Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 11: Te Rhintae?

My insanely detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but the speculation goes on. I’m going to post the occasional speculative summary of cool things posted since last time. Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind — these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. This post is 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. D3 = 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, 4C = Four Corners, CTH — that thing I can’t spell! IID3Y = Is it Day Three Yet?

Useful links: The Sleeping Under the Wagon post. The re-read index. The map. The timeline. Imaginary Linguistics.

I thought we were finished! I put the books back on the shelf! But you just won’t stop talking about it, will you? And that would be okay, but you just won’t stop being interesting when you do it! So I’m going to do occasional posts like this to give you somewhere to keep on talking that isn’t at the bottom of a six month old thread. I think I’ll probably do them about once a month, that feels right to me (and actually it takes forever) but we’ll see how it goes. Everything here has been posted since May 17th, on all sorts of old threads and on the Admissions Questions thread.


Oh all right, there isn’t any arithmetic. I just wanted to start with FatCatFan’s thought:

Caesura – The silence surrounding the inn is significant because it is a caesura – a pause between stanzas. The story unfolding is not the end of Kvothe’s story, but only a pause. There will be music again…

I do hope so. And it absolutely fits the threefold silence.


Thistlepong pointed out this post on Pat’s blog in which a fan sends Pat a copper knife and he says:

A copper knife could be really useful if you wanted to kill a namer.

Really. How interesting.

Shalter says:

That implies that Taborlin needed his copper sword to use against other namers/shapers. The most likely time for namers/shapers to be stabbing each other would be the Creation wars, but there could be rogues at any time.

Now I’m going to guess that Kvothe will need a copper weapon at some point in D3. Hmm, maybe that is why the sword is Folly—never fight a namer with a steel blade.

Could be. We certainly already know Taborlin had a copper blade, Elodin’s cell had copper to stop him, and there’s something going on with it.

JezDynamite has new thoughts on the mounting board:

(1) I’m intrigued as well as to why Kvothe ordered the mounting board
4 months ago. What triggered him to order it?

(2) Does this make sense: he ordered the mounting board four months ago, and in that time:

(a) the order was sent by some combination of horseback/pidgeon/ boat to a merchant in Aryen.

(b) someone very talented/knowledgable in Aryen (or beyond) had the tools/magic to cut and shape the mounting board (which a normal carpenter and a blacksmith have trouble marking in any way, let alone working the wood)

(c) the mounting board was sent back to Newarre by boat/wagon.

Maybe the mounting boards are a standard product in Aryen? But still someone has to work the wood.

(3) There seems to be some disparity/”loss of knowlege” related to working the wood of the mounting board. I’m assuming it had to be cut from a tree/log, cut-carved-shaped and perhaps smoothed, had pegs built into it and had mounting brackets (or a groove in the back).

This implies (obviously) someone in Aryen has vastly superior knowledge to the carpenter and blacksmith in Newarre.

(4) If the mounting board and Kvothe’s chest are made of roah, I wonder how Kvothe could have made (or had made) a whole chest out of the “difficult to mark/burn” wood.

Perhaps the Roah wood comes from the Tahl, where they sing to trees?


Kineta has some interesting thoughts on namers and shapers and the Lethani:

I think “The Broken Road” is meant as a sort of ‘anti-Lethani’, or at least it’s opposite. (Lethani is the name of the chapter which follows).

Lethani is described very much like the Tao – which, according to wikipedia, literally means “a road, path, way”. Where Lethani is described as ‘right action’, the broken road seems to describe Jax’s willfull actions out of harmony with ‘right action’.

I think the chapter where Kvothe cuts his hand on the Sword Tree, saying ‘willing’ is meant as both foreshadowing and double meaning – not just to be willing to do something but also the act of willing something. His way to the tree is in direct contrast to the way the Adem do it – where they use the Lethani, right action, to guide them – Kvothe wills the wind to stop.

