Aug 11 2011 2:05pm

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 2: “A girl standing nearby” Speculations on Denna

Welcome to the second of the speculative summation posts I’m going to be doing in between volumes of my excessively detailed re-read of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. Two weeks ago we wound up The Name of the Wind, and after we’ve summed up some of the speculation we’ll be moving on to The Wise Man’s Fear — but these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books. These posts are 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. 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

Useful links: The Sleeping Under the Wagon post, in which there are lots of theories. The re-read index. The map.

This is the second of four speculative summary posts, there will also be posts on Kvothe in the frame and on what king got killed.

I think we’ve talked more about D than about any other single thing, and I don’t think we have any conclusions at all.


Her name

Shimmer points out:

the similarity between Denna and denner. (The addictive resin)

As SaltManZ says, K is literally a Denna-addict.


Per a discussion early in NoTW, “Denna” is a word in Tema. Based on phrasing of the quote given, it could mean glamour. Hmmm.

But of course she’s always changing her name.


She sweet, completely addictive, and ultimately destructive, at least for Kvothe. Because remember, Denna is her name to him. She has other names to other people. We know that names are incredibly important. Why is hers so shrouded in mystery? There is clearly something more to it than what we’ve seen thus far. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but understanding that names are the central element of magic in this world, it’s clearly important.

SKM thinks about parallels:

Someone in an earlier post commented that Denna’s names all sound like Diana (the moon goddess). When I first read NW, I immediately noticed that all her names sounded like Dinah, the Biblical character famous for having been raped. I dismissed it as coincidental, but after the Bechdel scene in WMF — maybe not?

Speculations about D as human

She tells us she died and came back to life as a baby, and we know she has asthma. She says she’s a city girl, in the context of not knowing about country things. She can sing amazingly well, and she’s learning the lyre. She has a blue smokestone ring. She’s beautiful, and she’s learning Yllish knots which she braids into her hair. She can extemporise poetry pretty well. Everything else she makes up along the way.

RobMRobM has thoughts about her origins;

She probably can’t be Yllish. Everyone in this book from another country seems to have at least some type of noticeable accent. Denna doesn’t have one sufficient for Kvothe to remark upon. Hence, she’s probably Aturan.

Also, she’s needs to be from a household that is either noble, very wealthy merchant or Ruh, as she has immensely deep understanding of plays and poems that bespeaks extensive (and potential expensive) study sufficient to surprise Kvothe. She also owns that beautiful red ring that sounds like an heirloom rather than a gentleman’s gift.

So my current thought is she is an Aturan noble, was betrothed to a Yllish noble, and ran away. The parallel to Kvothe’s parents would then be very close (and query whether Nathalie was going to be betrothed to the Maer - that would be delicious irony for plot development. And I’ll further predict that early in the next book the Maer (likely with Ambrose’s help) will have Kvothe investigated, figure out his mother is Nathalie, and cut him off from tuition payments - leading to his expulsion when he can’t make a 30 talent tuition.) And she may well have self-esteem problems after being treated as chattel by her family. (Or, as ClairedeT says above, perhaps she was seduced by someone at home and was sent to an Yllish marriage in shame. Or maybe - extreme speculation - she was knocked up and was sent by her parents to have the baby somewhere remote and wasn’t being married off at all. Any or all of these factors would cause her to be secretive and hardened to most men.)

Perhaps the tragedy is that Denna loves Kvothe but can’t marry a poor student if she ever wants to go home. So she’s trying to accumulate money from patrons and men so that she can be in position to bring him home in style as a wealthy graduate of the Academy. His expulsion would cause serious damage to those plans, forcing her to become ever closer to her patron. Hmnnn.

The problem with the above theories there is no real textual evidence. Unlike the talk of nobles in Vintas and Modeg, I don’t recall much talk about nobles in the Aturan Empire or Yll. Any hints in either direction?

Jonathan Duerig thinks she’s from the Commonwealth:

when Kvothe meets Denna the second time at the Eolian, he is completely flustered and falls into a pattern of courtly manners. He goes to kiss her hand and does an analysis of what culture she might be from in order to do it right. Eventually, he concludes that she doesn’t have a noticable accent so she is likely from the Commonwealth and so kisses her hand in that style. She doesn’t act offended as if he did the wrong thing.

This seems to imply strongly that she is from the Commonwealth. It is possible that one of her parents was Yllish and taught her the knots though. It also occurs to me that perhaps it was her patron that taught her the knots. They don’t seem to appear until after she gets one AFAIK.

C12VT isn’t so sure:

I think it’s possible she could be from Yll. It sounds like Yll has been heavily influenced by Aturan culture - Kvothe says that Yll “had been nearly ground to dust under the iron boots of the Aturan Empire”, and we know that the use of Yllish story knots has nearly disappeared and the university doesn’t offer any (official) classes in Yllish. Perhaps most Yllish people these days are bilingual, or even more comfortable with Aturan than with Yllish - this sort of thing happens all the time in the real world. So Denna could be from Yll, but still be a native speaker of Aturan and not have much of an accent.

On the other hand, in the letter she writes to Kvothe in WMF she talks about going to Yll and it doesn’t sound like she’s been there before. But she doesn’t say so explicitly.

Denna’s background is quite a mystery. She does seem to be too educated to be from a poor family, as RobMRobM said. On the other hand, I feel like she acts like someone who grew up with hardship and limitations, not privilege. And how did she learn the Yllish story knots? It seems to be a very rare skill, and difficult to acquire.

I think she’s a chameleon, behaving with the customs of the people and place where she finds herself. The Bechdel scene strongly implies she has had to make bad choices, and we know from Deoch that she has no family.

Jhirrad thinks she isn’t a noble:

I’m not so sure that Denna is “obviously a noble’s daughter”. She seems more like someone that has spent time around nobility, though not a part of it. Possibly an illegitimate child of a noble through a member of the staff that was kept in the household? Maybe a merchant’s child? Clearly she has exposure to the upper echelons of society, but I don’t believe that she was really part of it herself. She’s a little too rough around the edges even while being refined.

And I’m not so sure that her age is what we assume it to be. Based on the commentary, we believe her to be around 16, but is it just me or does this seem off to anyone else? A few things come to mind. First, based on the other characters we interact with, 16 in this world seems to roughly correspond with 16 in our modern world, not medieval. A 16 year old on their own is commented on, as Kvothe is often enough. A beautiful 16 year old girl...I feel like that would draw even more comment and more risk also. I’m also disconcerted with her timeline and how it ages her. Deoch (the innkeep at the Eolian) mentions during Kvothe’s first year of studying at the University that she has been coming and going for quite some time (sorry, I don’t have my books handy to cite the exact words). She also seems very good at working men in her way (and no, I’m not saying anything against her here, just making a point). She is very...practiced at it. Much more so than someone 16 years old who could have, at the most, been out on her own for what, less than 2 years?

JMD considers her as not knowing who she is:

I think one of the things about Denna is that she does not know who she is yet. We know that she has escaped from some not so happy circumstances in the past (as when she was talking to the runaway girl) and she has learned to protect herself (carries a knife). So she always names herself similarly to keep track of herself. But there is also this idea of how changing your name changes who you are - exemplified by the Kote/Kvothe issue. So she may not be solid yet and these “use names” all dance around the same issue. Kvothe askes Elodin about that at one point and he gets alarmed at thinking she is changing names versus just changing what she is called.

DEL, very interestingly, on the parallels between D and K:

I have a suspicion that D and K’s early life experiences were founded from similar tragedies. Where Kvothe saw the Chandrians as the architects of his suffering, Denna’s tradgedy was caused by the Amyr. They each are searching for answers, getting tangled up in the differeing sides of a long running schism. If the Amyr are the villians in D’s world, wouldn’t that give credence to her version of the Lanre story?

Artful Magpie:

The more I think about it, the more I really do think that the reason D comes off as somewhat hollow is that she is the ultimate con-woman. Her whole life is just one con after another. She is very deliberately making herself into the ideal of the men around her, taking what she can, and leaving when the situation gets tight. Maybe she shows more of her true character to Kvothe, since he is different in a lot of ways from the other men in her life. Maybe she doesn’t, and she’s just presenting him with one more character, one more face.

Speculations about D as other-than-human

Jhirrad suggests that she could be a Chandrian:

What if Denna is one of the Seven? Again, this is just a wild, crazy, speculative load of jargon, but, let’s look at some clues.

1) She hides her name assiduously;
2) She seems to almost magically appear and disappear;
3) She has a seemingly magical hold on Kvothe.

Consider simultaneously the following:

In our discussions, we’ve noted the more humanizing aspects to the Chandrian that Rothfuss has put forth. They aren’t simply the demonic boogiemen that we initially saw. As the story has progessed, so too has their depth. We recognize that maybe they aren’t evil in the conventional sense of the word. Or, maybe they are in fact keeping tabs on Kvothe and doing so through Denna. Also, we know that they aren’t a concensus group. Haliax leads them, but they go off on their own when they want to. Maybe Denna is doing that here. And we all presume that Kvothe went through some horrible trauma regarding Denna. What if he discovered she was one of the Chandrian and killed her? She is THE love of his life. Wouldn’t that break him quite severely? Possibly even causing the birth of Kote from Kvothe?

Susan Loyal has another piece of evidence:

See a woman pale as snow?
Silent come and silent go.
What’s their plan? What’s their plan?
Chandrian. Chandrian.

It seems very odd that she would call attention to herself that way, if she is the woman “pale as snow.” But you certainly can’t say she doesn’t come and go silently.

I’m not quite convinced that she’s one of the seven, but there’s certainly some link.

But then she notices:

In that same scene, Kvothe tells her that there’s something fae about her. And the moon keeps getting mentioned when he remembers being with her.

Shalter wonders if she’s an angel:

In Skarpi’s story, ch28 when Tehlu steps forward to recruit the angels, one of the angels is “fair Geisa” the first woman to know the unwanted touch of man. Could there be some relation to Denna in that story?

And DThurston:

I agree there’s something fae and related to the moon about Denna, but I think it’s a real stretch to make her one of the Chandrian. Are the Chandrian even fae at all?

We’re fairly sure they’re not. Before there were fae and human, everyone was Ruach, and then there was the split in the worlds and the theft of the moon and the Creation War and after that there were fae and human and a handful of angels and Chandrian and Amyr.

DThurston again:

Perhaps Denna in these chapters is different (in some sense) from the D that appears later? They look the same, obviously, but Kvothe is said to “know” (not “think”) he will never see her again; she doesn’t seem to remember Kvothe at first, she later says something like “it’s been a long time since I’ve been Denna”; and so forth.

Stargazer suggests that she has spent time in Fae without aging:

We have no idea if humans age while in Fae; it seems plausible that they may not from the agelessness of Felurian and Bast along with the general time slippage. My guess is that both K (in the frame story) and Denna (in the narrative) are both subjectively many years older than they are physically. The question then is, are there Fae cities where one can learn the fine art of the con artist, and how to manipulate men? Imagine a young Denna falling through a moon gate into a sprawling and alien fae city, and having to learn how to survive there by hook or by crook. Could be worse than Tarbean, leaving her traumatized once she somehow escapes yet drawn to search for a way back?

and finds more evidence for it:

“I remember your name, Denna.” It sounded good to say it to her. “Why did you take a new one? Or was Denna just the name that you were wearing on the road to Anilin?”
“Denna,” she said softly. “I’d almost forgotten her. She was a silly girl.”
“She was like a flower unfolding.”
“I stopped being Denna a long time ago, it seems.” She rubbed her bare arms and looked around as if she was suddenly uneasy that someone might find us here.

