Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 5: “Lackless likes her riddle raveling”: Speculations on Lacklesses

We’re half way through our ridiculously detailed re-read of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear, and we’re going to pause here for another set of speculative summary posts. After we’ve summed up some of the speculation we’ll be moving on. These posts assume you’ve read all of both books The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, and they are absolutely full of crazy speculative spoilers for all of both books. Please don’t go beyond the cut unless you want that!

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.

We will have three more speculative summary posts after this one, on Kote, the Ctheah, and Master Ash. Then we’ll get on with WMF from the meeting with Felurian.

A Bit of Meta

Connor Sullivan wrote:

With respect to the metachatter going on in the comments, I think one of the best things about the reread is the extent to which it increasingly has turned into a practical meditation on exactly the issues with which PR and the saga are obsessed: storytelling, received wisdom, the muddledness of the past, the transforming effect of something being told. It’s great.

I’d just like to endorse that.

And Ryanreich said:

It’s almost as though there are two books in one (well, six in three, anyway) and the apples and songs are windows into the second, hidden one.

This re-read is trying to look into the second one without losing sight of the first one.

As Oneirogen says, the danger of it is:

whenever I think too much about it my head spins and I wonder if I’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole that I can’t see the forest for my head being lodged in my own…mixed idiom.

Also, we’re half way through WMF after 17 posts, and we did all of NW in 15, and I don’t think the posts have been any shorter. This is a long book!

And Promotions:

The Department of Imaginary Sympathy is delighted to promote Relogical, Sabotenda, RobTCore, Stefan Jones, Lions Rampant, Jez Dynamite, Faek, and Spirit Thief to E’lir.

And the Department of Imaginary Knotwork raises Ryanreich to Re’lar.

Lackless Rhymes


“Lackless loves her riddle raveling” — if a Ruh == ravel, then perhaps a young Ruh == raveling. Kvothe has great mystery and intrigue about him — he’s a riddle in many ways. The line perhaps references himself?

This does seem to fit.

Herelle wonders if the “candle, not for burning” might be the black candle on Nina’s Chandrian vase:

One of the things is a candle without light (not without flame!). There was speculation that this candle could have been Auris mysterious blue thingy, but as it might not have a flame, it certainly casts light. So the only hint we have is Haliax grey candle that casts a shadow and has a black flame. We have two main mysteries – the Lackless door and the Chandrian´s plan. It´s not so far a strech to think they are related, don´t you think?

So I tried to compare what we know of the Chandrian and the Lackless poems but couldn´t really find a clue. But I still think there is the possibility that the Chandrian try to gather all the seven things either to get the door open or to prevent anyone to do so. The Chandrian could actually be allies to the Lackless family if both are some sort of guardians.

Allies or enemies?

And Herelle further speculates that since Lady Lackless has seven things and there are seven Chandrian, there might be other connections — but can’t make it work. I can’t either. But Herelle works hard on the rhyme:

word forsworn and not for swearing = if I understand it correctly forsworn means someone swore never to use this word again, this makes me think of Haliax being namesless, nobody wants to say his name aloud, it was cursed by Selitos and Haliax is hunting down whomever mentions his name, so for me it is Haliax name.

time that must be right = moon phase, probably a night without moon, as that is what a wise man fears

candle without light = Haliax candle as it is depicted on Ninas vase, and it is Lady Lackless husband´s candle, which makes me speculate wildly that Netalia was for whatever reason married to Haliax and Kvothe is his son, and only Arlidens red haired stepchild (I know this is wild speculation and there is still the point that Haliax was there when Kvothes mother was killed and presumably tortured by Cinder), another theory could be that Lyra, Haliax/Lanres wife was an ancestor, Lyra Lackless.

the son´s blood = Kvothes blood, for the blood and bone magic

a door that holds the flood = hm, I don´t know, seems to be a second door, seperate from the entrance to the Lackless door, which itself is myterious, why is there an entrance to a door, the door should be the entrance, not?, but maybe that´s not meant as a literal door – it´s rather the doors of forgetting/sleep/death/insanity that are closed for Haliax

the thing tight held in keeping = the Lackless box

then comes that which comes with sleeping = a dream or peace/rest for Haliax

Lackless Doors and Boxes

CPJ wonders if the Lackless door and the Four Plate Door are different but related:

– The Lackless door and the university door are both concealing or imprisioning parts of a whole (bits of a god/being, parts of a magical doohicky, gates to important places in Fae where a ritual must be done: it could be what is imprisioned behind the doors are angels, and angels are not the nice things we might expect).

One of the things we know from Chronicler in the frame is that Kvothe tricked a demon and killed an angel.

and Faek thinks they may be the same door:

“On the oldest part of the Lackless lands, in the oldest part of their ancestral estate, there is a secret door. A door without a handle or hinges… there’s no way of opening it. It is locked, but at the same time, lockless. No one knows what’s on the other side.“

I’m thinking that maybe the lands of the Lackless might have covered some other parts of the world, possibly even over at Belenay. What if the library at the university is this old ancestral estate that they’re talking about? Nothing says that it’s still their land.

I think we’ve had enough about Kvothe, locks, and doors to be fairly sure that he’s going to open a door that would be better left shut. And we know the Great Enemy is behind the Doors of Stone, and we don’t know who that is. And “doors” of stone, not “door”, so maybe plural doors indeed, and maybe he goes around opening lots of them. And they could be greystones, which are kind of doors, and certainly stone.

