Welcome to part 13 of my excessively detailed re-read of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This week’s post covers chapters 77-81 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. These posts are full of spoilers and the general assumption that you’ve read all of both books — don’t venture beyond the cut unless this is the case.
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
We’re starting with Chapter 77: Bluffs. This has an even more obvious double meaning than most of Rothfuss’s chapter titles — the geological feature and the action. The geology is there, but who is bluffing? I don’t see a lot of it, not as much as usual. Kvothe is often bluffing, but not so much here.
Kvothe wakes up creaky and aching, and points for realism here, after all he did the day before and then sleeping on a rock, he really ought to be stiff. When Denna sees that his hands are skinned, she says “Your beautiful hands” but he does not take this as a hint that she finds him attractive because for a clever boy he’s as thick as a brick.
Denna recognises the loden-stone and says she knew a prat who used one as a paperweight. I wonder if this was one of her gentleman friends or whether it was perhaps her father. Nevertheless she plays with it. They don’t know how it works (“it’s a type of galvanic force”) and she speculates that if you found a brass loden-stone it would like brass, or copper and zinc since that’s what brass is made of. It’s easy to dismiss this as nonsense, but in this world it could be true. There could be magnets for things other than iron. That would be so cool! Then, of course, they test the scale the draccus shed, and it is organic iron.
Then they set off in the direction they saw the blue fire.
There’s a huge coincidence here, that the draccus and the Chandrian are in the exact same area at the same time, and that Kvothe and D are both there. I mean there really is no connection between the draccus, the denner, and the Chandrian and K and D, but there they all are. Kvothe wants it to be connected, he wants it to be about the Chandrian, but even he has to admit it isn’t.
D says a couple of times that she’s a city girl. That doesn’t fit with the moon theory.
They investigate and discover the denner grove, and the draccus eating trees and figure out that this is a drug operation. It’s not something you usually get at this tech level. Indeed, I can’t think of anywhere where drugs were illegal — Wikipedia says opium became illegal in China in 1729, and I can’t think of anything before that. Drug prohibition is a modern thing. Crossbows are illegal in the Four Corners too, but then they were illegal in medieval Europe, they were outlawed them for use against Christians in 1139.
Denna eats some denner, and although Kvothe gives her charcoal she gets some in her system and spends the rest of the day drugged. And she starts to babble. I think we can take her babbling to be true, or anyway unguarded D.
She babbles about Kvothe’s weird eyes, and she says “It’s my job to notice things about you.” Her job? What can this mean? And she assumes that when he says it’s lust because he’s close to a pretty girl that he’s lying. Neither of them have a shred of self-esteem, or sense either.
They decide to take the denner resin and sell it to an apothecary for legitimate medical uses, because they could both use the cash but they don’t want to be drug dealers.
D swears “Sweet angel Ordal above, I feel great!” Ordal is one of the angels/Singers in Skarpi’s story, the youngest, and female. What I meant last week about Tehlu being real is that we have this stuff which is real in the world, and Tehlu is part of it, the church, revolting as it is, isn’t worshiping something false, though they may be confused as to the significance of Tehlu. When Ben asks Kvothe whether he believes in God, Kvothe asks if he means Tehlu, there’s a confusion there which is analogous to the confusion in our world about the Persons of the Trinity. It seems here that Tehlu is as real as Ordal and Haliax.
Anyway, the significance of D’s Tehlin swearing is undercut by Kvothe swearing by Merciful Tehlu in the next paragraph when he realizes the draccus is addicted.
It’s interesting that Kvothe immediately feels responsible for sorting things out. The draccus knows there was a smell of people around the denner, so he’ll be off to hurt people, so Kvothe has to take care of it before that happens. There are people who would take the denner and run. They have enough for a pony — we know a really nice horse costs 20 talents, and she says enough to live on for a year.
Chapter 78 is Poison. D is poisoned, and poisoning the draccus, which so totally doesn’t work.
D thinks of an excellent way to kill it by luring it to jump off a cliff, but they don’t have any rope — should have bought some from the tinker! She also suggests that he kills it by magic, but even though he has a scale for a link he can’t think of any sympathy that would kill it, since it likes fire. (He could have tried freezing it? But even though I can think of several ways of killing a draccus by sympathy, I’m glad they thought of it and dismissed it, because I was thinking about it and I hate it when obvious things don’t cross people’s minds.)
All through this chapter it is drugged D who is having ideas and Kvothe is trudging about trying to do something and not getting anywhere. But poisoning it with the resin is his idea, as is getting her closer to civilization in case she really is poisoned.
Chapter 79 is Sweet Talk, which is another double meaning. It’s sweet talk in the normal sense, and also in the way drunk people say the drink is talking — is saying things because of the denner.
Indeed, she’s doing things because of the denner — bathing in the stream and singing racy songs and inviting Kvothe to join her. And of course he’s too much of a gentleman, even at fifteen and being Edema Ruh. Good for him.
The resin is worth between 50 and 100 talents — and that’s at a rate of 10 talents for a term at University or a really good lute, and 20 for an excellent horse. They give it more than half.