That is a profoundly odd conversation for a meeting that happened less than a year ago by Kvothe’s chronology. And see too their first encounter in the Eolian, at the start of Ch. 58, “Names for Beginning”:

It was Denna, the young woman I had met in Roent’s caravan so long ago.
Come to think of it, it had only been half a year. Not so long when you’re listening to a story, but half a year is a great long while to live through, especially if you are young. And we were both of us very young.
The months had changed her. Where before she had been pretty, now she was lovely as well. Perhaps that difference was only that she wasn’t wearing the road clothes I had met her in, but a long dress instead. But it was Denna without a doubt. I even recognized the ring on her finger, silver set with a pale blue stone.
Since we parted ways, I had kept foolish, fond thoughts of Denna hidden in a secret corner of my heart. I had thought of making the trip to Anilin and tracking her down, of meeting her by chance on the road again, of her coming to find me at the University. But deep down I knew these thoughts for nothing more than childish daydreams. I knew the truth: I would never see her again.
But here she was, and I was entirely unprepared. Would she even remember me, the awkward boy she had known for a few days so long ago?

If there’s not a significant time slip in Denna’s chronology between the caravan and the Eolian, I will eat my hat. “Perhaps” the difference is just a dress? Ha! I wouldn’t bet a jot. (Regardless of what one’s worth!)

The only thing that gives me the slightest hesitancy about this is the end of the second to last paragraph quoted: “I knew the truth: I would never see her again.” Is K telling us that caravan-Denna and Eolian-Denna are actually different people (i.e. she’s some kind of changeling or is possessed or something odd like that), or can we read that as a statement about the same person but in a fundamentally different state, akin to the Kvote/Kote distinction?

C12VT suggests:

If Denna did go into Fae, her estrangement from her family wouldn’t necessarily have to be from scandal, etc. - time passes differently, and she could have emerged years later (looking no older). Her family could have died or moved in the meantime, or might not believe she is really herself due to the age discrepancy. It would explain her comment about noone speaking Yllish anymore, if she had personally known a time that was different.

Foxed says:

I thought D was a Fae up until the Bechdel scene.

But if she was human and went into Fae and came out, the Bechdel scene could still fit.

Lakesidey proposes a crazy theory:

At some point while I was reading the books I remember wondering whether Auri and D could be the same person. I have no idea what prompted the thought, but I have to point out, no-one’s ever seen them two dames together, nein? And they are moon-connected and all that....ok, ok, so it’s crazy. Forget it.

And LennyB comes up with:

Denna as a time-traveling, Severian-like person, who’s constantly slipping back and forth between different time eras.)


Denna as the Moon

This is Maltheos’s theory:

I cannot believe I missed this Denna’s names all hover around Diana (goddess of the hunt, and of course, the moon). Once again we get back to the moon. It also explains quite abit about how she drifts in and out of his life. (I would be curious to see how long they are ever together consistently — and if it matches the full or the new moon) This may be me seeing something thats not there, but It just fits too well.

Additionally, the moon has already been pictured as a female, and has definitely been trapped in an unpleasant relationship.

Dominiquex expands on that:

I don’t know if she really is The Moon (Ludis) - I don’t get the feel of that plot path from Rothfuss - but the connection makes so much about her fascinating. Her names are generally formed around Diana-variants (excellent catch 3!), she is constantly shifting logistically/namingly/emotionally, constantly trying to rename herself (as one who had her name stolen from her might). She says (paraphrase) ”I disappear sometimes. Without warning. Sometimes it’s all I can do.“ She has extreme emotional reaction to the idea of a man trying to own/control her (as a woman trapped by a man as Ludis was might be). Also, in the break from the narrative at the Eolian where he tries to describe her, he says (again, paraphrasing) ”She was beautiful, without flaw, to her core.“ That is not something that generally seems too human of a description. And her flightiness is more forgiveable if she literally is as changeable as the moon. Finally, after all this time, all the heartbreak she has caused him, and whatever her involvement was in the Kvothe-ruined-the-world event, he still remembers her without the anguish or bitterness we see him recall his time with his parents or negative Tarbean experiences with. His only negative emotions are how he cannot appropriately describe her. He still has selas flowers in his innyard. He does not give us any hint in the frame that he rues her betraying him, mourns her death, hopes that she’s okay, or hopes to see her again - and this from a man who loves to foreshadow. No, he just remembers her fondly and regrets his lack of understanding of her. I definitely get the impression that, whether the moon or not, Denna is somewhere beyond Kvothe’s/Kote’s reach, and probably safe.

And DEL takes it even further:

Kvothe almost always refers to D as Denna. He meets Denna on the road to Imre, but he meets D in the Eolian.

D is Aloine, and Lyra, and the Moon. She is the wildness that should never be tamed or gentled. She is partially trapped by a man who wants mastery and controll over her. He does not have her whole being, her whole name.

D has not settled on a name, or my not be able to access all of her true name. Kvothe sings part of her still free name, and makes a gift of it by leaving lying it open in his performance. He really does meet D for the first time, she didn’t have that part of her name before singing her part. She becomes more herself with this gift.

If D is Lyra, how would Kvothe stop himself from being more like Lanre? By forgetting or locking away that part of his name?

to which I said:

If D literally is the moon, always coming and going, always new again, missing part of her name, sometimes vanishing entirely, always being pulled into Fae and back, and simultaneously a real person who has to eat and really can’t take a steady job and would like to be loved but cannot settle down either — it makes sense of a lot.

Where is the moon when we see her? There’s no moon on the night by the pool, we talked about that, starlight in reality, moonlight in Kvothe’s memory. But that doesn’t mean the moon is in Fae, it could be late-rising. (I would like a tide-table for Tarbean!) Kvothe says to Auri that there’s not much moon, but that’s weeks before he meets D in the Eolian — we only know those things are both in the second term, which is 88 days long, and the moon has a synodic period of 72 days. When the boys walk back in such a symbolic manner, the stars are like diamonds and there’s no moon mentioned. Maybe she is there when the moon isn’t, maybe she is the dark of the moon?

Artful Magpie also brings Auri into the equation:

Okay...uh...this might be totally crazy....but what if Auri and Denna are BOTH the moon? Split in two? Wise, old beyond their years, but always missing some part of themselves?

A Fox, more sensibly, thinks it’s a metaphorical linkage:

Denna’s voice is described as “burning silver” she also burns, and is moonlike. “nightingale”...the later K mentions “...had to cut my part from The Swineherd & The Nightingale becuase i wasnt in any shape to act” the silver comment is repeated 5 times in fact! + “like moonlight on riverstones” Now I dont buy nto Denna being the moon, bu I believe she is as the moon is to Iax: the thing that will make him happy, the object of greatest desire, a consuming obsession.

But this is me again:

I have always had a problem with Denna, especially in NW, in that she just isn’t like a person, she doesn’t behave like a human being, her motivation makes no sense. And this kind of thing is a problem male writers often have when writing about love interests, they make them tantalising and mysterious and impossible to imagine why any sensible person would act that way. But if she is literally the moon, the personification of the moon—imagine being literally the moon and also a person who needs to eat and sleep out of the rain. Imagine spending part of each month in Fae and what this does to your employment prospects. Imagine being forced to travel. Imagine not having all of your name, and not aging normally and reimagining yourself. This suddenly makes her make perfect sense, and this has shaken her up in my head, the same as the Tarbean section.

And a further thought—if D is the moon, and if Kvothe gave her part of her name and part of her possibility she didn’t have before, is that why she’s seeking a patron and agency now and not before?

But Artful Magpie has some evidence the other way:

Two things. Firstly, I do like the idea that Denna is the personification of the moon, but I am troubled by the fact that there is no rhyme or reason to the moon-phases in which Kvothe sees her. I actually paid attention to this, hoping for a pattern, and while it does seem that moon-imagery hovers around Denna whenever she is mentioned, it does not seem that she only appears at certain points in the moon’s cycle between the worlds.

and Lambson agrees:

I think PR intentionally imbues Denna with moon-esque qualities/attributes, but I doubt she is the moon. In WMF she meets Kvothe on a moonless night. Above Jo mentions them meeting with a full moon out. I agree that there is more to her than we have right now, but I think her relationship with Kvothe is just a parallel between Jax and the moon.

I have also noticed how often the moon comes up when Kvothe is describing things - “lovely as the moon” is used on more than one occasion and for more than one person. I think it is Kvothe that is somehow tied to the moon, and not Denna. He just cares about her a great deal, so comparisons abound. Maybe he is attracted to her because she is like the moon. He is, after all, a Lackless.

And shalter isn’t convinced:

I’m not yet convinced by the “Denna is litterally the moon” argument.

I’m not utterly opposed to it—just not convinced.

It does seem that there is a relationship there (between Denna & the moon). I’m not sure if it is literal, metaphoric, influence driven, reflective, ...


The Denna problem

The reason we have all these theories, and the reason I like the moon one so much, is that she doesn’t really work as a naturalistic person. We know Rothfuss doesn’t have any problem writing realistic female characters because there’s Fela, Devi, Mola even Auri. But there’s also D with all this stuff around her.

ClairedeT is very much speaking for me when she says:

I hope that there is something special about Denna - whether she is the moon, an Amyr, a Chandrian, a Fae or what - as I find her very difficult to relate to as a character at the moment. She is supposed to be young but is extremely knowledgeable about many subjects, and has been coming and going for a while. She is also working (presumably working I should say) as a courtesan to support herself but has the amazing ability to pick up and discard protectors without any real ramification to herself. Is this part of her talent? To leave people happy so they make difficulties when she resurfaces?


I don’t have any answers here but it seems to me that the artificiality of his characterization of Denna is just as big a question as who the Yllish are or whether he was under a spell in Tarbean. 

Artful Magpie thinks she works:

D DOES have a real self, a self behind all the falseness and pretense. But she very deliberately hides it. Kvothe thinks that he is a good actor, but D far outstrips him! Her entire life is built around becoming the right character for the moment. Everything she does is one big con-game. She finds men, becomes what they think they want, gets what she can, and then leaves. Of course her personality rings false....we almost never see anything but facade. Even the Denna she is for Kvothe is a character she plays. We do see some more of the real D in Tarbean after she’s been drugged. She tells Kvothe about her lung weakness, for example. Her surprised reaction later on when Kvothe knows about that indicates that it isn’t something she normally tells anyone.

She’s a strange girl, and she’s the part of the story with which I am least satisfied at this point. Something for DT!


Master Ash

Herelle sums up the Bredon theory:

I’m pretty convinced now that Bredon is Denna’s patron. After Kvothe rescues Fela from the fire in the fishery in NotW he is late to his date with Denna. Deoch tells him that she waited an hour in the Eolian but eventually left with someone. This is how he describes him: “She´s been looking for a patron, and this fellow had that sort of look about him. White-haired, wealthy, you know the type.”

When Bredon makes his entrance in WMF (p. 386) he is “an older man, a gentleman down to his bones,” “His colors weren’t colors at all, merely ash grey and a dark charcoal. His hair and beard were pure white...” Having Kvothes ability in mind to inadvertantly choose the right names (Auri, Nina), I guess he came close with Master Ash. I don’t know what to think about the fact that it seems the wind had his part in this too. The wind swept the leaf in his mouth when he was counting off names, so he named him after the ash leaf. Denna reacted somewhat nonplussed and tried to divert Kvothe by suggesting the leaf was elm. And then Bredon is always gone when Denna is away from Severen too.

