Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 17: A Break in the Line

My riduculously 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. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. 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.

Pat has posted the Currency Widget. That’ll be going into the permanent links. When looking at it, also note the extra information in the titles. This was greeted with much rejoicing—especially the information that Yll and Modeg have currencies and the following interesting comparison from Matt Pe:

I’m finding a lot of evidence that Vintish Currency is at the very least strongly based on Spanish Currency circa 1850. Interestingly, Isabella the II changed the Spanish currency system in 1859 from a base 8 system to a base 10 system. I’m foreshadowing with that comment.

Let’s start with the economic system before 1850.

In Spanish Currency at that time there was a coin called a Doubloon. This coin got its name because it had a portrait of Ferdinand and Isabella on it (i.e Royals). The value of this coin changed but in 1849 was worth 80 reales de vellon. As it happens, there was a one reales de vellon coin and it was called “a bit”. There was also a two reales de vellon coin commonly called “a quarterbit”. You’ll note that these coins exist in Vintish Currency also.

Given that in Vintish Currency; eighty bits equals a Royal and two bits equals a Quarterbit, I think it at least strongly suggests that a Vintish Royal is a Spanish Doubloon, a Vintish Quarterbit is a Spanish two reales coin( aka a Spanish Quarterbit) and a Bit is a one reales coin(aka a Spanish Bit). This much I’m certain about.

In Spanish Currency at this time, there was also a coin called a Spanish Dollar otherwise known as “a piece of eight” because it was made up of eight reales. However, it was made up of eight reales de plata fuerte, each of which is equal to two and a half reales de vellon (as of 1737). This would make it worth twenty reales de vellon and would make it equivalent to the Silver Noble. Given that Reales de Plata Fuerte were silver, it makes sense that the Silver Noble is made up of these reales.

This is as far as I’ve gotten which means I still don’t fully understand how the Ha’Penny, Penny, Round or Reel in Vintish Currency correlates with Spanish. Still, I think that the definitions for Bit, Quarter Bit and Royal are solid and I think that the one for Noble is correct. Even if I’m wrong about the Noble one, then the value of the piece of eight would be equivalent to the Round which means one of the two pieces of Vintish Currrency is explained.

I don’t have all the answers but I think it’s enough to strongly support my theory.

There’s also a brilliant discussion on the previous summary post about hierarchies of trust, which I’m not going to quote because I’d have to quote all of it. But here’s StevenHalter’s summary:

Hierarchies of narrative trust—All of the discussion is good here. Skarpi’s comment that all of the tales are true can be unpacked a bit more in that what we have is a work of fiction and so is completely false altogether also.

PR has given us a very internally consistent world and so we have some expectations of D3 maintaining that consistency. This allows us to attempt the various thought experiments that we have attempted as we go and to try to reason through the clues that have been given to date with some expectations of them being useful.

However, we don’t have D3 and so almost any of our expectations could prove to be false and parts of the story that we think true turn out to be not and vice versa.

PR has set this up so that we as readers may have our expectations overturned, but has also set things up so that Kvothe in the narrative (along with others) may be undergoing radical changes in their own perspectives within the story line. Good stuff.

Indeed.

Where was Caluptena?

What we know about Caluptena is that it was destroyed by fire and that a lot of learning was lost with it. It’s been mentioned here and there in different contexts.

Aesculapius compares it with the library at Alexandria:

Caluptena always brought to mind that great wonder of antiquity, the library of Alexandria. I love the clear implication that so much ancient knowledge has been lost from the 4C because of an act of wanton destruction that occurred during a fit of imperialist expansion.

and this fits my general impression. It’s something that happened a long time ago but in historical, not legendary time. To use Arliden’s analogy, we’re looking at grandchildren’s eyes here I think.

JohnPoint thinks it’s the old University:

A not unwise guess would be that the University is built on the ruins of Caluptena. We know that:

1) the University built on the ruins of something (the Underthing, etc.)

2) there was an ancient place-of-learning there (as per Elodin’s discussion of naming and the teaching of it) which would likely have included massive libraries or archives

3) the reminants are stored in the Archives, and would not have had to be transferred far.

I know we have (relatively well substantated) speculation that Imre/University is located where Belen was, but do we have anything stating that Belen and Caluptena are in different locations?

