My ridiculously 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?
So the big news since last time is that Pat posted to his blog:
1. The manuscript I gave Betsy was 150,000 words shorter than the eventual print version of the book.
2. Vashet didn’t exist. At all. Bredon didn’t exist. At all.
3. There was no Adem hand talk. No tak. No ring rituals in Severen.
and people have been posting and also emailing me (By the way what’s with that? Do you think I don’t read the comment threads?) saying essentially that this proves, proves PROVES that Bredon isn’t Master Ash.
Three things. First, it doesn’t prove or even imply any such thing Bredon could have not existed and still been Master Ash once he did, because if Pat can change his mind then he can change his mind. Second, why aren’t you all excited about Vashet’s poet king not being the king Kvothe killed, if she didn’t exist either? Third, and this is the important thing, second guessing the text from the point of view of authorial intent is pointless. When things get put in doesn’t affect how significant they are to the finished work. I have said this before, and I don’t know if I can explain it any better now, but it really is better to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
When you look at a finished piece of work you didn’t write yourself, whether you’re going to analyse it in fanatical detail or just read it, it seems seamless. It’s like Kvothe’s shaed. But when you’re actually writing something, you stop and start and go back and fix things and have new ideas and change your mind. From the outside, it’s a shaed, from the inside it’s a hovercraft full of eels.
The fastest I ever wrote a novel was Farthing, which I wrote in 17 days. It got significantly less going wrong and going back and adding stuff than my novels normally get. (I joke that I write all my books in 17 days, but that 17 days is usually spread out over a year or more.) But even so, even with Farthing, I had the wrong idea of what the end was going to be until more than half way through. It’s an alternate history mystery, and it has a detective and a murder and I was going to have the detective solve the murder and sort everything out at the end. And I was writing it and I suddenly couldn’t see how to get to that from where I was, and I thought about it and I had a much better idea for what to do in the end that makes it a million times better than it would have been, and which is now central to my idea of the novel and is the one thing I wouldn’t let anyone change about it. And I had written (let’s get some use out of my livejournal wordcount posts!) 66328 words out of 93000 before I thought of it.
So all Pat’s saying is that Bredon, Vashet and the rings in Severen were not in the first draft. That’s all. It may make them more significant rather than less.
However, reading that post and reading the Amazon interview with Sanderson, it does seem that we can gather some things about his process that are kind of interesting. He wrote an overall draft of the whole thing in 2000, which did not have the frame, and he’s drawing the three books out of that very rough original, and not always finding it easy going. I think this explains some of the depth it has, the sense of layers and actual history and depth. He’s been working on this world and this story for a long time, and there actually is more iceberg than is showing above the surface.
Okay, moving on.
Dave Delong wonders about Haliax and the Doors:
So it seems that Haliax has issues with the 4 doors. He cannot die, he does not forget, and he stumbles over sleep. This suggests that he is also not insane (the other door being that of insanity). How scary is that? Supposedly the greatest villain in the world cannot die, always remembers, never rests, and isn’t crazy? And not only is he not crazy, but he can’t go crazy. So Haliax is being forced to constantly live with the pain of losing Lyra. He can’t forget her, and he can’t go to her, and he can’t sleep, and he can’t go crazy. I can’t imagine what that would do to someone. Perhaps he believes that destroying the world is better than continuing to live with the pain?
This also implies that when Kvothe explains what the four doors are, that they are more than just a convenient explanation. It actually has an application to larger events.
And all this ends up with this final question: are the Doors of Stone related to these four doors? Are they a fifth door?
Yes, a horrible fate for Haliax there, alive, awake, sane, and unforgetting. (I’m glad we have some evidence that Kvothe sleeps in the frame.) But what are the Doors of Stone? The Enemy (Iax?) was put behind them.
I was also wondering, how far can we trust Scarpi? He seems to do good to Kvothe in terms of naming him and waking him from his “sleep” in Tarbean. He’s Chronicler’s friend, and as Chronicler names him to Kvothe as if it’s a good reference, we can assume that Kvothe and Scarpi have had some positive interaction, or at least some interaction that Chronicler believes Kvothe will remember positively, in the blank space we can’t yet see into. (IID3Y?) But we have wondered all kinds of things about Chronicler and this story as a trap, and really, we don’t know. It makes a huge difference, because so much of what we know about Lanre and the end of the Creation War comes from him. The Chandrian kill the troupe for singing the wrong kind of songs, whereas D’s Lanre song becomes popular without them stepping in, which leads one to think that D’s version is acceptable to them and therefore missing something they don’t want spread (maybe their real names?) but we didn’t actually hear Arliden’s version, and we don’t know where it falls with respect to Skarpi’s version, which as we have noticed is a story about Selitos.