CPJ again, guessing:

– The heavy object in the Lackless box is a key in some shape or another
– K will open the door(s) out of stupid curiosity

That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Spirit Thief thinks the door and the box are the same:

Last thing- are we still on the idea that the lockless door is itself a ”magical’ object we haven’t encountered yet? At first I thought it was the four plate door, but now I believe that that door hold Iax’s name. Now I think that the lockless door is on the engraved box that Meluan had. And I think it holds the name of the moon. It fits with the stories Hespe and Felurian tell.

Greyfalconway speculates about the door being in the Waystone:

Maybe Kvothe built the Waystone Inn around the Lackless door, and what he locked in the chest is the key, coin and candle from Auri, and maybe he’s waiting to die because that’s how he ’brings the blood’ but has held off.

But now he’s telling his story and reliving the moments that lead up to him wanting to die/open the door, and so he’s trying to get them out so he can die, and maybe call the Chandrian or Amyr to kill him, get the door open, and have (something) happen.

Maybe the angels come out and destroy the Chandrian once and for all? Maybe it destroys everything? Maybe it breaks some sort of curse on the Chandrian and they can destroy the Amyr who turn out to be the baddies that spread all that disinfo on them?

Lackless Families


It’s generally accepted that there was some sort of falling out that splintered the family. Each piece took on a separate name.

And had the theory that each splintered branch was keeping some sort of artifact that corresponded to their new name. Like LackLith might have a stone of some sort.

Spirit Thief wonders about KeepCaen in that context. All the others are lacking, they are keeping:

Do we have any idea about Kaepkaen?
My theory is that when the Lackless family splintered, each had a piece of the puzzle that would open the lockless door. Each is lacking something. But Kaepkaen doesn’t fit the pattern. Unless it’s supposed to be keep key? I don’t know. I pronounce it Kipe-kine. Is that right?

My original suggestion would be that the Lack-liths would be lacking a stone and so on.

RobMRobM has a suggestion about “caen”:

if Kaep means to Keep (as opposed to lack) and caen means seven (as hypothesized from the Kote quote and the root for the name Chandrian), I’m interested whether that branch of the family actually keeps something of critical importance to the Chandrians. Are there clues in text? I can’t remember any off the top of my head.

Or they could be keeping seven things. Or “keep” could mean “lack” in the same language in which “chaen” or “caen” means “seven”.


I wonder what the historic Lackless split could be about? Considering the importance of names and our speculation about changing one’s name, the name split has to be significant. Could the Lackless family have been targeted by the Chandrian or someone else dangerous for their treasure, and had to scatter and change their names to hide, with each branch taking part of the key to the lock-less door? I’m not sure if the “eldest heir” reference is involved in the split; that could be a different part of the family history.

and I suggested, not entirely seriously:

Maybe they argued about what’s the most significant thing they lack?

Mar asks:

What if Lorren is a Lackless? Doesn’t preclude that he is also Amyr, and it might possibly explain how he knew Arliden.


At some stage, the Lackless family may have needed to separate the knowledge of opening their Lackless door from those guarding it and hence split the family into separate branches.

Could the Kaepcaen branch (if they still exist and havent spiraled into obscurity) be responsible for guarding the secrets of the 7 things that open the Lackless door, (keep is like kaep, its a bit of a stretch, and Caen is 7)? Kaepcaen may translate as ’Keepers/Guardians of the 7’.

 While the main Lackless family may be responsible for guarding the Lockless box and/or the portal/door…

And Artful Magpie wonders if we’ve been wrong assuming Kvothe is the Lackless heir that brings the blood:

Chronicler. He’s a Lockless, yes? (Well, a Lochees, but same basic family.) What if the real reason K is bothering to tell all of this to Chronicler is not so that Chronicler can get the whole story and put it into a book for the world to read…it’s because CHRONICLER is going to be the real hero of the story.

Bear with me, here. Chronicler’s a Lockless, so he “brings the blood.” He is somehow involved with Skarpi, meaning there’s more to him than meets the eye already…an Amyr? He…or his family…may have one of the last Lockless artifacts…the key, maybe? What if K is only telling him all of this so he’ll have all the background he needs to finish what Kvothe started??

That would explain a lot…K isn’t betraying his friends, because he doesn’t expect that the book will ever actually be written and published. K can’t finish the job…something has made him lose his powers. So now Chronicler has to end things. Maybe?

GBrell isn’t convinced:

I don’t believe that it’s ever been confirmed that Lochees is a Lackless family derivation. It has obvious similarities, but it’s not in the list given by Caudicus (Lackless, Loeclos, Loklos, Loeloes, Lack-key, Laclith, Kaepcaen).

It does have certain linguistic similarities to Lack-key (which Rothfuss makes the origin of lackey, a cute historical note much like his play on ravel). We know that the Lack-keys were located in Atur and were numerous, but fell on hard times.

I do think it’s a Lackless name, and I do think it’s going to be significant.

RobTCore wonders if the three-fold silence is a specifically Lackless silence:

“The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking.”

We have established how careful Rothfuss is with his words. What jumps out at me in this is the description of the first silence as being “made by things that were lacking.” Which leads to the Lackless family.

No conclusions, and more thoughts are welcome. I do think no use of the word “lack” can be assumed to be innocent.

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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