Welcome to part 11 of my ridiculously detailed re-read of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This week’s post covers chapters 66-70 of The Name of the Wind, but also contains extensive spoilers for the whole book and the whole of The Wise Man’s Fear—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books. It will fill you with spoilers if you read beyond the cut without reading both books first. We’ll still be here with our speculations if you rush out and read them now and come back.
Abbreviations: NW = The Name of the Wind. WMF = The Wise Man’s Fear. DT = 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
Chapter 66 is Volatile, which is of course the bone-tar.
The bone-tar canister gets too cold and explodes, there’s a fire in the Fishery, Kvothe rescues Fela. It’s interesting that he doesn’t do it by magic but that he needs magic to do it. He uses a binding to break the drench to soak himself, but he accomplishes the actual rescue entirely physically.
And of course, wouldn’t you know it, it makes him miss his appointment with Denna. He loses one of his two sets of clothes and his only pair of shoes and he’s badly hurt, but he limps to Imre late to find her — and she has left with somebody, a man who might be a patron. This is the first mention of Denna’s mysterious patron and could be the first time she meets him. It would be paranoid to think he sabotages the bone tar, wouldn’t it?
Deoch doesn’t recognise him, so he can’t be local. And Deoch’s description is “White-haired, wealthy, you know the type.” This is pretty much our only description of Master Ash. Now does that sound like Bredon? Yes, I’m sorry to say it does. Does it sound like Cinder? Maybe. Cinder’s white-haired, but not old. You wouldn’t say “You know the type” about somebody like Cinder I don’t think.
And the chapter ends with Kvothe enjoying hearing people talking about him. (If he lived here, he’d be googling himself ten times a day.)
He doesn’t think back to it, but the shoes he lost are the secondhand pair the nice shoemaker in Tarbean gave him.
Chapter 67 is A Matter of Hands.
The title refers to Kvothe and Kilvin both damaging their hands in the disaster.
Kvothe goes back to the Fishery which is deserted and partially wrecked by the events of the morning, and finishes making his blue emitters. He doesn’t rest.
Kilvin comes back and jokes with him about leaving the lamp around and the number of things in his pockets. He says “Expect disaster every seven years” and we learn what “Kote” means.
He explains to Kilvin how he got through the fire, and Kilvin explains how he put it out — a sample of the stuff for a link and “am empty heat eater.” We don’t know what a heat-eater is at this point, but we see Kvothe make one later in the Draccus incident.
Kilvin mentions that Elodin knows the Name of Fire, and there may be other people there who do. Kvothe is disbelieving, even though he has seen Elodin call the Name of Stone. He says “Those are just stories.” I think this is wrong. He saw the wall in the Rookery collapse. He knows it’s real.
Chapter 68 is The Ever Changing Wind, a title it seems to me we have seen before. Yes, Chapter 46, the very chapter I was just mentioning, where Elodin breaks the wall. But there’s no naming here, just Fela and Auri and Mola and a passing breath of the absence of D. And it’s interesting that this chapter title that says “ever changing” is the only one that is repeated and therefore stays the same.
Kvothe is grumpy because his poverty and the precariousness of his situation. This hasn’t changed at all, except because of the losses in the fire, he’s just thinking about it. He buys boots with the money from the emitters.
Then he meets Fela in the Eolian. I like Fela, and this is where she gets characterised. Fela grew up listening to fairytales and asking “Why doesn’t she push the witch out of the window? Why doesn’t she poison the ogre’s food... why doesn’t she save herself?” And now she has had to be saved. If anybody thought Rothfuss was being dumb about D (as opposed to Kvothe being dumb about her) this ought to be enough to dispel that. Fela’s one of the ten percent of people at the University who are women. She’s a scriv. She sculpts. She’s very bright. And Kvothe puts his hand comfortingly on hers and: “Her hand wasn’t the delicate fragile thing that I had expected. It was strong and calloused...” Fela’s exactly the kind of minor character you never see in patriarchal narratives.
And she listened to fairytales and asked why the girls didn’t save themselves. It may also be worth noting that we don’t know any of those stories. Or rather, they sound much more like our world’s stories — like Rapunzel and Jack the Giant Killer. We have not heard any stories in this world where there are witches and windows or ogres and food — but Fela’s Mondegan, so they are probably Mondegan stories.
Then she gives him a cloak. This is his third cloak — first the one he got for his twelfth birthday from Shandi in the troupe, then the one he bought on a fripperer’s cart in Tarbean, and now this one. He gets another from the Maer and then a fifth from Felurian. I expect he’ll stick with that one. Fond of cloaks.
D sees Fela putting the cloak on him and looking as if she’s embracing him, in a typical romantic comedy misunderstanding. I wish he’d give D up and get involved with Fela — not now, when Fela’s happy with Sim, but then, when she gave him the cloak. Fela could have helped him become human. Oh well.
At least he doesn’t chase after D, he stays and has a drink and then goes back to the university. Fela tells him she’s studying with Elodin, and he has weird methods, and is more than half mad.
Then he starts to see Auri and panics because he thinks she might have been hurt when the bone tar went down the drains. He finds Mola and persuades her to come and help if Auri needs help — and Mola follows him onto the rooftops. They find Auri and she gives Kvothe a mysterious coin:
“It will keep you safe at night. As much as anything can, that is.” It was shaped like an Aturan penance piece, but it gleamed silver in the moonlight. I had never seen anything like it.
I think it’s an Amyr coin. I think this because “Aturan penance piece” invokes the Aturan church, and what else might they have had. I think this connects to Auri naming him her Ciridae in WMF. Also, keep him safe at night — he’s about to be attacked.