We don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t seem to fit the feel of the way Kvothe talks about it in the context of the Archives. Of couse, he wouldn’t necessarily know. There’s certainly the ruin of something in the Underthing, something that connects to the Archives through a back way. I don’t think we can dismiss this. There has been enough time for Caluptena to rise on the ruins of Belen and the University on the ruins of Caluptena.

Thistlepong thinks it doesn’t feel right, and Aesculapius thinks the Underthing is older:

. The OLD university (or whatever it was, and potentially therefore the Underthing…?) is described in such a way as to imply that it is *significantly* older than the current University; it’s hard to say exactly but Elodin’s description suggests a type of arcane knowledge more akin to that of the Knowers and Shapers of the Creation War than anything directly related to the University of Kvothe’s time. It could, however, have been a centre of learning that grew out of the remnants of the *aftermath* of the Creation War—and that was certainly what I thought Elodin was implying. The current University would then be whatever had grown and evolved from that start over the many centuries that followed, possibly even with interruptions that set back its growth from time to time because of the waxing and waning of politics, religion and superstition that could easily be directed against a centre of arcane learning.

Thistlepong:

I tend to think any contiguous throughline from CWE (Creation War Era) to the narrative is unlikely, whether it be the University, the Taborlin story, Tecam, or whatever. It stretches credulity especially in light of the actual history we get going back 2000 years with blips and rumors a bit further back. The Adem, essentially another incongruous civilization, seem to be the only exception, and even they seem to have lost most of the intervenng details. So I doubt when Elodin says “ancient university” he means much more than, ahem, a couple millenia.

Aesculapius goes on to suggest Caluptena might be on Yll:

For my money, Caluptena is (or rather was) on Yll and was destroyed as part of the invasion of Yll by the Aturan Empire. My gut feeling, with perhaps a little guidance from some circumstantial evidence, is that Yll was a last outpost of pre-Creation War civilisation and knowledge, and the library at Caluptena was at the centre of this.

The crushing invasion of Yll could simply have been part of general Imperial expansionism but, in the context of the stories and the things we’ve discussed about information relating to the Amyr and the Chandrian being censored, hidden or destroyed, then I’m almost forced to contemplate this as a much more deliberate act intended to wipe out both academic learning / recorded knowledge and also wider cultural knowledge. Why else so completely raze a civilisation and scatter its people and knowledge?

I’m struck by the fact that both Yllish knots and Adem hand gestures (and their (apparently) down-beat verbal tradition) all seem to be centred on the avoidance of things otherwise common to verbal linguistic traditions—perhaps only to be expected by societies with cultural memories of the destructive potential of overt expressive naming?

This is very interesting, but it also feels wrong to me because of the Alexandrian analogy. Caluptena looks like a Latin/Temic word, and the way they talk about it sounds as if it’s a site of their own civilization, not one that feels alien and odd like the way they think about Yll. This is a woolly impression that I can’t defend, but there you are.

But you know, Shalter, in a completely different context, talking about Bredon beer, in another thread suggests:

I am now picturing Yll in the role of Greece to the Aturan Rome. Thus, the Small Kingdoms could have had Yllish roots as colonies, much like there were numerous Greek colonies throughout the Mediteranean.

In which case, my argument evaporates.

Aesculapius unpacking some thinking:

Well, if the Lackless line is sufficiently ancient that the box potentially goes back to the times of Lanre, Lyra and Selitos AND the box has carvings that appear to be Yllish then why would it be such a leap for the Library of Caluptena (and the records of ancient times that it holds) to be in Yll…?

That was part of my thinking in considering isolated Yll as a last outpost of the ancient civilisation. I would agree that it would be too much of a stretch to consider anything beyond perhaps the isolated culture of the Adem and the Seven and the (true) Amyr to have any sort of true contiguous history right back to pre-Creation War days. Even the sort of last remnant in Yll that I was considering would be much changed and faded as a culture by the time of the invasion, perhaps to the extent that the true importance of the contents of the Library had been largely forgotten too.