D gets lethargic and admits to being asthmatic. I feel genuinely sorry for her for the first time, as I am also asthmatic, and it’s an interesting flaw for a femme fatale. Kvothe listens to her heart and she asks if it’s saying anything, and when he says no she tells him to listen harder. Poor D. She’s asthmatic, she’s been poisoned, and she’s lumbered with the stupidest hero in the world, and for some reason it’s her job to notice things about him.
She says it’s “like a cottony dream but not as warm.” Now she has also just said that Kvothe’s face is like a kitchen, so she may not be making any sense at all. But I do wonder if “cottony dream” is a clue. No idea what it could mean, but it seems like a potentially significant detail. Anyone?
Now D volunteers that she had pneumonia when she was a baby and stopped breathing and died, and then came back to life and wonders about the significance of this. I wonder if she came back to life with a different spirit. Maybe the moon, Ludis. Maybe Lyra. I wonder how long ago this was, and where. I think we can trust this as information.
Now this is where she explicitly says that she loves him. “My seven words.” And he doesn’t notice. And she says he never pushed, and he could push more, just a little. And of course he’s right not to when she’s drugged, but he could remember and try another time. Well, he does notice that sitting with his arms around her is the most wonderful moment of his life.
Then she tells him that Master Ash hit her to make the story of her survival convincing. Now this isn’t the Chteah or anything, this is D’s word, when too drugged to lie, that he made her ask him to hit her. Yuck. And she says she needs him, who knows what she deserves, but he’s her only option. Then she falls asleep before Kvothe says he will protect her, and of course he doesn’t speak to her again for months.
Chapter 80 is Touching Iron. Now we know people touch iron to ward off evil, like touching wood, and we know they think it’s because of Tehlu and Encanis, but that it actually does hurt the Fae. But this chapter is directly about killing the draccus with the lodenstone, a very literal touching of iron.
The draccus eats six times the lethal dose of the resin without apparent harm. It puts out the fire and lies down. Then Kvothe sees the harvest festival fires in Trebon and prays that the draccus won’t notice them — to no avail. The draccus chases off to Trebon, Kvothe leaves D asleep and chases off after it.
He arrives after it has started to set the town on fire. He gets up onto the roof and makes a quick slapdash heat-eater and dims the fires. This piece shows how well we’ve come to understand the magic, because he does it quickly and describes it quickly, but it’s all clear and effective. Then he sets the tree on fire to draw the draccus, gets it eating the rest of the resin, and flattens it with the wheel and the lodenstone and another piece of sympathy. This isn’t calling Names, but it’s otherwise really Taborlin level magic, very impressive and clearly in the service of saving lives. Kvothe says in his introduction that he “burned down the town of Trebon” but in fact it wasn’t his fault and he did his best to protect it.
Chapter 81 is Pride.
This is very short. Kvothe looks down at the draccus, proud of killing it, then the roof he’s on collapses and he falls, clutches at the oak tree and continues to fall, and blacks out.
We’ll start from him waking up next week!
Last week’s comments
First, a note. I haven’t read Eddings or Jordan — or to be more specific, I have read the first book of each of them and didn’t like it enough to keep on and read the rest of the series. So if there are Eddings or Jordan references beyond Pawn of Prophecy or The Eye of the World, I’m totally going to miss them. I’m really really picky about fantasy.
Also, I’m really not interested in comments external to the text like “his editor told him to add more action.” I have Pat’s email address, people, I could just ask him everything and he’d probably tell me if I promised not to tell you! But what fun would that be? Let’s keep looking at it from an internal perspective, because that’s much more interesting. We have an unfinished story and the space it will be written into. K may be lying, or mistaken, or unreliable, but let’s assume that Rothfuss knows what he’s doing — either that or that he’s actually a room full of monkeys, okay?
But generally, last week’s comments are even more brilliant than usual!
Artful Magpie and Arra have some interesting speculation about knacks. We know people have knacks, there was that guy who always rolled sevens back in the Troupe. But we don’t hear much about it. But the Tinkers seem to have a knack for selling people what they will need, and Arra wonders is Iax and D have a knack for being unlucky. Shaltar wonders if the Tinkers are manipulating events towards something they want.
There’s also a lot of speculation about Master Ash. Arra doesn’t think Bredon is Master Ash but suggests:
Bredon’s defense: Any maneuver when I get out of a tight corner by being uncommonly clever.
Beautiful game: The point is to be bold. To be dangerous. Be Elegant. Any man that’s half awake can spot a trap that’s laid for him. But to stride in boldly with a plan to turn it on its ear, that is a marvelous thing. To set a trap and know someone will come in wary, ready with a trick of their own, then beat them. That is twice marvelous.
Is K playing a beautiful game and setting a trap?
Is K doing this in the frame story, for Chronicler? Or generally, lurking in the inn in disguise? I do hope so! A bottle of strawberry wine for Arra, to be delivered by tinker.
There’s also a lot of interesting speculation about D and her self-esteem issues. DEL wonders if she might have gained part of the Moon’s name, which would be interesting.
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.