Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 3)

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 continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

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.

We’re still considering the Albino Dragon playing cards, produced with the close cooperation of Pat Rothfuss.

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 reread index. The map. The timeline. Imaginary Linguistics.

So we considered the box, and the spades and hearts, let’s move on to the other two suits!

Clubs are the “lute suit” and the lute is specifically identified on the Kickstarter page as “Arliden’s lute.”

The Ace is another allegorical picture. There’s a club, with the words “Like a dying dream” on scrolls. There’s Arliden’s lute, smashed in the street in Tarbean. There’s a waystone with something sitting on it—an owl? Could it be? And in the background, there’s a crescent, the same one as on the box, and the cloud is in front of it. Hmm.

The 2 has the falling feather.

The 3 has the little plant with drifting leaves.

The 4 has the thing I think is Kvothe’s thief’s lamp.

The 5 has the candle.

The 6 has the pile of books.

The 7 is new—3 iron drabs!

The 8 is the quill in an inkwell.

The 9 is the lute.

And the 10 is the thief lamp again—twice in the same suit!

The Jack is Kvothe, very different in the two sides as two aspects. In one he’s juggling balls of light in front of an Edema Ruh wagon in a purple twilight landscape, with two people watching him. He’s young and red-headed. There is no visible moon. In the other he has his hands over his face, in a pose of despair. Behind him there’s a cobblestone wall, and through a door we can see a well lit room with a table and chair.

These are interesting Kvothe images for the “lute suite” because he isn’t playing the lute in either one. One is triumph and the other is disaster, but I can’t recognise either of them as specific moments in NW. I’d say K definitely does belong in this suit.

And the swag here is fascinating—a lit candle and an unlit one. A candle radiating light and one radiating darkness. I think we’ve seen one of those somewhere before, and here it is with Kvothe. Fascinating.

The Queen—I thought initially that it was D, but Thistlepong says it’s Laurian, aka Netalia Lackless, aka Kvothe’s mom. It’s two different images again. In one, everything is burning in blue fire, clouds are behind the crescent moon, and she is running away with her arms out. I can’t see any Chandrian, unfortunately, I’d love to see some. (On the card. Not in reality. “What’s your plan?” I’d gasp out, instead of running outside to hide.)

On the other half she’s singing and happy and the lights are normal and clouds are in front of a half moon. But it seems to be otherwise the same, trees and the wagon are in the same place. Guess it’s just a general camp thing. The swag is the same, light and dark candle.

And the King is Arliden, again doubled. In the light one he’s singing and happy, in the dark one there’s blue fire and he seems to be waving farewell. He has his lute in both, but there’s no moon in either, just purple clouds. And the swag is the same here too.

Now Kvothe, Laurian, and Arliden are definitely a family and belong together in the same suit, and in the “lute suit” too.

And diamonds, the “Kilvin’s lamp” suit.

The ace has a diamond with a hanging globe of ever burning lamp, with the words “Music is a fine thing but metal lasts”. There’s a half moon behind, with no cloud on it, and it looks like a “real” moon, as if the other half of the globe is there. The diamond is set in an anvil, with wood and water and hills behind.

All of the diamonds have the dangling lamp in them.

The 2 has the falling feather.

The 3 has the pile of books.

The 4 has the waystone.

The 5 has the drabs.

The 6 has the quill and inkwell.

The 7 has the lute.

The 8 has the plant.

The 9 has the sword, and it has an unusual pattern of distribution of diamonds.

The 10 has the coin that’s visible on the box flap, with the wreathed head.

The Jack is Ambrose, mirrored. He’s wearing purple and has a big hat with a feather, a flower (carnation?) in his hand and a scowl on his face. He has dark hair and a beard. Behind him are houses—probably Imre, or maybe around the University, there are shop signs. And in the swag are two crossed swords and a copper jot—clever!

The Queen is Devi, mirrored. She has a bookshelf behind her, and a curtained window. She’s smiling, and wearing a pendant and a low cut dress, and she has something in her hand—a glass vial of blood? A pen? A cigarette? In the swag is a candle, a retort, scales, and something—an abacus? All these things look alchemical to me.

And the King is Kilvin, dark skinned, scowling, with his ever-burning globed burning behind his head. He’s holding something metallic and examining it. he’s extremely burly and he has his sleeves rolled up. In the swag is an anvil and some tools.

Do Ambrose, Devi and Kilvin fit as a family? They certainly all fit with diamonds, coins, sygaldry, alchemy, and all of that. They don’t fit together, they aren’t friends, and they don’t have the same kinds of relationship with Kvothe. Ambrose is an enemy, and Devi is ambivalent and Kilvin is a mentor.

And that’s the whole set—except for the extra cards!

There’s Willem, playing cards—dark skin, beard, purple waistcoat, cards held in both hands. He has a bottle of beer. There are three unrecognisable people in the background.

There’s a card with a real world C.14 Benedictine curse on bookstealers, and a black and white illustration of Lorren in his study, frowning, with books. It’s lovely.

There are two jokers, Elodin and Auri. Elodin is based on Neil Gaiman, and shows him barefoot on the roof at the moment Kvothe jumps off. I think Elodin as a joker makes perfect sense. In the background is green grass and distant trees and a blue cloud streaked sky.

Auri’s also somebody famous, but not anyone I recognise. She’s also on a roof, at night, with a full moon in the sky and a piece of cloth beside her with tiny treasures on it. She looks poised to run. We can see the skyline of the University buildings behind her. Can’t wait for the Auri story!

And that’s it. We’ll resume our regular intermittent posts.


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published three poetry collections and nine novels, including the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. She has just published a collection of her Tor.com posts, What Makes This Book So Great. She has a new novel My Real Children coming out in May. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here irregularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

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