Cotterdan wonders if Denna’s Lanre song is meant to counter Skarpi specifically:
I don’t know if anyone else has brought this up but maybe Master Ash is feeding Denna the false story of Lanre to counteract people like Skarpi. It seems from puppet that Master Ash has something to do with the church, and since they were so against Skarpi it would make sense that they want to put an end to his tale. I would imagine that people were less willing to believe Skarpi’s story about Lanre after Denna’s song became popular. Maybe the church is working for the chandrian. That would explain why the church has become so corrupt and split with the Amyr, and it would also fit with Skarpi having such disdain for the church if he indeed is an Amyr.
This also fits with Master Ash being Bredon. While Kovthe is falling in line with the Amyr’s drive to serve the greater good, Bredon is just trying to play a beautiful game. Bredon is serving the church and therefore the Chandrian. He is having a song be made that will make people less likely to believe stories like the one Skarpi told. He is setting the Amyr up to be the bad guys.
I was always thinking it was to counter Arliden and anyone else following in his footsteps and getting interested in Lanre, but Skarpi is going around talking about it, and not getting killed by Chandrian. So maybe he has some protection maybe Amyr protection, or he is an Amyr, which should help with the Church too, and we know he gets away from the Church. And if he has some protection, then this counter-propaganda would be a really good idea.
And thinking about the Doors of Stone, which I am absolutely sure Kvothe opens in that blank space that is D3, it makes me think that this is like an actual literal prophecy, not in the story but in the real world. One day the Doors of Stone will be opened, and all that is unknown will be known, and all we have thought will be vindicated and some will be cast up and some will be cast down. You know, when D3 comes out.
The Name of Copper
Perhaps copper has no Name, and so it cannot be crafted and is also “invisible” to a namer’s senses (making a copper dagger perfect for a namer assassin)?
Remember that Kvothe has a “ring with no name”. Could this be a copper ring?
Heroine of Canton:
I really like the idea that copper has no name. As a general rule, magic is always more interesting when it has limits, so why shouldn’t there be a limit on naming, specifically that there’s something in the world that simply doesn’t have one.
I really like the idea, too, but…so weird. If the no-name thing turns out to be copper. That would mean there is a thing that has properties, a calling name, but no deep name.
I’d prefer a nameless substance to be something that only comes into being when you shove other, real material out of the way. A tangible form of The Nothing from the Neverending Story, if you will.
I’m doubtful that the ring without name can be copper, because it’s supposed to be an unseen ring. Now, to be sure, ‘unseen’ seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, given that the ring of flame shone ‘full faintly’, and a ring of ice is presumably also visible if you look hard enough. But it doesn’t seem to fit something as substantial as copper.
Of course, if you get rings for naming things, there’s something intrinsically odd about a ring with no name.
It’s also interesting that, so far as I can remember, copper and its alloys have no place in the Vintish system of rings. Gold, silver and iron are the main set, with bone, horn, wood, leather and grass for special purposes. But not copper.
Yes, I think copper having no name would be weird. But there’s the thing about the Name of Fire. Kvothe says that fire isn’t a thing, it’s an exothermic reaction, which is totally true in the same way that copper really is a thing. I mean it even has a true name (Cu) and an atomic number and an atomic weight and everything, unlike fire and the wind and people… but if naming is a matter of really getting your head around something, getting all of your head pointed in the same direction, sleeping mind and all, then maybe copper is just so impossible to do that with.
I still don’t see why it would be extra useful to kill namers and shapers, except maybe they could melt your iron blades… except that we know that Caesura was at the battle of Drossen Tor. But what is Caesura made of, eh?
Maybe it would be possible to kill Haliax with a copper knife? But if this were common knowledge during the Creation War, then surely Selitos would have done it?