If you think of the invasion as being some sort of “clearance” led by deeper forces than just the contemporary leadership of the Empire then maybe, just maybe, the were biding their time, waiting for the last true knowledge of Naming to die out before launching the invasion…? (Yes, I know that’s stretching the point a little). I’m very much inclined to agree about the relative age of the term “ancient” as far as Elodin is concerned; let’s face it, if we were talking about two thousand years ago then we’d be back in the times of the Roman Empire in Europe. That’s old enough to count as ancient! I certainly don’t think the current University has a truly continuous history back to much older times; rather, I imagine lots of “partial” histories as survivors of other centres of arcane learning slowly gravitated, at various times, towards somewhere they had heard of that might still survive as a centre for arcanists. The current university may even have begun as an “underground” movement (literally?!) in the Underthing, the ruins of a much older but well-remembered site, before being strong enought to surface and begin to construct its own buildings, beginning, perhaps, with places like the Archives (although I detect some implications that the Archives might actually be somewhat older…?).

I freely admit some of this is more than a little speculative but the link between the Leoclos, the box, Yll, ancient records and genealogies and therefore, potentially, Caluptena doesn’t seem to be any more of a stretch than some of the other links we’ve been musing over!

Interestingly, on the original map, there’s a place-marker dot on the island (?) of Yll, directly opposite Tarbean on the South side of the Reft. K comments on how much the Aturan Empire ground Yll to dust and how little currently remains. I’m guessing that Yll once included ALL of that island/peninsula and that the unnamed dot is the site of Caluptena. It means that the move to Imre/Belen wouldn’t have been such a great leap for refugees from Yll if there was already rumour of, say, arcanists in hiding there, and makes me wonder about the link from the end of the Great Stone Road at Imre, down river to Tarbean and then straight across the Reft to Yll.

and then, a very interesting further thought:

Just a thought: maybe the Yllish knots are only Yllish by association? Perhaps that’s just the place that they were mostly known to come from because that’s where they were last used and where the last great collection was?

What if the story-knots far pre-date Yll as a means of recording information? PR doesn’t create stuff randomly; we know the power of Naming and the potential for magic that becomes true if you write it down. My hunch is still that there is something in the nature of the story-knots in particular that allows the recording of information about the true nature of things (ie Naming!) but in a way that is somehow protected from the power of Naming. Thus the knots could have been in widespread use across Ergen but known only to K (and therefore us) through Yll.

This makes me wonder if there’s more to the metaphor of Jax / Iax unravelling the knot than we already think? I also wonder how this ties into the knotwork we now know to be on D’s ring…?

I wonder about that too. It’s possible that this is the case, and the knots on the box aren’t Yllish but date from an early period of widespread knot-use, without Caluptena being in Yll.

Pat deliberately refused to answer about the location of Caluptena when we did the admissions questions, saying it would be a spoiler. He also said that Kvothe would visit Renere, the three part city. This seems to me like another possible candidate for Lost Caluptena.

Cinder and the Sithe

Drew/TOh has a theory about why the Sithe they didn’t intercept Kvothe by the tree:

I had a theory for why the Sithe may have not been guarding the Ctheah. Maybe they had been drawn away to go after Cinder in the bandit camp (perhaps from the prayers during the fight, especially since the moon was closer to 4c, making crossing over easier). Since time passes (arguably) longer in the 4c rather than the fae, perhaps they hadn’t returned yet.

It makes sense the Sithe would be trying to kill the seven, especially if they were products of the influence of the Ctheah. Clearly, they would be trying to remove Ctheah’s influence from the world by killing parties that had been directly affected. (Additionally, this might explain why they’d send all of them instead of leaving some behind, so as to increase their chances).

And to build on that, maybe they’d been drawn off by Marten’s prayer, maybe they were coming and maybe they were coming when the Chandrian killed the troupe too. Maybe they powered Kvothe’s lightning bolt or did something to make it work without killing him, and maybe Cinder fled them the same way they fled the other time. We do know specifically that Haliax is keeping Cinder safe from the Amyr, the Sithe and the singers, so this would make a great deal of sense. As for why they haven’t got back in the time since, well, time is variable between worlds or maybe they’re in hot pursuit.

Aesculapius has an interesting thought:

“Why cant’ you find this Cinder? Well, that’s an interesting why. You’d think a man with coal-black eyes would make an impression when he stops to buy a drink. How can it be that you haven’t managed to catch wind of him in all this time?”

