Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 4: Kingkiller Chronicles, huh? Speculations on Kings

Welcome to the fourth and last of the speculative summation posts I’m going to be doing in between volumes of my fiendishly detailed re-read of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. Four weeks ago we finished The Name of the Wind, and now we’ve summed up some of the speculation we’ll be moving on to The Wise Man’s Fear — but these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books. These posts are full of spoilers please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them. 

Abbreviations: NW = The Name of the Wind. WMF = The Wise Man’s Fear. DT = Day Three, the forthcoming final volume. K = Kvothe or Kote when I can’t figure out what to call him and I’m feeling Kafkaesque. MT: Myr Tariniel. D = Denna

Useful links: The Sleeping Under the Wagon post, in which there are lots of theories. The re-read index. The map.

So, one thing we absolutely know is that Kvothe kills a king. The question is, what king? And why?


We’ve established that Newarre is in Vintas, so the king of Vintas seems a likely but not inevitable victim. Roderic is the king, and we don’t know much about him beyond what Alveron mutters about taxes and upstarts. There’s no motive, and it would seem a little random without a lot more set-up. But there’s room for a lot more set up.

The other thing we sort of know is that Caesura is called “Keysera, poet killer” and we therefore have speculated that the king killed might be a poet, which doesn’t fit for Roderic as far as I know.


I am personally absolutely convinced that Ambrose will be the king Kvothe kills. He’s described as being twelfth in line to the throne of Vintas, and we know people are busy poisoning people closer to the throne than him. As CV12T puts it:

Ambrose (or his father) may be a possible suspect in the poisoning of the Maer. The Maer is higher up the line of succession than Ambrose – and people between Ambrose and the throne have been dropping like flies (I find the family that was lost at sea to be especially suspicious, given that Devi claims there is a link between the Jakis family and piracy).

And he is a poet. As Mochabean says:

Ambrose was also a poet — a really bad one. So poetkiller and Kingkiller could be one and the same.

And more than that, it’s artistically and emotionally satisfying if Kvothe kills Ambrose, it makes everything that has happened between them utterly relevant to the whole thrust of the plot, it starts out as a squabble between students and it brings the world crashing down. It gives the whole thing unity in a way it needs. It seems so much a part of the shape of the story I’d be really surprised if it isn’t.

It has been theorized that the Maer is now the Penitent King — because the soldiers are wearing his colours. For Ambrose to be the Killed King, this means he must have jumped him in the succession. CV12T has some speculation:

I can think of one scenario in which Kvothe kills Ambrose and the Maer becomes king. What if Ambrose marries into a higher position in the line of succession? If King Roderic’s sons are all dead and Ambrose marries his daughter (Princess Ariel?), for example. This requires assuming that women can’t inherit the crown. I did a search for “queen” and although there are several mentioned, none are indicated to be sole rulers, so it’s not an unreasonable assumption. Though this whole theory is rather unsubstantiated.

As Thistlepong points out:

That’s really the only scenario where Ambrose approaches the throne without a bloodbath. So it’s satisfying in any case. I don’t think Kvothe kills him, but he males sense on one side of a civil war.

This is what I think, but continuing to other options.

Vashet’s Poet-King?

All we know about him is that he was a poet-king of one of the Small Kingdoms and having a relationship with his Adem bodyguard. And, I suppose, that he needed an Adem bodyguard.

Radda says:

As far as I remember, the only real poet we know, apart from one of Denna’s admirers, is the one in Small Kingdoms that Vashet was guarding. Who also happens to be a king, by the way. Although I base this pretty much on that he seems a very interesting figure to not be playing a role further in the story.

I think he’s just scenery. But he’s still a possibility.

Jhirrad thinks:

Vashet mentions how she spent four years as bodyguard to a poet in the Small Kingdoms, who also happened to be king. As soon as I read this on my linguistics re-read, it seemed to pop out to me as the person that would fit the bill for what we’ve been looking for. Kvothe is tied to Vashet as student to teacher, and if something were to happen between that king and Vashet, I feel like Kvothe would step in and act.

So that’s a possible motive, I suppose. The thing that makes it least likely, for me, is that it means that K would have had to do something else to cause the wars and chaos we see all around us — killing the king of a small kingdom, even if he is a poet, just doesn’t seem likely to make the roads terrible and raise the price of salt and have wars left and right. Having said that, even killing the king of Vint doesn’t necessarily do that without a lot of extra complications.

Maer Alveron?

He’s not a king, yet, but he’s in line for the throne, and Kvothe knows him, and Meluan did insult him with the ring. I think Alveron’s a better choice for being Penitent King, though. (Whoever he is, why is he Penitent, I wonder?)


I’d hate this! Sim is also in line for the throne of Vintas, though considerably after Ambrose, but we don’t know exactly how it works. And he’s just as capable as Ambrose of marrying a princess and moving up. And he’s a poet.

GBrell suggests it:

Kvothe might kill Sim. It’s established that Sim’s family is actually relatively high nobility (although he is a third son and notwithstanding Savoy’s comments about Aturan bloodlines). This story constantly references betrayal, but who has actually betrayed anyone? And who could? Denna? Sim is the only other poet we’ve really seen (that I remember) and can you think of anything more crushing than having to kill a best friend?

Arra also agrees with this:

I think he killed Sim (the poet) accidently because of some perceived threat to D. I think the current king is Ambrose and it’s Ambrose that put a bounty on K’s head.


This surprise theory comes from Sojka:

What if Kvothe is the King, and is referred to as Kingkiller because he faked his death as king and blamed it on himself as Kvothe, and is now hiding out as Kote? The people who recognize him as Kvothe in the Waystone don’t seem surprised that Kvothe is alive, they just seem surprised to find him at all.

I don’t think so! Brilliant, but too twisted.

Any more I missed?

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.


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