Robert Sparling goes on from that to speculate about Bredon’s motivations with regard to Kvothe as well:

If that’s the case, he’s actively training Kvothe for a specific purpose. Teaching him tak for the elloquence of gameplay; keeping Denna in Trebon so Kvothe could find her would be another test, of sorts. She’s composing a song about Lanre that directly opposes Kvothe’s understanding of events, for her patron. Another test, of his resolve, or maybe an attempt to cause a rift between them that would allow Kvothe to so easily leave on his hunting adventure, where he happens to come across a Chandrian...

It begs the question of why, and also how. There are rumors about Bredon being some kind of pagan. I think it more likely he’s an Amyr. He seems to keep pointing Kvothe at the Chandrian, perhaps baiting them, hoping to catch them while they hunt for Kvothe.

Herelle again:

When I think about Bredon being Denna’s patron I even feel more convinced that he is not the bad guy the Chteah described. Bredon was described as a very helpful and clever person. There is something behind this “Why would I want to win anything than a beautiful game?”, though.

Brazilian Vitor sums up the opposing Cinder theory very neatly:

I’m quite sure Denna’s patron is actually Cinder. A lot of elements point to that:

1 - The Cthaeh passage depicts Master Ash as a sadistic person, which is a key component of Cinder’s personality

2 - The sympathetic version of Lanre’s story presented by Denna’s was inspired by his patron, which could suggest a Chandrian’s effort of rewriting that narrative

3 - Denna’s is inexplicably drawn to every place the Chandrian appear. This happens in Trebon and also in Vintas, where Cinder is playing the role of a highroad man

4 - Last but not least, the Vulgar Latin word for Ash is cinisîa, which originated, for instance, the word cinza (ash in Portuguese) and ceniza (ash in Spanish), and is rather akin to the word Cinder. I figure this should be one more of those instances where Kvothe unadvertedly gives a correct name to something, just like in the painted horse episode.

Herelle argues for Bredon:

I can’t make myself believe that Denna would stay with someone as evil and sinister as Cinder. When Kvothe asks her if their secret sign at the Trebon site was blue flame she said that was too sinister even for Mr. Ash. I think the Chteah is intentionally misleading Kvothe. Denna is maybe not the victim of physical abuse but training some kind of fighting. How else did she overcome the guy who molested the girl in Severen?

There are several hints that point to Bredon: house colors ash grey and charcoal, white hair, age (Cinder is young, isn’t he?), Denna is gone at the same time as Bredon, Denna talks about dancing with her patron, while Bredon tells Kvohte that he is learning to dance. Bredons wolf head walking stick is mentioned several times, somehow I expect it to be some telltale sign at some later time.

Chrispin says that Master Ash doesn’t have to actually be a Chandrian, he could be working with them:

It sounds like Denna’s patron is working with the Chandrian. He put Denna in the wedding to scout out the numbers for them then got out before the attack. D doesn’t need to be killed by the Chandrian since she can still be of use in the future.

and LennyB thinks if Bredon is Master Ash, then Master Ash is a good guy:

The thing about Bredon turning out to be Denna’s Patron is that, if he is, I will have difficulty with the notion that Denna’s Patron is one of the bad guys.

What comes across to me from all that Kvothe tells us of Bredon is that Bredon is a considerate gentleman and a scholar — his ability to play a ruthless game of Tak, notwithstanding. I can’t believe, at this point in the story, that Bredon’s idea of a “beautiful game” would include the notion of sadistically toying with Denna, just for the fun of it.

My subjective impressions about Bredon, so far, tell me that he’s one of the good guys. He may be capable of tough and ruthless behavior, but he wouldn’t choose to act that way in the service of evil. (Amyr are also capable of ruthless behavior.)

If Bredon does turn out to be Mr. Ash, it will be easier for me to believe that Rothfuss is just skillfully presenting Kvothe’s point of view on things to us to lure us into buying into that point of view. We see Mr. Ash as a bastard through Kvothe’s eyes — but maybe he’s really not a bastard. (Denna doesn’t think he is.)

It seems more likely to me that if Bredon is Mr. Ash, then Mr. Ash is an opponent of the Chandrian — and we don’t clearly understand his actions, yet.

Another thing — taking in events from Kvothe’s point of view, we’re led to feel, so far, that the Chandrian are the ultimate evil in his world and that the Amyr are good guys fighting in opposition to the Chandrian. But what if that view of good vs. evil is skewed by Kvothe’s personal experience? Maybe the whole thing of the battle between the Chandrian and the Amyr will eventually be revealed as a big, complicated mess?

Just subjectively and impulsively, I’d have an easier time with broader revelations that blur the distinction between good and evil in the story than I would with the revelation of Bredon as a cruel and twisted sadist. If Bredon is revealed to be a villain with a dark sadistic nature, then I’ve really misread Patrick Rothfuss’s subtext in the story so far.

AO’s really not convinced:

I have met enough “gentlemen” and “scholars” and heroes in their own eyes to know that such people can be anything underneath. Some can be sadistic and hide it well, or they can easily justify their actions, or they can find such actions distasteful but necessary when “needed.” That of course isn’t proof that Bredon is such, but at the same time, I don’t believe that we can rule it out either. He’s clearly intelligent, I think that he could hide the more unsavory parts of his nature quite well if needed.

As for whether or not Ash is a bastard? You could be right, or partially so, but I do take to heart what the Cthaeh said. We know that it doesn’t lie. Perhaps it neglected to provide other evidence that would soften our impressions of Ash (i.e. “it’s okay that he beats women because...”), but my guess is that at best Ash is far from good. Perhaps he is not evil, or the things he does seemingly have some good justifications, but I would be willing to bet that wherever the truth lies, he is far from simply “good.” I could be wrong, or somewhat so, but for now I’m pretty well convinced of my interpretation.

and A Fox is all for sociopathic Bredon as Ash:

Bredon IS powerful in the maer’s court. Very powerful. The less powerful you are in that court the more weight you put onto the rings game, the more weight onto your own name. The fact that he doesnt shows that he is in a very comfortable position. Likely not far below the Maer himself. Sociopaths learn how to put on a social mask, kinda like a beatufiful game right? Though I’m not yet sure of his morality. The bruise of D’s head indicates that he knew he had to knock her out to stop her from following him back to the farm, to stop her seeing the chandrian. To protect her.

I also have another theory, which is Lorren. We’ve talked about him as an Amyr, and he’s the right age. He could have easily been in Imre, and we don’t know that he’s not in Severen. But I’m more inclined towards Bredon at this point, and will be looking for that as we go into WMF, while not neglecting other possibilities.

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.

Katy Maziarz
1. ArtfulMagpie
There are so many hints about D's patron being Bredon. The name Mister Ash and the house colors of ash and charcoal. The thing about dancing. The part where the Cthaeh tells Kvothe that D's patron beats her with his walking stick and the many references to Bredon's wolf-head walking stick. The fact that Bredon and D both left town at the same time. It seems so obvious when you stack it all up.

Which makes me think it isn't so obvious after all. I am suspicious of how obvious it seems. Maybe Rothfuss was really just throwing the reader a bone by dropping so many hints, but maybe he's playing a deeper game and misleading. We shall see, I suppose!
2. AhoyMatey
Just wanted to mention that there's no way I can see the Chandrian as being on the side of "good". Killing a child's parents for whatever reason, and then looking like you're about to kill the child too, has no excuses.

Denna's patron is a monster too, however you try look at it.
Katy Maziarz
3. ArtfulMagpie
"Just wanted to mention that there's no way I can see the Chandrian as being on the side of "good". Killing a child's parents for whatever
reason, and then looking like you're about to kill the child too, has no

Ah, but is there actually any proof that the Chandrian are the ones who killed Kvothe's troupe? He found them there after the slaughter, yes. But they could have showed up after someone else...the Amyr? The Singers? ...killed the troupe. The evidence is circumstantial, since Kvothe didn't actually witness the Chandrian taking the lives of his troupe....
Dave West
4. Jhirrad
I don't believe that the Chandrian can ever be considered "good". The problem is, in the world which Rothfuss has created, I'm not sure that ANYONE can be objectively defined as "good". That is one of the most prevelant tones for the entire series. They have a "plan" - one which has been the topic of speculation for millennia - and they could certainly see it as being just. The Duke of Gibea is a great example in this story - he's objectively a monster for his methods, but what he did progressed the study of medicine further than anyone else in that world. Kvothe is as not as quick as Sim to outright condemn him.

@1 - "Which makes me think it isn't so obvious after all. I am suspicious of how obvious it seems. Maybe Rothfuss was really just throwing the reader a bone by dropping so many hints, but maybe he's playing a deeper game and misleading. We shall see, I suppose!"

I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment. The easier that Rothfuss seems to make something, the more skeptical I am regarding the same. There seem to be too many blatant and overt suggestions that Bredon is Master Ash. This comes close to convincing me of the opposite. I wonder if PR does this in order to throw us off, anticipating the dizzying logic of cause and effect at play...
Sim Tambem
5. Daedos
@3 And Haliax didn't seem all too pleased with the other Chandrian, either.

Even if the other Chandrian killed the troupe, it is possible that Haliax had no part in it, isn't bad, and is just stuck with them.

@2 Why must Master Ash be "a monster"? We know almost nothing concrete about him, except that the Cthaeh wants Kvothe to dislike him.

I think that should tell us something.

Also, we have the parallel between Kvothe and Denna, where Kvothe realizes that they are very much the same. When she mentions his whipping scars from the University, he suddenly feels like a hypocrite for condemning her for her relationship with Master ash. Are the masters also monsters? They are just abiding by the rules. Does Master Ash hurt her? Yes. Might there be a reason? It's possible. Why else would Denna stay with him. The Cthaeh mentions him hitting Denna with his walking stick and that she is bruised. Maybe they were sparring. Maybe his bruises are worse. Maybe she had a dueling cane as well.

I think that--unless Master Ash has some other-worldly power over her--Denna must be sticking with him for an important reason. I still think it's too early to judge him.
6. BP
Reading too much into things is a fun distraction. I think we have to always keep in mind that Kvothe is telling a story, and knows the contexts and parallels.

Denna is thus the moon in his story, and the parallel is drawn because it is an intentional parallel from the story teller. She is mysterious because Kvothe sees her as mysterious. Moonlike and silver because he knows his story is a parallel to Lanre's. Tellingly, there is no confusion on the part of Bast--for him, she was a erasonably pretty human--and this is the only story that we know is true. Everything else is beign told. For Kvothe, she is the story of his life. That is his obsession. And he creates his life story on that basis.

And it is that obsession that willl ruin him: make him kill an angel, kill a king, and open a door to Fae. And he will do it because he has both power and lack of judgement.

So he is lost. His story of himself as a youth was a hidden star, the best when he chose to be. Now, he is deep in depression because his self-story is a tragedy, a catastrophe that naturally led from the past failings. And the meta-story will hopefully be about how he turns this story a third time, into a hero's story--of uasked for grace, pride and failure, and then wisdom and redemption.
Katy Maziarz
7. ArtfulMagpie
"Also, we have the parallel between Kvothe and Denna, where Kvothe realizes that they are very much the same. When she mentions his whipping scars from the University, he suddenly feels like a hypocrite for condemning her for her relationship with Master ash. Are the masters also monsters? They are just abiding by the rules. Does Master Ash hurt her? Yes. Might there be a reason? It's possible. Why else would Denna stay with him. The Cthaeh mentions him hitting Denna with his walking stick and that she is bruised. Maybe they were sparring. Maybe his bruises are worse. Maybe she had a dueling cane as well."