Have we considered compiling a list of all the people who have bought. K a drink up to the point at which he meets the Cthaeh? Is there a candidate in there for a Chandrian in disguise…?

That’s a very specific phrase to use; I know we all feel that the Cthaeh’s reference to meeting Cinder “twice in a lifetime” refers to the events relating to the attack on the troupe and then the bandits in the Eld but I wonder if it’s worth looking at who has bought K drinks all the same?

That would be an exhausting task. We don’t know all the people who bought drinks for Kvothe in the Eolian even the first time, and there were lots of times. Apart from “a zillion fans buy him drinks” I can’t think of any significant drink buying except from his friends—Sim, Wil, Sovoy and Manet—and Deoch.

Amyr

Audion wonders if Arliden might have been an Amyr:

This is a bit off topic, but I was re-reading things and has anyone mentioned the fact that K’s father might have been Amyr? Look at the facts, he tells K when he ripped his shirt it was “all for the greater good” and he DID marry a Lackless if what we think about K’s mother is true. Then him writing his song makes a lot of sense, even if it was just something an Amyr put him up to.

I’d always seen that remark as just one more example of the t-shirt theory, pertaining to Kvothe and not to his father. But you could be right. Though it doesn’t fit with Lorren—I think only one of them can be an Amyr, assuming the secret Amyr know about each other.

Imaginary Linguistics

Oliver Stein has a new thought on our old friend “rhinata”:

Rhin is shape. Ata is man. Ta is man, but actually changes the Rhin part— Man-shaped. As such, A Rhinata is a Shaper, and the Rhinta are man-shaped.

Could be!

Thistlepong Finds Alchemical Evidence For What King Kvothe Kills

No, really! This is so cool. First, the “calanthis” the red and yellow sipquicks that Kvothe uses to test Caudicus’s poison medicine, and which is also the name of the royal house of Vintas.

Having them thus connected, it’s incredibly interesting to note the opening action of the Cthaeh.

But my eye was caught by a single large red one, crimson shot through with a faint tracery of metallic gold. Its wings were bigger than my spread hand, and as I watched it fluttered deeper into the foliage in search of a fresh flower to light upon.

Suddenly, its wings were no longer moving in concert. They tumbled apart and fluttered separately to the ground like falling autumn leaves.

I can’t really see it as a coincidence. Kvothe’s already killed calanthis, colored red and yellow. Now we have the Cthaeh opening with a precisely color-coded killing. “The red ones offend my aesthetic.”

As the conversation progresses the Cthaeh encourages Kvothe to range further afield, to travel to the edge of the map for information. Part of his decision to go to Ademre is based on this. And there, ultimately, he receives the sword. He becomes the clever, thoughtless armed sixteen year old Abenthy discussed with him.

I think the Cthaeh set Kvothe on a collision course with Roderic. I think one of its machinations is Roderic’s death. I think Saicere is in Kvothe’s hands for killing, specifically for breaking the Calanthis line.

But, y’know, don’t take my word for it. As always, look to the text. The background we need is all there.

Ever the good friend, Wilem stepped in with a distracting question. “What is that pause you keep doing?” he asked. “It’s like you can’t catch your breath.”

“I asked that too,” Fela said, smiling.

“It’s something they use in Eld Vintic verse,” Sim explained. “It’s a break in the line called a caesura.”

Note that it’s Eld Vintic verse. Note that Calanthis is the Eld Vintic name for flits. Note that the royal line, Alveron’s word chosen rather than family, bears an Eld Vintic name. Caesura is meant to break an Eld Vintic line.

There’s more, including the alchemical requirement for the third book to be red, but that’s enough for me. I am absolutely convinced. This is exactly the kind of thing Pat does. Roderic is the king killed. I expect it’ll be Ambrose’s fault, though I retain hope that he may kill Ambrose too. (“Granddad? Who kills Humperdinck? Is it Inigo or who?”)

GBrell also likes this butterfly-king theory, and adds:

I will say, however, that if this is correct, I’m now inclined to think that the battle in Imre is separate from the Kingkilling. Whether it’s the obvious (Ambrose), the fated (Cinder) or some third party we’ve yet to meet, I still don’t know.

