Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 20: Watching his Master

My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. 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.

DarlinKaty has noticed something interesting that I don’t think we have ever discussed.

Kvothe is referred to as Bast’s “master” several times. I suppose I could go back through the first 5 chapters and count, but that seems tedious. But Chapter 3 ends with:

“there was no one around to notice the difference. No one except Bast, who watched his master, and worried, and waited.”

In a Rothfuss book, ending the chapter with such powerful words should signal you to pay attention. Looking back, at first I thought it was Bast waiting for the hired guys, for Chronicler to show up, for something that he’d set in motion to happen. Seems a reasonable enough explanation for the *LOOK HERE!* wording.

But when compared to the end of Chapter 5, Notes, it seems more significant.

“Then Bast drew a chair alongside the bed and sat, watching his master, listening to him breathe.” The Bast sings the alsmot lullaby then we have this: “Bast’s voice faded until at last he sat motionless, watching the rise and fall of his master’s silent breathing through the long hours of morning’s early dark.”

Hmmm, two of the beginning chapters both end with Kvothe being referred to as Bast’s master? And Kvothe hasn’t shown any desire for power or mastery over another soul in either the frame or his narrative in any other circumstance that I can recall.

So then we’re left with (because we need more) more questions. WHy is Kvothe Bast’s master? Does he actually control him, as a kind of minion? Is Bast an equivalent to a familiar? Does this support the K is an Amyr/Chandrian character?

What does it mean that Kvothe is Bast’s master? I’d just seen it as “master/student,” there are masters at the University after all. But is it more significant?

I’m sorry I haven’t had time to get on writing about women in the books—I have a post on women in the University that’s been sitting half-finished as I’ve finished a novel and started another. I don’t think I’m going to have time to do it justice soon. But the last summary thread is getting very long and kind of old, and I think we could do with a new one, so here you go.


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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