This seems to reflect the war between the Namers and the Shapers. The Shapers create – and hands are a fitting symbol of that. The Namers discover the inner workings of things. Magic versus Mysticism. Yin & Yang. The Adem at the Eastern end of The Great Stone Road and the University teaching Magic at the Western end.

This theme seems to find expression when Kvothe gives this as one of the beginnings of his own story: “In the beginning, as far as I know, the world was spun out of the nameless void by Aleph, who gave everything a name. Or, depending on the version of the tale, found the names all things already possessed.”

That just feels really right.

And JDH wants to know why we think Kvothe changed his own name:

Something that struck me while reading this post was that all of the theories had to do with Kvothe himself being the reason as to why he is Kote. What if he’s not responsible? What if someone else took from him, his “v and h” and he has to find his name again, before he can clearly become himself again. I do not necessarily believe this, but its interesting. Just like Haliax took part of the moon, maybe the moon (Denna?) took part of Kvothe, or Felurian, or the Chandrian, or the Amyr? Who knows, I guess we’ll have to wait until DT. If someone did take part of Kvothe, who would have the power to do that? Any speculations?

I think he did it himself because he’s guilty. Also, because of the chest. Also because of the conversation with Elodin about changing names at the end of WMF. But it’s possible somebody might have done it to him. I’d say the candidates would be Haliax, Selitos, Iax (if released from beyond the Doors of Stone), possibly Elodin, as a long shot Fela…


Silkki brings us some information from the Finnish edition:

I just noticed finnish translation of NotW at my library. I picked it up and read few pages and couldn’t help but notice something. I don’t have english version of the book here so forgive any mistakes made.

Lady Lackless has a ring not for wearing. Right?

The word ring translated not as a ring that you use on your fingers (sormus), but as a more general term for a loop. (Rengas)

I think when it says ring not for wearing it means it’s a literally ring that is not even supposed to be worn. Has anyone else noticed something in their own translations?

So this may be useful confirmation of the Faeriniel theory, the circle of greystones. (Good old Finnish, helping out fantasy since before it was a genre.)

The Doc has a theory about the way the Chandrian kill people:

it seems that Chadrians kill with physical objects like swords instead of using magic. And that they are not seen killing people personally. So, maybe, they kill by proxy. Using people, possessing people.

So, maybe, it was Dena who killed everybody at the wedding massacre and she remembers nothing. That was the reason why she was there and survived.

And, maybe, it was Kwothe who killed his parents and all the rest. And that was the reason he survived the attack too.

And isn’t that truly horrible, and doesn’t it fit? Though how could one person, even possessed, could kill a whole troupe, or a whole wedding party?

That made me wonder about the king killing. Because he might have killed a king in front of people but not of his own volition, if the Chandrian could possess him. I was going to say that we haven’t seen anything like this, but we have. The skindancer. It’s defined as Fae, but gone wrong somehow. And “Te rhintae?” could mean “Are you another person possessed by the Rhinta?” And the next bit could be “How do you fix that and be OK again?”

Kineta cleverly picks up on a connection I don’t remember anyone making before:

One of Kvothe’s statements to Chronicler is that he’s “killed men and things that were more than men. Every one of them deserved it” Given the Adem’s description of the Chandrian/Rhinta being “a man who is more than a man, yet less than a man.” it might be fairly safe to guess that he’s kill at least one of the Chandrian.

We also know the story that he killed an angel, which also might be more than a man?

And Jonathan White has a long theory about “rhin”:

Rhin = Shape


En Faeant Morie

Do we have any possible translations? it seems to me that “en” could be translated as “in” – anyway, it’s probably some simple article or preposition. “Faeant” has to be something to do with the Fae – maybe the fae world, or fae inhabitants? If we take Morie to be man, then you would get something like “A man in the Fae” or “A man among Fae” or even “A Faen Man” – all of which could describe a stirring song. We know men don’t belong in the Fae; it’s all set up for a tragic ending. It also provides a parallel to Kvothe himself – as some other commenters have mentioned, it’s “the sort of thing Rothfuss would do.”