Precisely this. Perhaps " dancing" is a cover-story for " fighting." Perhaps when he "beats her with his cane," it is because she is a less experienced fighter than he and was unable to ward off his strikes with her own cane...or wooden training sword? People who are learning sports and martial arts are frequently bruised. It's part of the learning process, after all.
8. Jnai
I didn't see this mentioned, so maybe I'm the only one with this strange idea: While reading the series, I thought that Denna was some sort of anthropomorphization of the wind.

She's a strange part of the plot in that she's always there but never really there, she's constantly taking a new name (like the ever-changing name of the wind), and she's constantly moving.

She's also Kvothe's unattainable, unrealistic goal, that he can capture for a few fleeting moments but never completely control.
9. Dominiquex
Very nice to see everything summed up.

Actually, another theory about Denna has been stuck in my mind recently... Another (non-supernatural she-is-the-moon) explanation for the way she flits to and away from Kvothe with such inconsistency. I think someone else in an earlier chapter post hinted at it as well, referencing a NotW quote where she said (paraphrasing), "It's my job to watch you." I think it's very possible that she may be employed to spy on Kvothe, or tail him, or keep an eye on him. Aside from the reference above, her hot/cold behavior towards Kvothe makes more sense if it reflects her competing attraction to him and guilt over spying on him. Plus, what kind of professional arm candy girl/woman would seek Kvothe out as much as she does?

I was always bothered by the extravagance of her lute case gift to him. And while they had shared a number of pleasant, positive experiences with each other at that point, I could never think of anything that was worth such an exhorbitently expensive gift. She didn't yet know of his struggles to return her ring, nor does she remember much of their time in Trebon. They had sung together, they talk, he's her wingman of sorts, he brought her some anti-asthma herb packets... I don't get it beyond that. HOWEVER, if it's an I Like You + I Feel Guilty +/- I Know More About You Than You Think I Do gift, then it makes more sense.

It also occurs to me that she never goes to the University, despite (from all claims and what evidence we have) "always" looking for him. Does she have a reason not to go there? The person she's spying on him for? Her patron? Or something supernatural?

Sigh... So many questions with this girl.
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
Jo - thanks for discussing perhaps my favorite theory topic in the series (so far). I may have missed it but not sure you mentioned perhaps my favorite Denna theory - that she was seduced by a male Fae and, upon her return, was cast out by her family (who wouldn't believe her or she wouldn't even bother trying to convince them). That would put her even more in parallel with K and perhaps explain some of her unworldly aspects. (Ditto re my whacky theory that Bast was her seducer - note that she does so with every female on two legs near K's tavern.)

Note in my long post reproduced above, I said Denna was Aturan. I may well have been mistaken - I believe she is from Analin, so whereever that is (Aturan Empire, Commonwealth), that's where I believe - with Yll has a longer shot option.

@8 - I really like Denna as the wind. Entire series can be about K trying desperately to figure out her true name.

11. mojoman
"ash" and "cinder" are basically synonyms. How much more obvious could it be?
12. dwndrgn
@Lambson: you say "Why must Master Ash be "a monster"? We know almost nothing concrete about him, except that the Cthaeh wants Kvothe to dislike him."

But isn't the Cthaeh always truthful - even though the way it is presented could create false impressions - all the words have to be truth. At least that is what I'm remembering, I could be mixing it up with other supernatural beings from other books.

I think BP hits the nail on the head, this is Kvothe's story so of course he is going to couch every image in words he has carefully selected to render the image he wants the listener to see. So I think we need to be careful of the descriptions he uses as the storyteller. Not that he is a hostile narrator but that he has his own agenda.

I'm still on the fence with Denna. She is definitely not a normal girl but she could be, depending upon her backstory. So I'm taking her at 'face' value at the moment.

To whomever was discussing above the relationship of the words cinder and ash - cinders are ashes; a la 'burn to cinders'

Gosh I love these re-read/theory mongering/plot untwisting posts! In fact I think I'm going to have to re-read NW very shortly to get into the spirit of the next set!
Beth Meacham
13. bam
On Denna and her Yllish knots: I think that a case can be made that Denna has been putting spell-knots into her hair for a long time before Kvothe notices them. He only, finally, see it after he has started studying Yllish knots. In parallel, there is Master Elodin and the Ademic hand gestures. All through NW, Elodin is described as "twitchy", as making odd gestures. K can't read his face. But after K returns from Ademre, he recognizes that Elodin is using the hand gestures that he has learned there.
Dave West
15. Jhirrad
Denna as the wind is an interesting theory. It is also so brilliant and straight-forward I can't believe no one came up with the thought before. Great work with that.

That's not to say that I don't still think of D as a Chandrian. I still haven't found a convincing argument against that postulation, and there is enough evidence (as cited above) to leave it as the strongest possibility in my mind at this point.

In re Yllish - There are a few people we know speak Yllish. The Chancellor does, and he can read the knots. Deoch does, but he can't read story knots, while his grandmother could. It seem like Yll has been almost completely absorbed into the Aturan Empire and the language is dying off. It actually reminds me a lot of Celtic - there are some out there that still speak it, but it's mostly academic these days, and those who actually SPEAK it tend to be the elderly. Most of the young that speak it know it, but use other languages as their primary language.
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
The number of theories of D is fairly amazing. It does certainly seem that there is something odd about her.
Currently I lean towards:
1) She does have time lapses--possibly from time spent in Fae.
2) Bredon is her patron.
3) The relationship between D and K is somewhat more obtuse than is normal.
4) She isn't literally the moon or the wind but does have aspects of both. Maybe as a result of 1).
5) Her relationship with K will in some way be at odds with the Auri relationship.
We haven't found the key to understanding D yet. I'm not sure the key has been provided in the first two books. It sure is fun to speculate though.
Sim Tambem
17. Daedos
@13 - It just goes to show you how well polished the series is. PR is a craftsman.
Jo Walton
18. bluejo
Jhirrad: "Celtic" isn't a language, it's a language group that contains Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic. I kind of speak Welsh. My husband kind of speaks Irish. But we do it completely differently -- he kind of speaks Irish because he was forced to rote-learn it in school for years, and I kind of speak Welsh because my family used to speak it at home when they didn't want us to understand. I think Yllish is a reasonable parallel for Welsh when I was growing up -- it's currently undergoing a resurgence. Having said that, it's Faen that reads like Welsh to me -- but you've theorised a strong Fae influence on Yllish too. My problem is that "Yll" can't be a Welsh word -- if it were, it would be pronounced very oddly indeed.
Sam Mickel
19. Samadai
Silly crazy idea that popped into my head from everything above. Say Bredon is master Ash, He is one of the most powerful members of the court. So if he arranges a bunch of assassinations, and becomes the new King. Kvothe finds Denna in his party. finds out the Bredon is MAster Ash, kills him in a fit of rage, thus becoming the kingkiller, losing Denna for good. Say Bredon is even an Amyr. If he is one, maybe he was the one in charge of keeping the dark things imprisoned on the other side of the mountains. His death released them.
Like I said crazy idea, but it popped right into my head after reading the post and commentary
Dave West
20. Jhirrad
Jo - I didn't mean to lump all the Celtic languages in as though they were one specific language. My understanding (and I could be wrong in this) is that at some point in history, likely a couple of thousands of years ago, it was one language (more or less) and has since split into multiple off-shoots. And those modern languages aren't much spoken today. In addition, the vast majority (I'd say 95%) of those who speak the various Celtic languages, also speak another language (English) as a primary language. That's what Yll seems like to me. It also does have a Celtic/Norse feeling to it.

Apologies if I accidentally lumped something together that shouldn't have been.
Katy Maziarz
21. ArtfulMagpie
I've actually proposed the Yll-as-analagous-to-a-Celtic-culture before, IIRC. It was more in the context of the elaborate knotwork, though there was also a touch of "conquered by the Roman empire" as compared to "conquered by the Aturan empire." Specifically, though, my personal theory would have it that Yllish is currently the closest related language to Faen, and Faen is the closest to the "original" tongue in which things are Named...thus there would be some sort of connection between the Yllish knots and Naming.
Sim Tambem
22. Daedos
@20 - I assumed you meant Gaelic when I read your comment. It seemed to fit better for me. There is a project underway focused on documenting spoken Gaelic for future generations. It's rather fascinating.
Sim Tambem
23. Daedos
@21 - That's how I read it, too (the connection between the Fae, Yll and true names). I still think there is an important group hiding in Yll that we haven't (officially) met.

The singers might come from over the mountains in the far east, but they might also be hiding out in Yll.
Lenny Bailes
24. lennyb
OK. I guess my view of Denna as an archetypal young/sentient/musical/artsy gypsy girl who's found it necessary to break with her past and family (and who happens to share enthusiasms and empathy with the young clever college student/musician/gypsy/hobo protagonist of the story) may be too prosaic and subjective for general acceptance.

I don't find Denna to be implausible. Her adventures with Kvothe remind me of this and this -- although I'd guess her voice as being more in the mezzo-soprano range.
Ashley Fox
25. A Fox
A little something just occured to me. D has these comparisons to the Moon/Lyra, and to K&D's comparison to the great lovers, and their dispute over Lanre and D's interest in a word you can say/write that makes something true.

What if their story follows Lyra and Lanre's? K dies and D uses a word of power to bring him back through the four doors. But not all of him comes back. Perhaps becuase she is not as powerful (even as Lyra/moon with her power in fae, or as just D with little training) or becuase they havent told each other the whole truth of one another. This could explain his condidtion in the frame, and the story of his death.

This could also tie in with the signs that K's beliefs of truth are about to be turned upside down in the next book. Much like Lanre's. It would be a bitter irony if K turned into what he had set out hunting, the sort of irony the Ctheath would love.
26. Jnai
I'm also surprised to see little talk of the Interlude "The Parts that Form Us", in which Bast describes Denna's flaws (her crooked nose, her too-thin face) while complimenting her perfect ears.

I feel like the fact that Bast has seen her is more important than we're giving credit. It is one of the few facts that tie together the Frame and the Story.

We know that Denna smiles at Bast, but he never mentions any other interaction - does this mean that Denna simply smiled at him, or that maybe he only saw her at a Wake?

The scene also shows us the kind of obsession that Kvothe has with her - if not for Bast, would we ever know that she was anything less than perfection?

Anyway, we know that at some point, Bast and Denna met. Which means that, unless she wasn't quite alive at the time, she's probably out there somewhere. It also means that, despite her Patron, strange habit for getting herself knotted up with the Chandrian (no pun intended), and weird background, she survives the story to the point Kvothe and Bast meet.

Regarding the "Bast sees Denna at her funeral" idea (or any possibility involving Denna being on the wrong side of Kvothe's life), it doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny if Bast is to be believed in the rest of the frame (e.g., the end of NotW). Because we know that Bast is trying to get Kvothe to remember who he is and snap out of it by having him recall the good times, it's hard to imagine that he would ask him, "Hey, Reshi, bud, remember that time the love of your life was buried and I was there? Good times, man."

So it's probable, based on what Bast says in the Frame and in this interlude, that Denna is still alive out there, and Kvothe could go get her - if he would remember how to do it (or have any desire to).
27. AhoyMatey
@3, @5, I think it's pretty apparent that the Chandrian killed K's parents, and, yes, Haliax wasn't happy with it. Cinder may have instigated the killings. And K could definitely be biasing things in his recounting.

Cinder = Ash is a clever observation, and it does make sense. Denna may have picked up bruises while learning a martial art, but that wasn't the impression I got. Denna as wind is interesting.