I think I had posited a while ago that somehow the strange grey Adem blades (like Saicere) are actually copper that’s been shaped somehow by the same technology-level that made the siegestone and the other wonderful devices the University can’t replicate…somehow making the copper much harder and more durable, while leaving alone whatever aspect of copper that makes it good for killing Namers…just a theory!
I don’t think that copper would not have a name (or else we really don’t understand what Naming is) but that it is somehow resistant to the efforts of Namers. We did see when Selitos confronts Lanre that Selitos cannot destroy him as Lanre’s name is too powerful. So, maybe rather than lacking a name, copper has a very powerful and distictive name (why I don’t know)it’s all full of copperiness.
@3-Could the “ring with no name” correspond to the K’s mastery over the 4c equilvalent of anti-matter that can unmake anything’s Name (anti-grammarie)? This is probably related to the various silences mentioned throughout NoW & WMF. Not sure where this comes from though.
I pretty much agree with shalter; it makes little sense for copper not to have a Name. Nonetheless, as the text and comments and author remarks collide and coalesce, I’m starting to think that’s the case.
During Jo’s admissions interview, one of us presented this question:
If invented, are there other magics to be created? Does Kvothe create one?
That’s a good question. No spoilers. But nice try.
On the surface, these are pretty standard answers revealing nothing. If you’ve listened to, watched, and read his interviews, though, it suggests quite a bit.
“Good questions,” are essentially notions that are on the right track for some potion of the story. They may not be true, but they usually hint at something someone within the narrative must deal with. The best example is paraphrased as, “How does succession work in Vintas?” Without fail, that’s a good question. Does it mean Kvothe’s a Lackless or could inherit? No. But it strongly suggests that someone in the story is considering that very question.
“No spoilers,” tends to mean the question as framed is impossible to answer without giving something away. In the early WMF interviews, questions were cut off thusly for approaching the latter half of the book. At this point the trade paperback is out, spoiler warnings are up, and he talks about Felurian and the Adem as much as he ever will. The only spoilers left are things that will happen or be attempted. Does this mean Kvothe will invent a new magic? No. However, It feels like he’ll struggle with that.
So it’s entirely possible that copper is (was?) unnameable. Kvothe is a bit of an autodidact polymath Mary Sue who, ignorant of this basic fact, could conceiveably discover its name and become unbelievabley dangerous. Good question. No spoilers. The final ring was without name.
The other line, “There were rings unseen on his second hand,” seems to give folks some trouble as well. There’s a fairly simple, possibly balderdash, explanation here. Elodin discusses an old tradition of Namers wearing rings to display their acumen. Elxa Dal, on the other hand, suggests that such a practice also displays one’s weaknesses. Kvothe isn’t the sort of fella who’d willingly give an enemy any advantage. These are names he knows, not names he shows.
This is from Pat’s blog post about the copper knife:
And when they were talking about my books they came to the conclusion that, “a copper knife could be really useful if you wanted to kill a namer.”
Then I thought, These guys have been reading the books really closely. (italics his)
For whatever weird reason, I’m tickled by the notion that authors will craft a fiction and not expect folks to read it closely. I’m glad he finds it pleasing.
Anyway, this is our confirmation that Skyaldrin, Felurian’s copper knives, and the cell in Haven are all fairly significant. I mean, I suppose he could be giggling that they’re on the wrong track, but I choose not to think so.
Still more interesting was his surpirse at the actual knife’s weight and use value. I got the feeling that he viewed a copper knife as a whimsical fairytale device; something fantastic that no one in their right mind would actually own or use. Commenters have tended to agree across fora that copper would be useless for weapons. Deadan says as much in text. Chemists are apparently more common in the tubes than smiths.
This is Kvothe’s initial reaction to Elodin’s former cell in Haven:
The first thing I noticed about the room was something strange about the air. At first I thought it might be soundproofed like Alder Whin’s, but looking around I saw the walls and ceilings were bare grey stone. Next I thought the air might be stale, except when I drew a breath I smelled lavender and fresh linen. It was almost like there was a pressure on my ears, as if I were deep underwater, except of course that I wasn’t. I waved a hand in front of me, almost expecting the air to feel different, thicker. It didn’t.
The entire passage is NW ch 46 pp341-3. There’s so much to discuss and so much we’ve already discussed. But he undeniable fact of the text is that this room with its solid copper door, copper meshed walls, and copper infused window messes with Namers. Elodin feels it. He’s surprised Kvothe feels it, but we’re really not. Notably, Sim knows it’s important and it’s likely Wil and Manet do as well. Kvothe, as usual, is kind of left in the dark.
