What’s the status of The Doors of Stone?

Image: The Name of The Wind/DAW Books
Image: The Name of The Wind/DAW Books /

Few fantasy books are as hotly anticipated as The Doors of Stone, the third entry in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle series. When is it coming out?

When it comes to long-awaited fantasy sequels, there’s perhaps only one book that rivals the interest in George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, the next book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. I’m talking about the third novel in The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss: The Doors of Stone.

The Kingkiller Chronicle follows Kvothe, a red-headed musician and magic-user-in-training who’s searching for the shadowy group of beings who killed his parents when he was young. The series has distinguished itself with its lyrical prose and rich, multilayered fantasy world.

But we haven’t gotten to visit it in a long while. Both Rothfuss and Martin last released books in their series almost a decade ago, way back in 2011, when we were all young, starry-eyed readers who had no idea of the Long Night ahead of us. Is it almost over? Let’s round up all the reliable information we can find about the current status of The Doors of Stone and see if we can figure it out.

First thing’s first: a bit of history.

The Name of the Wind, the first book in Rothfuss’ epic series, hit shelves in 2007. It was also announced that The Kingkiller Chronicle was, in fact, already completely finished, and that the next two novels would be released one per year following the first. The second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, was originally slated to come out in spring of 2008, but was bumped back several times before eventually releasing in 2011.

Rothfuss talked about the delays in detail at the time, outlining some of the many factors at play. And while The Doors of Stone is obviously a different book than The Wise Man’s Fear, some of the problems are the same.

The first is something I’ll let Rothfuss explain. This quote is from his blog post announcing the first delay of The Wise Man’s Fear in 2008:

"In some ways all three books were done way back in 2000 when I managed to write the story all the way through to the end. But there’s a HUGE difference between a story that’s finished, and one that is polished, revised, and refined into something really, really good.I tend to revise A LOT. Over the years these three books have been put through hundreds of revisions. That’s not an exaggeration. Some of them are small, just me tweaking words here and there to make things sound better.Other revisions are huge and involve me moving chapters, removing scenes, and adding characters. On more than one occasion I have gone through this first book [and] cut out over 10% of the total text. Then sometimes, in later revisions, I put some of it back. There’s a lot of trial and error. A good book doesn’t happen by accident."

To put it in layman’s terms, these books are hard to write because he’s actually revising an earlier, broken version of the overall story into the gripping tale that we all know and love. That initial version didn’t have a lot of elements that are now major parts of the series, like Auri or the draccus, for example. So in order to make The Doors of Stone fit the series as it stands now, it’s required a ton of overhauling.

Aside from all the actual writing nuts and bolts, the book releases have dragged on due to some personal stuff Rothfuss has gone through during each release cycle. He’s been courageously open about struggles with depression, family illnesses, and any number of other topics so personal that you can’t help but feel for the guy. At the end of the day he is a human being, and having life get in the way of your work can be doubly hard when it’s work that demands you be in a good mental state in order to do it effectively.

Since the release of The Wise Man’s Fear, readers have had other updates to obsess over. One of the first (and perhaps most heartbreaking, looking back all these years later) was a picture that Rothfuss shared of an early draft of Doors of Stone as part of a Google Glass promotional contest in 2013:

"The beautiful manuscript of Doors of Stone (from r/fantasy) from KingkillerChronicle"

At the time, the release date for The Doors of Stone was late 2014. But as the year wore on and no update came, Rothfuss finally took to Twitter on New Years Eve to not only address that book three hadn’t come out that year, but that it would not be published the following year either. Hey, at least he let us down easy!

In early 2015, the blog Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist shared a humorous story of mistaken identity, where one of Rothfuss’ editors accidentally sent him a sketch of the cover art for The Doors of Stone, along with some nervous inquiries about the progress of book three. These emails were dated from May of 2013, but they still give us some of the only solid information about the prospective Doors of Stone cover, like that it might utilize orange in the color scheme and feature a lute. Later that year, this nifty fan-made cover even emerged, from Kernel’s Corner:

Image: Kernel’s Corner

Again, this image is fan-made, but it is very consistent with the popular US cover artwork for The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear:

In 2016, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist shared some more insider info. This time, it was that he’d spoken with Betsy Wollheim — Rothfuss’ editor — at an event, and that as of January 2016, she’d still not seen any pages of The Doors of Stone. He didn’t specify whether this was the same editor who sent him the artwork by accident.

Over the next couple of years, Rothfuss became more and more reluctant to talk about the books on his blog, even chastising some fans for going too far in trying to find out about their progress.

But in 2018, the floodgates started to open back up. He did several Twitch stream Q&A’s, talking about the book’s progress and some of the personal issues — such as the illness of his father — that had made it more difficult to focus on writing. He had several very open discussions about mental health and the ways that it can effect writers and other creatives.

But all that while, he kept working. In 2019, on a Barnes & Noble podcast where he was promoting a Rick and Morty Dungeons & Dragons campaign that he wrote, Rothfuss said that work on the book was progressing, but “not fast.”

"Kingkiller, my work on the books, is—again, it might seem strange for people to hear—but nobody laments the lack of tangible progress more than me, in terms of the next Kingkiller book. But things are moving forward, if not fast—again I’ve never promised fast, ever since I knew what I was good at professionally. I made promises very early on in interviews where I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do these books one a year.’ But I was an idiot. I had just been published for like two months, I had no idea what I was talking about.But I am moving forward. More importantly, I’m finally getting my life sorted out so that I can go back and approach my writing and my craft with the joy that I used to feel back in the day, when I was just an idiot kid playing D&D or working on my unpublishable fantasy novel."

That “I’ve never promised fast” bit sounds awfully reminiscent of what George R.R. Martin has said about his progress on A Song of Ice and Fire. And like The Winds of Winter, book three of The Kingkiller Chronicles has a new release date rumor seemingly every couple of months. The most recent of these stemmed from a placeholder date that surfaced on some online book outlets, claiming the book would be out on August 20, 2020. Rothfuss himself took to the internet in a livestream on April 28 and debunked that theory:

As of this writing, that is the latest. There’s no official release date yet for The Doors of Stone, but from the word of Rothfuss himself, the very first place that the news will be shared will be on his blog and his Twitch channel. In the meantime, given that we’re all stuck inside it might be a good time to revisit the first two books.

You never know. This could be the year we see The Doors of Stone.

Next. 10 things we need to see in The Doors Of Stone. dark

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