When he asks her if she saw the fire, her reply is “Holy God, yes,” which is an oath we have heard nobody else swear — they say by Tehlu’s this and that, and they say other things, but not this. I think she may have been an angel.
The sea salt, full of trace minerals, has cost him more than he can afford. Again, we see Auri as humanizing Kvothe — he cares about her, he cares for her.
When he says Mola can leave before he plays, she urges her to stay and says he has a voice like a thunderstorm, Maedre again. Oh, and she has come down from the roof because the moon came out of the clouds. Auri doesn’t want the moon to see her.
Going back with Mola, they discuss why telling people about Auri would be a disaster — it would get her locked up. And then clothes — Mola is surprised Auri won’t take second hand clothes because she doesn’t look Cealdish. I do like how the different places have actual different culture and customs.
Chapter 69 is Wind or Women’s Fancy which sounds like half a proverb. In fact it sounds like the proverb in Joan Aiken’s A Small Pinch of Weather which goes “Men and weather, women and cats.” And we get the whole proverb: “No fickleness in flight like wind or women’s fancy.”
He goes to Imre with excuses but really to look for D in vain. Deoch says she’s left town, and he also says “I might not be one of you University folk but I can see the moon on a clear night” which sounds like he can see things that are very clear, but actually has a subtler meaning. It’s amazing how often the moon gets mentioned casually. And of course, he’s talking about his experiences with D. And he says it was two years back. If D is the age she looked when Kvothe met her, she’s have been fourteen then, ick. But she has always been a girl on the edge of being a woman. “I suppose she was younger but I can’t say she seems any older now.”
Deoch says women hate Denna, because men are attracted to her, and Kvothe says that must be why she’s lonely. And she disappeared “Sometimes for a span. Sometimes for months.” I wonder if she is drawn into Fae and doesn’t come out again in the same place. Now when I read this before it made no sense, it makes no sense for somebody to wander off because they’re fickle by nature. Also, Deoch’s explanation about how hard it is for her to make a living when she has no family and nothing but charm makes sense and is sympathetic, but how much more when she has to keep moving.
And on the way home he is attacked by professional footpads paid by Ambrose to kill him, and fights them off with some magnesium shavings and bluff. Then going home he finds a note from D in the window, too late, as always. He cleverly attaches hairs to leaves to make him impossible to find using the magic dowser they have, and while watching the leaves blow about meets Elodin, who tells him the courtyard is the Quoyan Hayel, the House of the Wind. Then he goes home, reads the note, and realises the men might have some of his blood on their knife from his wound. He puts his bloody shirt into a wine bottle and floats it down the river.
The first time I read this I felt whiplash, from the leisurely drinking with Deoch to the attack and fleeing, and then what comes afterwards jolting him right out of everything.
Chapter 70 is Signs. Signs of the Chandrian — which he encounters entirely by chance.
He wakes up not knowing where he is, and we don’t know either — and he’s barricated in a room in some waterside inn in Imre, where he went in the middle of the night. He has breakfast and frets about the attack and then suddenly overhears “blue fire” and suddenly his priorities are entirely reset and he has to go off to find out about the Chandrian that had been in Trebon a day ago. He finds out that Trebon is about seventy miles away by road — after a lovely conversation in which the innkeeper wants to give distances in days, which is very plausible and frustrating and exactly the way people never normally write in fantasy.
He goes to see Devi, and she cleans and stitches his wound. She tells him the rumour that he’s the next Taborlin and blinded his attackers, and agrees to spread the rumour that next time he’ll kill them, to make them think twice about taking the job. And then he starts bargaining for twenty talents for a horse, putting up everything he has — Rhetoric and Logic, his lute, his pipes, and a promise of sharing a way in to the Archives if he finds one.
And we’ll stop there and start next week with buying the horse.
Comments from last week
Lots of great stuff as usual.
Artful Magpie. Herewiss13 and RobMRobM and Lambson agree that Kvothe’s Broken Tree aspect refers to his alar being like a bar of Ramston Steel, the best knife you ever have until it breaks. His alar must break sometime in between where we are and the frame, in DT, and this may be how he becomes Kote. Dwndrgn thinks the broken tree is the broken family heritage from the Lackless side. DEL thinks
the “Broken Tree” aspect has multiple meanings, referenceing both Kvothe’s hidden identity as a Lackless(Lockless) heir...AND later on as a foreshadowing of the breaking of the Cthaeth.
The Lethani is a defense against the influence of the Cthaeth. We know that Cthaeth has the ability to see the future and can influence things to the most likely path of destruction, but the Lethani allows people to reach the point of doing what is right by the Lethani. Even on the path to destrcution there are paths that led back to a world free from the Cthaeth’s influence.
In the framing story we have multiple evidence that the ill-made house of Jax(Fae) is open, with Faen encroching everywhere. The Creation War is ongoing.
Ongoing, or maybe Creation War II? I wonder about that Penitent King — especially in view of “Aturan penance piece.”
Department of Imaginary Linguistics
Artful Magpie said in response to GBrell:
“From Chapter 51, we know that the rune ”Teh“ translates as ”lock.“ What does that make ”Tehlu“ translate as? I read someone conjecture that it means ”first lock,“ but it wasn’t clear where he was getting the”first“ portion.”
The first day of the span is Luten. Since the seventh day is given as either Chaen or Caenin and we know that Chan/Chaen means seven, it seemed likely that the first seven days in a span were named according to their number. Luten would then be first day or day one.
So Tehlu is “first lock” or possible, as Shalter suggests “locked first.” The Department of Imaginary Linguistics is promoting Artful Magpie to E’Lir.
Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. 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.