JohnPoint:

The Imre event could also be the “fought an angel to gain his heart’s desire” part of Kvothe’s legend.

Totally could.

Thistlepong:

I’ve been an advocate of separation of king and Imre for awhile now. Kvothe’s kind of a murderous little terror, so I’m not worried about collapsing stories together. And it’s, um, unlikely a king would be there.

It really is. But Ambrose is often there.

I also believe that when we have D3 we will be able to look back at the butterfly slaughter and identify all of them. It had never occurred to me they were anything other than scenery, butterfly effect, and possibly a connection to Felurian, but I am now absolutely sure that I will one day be able to put names to all of them. IID3Y?

Who Did Iax Talk To?

Bubbleset wonders:

My first thought is that the Old Man Jax/Iax spoke to was the Cthaeh. It’s his final half-hearted “no, don’t go” as Jax leaves—as if he knows what he’s just set Jax on the road to doing and isn’t interested in stopping it. And beyond the Tinker, which seems far more unlikely to me, he’s the only other character in the Jax tale. But the ties to Teccam seem equally clear. A man out chasing the wind, listening to the world and trying to understand it, and speaking from a cave.

My crazy thought is—what if they both are true? What if the philosopher Teccam of yore is also the Cthaeh of today? We know Teccam was incredibly wise, a teacher and philosopher, and “knew the shape of the world”. We know the Cthaeh is also in some ways omniscient and sees all, though he supposedly uses that power to create the worst outcomes. What if Lanre and Iax visited the wise philsopher, gained great knowledge, and then went on to do terrible things with that knowledge because they lacked wisdom. Teccam became the scapegoat and was trapped in his current prison, where now he maliciously plots. It also explains the Cthaeh’s hatred of the Chrandrian. I don’t completely buy it, but I think the character of Teccam still has some role to play in this story.

Interesting. I also assumed that Teccam has some D3 significance, but I hadn’t thought of that.

And Robocarp collects up everything we know about Teccam:

Still, I think Teccam deserves a closer look for his potential role in the more recent historical period. Here is a summary of everything we know about Teccam (that I could track down):

* Lived barefoot in a cave. (This is his “classic pose”; it could be apocryphal.)

* Taught groups of students at his cave; presumably the students sought him out.

* Statue of Teccam in front of Hollows at the University. Also a stained-glass window in the Master hall depicting him. Both depicting “classic pose”.

* Wrote Theophany, which seems to be a fundamental philosphical text, sort of like Plato’s Republic would be to us.

* Theophany contains this advice: “There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in a storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

* In Theophany he defines a secret as true knowledge actively concealed, describes them as painful treasures of the mind, and distinguishes between secrets of the mouth and secrets of the heart. Simplifying, the former are secrets you want to tell, the latter secrets you want to bury in your heart. Seems to be one of Teccam’s less popular ideas.

* Wrote Underlying Principles. Not a long book, but thick. Assigned to Kvothe as pre-reading for Elodin’s Naming course, which means heaven knows what’s actually in it.

* Had a theory of narrative septagy. Septagy seems to be a word PR made up, since a Google search on the word only brings up the quote from NotW. My best guess is that it’s related to “septage”, the stuff inside a septic tank. The obvious thought is that Teccam theorizes that as stories pass from person to person, they acquire waste, but I think it’s more subtle than that. In a septic tank, bacteria is actually used to treat the waste, so the theory could be that a story has an essential truth that second-hand details won’t necessarily derail.

* Opined that wine is the only alcoholic beverage suitable for reminiscence (mainly because it’s relatively low alcohol content).

* Claimed that nothing in the world is harder than convincing someone of an unfamiliar truth.

* Said, “No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles” and some more cool stuff about how much you learn on the road.

* Did NOT say, “Too much study harms the student”. That was Ertram the Wiser.

* Also did not say, “…some things are past valuing: laughter, land, and love are never bought.” That was Gregan the Lesser.

* Is credited with inventing or describing some kind of winch (that relies on simple sygaldry, since it’s made by lower-tier students in the Fishery).