We’re shown that copper is affective and told that Kvothe is ignorant, leading us back to the possibility that he might name the unnameable because he doesn’t know he can’t.
We’re also shown a the burnished copper of the door, the green copper verdigris within the walls and the red curpic oxide in the windows. None of them compare to the Adem swords. Someone humorously, or not, suggested that the dull grey oxidation on them pointed to aluminum, which would be pretty fun.
Finally, I’m limited by my spceific ignorance about alchemy. I think most of us are. Copper plays a significant role in both the material and spiritual magnum opus and iirc has strong associations with esoteric traditions, but, well, I’d just be doing bricolage. Maybe someone else can tinker further.
I’m also interested in copper, how it rusts (I believe this process is different then other metals any chemists out there?), and the Chandrain
First, since the copper knife was mentioned in the post and commentary, I wanted to say that I always felt that the barrels bound with brass in the inn were not just to exclude iron (e.g. make Bast more comfortable), but because brass contains copper. After all, only three barrels were delivered with brass and you would think he has more barrels, or if not, that there is all sorts of iron used in a buidling like an inn.
Now that you bring up the subject of brass, I’ve noticed that Denna reacts curiously to this alloy. When Kvothe shows her the lodenstone in NotW, she speculates if there could be brass lodenstones as well (and who knows, maybe there are?). And when she gifts the new lutecase to Kvothe, it’s mentioned that she specifically asked to make it without brass. I also immediately thought that it might be because brass contains copper and she might be somehow affected by or vulnerable to it.
My idea is that he will name copper in D3, and therefore name something that previously didn’t have a name. His talent with naming has been foreshadowed on multiple occasions (Auri, Nell the stereotypical serving girl, the horse he buys to get to Trebon, Caesura, Master Ash [who fits regardless of whether he really is Bredon or Cinder] etc. Also note how many characters suddenly have a name in the narrative without introducing themselves), so he could pull it off. His motivation should also be clear: his obsession with the four plate door. Maybe it’s not that important what’s behind the door, but what Kvothe will do to find out. Maybe everything the shapers did to the world somehow hinged on the fact that copper doesn’t have a name, and it’s Kvothe naming it that wrecked the world to the point where it is in the frame. I think that’s the real thing Kvothe feels guilty about, not the kingkilling. Political turmoil settles down after a while, the destruction of the magical framework of the work doesn’t. And it explains the chaos with the skindancers and scrael.
So in short, I think the “Ring with no Name” is one of the rings that indicate power in Naming: in this case, naming something that didn’t have a name before.
I want to clarify the distinctions about the types of magic described. Here are the all the types you have found and a brief notation of mine on each:
1. Alchemy-using unbound principles and other unnaturally occurring materials. It doesn’t make sense. I know nothing about alchemy.
2. Sympathy-use of one’s alar to link 2 or more things and use an available energy source (fire, body temperature) to affect the linked things
3. Naming/Shaping-what the person does with the understanding of the subject provides the distinction, i.e. knowing what something is inherently and thus controlling it (calling the wind for D’s asthma attack) vs. using that control to change that inherent quality into something else entirely (creating Felurian’s silver fruit)4. Sygaldry-inscription of runes upon physical objects to create links/bindings. This may be the basis for D’s theory of a magical method of writing things down and making them true. Unsure.
5. Glamourie-“making things seem”, creating an illusion, i.e. “glamoured as a pack mule laden”
6. Grammarie-“making things be”, creating an new physical object such as the shaed. This also could be how Bast was able to heal K’s tooth, by “making it be healed”. Also unsure.
7. Knacks-I definitely subscribe to the idea that the knacks are leftovers of natural talents of the pre-CW population diluted in the intervening years since due to migration (to Fae?), genetic drift, lack of genetic reinforcement, etc.
8. Knots-by seeing one is possibly influenced (such as by D braiding “lovely” and “don’t speak to me”). Unknown effects if read aloud (in Yllish?). Definitely related to the Lackless box, and it’s opening.
9. Tahl-healing songs and dancing trees. We need to know more.
10. Unknown-I think this one is the direct physical imposition of your will onto reality through physical action, such as JohnPoint’s concept of the “single, perfect” step/cartwheel, with the. Will becomes thought becomes unstoppable action with perfect control.