In any event, I can't wait for Day3. It's actually nice reading an epic series that's relatively short. I've been reading, WOT, ASOFI and the Magician series for years. Many years :) The Stormlight Archive is going to be another really long wait and read...
Katy Maziarz
28. ArtfulMagpie
@3, @5, I think it's pretty apparent that the Chandrian killed K's
parents, and, yes, Haliax wasn't happy with it. Cinder may have
instigated the killings. And K could definitely be biasing things in his

To my knowledge, there is no single place in the text in which either A) Kvothe walks up and actually witnesses the Chandrian killing his troupe or B) one of the Chandrian simply, concisely, and explicitly admits aloud in plain, forthright language to having killed them.

Everything Kvothe heard them say and has recounted could have another explanation...he believes they killed his troupe, but he has no actual evidence or proof that they did. Does that mean the Chandrian are nice people? No, certainly not...I think it's apparent that Cinder, at least, is "fond of his small cruelties," to paraphrase Haliax. That doesn't mean they killed Kvothe's troupe...or the wedding party, for that matter. Maybe the Amyr did both things in the name of the "greater good" and the Chandrian showed up too late to stop them. I reserve judgment regarding the guilt or innocence of the Chandrian until that guilt or innocence is proved conclusively. As we've said before, Rothfuss is too good of a writer to make things obvious and is very likely to be misleading us...!
Bob Simons
@28 Artfulmagpie - I've been leaning toward this train of thought too, and approaching the statements from the Ctaeh similarly. What if the 7 are hot on the trail of those evil Amyr - 'first responders' like Menda chasing Encannis...

Regarding D's name I'm thinking she can't be (named), like the ring on the other hand which could not be named, but Kvoth IS addicted to her. I still connect Auri to the Moon and D to the wind, which K is trying to learn the name of, but is ever- changing... (OK the moon is ever-changing too. This series is the best exercis my brain has had in a long time!)
Dave West
30. Jhirrad
I think we have evidence from the 7 that it's the Amyr after them and not the other way around though. Haliax asks who keeps them "safe from the Amyr? The Sithe? The singers? From all that would harm you in the world?" And we know that they ultimately are serving what Haliax's purpose. I think it's a huge stretch to say that the 7 are chasing the Amyr. What is notable in my opinion is that the 7 might not be as purely 'evil' as we think from the beginning of the story. And the Amyr are certainly not 'good' in some ways. They would cut off a nose to spite a face.
31. Chipmaker
Something the Cthaeh said to K: "The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He's already come close to them , though he doesn't realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door." And a moment later, the Cthaeh mentions he just made a joke that K won't get for a while.

Hmm. The "joke" is probably wordplay. "Stick by the Maer" is kind of slangy. What if we interpret it as "(the) stick by the Maer" -- indicating Bredon, who notably uses a distinctive walking stick. (The Maer does also, but only as needed to compensate for his frail health, not all the time.)

Using "Stick" as a synchdoche for Bredon seems like it would be the sort of thing that would appeal to the Cthaeh (and the author).
Steven Halter
33. stevenhalter
@31:I was thinking that the door in "Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door." is the hidden in plain sight part of that phrase--The Amyr could literally be behind a doo--most likely the one in the Lackless lands. That's where the Maer would have come close to them as he visited his fiance.
If that was the case, are the real Amyr able to go in and out or mostly stuck behind?

Now, of course Breden could be an Amyr also as he is close to the Maer. So, sticking by the Maer leads you to Breden (the stick).
Bob Simons
@21 ArtfulMagpie - Likewise. I've always had a Prydain 'vibe' from Denna (a la Princess in the Castle of llyr), and Illish seems to have a Welsh twist between letters an phonemes, at least in my imagining. I have no problem with D being Yllish (royal hostage to conquering empire?) despite her apparent lack of accent. People frequently comment in surprise on my lack of accent, when learning of my southern origins.

@30 Jhirrad - valid points re 'chasing'. How about manuvering, like chessmen? I see the Amyr and 7 as pieces in a perfect game, with the 7 currently being outmanuevered - or are they setting an elegant trap?

@31 Chipmaker, there's a similar thought on the threads over at The Song of Ice and Fire blog ( , but focusing on sexual innuendo and the word 'come'. Either way I bet we see a lot more of the Maer's court in Day 3
Ashley Fox
35. A Fox
"The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He's already come close to them , though he doesn't realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door."

Id always read that as refering to Meluan. Ive long held that the answer to the Lackless riddle is to do with the womb of the edlest female heir. Who would be K's mother. Meluan is by the Maers side, the door refering to her womb, she is Ks aunt, and he never even gave her much thought than the seduction. The joke being that he is the answer to the riddle. (Have you noticed how K has a tendancy to overlook the women in his life? He doesnt even wonder on D's mystery, or Auri's)

Of course this then, does imply that the Lackless family's origins have something to do with the Amyr. Perhaps once they were Door keepers, as in the doors of stone, attempting to keep the chandrian from pasing between worlds. (As we know they do from Felurians fear, the moon above Haliax's head on the urn. Most likey at opposing times to the moon, if the moon is Lyra).
lake sidey
36. lakesidey
@34 RBSIV: In addition, Denna is an accomplished singer and has superb control of her voice. She picked up the "pegs" accent in an hour of listening. So she could be from Yll (or anywhere, really) and still speak perfectly unaccented Aturan.

@8Jnai : D as the wind, I like it!

Bredon as an Amyr, and one poised near the Maer seems a logical explanation for the "stick by the Maer and...." statement (though it could be misdirection - for example, the Maer's manservant and friend, Stapes, could be an equally good Amyr-candidate...)

Also, has anyone already pointed out the slight linguistic similarity between Amyr and Maer? It may not be anything, but then again, PR being PR, it might be everything.

Ian B
37. Greyfalconway
I was rereading WMF a minute ago and just noticed, Maedre is an anagram for Ademre, not sure what that adds to the story, but its intriguing =]
Ian B
38. Greyfalconway
Another thing I was wondering, does anyone know Baron Jakis's first name? Could it perhaps be.... Bredon?
C Smith
39. C12VT
@38: As far as I can tell, we don't know Baron Jakis's first name, but I don't think it is Bredon - when Kvothe is collecting gossip, he hears separate rumors for Baron Jakis and Bredon (p. 498 of WMF). I think Bredon is probably a surname or title rather than a first name - he may be the Baron (or Duke, or whatever) of the place named Bredon (where the beer Kvothe gives to Auri on p. 104 of WMF comes from).

I find it interesting that both Bredon and Felurian play tak, given that Felurian is not that well-informed of goings on in the human world. Maybe tak was invented a long time ago (pre-Creation War). This could be more support for Bredon being an Amyr or Chandrian.
Ian B
40. Greyfalconway
@39: I don't believe it either, the thought just struck me and I decided to share, it would definitely be an interesting reveal scene if it did happen though! =P
Doug Orleans
41. DougOrleans
In Severen, Kvothe sees Denna with a braid several times (once with three braids!) before realizing (later in Tarbean) that they are spelling things out in Yllish. I couldn't find any clues about what they might have said-- any guesses? My only thought was maybe his anger about Master Ash or the Lanre song was somehow accentuated by the braids working their writing-magic on him, but why would she write "anger" (or whatever)?

Also, when Kvothe meets Denna in Severen and he says that her patron beat her, she touches her bruise and says "I told you, I fell off a horse", and he says "no, I meant back in Trebon". But she never told him about that bruise, or about falling off a horse; is this an editing oversight, or had she just told someone else that she fell off a horse? Maybe she really did fall off a horse, and she told her patron (who I'm convinced is Bredon)? Or did she get the bruise from him, and there's a third person in Severen who asked her about the bruise (before she met up with Kvothe)?
Ian B
42. Greyfalconway
Another theory on what's behind the four plate door; I was thinking about all the things it could be, since it has to be like the most terrible thing ever, but iax being locked behind there or some portal to the evil fae or some such is too cliche. This story is all about Kvothe, and we know he's done some pretty horrific things, in the name of the greater good and all, but maybe what's behind the four plate door is some sort of mirror that let's you see your own name, every bit of it. It seems like that would drive someone like Kvothe to the state he's in now, and depending on elodins history could be what made him crazy. (I am aware this is cliche too, and spoofed in south park even, but I couldn't think of what else it would be, rothfuss doesn't seem the type to have an 'ultimate evil' in his story, it's all about Kvothe) Sorry for the poorly formatted post, I'm in a rush lol
C Smith
43. C12VT
Since the four-plate door is located in the Archives, what's behind it may be related to the Archives - all those missing books and information about the Amyr and Chandrian (and maybe other secrets) that have been carefully culled out of the main collection over the years. I don't think they would just throw those away.

If this is the case, and if "graduates" of the university are allowed to go behind the door, it would explain why Ben took the Chandrian much more seriously than the university students/general populace - he's been let in on the secret and knows they aren't just "fairy stories".
Sim Tambem
44. Daedos
@43 - Intriguing. It is odd that Ben took them seriously while everyone else seems to think they are just children's stories. Hmmm...

Sticking with the Maer...

I find it interesting that the Cthaeh tells Kvothe to stick with the Maer just before he is forced to leave the Maer's company. If the Cthaeh is omniscient (which we are told he is), then it must have known what was coming. I think this is a big indication that Kvothe will be going back to the Maer in book 3. If not, this was advice for Kvothe to ignore the Maer's dismissal and he simply ignored it (I don't find this to be very likely). I guess we'll see.

Also, I assumed that this has something to do with the Lackless family and "doors", and not with Bredon (stick). Especially since Kvothe was about to be shown "the box".
Dave West
45. Jhirrad
So I was reading Pat's blog, and noticed a comment from him which caused me to do some research. It's only tangentially related to Denna, but I still thought it would be good to share.

Not being a scientist, I didn't know what the word "eolian" means. I had never heard of it outside the context of this book series. Apparently though, eolian is, "borne, deposited, produced, or eroded by the wind". Obvious levels of signficance for us, as we can see all of those things in K, and possibly to a degree in D. Mayhap they are both "of the Eolian", and that ever-changing wind is in fact the real mover of our story...
46. n8love
PR talking about the difficulties of first person@5:44 and more on D specifically @8:29. He talks a little about people hating D and it being a result of being confined to K's head. I get the distinct impression that people hating D frustrates him. More importantly, I get the impression that PR likes D. Make of that what you will.

He also says "we only get to see the face she's putting on for K."

The best thing he says (in reaction to people saying K is too good for D) is "He's not gonna' go out with you"
Ian B
47. Greyfalconway
@46, thanks for pointing that interview out, it was a great watch, I like how he gets completely sidetracked when he sees a baby lol
Nathan Love
48. n8love
My pleasure. The majesty of PR's beard as of SDCC2011 is legendary.
49. yasiru89
The assigning of some otherwordliness to Denna seems to be an attempt to understand her with what little we have to go on about her past, what she's involved in and her motives may be rather than something supported by the text by anything more significant than semantic similarity and metaphor that simply happens to fit.

I've always thought Denna as someone who has lived a lie either for survival or as a means of escape from something that she has lost her own identity there. Kvothe reminds her something of herself as independent from the lies she lives (which is perhaps already subconsciously manifest for instance in things like her aliases always being a spin on 'Denna'), and this distresses her and leaves her unable to decide whether that's what is 'good for her' in response to that original need or fear to which she is still bound.
From her later interactions with Kvothe, it appears that she ultimately tries to be pragmatic about it as she sees things, always switching between different lies, and hence the different names, but also trying to cautiously explore whatever she may have with Kvothe.