In any case, all of those translations make sense to me with Morie = man. It could make just as much sense if Morie were desire, but I’m choosing to assume – as Jo pointed out – that “fel” and desire are tied together, in which case the “desire” part would be contained within “vorfelan.” Morie as knowledge or shape wouldn’t make as much sense.

Therefore, I am advocating the root “rhin” as shape and “morie” as man. “Rhinata” could easily be the 3rd singular form of the verb “to shape.”

“We know Temic is a language like Latin where word order isn’t relevant but word endings are, and Wil isn’t all that good at it.”
I agree with Jo that in Temic, word order probably doesn’t matter, which is why there could be a more meaningful alternate translation to “the desire for knowledge shapes a man.” But imagine you’re Wil. You don’t know the language very well, you’re not going to be picking up on subtleties, etc. Chances are, your first attempt at translation is going to be word-by-word. Assuming “rhinata” is shapes and “morie” is man, when you translate “vorfelan rhinata morie” word-by-word, you’re going to get “the desire for knowledge shapes a man.” It’s the instinctive, “amateurish” way to translate. Especially if you’re translating for your friend (Kvothe) whose first language is Aturan (English), it makes sense that you would translate it word-by-word with English sentence structure. Therefore, the simple fact that Wil isn’t that good at the language advocates “rhin” = shape and “morie” = man. In simple terms, what I’m saying is that his non-skills are giving us inadvertent word parallels.

To me, “rhinta” could just as easily mean shaper as man, with the “ta” suffix equivalent to the “tor” suffix we have in English (borrowed from Latin, equivalent to Spanish “dor”) to turn verbs into do-er nouns (factor = make-er, victor = win-er, dictator = dictate-er, navigator = sail-er, etc.).

It’s possible that as Artful Magpie pointed out, the -ta, the -na, and the other suffixes could modify the noun “man,” but that doesn’t make nearly as much sense to me than -ta, -na, -ata as verb suffixes in context with other languages I know. Nouns go with prefixes while verbs go with suffixes, in general. If rhin is man, it would make more sense for ta-rhin to mean un-man than for rhinta to mean un-man. Take “inhuman” as an example. Now I know that since Temic is a fictional language, those rules aren’t necessarily binding, but I strongly agree with the Temic-Latin parallel, in which case “rhin” is almost certainly a verb root (“shape”) and not a noun (“man”), for the reasons and examples I have provided above.

So those are my three theories why “rhin” is shape, not man. They are by no means foolproof, but in my opinion, it’s going way too far to say that “We’re sure that ‘rhinata’ means man”.

I am now realizing I would like to add one more small theory – according to the rhin = man theory, “rhinata” (in the phrase) and “rhinta” (Shehyn’s Chandrian) both mean “man.” It makes much more sense for -ata and -ta to be two distinct suffixes to change the verb “rhin” (shape) in different ways (in the phrase, “rhinata” = “shapes” ; Shehyn’s Chandrian: “rhinta” = “shaper”). You can append that onto theory 3, if you’ve gotten this far.

In any case, I think the “rhin” translation is very open for discussion.

Indeed. Have at it.


Bam wonders about the king Kvothe killed:

I had a sudden idea — what if the King that Kvothe kills is himself? We believe that he’s high up in the line of succession, if he’s ever recognized as Natalia Lackless’s son. We know that he has faked his own death. We have Pat’s non-answer about how inheritance runs in Vintas.

And we know that the stories about him, which he mentions with such relish, are greatly exaggerated.

It’s an interesting thought, but I don’t think you’d end up with the title “Kingkiller” for killing yourself, or faking your own death. Kvothe Kingkiller is one of the few external things we know for sure, because we get it from Chronicler. That doesn’t mean he killed a king, but it does mean that everyone thinks he did. As Ivi says:

What if Kvothe “killed a king” in the same way that he “burnt down the town of Trebon”? As in, he wasn’t really responsible for it, he just feels that way?

