the lore of King Arthur and Merlin. Vastly different from almost any fantasy I've read - and still it neither moved me nor engaged me.

I've tried young adult novels, knowing they will be middle of the road, but maybe guide me back towards a good mindset (Lirael by Garth Nix). I've tried short novellas by my favorite authors set in my favorite universes (Bayan's Gold by Peter V. Brett). I've tried new, exciting looking titles (The Scar-crow Men, Never Knew Another) - nothing seems to work.

I was roused from my malaise for approximately 4 hours while I read Steve Brust's latest Vald novel, Tiassa. It is utterly unthinkable that I'd not respond to the literary voice of my favorite historian (One Paarfi). I cackled through Tiassa with utter delight; enraptured, thrilled, engaged, and happier than I had been in months. But then, 4 hours later, Tiassa was over. I started to re-read it, as well, but eventually set it aside as a futile effort: I am doomed to be forever ruined on fantasy novels.

2 months later, I'm still mournfully gazing at my stack, wondering what possibly could shake me out of this literary depression into which I've sunk. I'm looking at Daniel Abraham's newest novel, The Dragon Path... perhaps he will succeed where a solid 10 other books have failed.

Woefully yours,
Lisa the Reviewer, Forever Ruined by Rothfuss


JD said...

That bastard! He's like the Okami of fantasy literature!

Elfy said...

You read 2 LKH's in a row? You have my sympathy. It passes, the author obsession. I went through it with George RR Martin and ASoIaF, and even now when rereading his books it's like 'damn, this bloke is good!', it happened again when I read 'The Lies of Locke Lamora', immediately reread it and then read "Red Seas Under Red Skies'. I think I've read them about 3 or 4 times now, but eventually you have to read something else by someone else and you fall in love with new stuff all over again.

LisaBit said...

I was much the same with Locke Lamora... soooo good. Maybe I'll go re-read that or The Phoenix Guards and see if that helps rouse me!

Chris Finkelstein said...

This may do the trick - "Blood For Love" by Chris M. Finkelstein. You'll either love it or hate it, but you won't stop reading it.

Yona said...

maybe read something non fantasy for once. or read something REALLY bad, force yourself through it, and then you will be happy to read just anything thats just Very Good, instead of Rothfuss brilliant. try "The Hundred THousand Kingdoms" , i just read it, here's a review i just wrote:

LisaBit said...

@Yona - I read Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (and the Broken Kingdom) earlier this year. So delicious! I'm very much looking forward to the 3rd one.

Bets Davies said...

I'm off a bit of a hiatus on fantasy myself. Sounds like I ought to try Rothfuss. Or maybe not. . . . .I've done so much critiquing and writing by now that my ability to stand bad writing, especially fantasy writing, had near worn through for a while. It's irritating to read while you are simultaneously critiquing in your mind. I hadn't through of Rothfuss before now because thousand page novels, much less thousand page trilogies are generally in my I'd-rather-poke-my-eye-out-with-a-hot-stick pile. Unfair, but true.

Note: If you haven't you should really be reading Sabriel, not Lireal.

I'll offer up a cure if you haven't already been there and done that: Diana Wynne Jones (who sadly croaked recently), specifically her older young adult. Specifically specifically for you, I would suggest "Archer's Goon" Not only is it hilarious and probably not much like what else you've read, it is inwardly cohesive, exploring the theme of what "family" means, and otherwise a rule unto itself. Even if you have read it, I suggest reading that, Charmed Life, Witch Week, and Howl's Moving Castle (nothing like the movie) over and over until you are aware of how well structured each is.

If that doesn't work: Beagle. No not "The Last Unicorn." The world has read that. Before it. "A Fine and Private Place." A gentle novel about a man who has been living in a cemetery for twenty years, kept company by ghosts and fed by a raven (yeah, this is way before and way different than Gaiman). While the Last Unicorn examines permanance and regret, this examines impermance and regret.

Barring that, reread Watership Down. Because it is nothing like anything, and the whole book is worth reading "silfe hrarka."

A Shadow Falls said...

Until recently I had completely stopped reading fantasy, much like you seem to have. I'd moved over to reading SciFi for many a year until recently. In the interveneing time the fantasy world has moved on and my SciFi (and life, I suppose) experiences have changed my fantasy palate.

I think it helps that the literary world is starting to change as well, allowing indie authors to publish their epic fantasy novels. Although it's a bit hit at miss finding the good ones, I'm sure that will improve with the recommendation systems growing up around digital books.