All this flightiness doesn't do much for her character at present, because all we really have is what Kvothe can piece together of her. But I think this is better seen as conveying Kvothe's frustrations rather than alluding to anything about her, because, after all, Kvothe is the narrator and holds her in a certain reverence.
Alice Arneson
50. Wetlandernw
I'm chuckling over the various comments that insist "the Cthaeh is always truthful". This may be true, but the story is Kvothe relating what the Cthaeh said, which might not be entirely truthful. We could just as easily take it to be Kvothe's understanding/recollection of what the Cthaeh said, which was (and may continue to be) twisted by his own expectations or interpretations of what he saw. And how many times have we been reminded that Kvothe is an "unreliable narrator"? What the Cthaeh actually said might be true, but what Kvothe reports it as saying might be... less so. Clearly the surface reading is supposed to convince us that Denna's patron is a horrible person; however, even at the surface level it should be clear that there's some doubt.
51. piapiapiano
#35 A Fox: Of course this then, does imply that the Lackless family's origins have something to do with the Amyr. Perhaps once they were Door keepers, as in the doors of stone, attempting to keep the chandrian from passing between worlds.

Could the last part of that tie in with one of the splinter names of the original Loeclos family? Kaepcaen -- the odd one out.

Lockless = something to do with locks
Lack-key = something to do with keys
Laclith = something to do with great big stones?
Kaepcaen = something to do with 7? (ie. caen/chaen)

No idea about the Kaep part of the name, though.

Apologies if this has already been discussed.
52. Shame
I'm surprised nobody mentioned the one time Denna is called "Alora" in Severen (chapter 68).
Katy Maziarz
53. ArtfulMagpie
It was mentioned in the comment threads for the NotW reread part 9 and part 12, actually.
54. Shame
Ah, sorry, didn't read all comments, thanks for pointing it out.
David C
55. David_C
@31,32 (and elsewhere)
Something the Cthaeh said to K: "The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He's already come close to them , though he doesn't realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door." And a moment later, the Cthaeh mentions he just made a joke that K won't get for a while.
Hmm. The "joke" is probably wordplay. "Stick by the Maer" is kind of slangy. What if we interpret it as "(the) stick by the Maer" -- indicating Bredon, who notably uses a distinctive walking stick. (The Maer does also, but only as needed to compensate for his frail health, not all the time.)
I don’t buy this theory any more than I buy the notion that Master Ash is “beating” D at tak. This theory has too much the flavour of the apocryphal American “thank God for the writing the Bible in plain English”. Kote is presumably speaking Aturan to Chronicler. The Cthaeh and Kvothe also may have been speaking Aturan, very unlikely English.

Although the two senses of ‘beat’ (hit/triumph over) might well have a common origin this seems to English-specific (anyone have French-language texts to compare against?). Far more likely that the Cthaeh is deliberately engaging in situational misinterpretation.

Playing cryptic crosswords with “stick by” seems even less likely to translate well from Aturan. I’m guessing that the joke is far more likely the confounding of “lead you to their door” in the figurative sense of “bring you close to them” with a more literal sense that is something like “lead you to a door created by the Amyr” (not too unlikely given the presence of Meluan Lackless).
David C
56. David_C
Theories of Denna.

I subscribe to the “Denna is human” theory. Completely plain straight human, no geas, no secret time in fae, no fragment of the moon. Part of my theory is that I think that something very important happened in Analin. The textual evidence: D’s comment: I’ve almost forgotten Denna … I believe that D is saying that her life has changed dramatically (despite how she describes her Analin experience as not unexpected).

K & D sitting in a tree.

I want to talk a bit about the Kvothe - Denna relationship, and particularly its slow nature.

Jo and others are frustrated by the romantic comedy. Jo in particular expresses her frustration with Kvothe for being so thick-headed, and with PR for writing a hard-to-believe Denna whose motivations seem unreal.

Jo, I tell you two times: there are many of us men who were far less clueful than Kvothe. Apart from my own memories, I think that the evidence for this is clear: Kote is picking the material that he presents regarding Kvothe’s interaction with D. Kote gets it. He’s telling us plainly: yes, I was clueless. I don’t have a really difficult time with him being this clueless, except for his chivalrous attitudes to women as part of his reasons for never “taking advantage” of Denna. (more on that in a later post perhaps)

Back to D. I think that she is deeply madly passionately in love (or at least infatuated) with Kvothe, and I don’t think that has ever had a happy relationship and doesn’t know how to pursue one with Kvothe.

I think that there are a lot of former 15 year-old males (including me) who instinctively respond to the criticism of Kvothe being thick thinking — saying, but D also could have been plain and straight-forward. Why didn’t she say, “Kvothe, do you want to make out with me?” In a world where there appear to be a lot of strong women roles, why couldn’t D been as clearly forward as Devi, or Felurian?

… and the answer I think is that she’s scared to. She knows how to mooch off of noblemen, how to trade non-intimate friendship for material comfort, and she desparately doesn’t want to be making those kind of trades with Kvothe. I also believe it likely that she may have explicit reasons to fear hurting Kvothe: she may be contracted to marry, or have other explicit future obligations that leave her without hope for being able to to be with Kvothe without hurting him. This may be connected to what happened in Analin, or what happened in her childhood, or what has happened since she acquired Master Ash as a patron. My guess is that it relates to her experience in Analin. Gaining Master Ash, from D’s POV, is a response to what happened in Analin.


I don’t believe that the textual references to Analin are red herrings. I think that the key to D’s behaviour lies partially there. I believe that the footpads coming from Analin is not a coincidence. I believe the fact that Kvothe’s route to Vintas bypassing the road through Analin is explicit plotting: there is something there that he would notice, or someone there who would notice him. Early on, I wondered if D’s comment “they say the streets are lined with gold” relates to kings or angels yet to be killed. I half expect the arc of D3 to be Kvothe following the road through Analin as he leaves U/Imre. Has anyone else more Analin information to add?
57. OtherAlias
Baron Jakis had paid several officials to avoid scandal when his youngest daughter was discovered in a brothel. There were two versions of that story, one where she was selling, and another where she was buying. I filed that information away for future use.

This, plus the whole ring saga with Ambrose makes me wonder if D is a Jakis herself, again moving the plot back towards Vintas, the Maer, and the Penitent King
58. Jezdynamite
I like both theories of Denna's patron being either Bredon or Cinder.

(1) However, did anyone else notice that when Kvothe first attempted to choose a name for Denna's patron, before he chose Master Ash, (after joking with the names of Annabelle, the Duke of Richmoney and Frederick the Flippant), he listed 4 other names that all started with F that seemed to slowly approach Cinder's real name of Ferule?

"...Frederick the Flippant, Frank, Feran, Forue, Fordale..."

Given Kvothe's affinity for guessing people's names, I'd be interested what you guys think.

Sorry if this has been covered already.

(2) Also, has anyone uncovered/discussed who Moteth is? It's the name that a denner-resin affected Denna mistakenly thought Kvothe was during their search for Master Ash and killing the draccus.
59. Wisdom Thumbs
One thing that has occurred to me many times is that Denna is the Angel which Kvothe supposedly kills in the third book. Whether or not she's really an angel, I'm fairly certain she's dead by the time Kvothe becomes Kote. And it would certainly make sense to some degree. He never refers to her in the present tense, only in the past. Chronicler thinks "this is indeed a man who fought a Demon to hold what he wanted most in his hand, and had to kill an Angel to keep it" (I'm paraphrasing here, but you can find the scene early on in Name of the Wind).

I haven't read any of the comments on this page due to lack of time, so I wouldn't be surprised if this has already been suggested. I am surprised, however, that it was not at least suggested on the main post somewhere.

I think the third book will vindicate me on this, but only time will tell. I do love the idea of Denna working with the Chandrian against the Amyr, as she and Kvothe share a vast number of interesting parrallels. But it does harm to the theory of Bredon being an Amyr, which I think he is. He fits so perfectly with Master Ash that there's almost no way he could be anyone else.
60. Zizoz
@58: Also note the last three names: Feran, Forue, Fordale. This is what convinced me that Master Ash is Cinder.
Adam Shekerjian
61. adamshekerjian
In Roman mythology the Moon is associated with Dianna. The moon is said t represent the feeling nature of the individual.
Also the Hindu Moon god is called Chandra, and the Chaldians were similar to the Assyrian's and they invented a 19 year cycle lunar callendar. To they invented it is hard, as many different groups around the world developed the same basic concepts independantly of one another.
62. Jokes
After re-reading WMF, I convinced myself that Bredon was D's patron. From what you have all said it seems that quite a few of you agree for the same basic reasons I saw it. What just occured to me was how some people are convinced that her patron, whether Bredon or not, is extremely bad. When the Cthaeth speaks it does whatever it can to make the worst possible reality come to fruition. When it tells Kvothe that D's patron beats her, he gets super super upset. I was just thinkin about how it would turn out if Kvothe finds out who D's patron is. Kvothe knows Bredon, and was told by him to stop by anytime he wants. What if in the next book Kvothe finds out that Bredon is her patron, and attacks him, or raises some kind of opposition to him, even though in reality Bredon is not truely evil. Could the Cthaeth be turning the good guys against each other? Just an idea about how Kvothe has a tendency to overreact and how he would most certainly fight an Amyr (Bredon is very high on my list of possible Amyrs) if he ever met one, because he wouldn't take the time to figure out why they were doing what they are. He may be able to see the good of their actions afterwards (Duke of Gibea) but from the way the books have gone so far, I would bet anything that he wouldn't see the good at first.
Steven Halter
63. stevenhalter
Jokes@62:The Cthaeh turning Kvothe against Bredon is high on my list of possibilities.
Felipe Martins
64. felipem
@60 Nice insight, I never noticed that! Unfortunatly, I like the theory of Bredon being Master Ash so much, but I dont like Bredon being Cinder... can you see the problem xD?
65. Begna
Ok so someone correct me if I'm wrong but I get the distinct feeling that there is no way that any Chandrian could be in the plot without us knowing.

Think for a second about what everyone in the books knows: the Chandrian have signs so that you know they are there. It seems unlikely that they can just cover up their curses. Haliax/Alaxel/Lanre has a shadowy face, Cinder/Ferule has black eyes, Usnea rots wood and Cyphus brings blue flame, etc from the story in Ademre. It seems incredibly unlikely to me that Bredon or any other character we know as anything but a Chandrian could actually be one.

On the other hand, the little we know about the original Amyr is next to nothing and all of it comes from Skarpi's possibly not factually correct story. Simply a little about their personalities and that when Aleph touched them, they caught fire (in a very biblical "tongues of fire" way might I add) and grew wings and that no normal/mortal people can see them. While possible that Bredan is Amyr, I don't know if someone like Kvothe would be able to see to the "real" him or not. So until K comes into his true Naming ability, we cannot know for sure.

Lastly, a question that is slightly off topic but I stumbled upon while writing this comment. In one of the other Speculative summaries, it is thought that the old man in the cave in the Jax story is Teccam. I don't think that can be quite right, if Skarpi is ever to be believed. In Skarpi's first story in NW, he mentions that Selitos had only only 3 equals in naming prowess: Lyra, Aleph and Iax. Here, Iax is a real person who later creates Faerie, Selitos is the head of the Amyr and Lyra is dead. Therefore I think the old man in the cave must be Aleph.

And, speaking of Aleph, how does he go from being a god in Kvothe's joking start of his narrative as well as (at least a demi-god) in Skarpi's second story but is just a Namer in the first story? The same goes for Tehlu. He is supposed to be a god "Tehlu and all his angels" meaning the other Amyr. But isn't Selitos the head Amyr?

Anyway I'm rambling now. Let me know what you think.
Steven Halter
66. stevenhalter
@65: "Just a Namer" (or Shaper) essentially equates to a god in the days of Kvothe's 4C. Power is a relative thing.
Felipe Martins
67. felipem
We're told by the CTH that the Chandrian are good at hiding their signs (or something like that, I don't have the exact quote here). It is possible, but I admit it's unlikely, that they have a "mortal" disguise.