It seems doubtful to me that Teccam was really a hermit teaching from a cave; the very fact that Kote calls it a “classic pose” suggests that it’s a bit of apocryphal legend about the guy. That, however, seems to be the biggest similarity between him and the Cthaeh. Teccam’s philosophy doesn’t seem to have much in common with the Cthaeh, even in an ironic sense. (Anyone else have thoughts about this?)

There are a couple eyebrow-raisers though. Teccam’s mention of “a night with no moon” is maybe a hint that he knows a little more than he lets on: he’s not just doing thought experiments but is giving advice based on special knowledge he has. (One wonders if that’s one of his secrets of the heart.) Also, Teccam’s winch connects Teccam to magic, and since it’s sygaldry it connects him to the (new) University. Assuming the winch is something properly credited to him, of course.

Nice to have all that together.

Death and the Afterlife

Sahirioth got this going:

What do we know about beliefs concerning death and the afterlife among the people of the Four Corners? It occurs to me that if everyone has a true/deep name, then perhaps they also have a soul (or the name is their ‘soul’). If so, where does it disappear to upon death? Lyra brought Lanre back from the dead, supposedly, so if there’s such a thing as souls in the FC, it can’t just dissolve upon death, right? Do the Tehlins believe in ‘Heaven’? Do other religious groups? Do people in general? Does Kvothe? Are there any indications, in the novels, that such a place as Heaven (similar to the Judeo-Christian notion) exists? Which begs the question: since the Faen realm is linked to the Four Corners’ world, are there other, ‘parallel’ planes of existence/worlds which are hinted at in the novel?

Thistlepong has a great deal of scholarship on the subject:

The bones are that heaven and hell exist, at least in language. Hell is not only referenced as a place, but as a place in relation to God. And Lanre is rumored to have suicided in order to search for Lyra in the land of the dead as well as having returned from death.

Hell is Present in all manner of cliches: /verb/ like hell, /five W’s/ the hell, hell/ish//ly/, /verb/ the hell out of /noun/, make your life (a) hell, like hell, hell (as introjection), hell to pay, hell of a /noun/, /verb/ as hell, chance in hell… And this ugly one delivered by Hemme:

“Now that the gates of hell are closed,” Hemme said in his normal, rougher tones. “We can begin.”

(NWp274)

So, hell is linguistically pervasive in the same manner as it is in the contemporary United States. While we can’t draw specific conclusions from this, we can infer a widespread conception of hell as a referent. Hemme’s quote firms up hell as a place and nudges the Tehlin Church a bit closer to historical Abrahamic traditions.

Still, it could be just a story that the metropolitan secular populations deploy as a habit; again like contemporary speech. Daeonica presents hell not only as a specific place, but one with the common fiery staging.

“It was like watching Tarsus bursting out of hell. You came through the fire and I knew everything was going to be alright.”

(NW502)

We don’t get too many lines from the play, but we do know that Tarsus sells his soul, ends up in hell at some point, and leaves again in what reads like an escape. Again, we have to infer from context the details of the transaction, but the purchasing party is almost certainly a demon. That’s another nudge towards our conventional picture.

It occurs to me that I implicated Tehlinism without any real backup, mostly ‘cause I knew it was coming.

“Nell, what in God’s hell are you doing letting him up? I swear you haven’t got the sense God gave a dog.”

(NWp642)

Trebon is a small town with a big church in the heart of Tehlin country. Kvothe’s trick with the wheel suggests divine intervention to them. That’s all a way of asserting that God, here, is Tehlu. God’s hell, then, is also Tehlu’s. I think we can safely say that according to the most widespread an influential religion in the Four Corners, hell exists. The souls of the victims of demons, willing or otherwise, and probably the wicked end up there after death.

Heaven is a bit trickier. It shows up once in the entire work to date.

“Someone half clever might dub you Pitch or Scuttle, ill-favored names. Or Slate, a sedentary name. Heaven forbid you end up Blackie, that’s an ill-fitting name for a prince like you.”

(NWp359)

If anything, it’s the same cliche use as hell which might lead to the same conclusions. I’m almost inclined to suggest it’s accidental, like a typo that never got excised. We give a lot of credit to PR with respect to word choice and take him at his word about obsessing over it. But we also know, with confirmation, that errors slip into the books.

