Pat is the author of the new epic fantasy trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle. Book one, The Name of the Wind, follows the adventures of a boy named Kvothe as he learns to be an arcanist, something like an alchemist mixed with a wizard, at the “University.” The story is largely told by Kvothe in retrospect. It’s autobiographic fantasy, if such a genre existed. The book has been highly praised, and for good reason. I read it early in the fall, and liked it more than any fantasy debut I can remember picking up in several years.
I hope you will find the interview interesting. I’ll warn you: Pat has a flair for … earthy … language, so you are on notice if that kind of thing offends you. My questions are in bold.
I’ve claimed elsewhere that most “high fantasy” – multi-volume books that intend to tell large stories about pre-modern worlds – contains remarkably little civil law. The agents of the criminal system, like the hangman and the sheriff, are present, but not the civil law courts. Do you agree with this basic description?
Yeah. That’s pretty fair.
Can you imagine creating and writing explicitly about a world where magic and a litigation-based, common-law system, co-existed?
Absolutely. In fact, I’ve written such a world. You don’t see much of it in this first book, but there is a working common-law system in my world. I don’t think that the rule of law and magic are mutually exclusive at all.
The problem I’m thinking of is that law really self-conceives as a scientific, proof-based, system. Even in rules-based magical system, reality inevitably gets warped.
Hmmmm….. Good point. But honestly, I think that when that happens in most books, it’s because the writer is being lazy. Think about England in the 1500’s. People believed in magic and the courts still churned along. John Dee claimed to talk to angels. Alchemists were everywhere. People really believed they could transmute metal, and hell, maybe some of them could. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still laws against fraud or theft…