On the timeline the story is told it seems that the CW hasn't started yet, Iax might not even be a namer yet (or at least not so powerful), Lyra is certainly not dead yet and the Amyr did not exist then. I believe whoever the old man was, he was Iax's teacher/mentor.

IRRC, the church sees Tehlu as the only god, and that's why Skarpi was taken to prison, his story contradicted that.
68. Shaggy Dog
Pure speculation here but I thought I remember reading that Ambrose had a sister that ran off to a brothel. Could this be Denna? Could explain why she is so cultured and educated if she comes from nobility. If true there would be fireworks if Ambrose ever found out about their relationship.
69. Illarion
I'm honestly baffled why so many of you have a problem with Denna's characterisation ("The reason we have all these theories, and the reason I like the moon one so much, is that she doesn’t really work as a naturalistic person.").

I have always found Denna to be not just believable, but possibly the best characterised of all. Certainly more plausible than Auri, or indeed Kvothe himself, much as I love him.

I think the reason is that I knew Denna - by which I mean I knew a girl (another D in fact) so like her that every word and action of Denna's rang spookily true. Like Denna, and for similar reasons, she had a past she would rather forget.

I would lay money on the fact that Pat also knew a real girl, who was the model for Denna.

I find all the wacky (and really wacky) speculation - Denna is the moon, Denna is a Chandrian, etc - interesting, but completely unnecessary. Ockham's razor. Denna is entirely plausible to me as a real girl.
70. coyote_blue
I would agree with Illarion's premise - Denna is just a person - while disagreeing that the speculation is wacky. The speculation is sensible, given the existence of the Fae, the "realness of stories" (Jax/Iax really stealing the moon), and the magic of naming being wrapped up in questions of identity.

I don't think Denna requires a supernatural explanation to explain why there's all these normal women around, and she's not. I think the normal women in the book are there to counteract Denna. Because Denna is necessary to the plot, and Pat understands she's going to look mean and fake, the other women are there to show that this is a Denna thing, not a Pat's-Opinion-of-Women or Pat-Can't-Write thing.

Denna tells the street whore that "eventually you're going to get ridden." She makes off-color jokes regularly, and doesn't seem to mind implying that she's bisexual in front of Wil and Sim at the Eolian. She raves, in her delirium during NoTW, that she likes Kvothe for the incredibly low-bar reason that she knows he could never be a rapist. (A fact which gets literally proven with the plum bob in WMF. )

During his outburst at the end of WMF, Kvothe counters his own Felurian-based reputation by pointing out that he's seen Denna on the arm of dozens of men for years. Being on arms is not on anywhere the same level as sexing up a faerie goddess and then bragging about it, unless being on arms implies something more.

The unstated assumption here is that Denna is a courtesan. At least in fact, if not in aspiration or training. She is at least occasionally having sex with these people. Nobody says it out loud, but everyone knows it.

I think Denna is a rake. A grifter. Charming but distant. Obsessed with some secret truth ("is there writing magic?") that, if voiced, she knows will sound silly to everyone else. Trying to find rich people who will help fund her search for the truth about ancient events.

She's Kvothe. Who, from the outside, will seem a complete ass to anyone but her friends. Who seems like a bit of a tramp from the outside, but who probably doesn't consider herself one (this is the real, in-story reason the Adem think musicians are whores, IMHO - so Kvothe learns what it feels like to have a scandalous job, but refuses to quit). Who doesn't explain herself for what she feels are not trivial reasons.

Taking this a bit further before I stop, I'll point out that Kvothe's "justice trigger" is very specific. While the Chandrian are a slow burn, Kvothe immediately and ruthlessly punishes any attempt he sees of one person trying to rob another of their agency.

Kvothe decides he hates Ambrose when he sees Ambrose is trying to hold Fela down. Kvothe hates Hemme instantly when Hemme uses his power to shame people. Kvothe threatens Elodin without thinking when he suspects Elodin might lock Auri up. Kvothe sacrifices his own agency the instant he suspects that his choices may get others in trouble (concealing his injuries after the fire to protect his friends; going with Tempi; surrendering to the iron law in Levinshir). Annnnddd...he kills nine rapists for raping, and for threatening the Edema Ruh's freedom of travel.

My personal, unproveable theory? Denna was harmed by an Amyr - perhaps her family was killed - while the Amyr was pursuing his vaunted "greater good". This harm set the stage for childhood poverty and victimization. This sets the stage for early sexualization, emotional distance from others, and sociopathic tendencies. All perfectly normal responses, if not healthy ones - response that in-book victims partially display (Krin and Ellie, in particular).

Why an Amyr? It makes her side of the Lanre song plausible, if not "true". To those of us uninterested in the particulars of the factions' final objectives, the Amyr and the Chandrian are equally damaging to the people they encounter.
71. coyote_blue
Whoops! Forgot to conclude: "and because two identical people are going to end up on opposite sides of this ancient struggle, Kvothe is going to be forced to choose between his nature (vengeance against the Chandrian, destruction of anyone who steals the freedom of others) and Denna (who has learned an opposite version of history from a person that Kvothe is honor-bound not to confront).
Steven Halter
72. stevenhalter
Coyote_blue@70:I agree that Denna is just a person--not the moon. However, as you note, she is just a person in much the way that Kvothe is just a person. Both are caught up in wider events and gradually being drawn into being involved with things and altering events that the "average" person does not encounter. Somewhere down the line, I mention that it is possible that Denna could turn out to be the actual "hero" of the story.
73. coyote_blue
@shalter: I'll admit that, because this thread is six months old and I don't know who's still listening, I skimmed the topics for broad brush. I'm glad to see that someone else is taking this position, and backing it up.

While I agree with Illarion, I don't think simply saying "some people actually*are* like Denna" is enough. When a person behaves stupidly in a book - even under realistic conditions - readers freak out, and that has to be accounted for in good writing. Not fair, but there it is.
74. Yassi
Denna's real identity:
Sorry for the slighty offtopic, but I think I know who Denna really is:
Lady Lackless' little sister (can't recall her name... damn it!)
Some strong hints for my theory:

1) At one scene in the Eolian Kvothe thinks that only those highly born people of Modegan nobility have this outstanding aura / impression on him that has nothing to do with clothing and is unfakeable by other people.
Only Denna somehow manages to make the same impression on him, "as if she was born to high nobility" (hint: Lackless family is part of the Modegan high nobility)

2) When he first meets Lady Lackless he thinks that she has "exactly the same neck and hair as Denna" and even hestitates a moment due to being confused by the strong similarity.

3) Lady Lackless hates the Edema Ruh due to her sister having been kidnapped by them some years ago.
When Kvothe first met Denna (while he was still with his parents) she seemed to have run away from home and was with the Edema (Kvothe's parents' group) -> anyone on the outside could have thought she was kidnapped.

It is quite a while since i read the books, so i can not recall more such hints, but I think there were more in the books. Wasn't there something with special signs on a Lackless wooden box that Denna could miraculously read or something?
Damn my memory, those are my favorite books for years and i hardly remember anything. Guess I have read too many other books in the meanwhile...

I apologize for my bad english (im not a native speaker) and for not having read all the other posts on this site, but I just had to share my thoughts.
75. Deepali
@coyote blue - interesting theory that Denna is very like Kvothe!
76. Galathel
I believe Denna to be a human with some posible Fae aspect. Maybe something from her (likely) time in Fae. But human nonetheless. Bast sees her as human, and he should recognise, right? An interesting question is this: when did they meet? If I remember corectly, in NW there is a scene of Bast recalling her beautifull ears. And in WMF Kvothe takes her for a walk in Maer's garden at night. Moonless night, mind you. ;) "Denna peered out of the hedge toward the path, and I looked at her. Her hair fell like a curtain down the side of her head, and the tip of her ear was peeking out through it. It was, at that moment, the most lovely thing that I had ever seen." This lead me to the theory, that Bast is more closely connected with Kvothe than it seems. But that is off topic here.
77. meteoroskopos
Moon as selas
I tend to agree with whoever posted above that K (and Rothfuss) are deliberately writing Ludis/Lyra/Aloine/Geisa/etc. themes into Denna's characterization without necessarily planning to reveal a larger-than-life dimension to her character (i.e. Denna is Fae/Chandrian/Moon/Wind/etc). All I feel certain of is that Denna will betray Kvothe at some point (at least from Kvothe's perspective).

That said, at different points I have been convinced either that Denna is the wind or that she is the moon. And when you read the Denna parts thinking of her as connected with the moon, it is impossible not to notice certain details about the way she is characterized. At one point, for example, Kvothe says there is a light and dark to Denna - like the light and dark side of the moon? At another, K starts to go ballistic on Chronicler for writing down that K never understood the littlest piece of Denna, and of course pieces of the moon are a big part of Hespe' Jax story and phases of the moon are important to Fae/human relations, etc. Denna says her job is to spy on Kvothe - what better spy than the moon? (Interesting that Auri avoids the moon, depsite being Kvothe's "little moon fae," but that's for a different thread.) And so on.

Best of all, on the Denna/moon theory, is K's comparison of Denna to a selas flower. Denna says she has never seen one before, and K is not surprised because they grow only in shadows, seeking just a few rays of sunshine in order to blossom. Now, if Denna is in some way the moon, we could understand her shock at both never having seen something - what is there that the moon doesn't see? But if the selas flower only grows in shadow, then the moon wouldn't see it. But also the moon itself blooms only in shadow - the night sky! Where it would not be able to see itself, and therefore not know itself. Also note selas/selene (=moon), for those of us who geek out on Rothfuss's wordplay.

Anyway, just some food for thought on the Denna/moon theory.
Laura Taylor
78. Lauranimal
Where Denna is from?
When Kvothe Rescued the 2 girls (from Levonshire) from the bandits pretending to be Ruh troupers, he was shocked at one of the girl's resemblence to Denna. Could Denna be from that town?

Chapter 131 - Black by Moonlight - Pg 955 paperback
RE: Krin
"...I reached out to brush a strand of hair from Krin's cheek. To my surprise, she opened her eyes and stared at me. not the marble stare she had given me before, she looked at me with the dark eyes of a young Denna."

~She had just been kidnapped, repeatedly raped and brutalized~

And then, after dropping them off in Levonshire, as Krin and Kvothe said goodbye:

Chapter 135 - Homecoming - pg 985 paperback
"Her expression grew serious as she met my eyes, and again she reminded me of a young Denna."

My first thought had been that maybe Denna was from that area and had family there (maybe she is/does?) But I think it's more likely that Krin bore some slight coincidental resemblence to Denna, but because of her circumstances, what Kvothe was recognising was a part of what had in fact, shaped Denna.

Someone had mentioned Denna looking alot like Meluan. Maybe Denna IS Meluan's sister who had been kidnapped by bandits, that were attributed to the Ruh? And dang... there would be some double extra angry in Meluan. One sister kidnapped, the other run off abandoning her responsibilities as the heir? What if Denna is also Kvothe's aunt??? How much of Krin and Ell's story matches Denna's own?

At a bar in Tarbean, Denna stumbles in and cant breath:
There are several mentions afer this, of her white teeth. It's casually mentioned as if they appear whiter because her skin is tanned... but it was mentioned a couple of times. (Was it mentioned in Severen too?) Is she becoming a denner addict? does her patron keep her hooked like a pimp? Was her first dose in Trebon the start of it?