So, with one inconclusive appearance and nothing at all to corroborate our assumptions when churches, angels, and hell are present, I’m guessing there’s no heaven. We encounter quite a few Tehlins, and even a version of Tehlu himself in Trapis’s story. Heaven, indeed any succor in or from a life lived virtuously, is notably absent.

We know Trapis is a Tehlin apostate, of course. However, that’s the version of the story Pat chooses to share. Tehlu, and by extension Tehlinism, merely threatens and bullies folk into right livin’.

Now, is all that just a story, or are there souls?

We know the soul-as-commodity exists in a well regarded fiction and with respect to the popular conception of demons. It’s a thing that can be bartered or stolen. It’s also present interchangebly with person in phrases like “didn’t a soul” or “good soul.” Typical cliched uses include “bottom of his soul” and “ out his soul.” More rarified yet still material are Kvothe’s metaphorical “my lute, my tangible soul” and his likening of Denna’s voice to a portrait of her soul.

Somewhat different from the fungible soul is the personal soul, my soul. Simmon makes an oblique jesting reference to his soul. Skarpi, however, in a Tehlin context, seems to take his soul rather seriously. Alveron refers to his romantically.

None of this really tells us anything about the relationship of the soul to the body or an afterlife, though. There are, luckily, a couple lines that suggest both.

“Poetry is a song without music,” I said loftily. “A song without music is like a body without a soul.”

(WMFp261)

Here Kvothe’s just being a bit douchey, but it establishes plainly the concept of a dual nature. It’s also not isolated.

Some thought fire would frighten him off, some thought salt scattered on the grass would keep him away, some thought iron would cut the strings that held the soul to his dead body.

(WMFp281)

This is a nested reference in story within a story within a story that’s culturally insensitve to everyone but the Ruh, in this case Vints, but the multicultural support for a soul and a body is there. Between those two quotes, we can tease out that the soul is necessary for true life and separates from the body at death.

If only there were a way to determine whether this was all linguistic artifact and superstitious dogma, right? I think there is. All of the above suggests a human belief in the soul. But the individual with the most interesting lines about the soul isn’t human; it’s Bast.

“How odd to watch a mortal kindle

Then to dwindle day by day.

Knowing their bright souls are tinder

And the wind will have its way.

Would I could my own fire lend.

What does your flickering portend?”

(NWp44)

We could probably devote a whole summary to torturing meaning out of his song, but the significant bit is that the being from parallel plane (or ekpyrotic brane) appears to believe in the human soul, too. And, by implication, his own.

“I leave it to Pater Leoden to distribute the remainder of my worldly goods among the parish, as, being an immoral soul, I will have no further need of them.”

(NWp680)

Bast’s actually lying here and probably poking a bit of fun at the local priest. On the other hand he’s acknowledging himself as a soul, rather than being in possession of one.

That’s an arduous slog to conclude that there’s probably a real immaterial soul for both human and faen. There might be an afterlife, indiscriminate and likely entirely grim. To be honest, though, I don’t find the characters to act as if there’s either.

A Fox:

I have to admit I had always just subbed Faen for Hell. Tehlins believe that Fae are demons, it was simply the next step.

‘Gates of hell’ vs waystones.

Tehlu’s path, choosing the right way. Mortal vs Faen. (Mortal used loosely, you know what I mean!) Good path casting out demons/fae, embracing the tehlin faith…bad way in support of demons/fae leading to hell/faen.

On Soul: Shamble-men, notably the soldier that had previously robbed Chronicler. It would seem as if they ‘cut the strings’ (Puppet?) of the soul, seperating it from the body they then inhabit. Or at least displaces the soul. The body also appears quite dead, bar the animation, hints at rotting, impervious to wounds….can a mortal bosy survive without a soul?

“I leave it to Pater Leoden to distribute the remainder of my worldly goods among the parish, as, being an immoral soul, I will have no further need of them.” (NWp680)

Putting aside Bast’s joking. This does seem to imply that if he WAS a moral soul (in a tehlin context) that he would have need of his goods again. Implying rebirth….?

The doors of the mind seems to be an older left over, dealing in tangent with the ability to manifest power as it does, and the fact that Lanre knew and was barred from them. It also seems it was this door that he was rumoured to have ventured through in pursuit of Lyra. And, as Haliax, cannot now go through.