That’s perfectly possible, and indeed terribly likely.

LennyB comes at the Ambrose theory from a different direction:

In re Ambrose as the Penitent King — this notion occurred to me early in reading TWMF, that Ambrose will assassinate the Maer and subsequently come to regret it. But I threw the idea out — because Pat’s already established Ambrose as an invariably obnoxious creep. I think it would break the larger mold of character poetics to have Ambrose suddenly develop a conscience. The Maer as Penitent King is a more believable proposition, to me, in terms of the larger poetic framework. (I’d suggest the idea that the Maer will assist Kvothe in assassinating Ambrose — and later regret it — but this also seems wrong to me. The character poetics I’m positing would seem to dictate that we’re not done with Ambrose that early in the event sequence — that there must be some confrontation between Ambrose and Kvothe that will take place *after* the ascension of the Penitent King. Maybe the Maer is going to abet Kvothe in killing the existing King, and then feel sorry about it after he ascends.) It does seem like there’s a lot of energy stored up in the story, to date, for Kvothe to eventually be killing Ambrose — king or not.

“Character poetics” is a great term, and it’s also why I am absolutely sure in my heart that it’s Ambrose that Kvothe will kill. That’s the channel that the force of story is flowing in.

But Sioger suggests:

couldn’t Kvothe have killed a Faen king?

I mean, Bast has a formal title of Prince, after all…. And there certainly seems to be an influx of the Faen people/creatures into the Four Corners as of some as-of-yet unrevealed event. Might be worth a ponder.

We’ve seemed pretty settled that the Penitent King is the Maer, with the soldiers wearing his colours. But Kineta suggests:

the possibility that Meluan Lackless is the Penitent King and Maer the killed king. As a possibility.

It is possible. Shalter and Another Andrew point out examples of women being known as “kings”, rather than queens regnant, in our history. And Kineta, I’ve been quoting you a lot. You’re now an E’lir in the Department of Imaginary Sympathy.

Britunculus thinks that Bredon is Aculeus Lackless:

Bredon is Kvothe’s grandfather (it’s in plain sight again: “what I consider grandfather old”), specifically Meluan’s father and a Lackless. It explains his political power, his presence with the Maer and his interest in Kvothe.

Oh that would be clever if so! And of course, Kvothe missed the actual wedding, when this would have been apparent if true.

While we’re on identifications, Rutep thinks Dagon is Cinder:

Dagon strikes me as much more consistent with Cinder than Bredon is. And he’s away from the city, chasing Caudicus, when the Maer sends Kvothe after the bandits. When Kvothe returns, the Maer mentions that Dagon caught Caudicus shortly after Kvothe left, but how shortly exactly? He spent, what, one month hunting the bandits, and two months in Ademre, so one month would be relatively shortly after he left Severen. And if Dagon returned around the same time that Cinder fled the camp…

Does that mean Caudicus might have been in league with Dagon/Cinder? 

I haven’t seen this suggested before, but it would fit.


Lepidoctera suggests:

I was reading the post where Bast tries to open Kvothe’s box and can’t. I think you can open the iron lock with a lodestone. Lid, no hinge, protected against sympathy and naming through other means but nonetheless galvanically susceptible.

and Pat_Pat thinks that lodenstones are mentioned too many times for coincidence. I disagree — which is not to say they’re not going to be significant in D3, they might, but they already were significant with killing the draccus at the end of NW. I also don’t think one is necessary for the Thrice Locked Box, because if it were, Kvothe wouldn’t try to open it at the end of WMF.

This is Pat really, but I want to quote Thistlepong quoting him because this is such a lovely comment:

For ease of use, the magics are:
1. Alchemy.
2. Sympathy.
3. Naming.
4. Sygaldry.
5. Glamourie.
6. Grammarie.
7. I just remembered one more that gets a whisper of a mention.
8. And there’s an eighth you haven’t seen yet.