I think Dena has been changed by having (potentially) one of the Chandrian as her patron (I've always thought it was Cinder). I think that the reason Kote is so numb about her in the frame story, is that she betrayed him... and he either had to kill her, or that part of him that believed in their connection was killed. For him... this would be devastating. Or.. just as devastating, if he had had to betray her in order to do the right thing. Or he had to let her suffer her own consequeces for acting outside of the Lethani. He couldn't save her from herself. (all speculation of course... it could go so many ways!)

side note: I always giggle in my head and outloud about Denna's denner trip. I want a t-shirt with a picture of a Draccus and the words, Cow-chicken on it. Maybe the loden stone/aka Trebon stone (magnate) that kvothe traded the tinker for the black horse... maybe it's draccuss poop? LOL!
79. Gelis
I really enjoy the theories presented here. My Take on Denna is, that she is a realistic depiction of a young woman who is not very much in touch with her own emotions/ wishes. She wants freedom, most of all. For her, a loving relationship means being tied down. So she utilizes her personal charms, I wouldn't even go so far to say that she definitely is a courtesan. She runs a con, promising, hinting, not delivering while the men dance to her tune. Quite cruel, basically. At least once, she was forced, which did not help her to develop a healthy sexuality. Se is attracted to K, but doesn't trust her judgement and fears being tied down.
what I haven't read so far is the presence of Bast as Ks companion. Bast is the Egyptian goddess of love and fertility, she protects pregnant women.
Bast is a cat.
I don't really know what to do with this knowledge currently, just would like to add, that Denna has a lot in common with a cat, too. And Bast admired her ears...
my gut feeling says, it is not an accident that part of the frame in this so far tragic love story is the goddess of love who protects pregnant women.
She is watching over K, who may have hidden something in his chest...
80. Dnamra
I have read aswell the Spanish version of NOW and "Cinder" is named there as "Ceniza" (ash of dead) and "Master Ash" is translated as "Maese Fresno" (ash, the plant). I think that both of them are Master Ash, Bredon the one who has to deal with Denna and Cinder the hidden mind of the plan.
Tabby Alleman
81. Tabbyfl55
In some of the chapter-posts, Jo makes mention of the fact that Denna seems awfully interested in whether there is a form of magic that lets you write something down and make it happen.

I don't know if anybody else suggests exactly this in a comment I haven't read yet, but a lot of people have come close to it:

Denna ties her hair into Yllish knots, and it appears that the word for the knot she uses seems to manifest. When she uses the knot for "Lovely", K finds her especially lovely, etc.

Maybe she's discovered by accident that she seems to have this ability, and wants to know if it's a known form of magic, because if it is, she might be able to learn what else can be done with it and how to use it to its utmost. Maybe there's no Yllish knot for "Pay me lots of money to sing", but if this is a known form of magic, maybe she can learn to fine-tune it into something even more useful.
Steven Halter
82. stevenhalter
Tabbyfl55@81:You'll find lots of discussion on Denna braiding Yllish knots into her hair as you go forward. The general thought is that it seems quite likely that she is doing something like this.
Kory Voga
83. Vulcrypt
So i have been going through my annual NOTW re-read and i was struck with an idea. Not sure if it has been stated before but I've been getting the sense that somehow Denna is older than she seems and in fact may be in a "sleeping" state much like Tarbean-Kvothe or frame-Kote.

I feel like she is changing her name around in an attempt to find her true name (Dinah, Dinnea, etc.) But she is looking in the wrong place. She is continually trying to start her name with a "D", when i believe we know her true name already. One of Tehlu's angels, as was found on the pot in Treben, is named Anden... Which is an anagram for Denna. I couldn't find anything that suggested Anden was a woman... but also nothing saying Anden was a man. So, i suppose i dont know.

However, if this was, this would mean that Denna was actually much older, potentially an Amyr, and might explain why her Master Ash (possibly Cinder) was interested in her. In fact, if this was the case, perhaps Haliax has somehow managed to change the Names of the Amyr, robbing them of their power. I havent thought too much of it but perhaps Master Lorren is a sleeping Amyr as well.

However, if she was a sleeping Amyr, it could be that once awoken, her relationship with Kvothe wouldnt be the same, let alone her entire identity and this would fit into a "tragic" ending.

Critique this theory please haha
84. Chalkonthewall
New Idea! I think Denna has a knack.

like Tripps throwing 7's. I have noticed that Denna is extramly hard to pin down an a Knack seems like a probably way of her keeping ahead of all the the Suiters.

Now I have a little more definate reasons of think this because she is resourceful and Patrick seems to not waste paper. (ei. he would have never explained knacks early on if they didn't become important Later) Denna's first reaction to K was to Call him out on a lie. and K is very good at lieing. She calles him out multiple times and he is surpised by it each time.
I think her knack is she can tell when someing is liying to her. I think that is why she is so good at keeping ahead of the trouble she gets in.

What do you think?
87. frank Alleshouse
I think Denna is the moon. Her real name is locked in the Lackless box which is why she always changes it. She's not able to use her real name. I also think she is the door that holds the flood of Fae from crossing worlds. Some may come through but only at certain times because it was the moon crossing worlds that allowed them to go freely. That could explain why a moonless night is something for a wise man to fear.
88. trickNick
Is there any mention of the Sun at all in either of the books or short stories?
Steven Halter
89. stevenhalter
trickNick@88:There is not much mention of the Sun, but there is some. Notably, Kvothe mentions that he thought that Auri meant sunny and there is mention of the Sun in Silent Regard.
90. Olive Foil
First time poster, but I think I've successfully read every single thread on this reread feed, even down to the playing card investigations!

I love the theories about D's injuries being related to some kind of training (especially if her patron is Bredon, since he seemed mysterious but so likeable). I also love the theories about her being more than human (like Jo, my initial impression of her was that she was inaccesible and unrealistic.)

But re-reading NotW, it seems very clear to me that D has profoundly human insecurities and is a victim of abuse from her patron and others before him. Her flinching at physical touch (like Kvothe's accidental touch when she's wearing his cloak,) the way she talks about her patron, her reaction to Kvothe reading her "lovely" braid and giving her a gift, (just like all the suitors using the same book) the Bechdel scene, and above all her statements while she's drugged about how he wouldn't hit her ... she just seems very wounded.

I feel like these traits made her more relatable and explained her inconsistent flirtations with and distance from Kvothe. I don't know if there is a sinister twist beyond that ... I also agree with past comments to the effect that Kvothe wouldn't speak so positively of her in his re-telling if she betrayed him.

That said, I like the idea that she is on a parallel (if opposite) path, like Kvothe, and has similar natural abilities to pick up magic / music / social skills. She is always fighting to stay independent.

I like her. I couldn't be bothered by her in NotW, but she grew on me exponentially throughout WMF, and now I'm bracing myself for tragedy in D3!
Cari O
91. Cari
I really like Denna as a character. Like others have said I do see her as a parallell to Kvothe, a counterpoint of sorts. I fnd it incredibly interesting that both share not only an uncanny musical (and acting) talent but also the same, rather unusual, research interests. I like the theory presented here that her path might align her with the Chandrian.

Part of Denna's mystique may be due to the way Kote is telling the story. To Kvothe, she will always be an enigma in the way only an impossible love can be. At least within the frame it is clear their love story ended badly, if not tragically. Denna{ s wandering nature was explained to me in a very satisfactory way when she talked to the young runaway girl and made it very clear there are no easy alternatives for women who wish to live independently to financially support themselves.

It is also worth considering that she is constantly wandering because she is looking for something. Part of it may be finding herself but perhaps she is motivated by a query of her own. She is very smart and seems interested in sympathy and runes. I wonder if she learned the Yllish knots by herself. Much like Kvothe, she is a fast learner too. Also, part of the reason she endures her patron{s treatment is because she wants to learn from him and something in those conversations implies this knowledge may go beyond music. I wonder if her patron has offered to teach her sympathy as well.
Most likely it is Bredon and he{s using her song as a way to get on the Chandrian{s good side.

While the lore in the story no doubt offers clues to better understand the plot, I don{t think it is intended to be taken literally. Denna is not the moon but a woman... I am sure there is more to her just like there is more to Kvothe. I was surprised to know Bast met her too. I wonder if she also found a way to the Fae?

In a way Denna{s elusiveness is akin to Kvothe{ s but he fails to recognize it. Sim and Wil pointed out that Kvothe was also remarkably hard to find and Denna would have a hard time looking for him. Denna herself confirmed this later on. Kvothe is always commenting on how Denna is aloof when it comes to her suitors and later on Fela explains that is why girls leave Kvothe: because he seems distant. Emotionally, they are both very similar too.
92. Grace A
I have been contemplating ML lately and have a kinda random theory about Denna...
1) What if, theoretically, when Natalie ran away with Arliden, Meluan came too, got pregnant like Natalie, but ran back home and had Denna.
2) if one is true, this could explain why K is so hesitant to be romantically related to D- they could be related
3) This would more fully justify Meluan's hatred of the ruh. She would be sad if her sister ran away, but not necessarily at what she ran away to. No?
93. Wonkyth
I don't buy that Denna is Yllish for a moment. I recall that she traveled to Yll after the events at Trebon, and the way she writes suggests she has never been there previously.
Donal P. O'Brien
94. doctorp
Denna can't be a daughter of Baron Jakis: recall that Kvothe saw her on Ambrose's arm in Imre in NW (can't recall exactly when) in a manner that was decidedly unbrotherly.
95. ARMed_Pirate
My first assumption when encountering Bredon is that he's actually the King of Vintas. It makes sense that the king might travel throughout his kingdom to visit other major courts. Physically checking on your immediate subordinates (like the Maer) is management 101.

My second thought was that he might be Baron Jakis (as others have mentioned above). Since we never find out his actual title, and he might be traveling a bit incognito, it's possible to hear separate rumors about him and Jakis at the same time, and possible that only a few folks at court (like the Maer, perhaps) know that he's the same person. He certainly is obsessed with strategy, and it seems like so is Baron Jakis. (There's implications that Baron Jakis is killing his way to the crown, possibly paying pirates to sink ships "in a storm.")

Aside: the parallels between Ambrose "poisoning" the other nobility (possible patrons) against Kvothe, Lanre/Haliax poisoning the other Chandrian, and the Maer being literally poisoned (possibly as Baron Jakis' attempt to knock the Maer out of the way) are interesting.
96. ARMed_Pirate
I'm not sure why you always found D so hard to understand, or so inhuman. Or rather, I'm not sure why you're surprised that she's hard to understand. Kvothe says repeatedly that he's never understood her himself, and that she's like no one he's ever met.

Isn't it possible that she feels so weird to you, so unlike a real person, because she's simply a very _singular_ person, unlike anyone any of us (or most of us) have ever met?

In trying to think of her as a real person, trying to imagine real people she reminds me of, it occurs to me that she actually reminds me of _most_ teenagers. (Maybe just most teenagers in the U.S.? I doubt it, though.) Most teens go through rapid changes in identity, trying to figure out who they are. Some settle more quickly than others. And most teens care a lot about how they are perceived and mold themselves to the people around them. (In fact, we all adjust our speech, mannerism, and thinking based on who we're with to some extent, but some more than others, and if we're smart we find ways to be around people we like.)

But Denna strikes me almost as an exaggeration of everything "high school" (or even "middle school"). Not so much like _my_ high school experience, which was surprisingly good; I had a lot of like-minded and exceptionally bright people to hang out with, who all had a good sense of who they were early on. But more like the stereotypical high school experience, where on person might date 6 others (or more) in 4 years, and adjust themselves to fit into 6 cliques along the way. And she does seem to be a teenager, physically.

I'm not sure if either of those two theories is helpful.

And Kvothe doesn't meet many teens in the story. Most of the university students are older.

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