I would be very curious to hear of the death practises beliefs of non tehlin countries; Adem, Ceald, Yll, Modeg. And somewhat of the Fae, though it seems their longevtivity/immortality would negate this somewhat.

Thistlepong:

Sovoy utters the phrase, “Gods all around us,” on Kvothe’s first day. Chances are Modegan are polytheistic. Interestingly, then next and only other time the phrase is uttered is by Bredon. Y’know, with the mysterious pagan rituals on his northern estates… realtively close to the Modeg/Vintas border. It may be nothing more sinister than and older tradition normal in another nation.

Gods, plural, shows up in plenty of contexts in plenty of mouths. Near as I can tell, the church of Tehlu is the only monotheistic religion; and then only kinda. Deoch, for example, casts Yll as polytheistic with, “Gods of my fathers.”

Bredon/Ash

JohnPoint:

What if Bredon is the Earl of Baedyn-Bryt?

a) We’ve located Newarre in northwest Vintas, with some degree of certainty.

b) Chronicler was heading to see the Earl of Braedyn-Bryt, whose estates are located within 3-4 days’ travel of Newarre, thus also in northern Vintas.

c) There is a town of Baedyn, where Chronicler was thinking of being able to get a new horse.

d) There is a town (place location?) of Bredon, where they brew beer that is consumed in the Small Kingdoms.

e) The Small Kingdoms are located adjacent to northwestern Vintas, thus near where we’ve located Newarre.

f) Bredon (person) is a highly placed noble in Vintas—potentially an Earl—and has estates in northern Vintas, not too far from where Newarre is located.

g) “Bredon” and “Baedyn-Bryt” are rather similarly pronounced—condensing it to two syllables from three, and a transfer of the consonate “r” from the end to the first syllable makes them virtually identical.

So, perhaps Bredon is the Earl of Baedyn-Bryt, and Kvothe chose Newarre partially to be relatively close to him, for good or for evil. This could be applied to anyone’s pet theory about Bredon. (If he’s Master Ash, K chose the location for revenge-ish intentions. If he’s a “friend” of Kvothe—Amyr, Fae, or whatever—the location may have been chosen for future support.)

Sidenote, wasn’t Baedyn-Bryt formerly a Lackless posession/title? Does that support Bredon being Aculeus Lackless? Thoughts?

And Thistlepong has a new candidate for Master Ash… the Maer

Regarding the colors, I wasn’t referring to Ash himself, actually. Denna wears blue and white exclusively after confessing her patronage agreement to Kvothe. It’s a nearly invisible detail. However, a fair amount of text is devoted beforehand to the concept in the context of Kvothe’s troupe, his search for a patron, and the explanation thereof to Wil and Sim.

What interests me about that is that it points solidly at Alveron. It’s an argument tangential to this one, but there’s almost as much pointing to him as there is to Cinder or Bredon. He meets the only description that might be of Ash. He carries a walking stick for which his need waxes and wanes; and for which wanes coincidentally with the Cthaeh’s proclamation. He’s certainly cruel. He certainly views power as a game, according to the inherent versus granted conversation with Kvothe. Denna’s own hints that her song might be for the Maer, that Ash is at least as secretive as the Maer, heck even that he’s graceful obliquely call Alveron to mind. Prior to his current illness, he’d been healthy for almost a year, freeing him up for travel; for developing a relationship with Threpe, for being in Imre and Trebon? And the morning after Kvothe’s fight with Denna, Alveron sends him away on a mission he’s not exactly well suited to.

And yet, as gbrell (152) notes, there’s no textual clue that Denna recognizes either party when they happen upon Meluan and Alveron in the garden. It does seem rather unlikely that he spends much, if any, time travelling. Again, nothing in the text suggests he does. And so, in the face of all of the above, I guess he’s probably not Denna’s mysterious patron.

The unlikely thing would be him being in Imre… but it’s not impossible. He knows Threpe. He could have asked Threpe to look out for girls. And he’s the right kind of cruel.

Promotions: Robocarp, JohnPoint and A Fox, you are all worthy of the rank of Re’lar. And I think Thistlepong and GBrell should be elevated to El’the, even if we don’t know quite what it means. I hope you can cope with your new rates of tuition!


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