ETA: Merciful Tehlu! Per a comment on his blog, it’s up to ten.

I just re-counted, so far there’s been:
Six magics named in the books.
Eight magics mentioned in the books.
And at least 10 magics in the world.
That I can think of right now, depending on how you count them.

So, knacks and knots have been mentioned. We might have missed one. And there’s definitely one we’ve yet to see.

His answer about the difference between naming and shaping only reinforces my existing prejudices. In other words, I still think it’s only a matter of what one does with names.

That does make sense, and it is what Felurian said, and she’s the only eye witness we have. (I’m assuming Bast is younger.)


Aegon has a thought about the beets:

I figured Bast’s beet aversion was related to Beeturia ( Bast probably doesn’t metabolize iron well.

No, it probably hurts him to eat!


Kushluk has a thought about Haliax’s sign and eclipses:

In one of the books Kvothe finds it states one sign of the Chandrian is the “sun going dark in the sky.”

In another book it states a sign is “the darkening of the moon.”

And then referring back to the description of Haliax on the vase in Ch.81 NW that:

“There was a mirror by his feet and there was a bunch of moons over him. You know, full moon, half moon, silver moon.”

All of these signs can be correct of one phenomenon.


It could be that in the last piece of evidence the “full, half, silver” moon are actually depicting what can be seen of the sun when the moon is in front of it. i.e. each stage of the eclipse.

This could also be why the images are within a mirror. As all geeks know you are not meant to look at an eclipse directly or you could go blind.. Maybe it is some kind of ‘eclipse’ mirror.


Is it possible that a sign of Haliax’ coming is an Eclipse?

If so, could the moon be in kahoots with Haliax?

The moon could be in cahoots, or eclipses could be a sign, and “dimming the sun” certainly seems relevant.

Have we seen anything about eclipses anywhere at all? How would eclipses work if the moon is in another world half the time, or half the moon is in another world all the time, or however it works? I can’t remember any reference to eclipses. But they’d be bound to be significant.

Shalter says:

If eclipses work anything like they do here, then it would seem like the effects of eclipses would be reduced directly by the percentage of time the moon was spending in Fae. Since the part of the moon that is in Fae would not be available to block any sunlight, then an eclipse would look quite different than here. A half moon would only block half of the sun even if it should have been a full eclipse. Interesting.

I would really like to know more about this!

Shalter may have found another clever way of locating Newarre now we know how a trifoil compass works.

In Chapter 9 (A Civil Tongue) of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear, the Master Brandeur asks Kvothe the following admissions question:

Brandeur looked down at the papers before I’d even finished speaking. “Your compass reads gold at two hundred twenty points, platinum at one hundred twelve points, and cobalt at thirty-two points. Where are you?”

He is referring to a trifoil compass. A trifoil compass works by using some magical properties of that world by aligning with three objects at known locations. Rothfuss doesn’t supply any more info here, but he does supply a map. At a later point in the story we find that clocks are divided into 60 minutes and so, it isn’t an unreasonable guess that they also use a base 360 degree circle. If that is the case, then you can plot the three directions given above as rays in a polar coordinate system.

If you then take the map of the Four Corners and overlay it with the coordinate map and rotate things a bit, you can arrive at an image that looks like:

Click the map to enlarge

Click the map to enlarge

In this case, I choose to align the “gold” direction with The University and the “platinum” direction with Atur. You can see that this places the “cobalt” direction a bit off from Renere. It also places the cobalt ray pretty much right over where we think Newarre may be.
If all of these things are correct, then the answer to the admissions question is where the lines converge.

IID3Y? Actually, when it is D3 I’m going to have to liveblog as I read it and see things confirmed or contradicted. My spoiler review will be the longest review of all time!

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently the Nebula winning and Hugo nominated Among Others. 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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