I see right off the bat is that 5 & 6 are created out of nothing, possibly related to Fae being a construct? 3, 4, 8, and 9 are all related to a language-either verbal or written. Can anyone see more links or clues?
I’m also curious about the lack of investigation into “Tinker Tanner”. We are repeatedly told how it is the oldest lyrical song (Bellweather being the oldest). Everyone sings it, creates verses-it is well known enough for Anker’s crowd to occupy themselves for a long while singing it, and is known from the University in the Commonwealth to the troupers who lost their bear in Vint.
There have been plenty of comments about PR’s take on the power of stories and music and how they change through retelling, so what would the impact be of a 4C-wide song that encourages the creation of new lyrics? Is it a continuous collective oral history? IIRC, there are very few actual lyrics provided by PR, but we do know that they are based on the structure of a limerick as described by K.
Elodin asks every student to come up with a subject that cannot be explained. When Kvothe protests that no such thing exists, Elodin quips he should’ve said music. Kvothe replies that music explains itself and then (UK paperback p. 230):
“It [music] is the road, and the map that shows the road. It is both together.”
Now that sounds remarkably like the way the Adem try to explain the Lethani!
“No,” Tempi said sternly. “The Lethani is not a path.” […] “The Lethani is what helps us choose a path.” (p. 711)
The imagery here is very similar, which is never accidental with PR, so I think this is one his hidden-in-plain-sight foreshadowing moments.
It’s especially curious because there’s definitely more to the Adem taboo of performing music (and by extension expressing emotion at all). So we see music contrasted to the Lethani, using similar imagery, but differing “definitions”: music is not only the way to find the road, but also the road itself, but Lethani isn’t the path itself. The fact that the Adem stress this fact implies that we’re not just talking in random metaphors here.
Also, I don’t think Kvothe is just randomly good at music. It’s been speculated before that after the death of his troupe, when he played his lute until he could play certain events of emotions, he was actually naming these things, only with music instead of words. This would fit with the theory that his encounter with the Chandrian put him into a sleeping mind like state, which he only snapped out of when Skarpi named him in Tarbean.
We also have the Singers, which we know almost nothing about, except that they’re probably identical to the Tahl, a nomadic people of certain existence (unlike Fae, Sim doesn’t doubt them at least) who live beyond the Stormwall and can heal people with their singing or animate trees (by the way, I’ve always assumed they lived in a forest because their home is called Tahlenwald, with -wald being German for forest – but that doesn’t seem to work well with a nomadic lifestyle).
I think singing, or music in general, allows access to a form of magic similar to naming, but instead of using words to describe the inherent nature of things, they use music.
Then we also have the implied common ancestry of the Adem and Edema Ruh. It’s curious that if this is true, one of them made music their defining trait and the other turned it into a taboo. Could this be the initial reason of their schism? I wonder if music falls somewhere on the namer/shaper divide. It is certainly related to all of this somehow, because I don’t buy that the Adem shun it only for cultural reasons (in my opinion – and I’m sure Kvothe would agree – music is not at all like making facial expressions. It’s more like laughing or crying – suppressing it would be “unhealthy”).
As for waystones, I think that they are simply magical anchors binding the worlds of the 4C and Fae together, kind of like Ule and Doch in Sygaldry. We’re told that the land was ripped asunder, around the time of the CW, well something has to be holding them together now. My answers: The waystones. This is of course pure conjecture and I have absolutely nothing to back it up with…
But the broken house represents the 4C world right? And the unfolding house represents Fae? What’s broken about the 4C world? Maybe it’s that it didn’t conform to the ideal magical world the shapers had in mind so they (or Iax specifically) decided to make one from scratch.
2)The broken house could be an entirely different world than either the 4C or Fae. The existence of more worlds than the 4C or Fae is implied by the Tinker knowing about items like the folding house and the existence of the Doors of Stone as a prison of sorts. I rather like this option and its implications
What if the Iax/Jax stealing a piece of the moon story is related to the Lackless rhyme?
What if his full name was Iax/Jax Lackless?
or What if the name Lackless came from Iax/Jax-less?
What if Lady Lackless was the moon?
What if the Black dress was the night sky (possibly with no moon)?
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.