Dec 22 2011 2:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: The Wise Man’s Fear, Part 16: Urging Toward the Truth

Welcome to my incredibly detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This week’s post covers chapters 81-85 of The Wise Man’s Fear but also contains extensive spoilers for the whole book and the whole of The Name of the Wind — 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. D3 = Day Three, the forthcoming final volume. K = Kvothe or Kote when I can’t figure out what to call him and I’m feeling Kafkaesque. MT: Myr Tariniel. D = Denna, 4C = Four Corners.

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

Chapter 81 is The Jealous Moon

“Even the jealous moon who steals the colour from all things” in Dedan’s story.

So, Kvothe is in the Eld bandit hunting, and we established last chapter a pattern of storytelling around the campfire with Marten’s story. Now they have a good dinner — in a quiet Tolkien allusion it is herbs and stewed rabbit — and Hespe tells a romantic love story of “a queen who loved a serving boy”.  Dedan doesn’t get into a romantic mood, he tells a story of Felurian. This is both setting us up for Felurian later, and right now giving us more of the Dedan/Hespe interaction. Now we already know a little about Felurian — not just from Kvothe’s boastful intro, but she has been mentioned from time to time. But this is the first time we have heard about her in detail.

Dedan’s story begins exactly the way people tell ghost stories — it happened near here, people may call them superstitious but they know better. What he actually says about Fae is:

Cloven hooved pucks that dance when the moon is full.

is it just me or does that sound like Bast?

Dark things with long fingers that sreal babes from cribs. Many’s the woman, old wife or new, who leaves out bread and milk at night. And many’s the man who builds his house with all the his doors in a row.

Now, baby-stealing and leaving out bread and milk are part of European superstitions about fairies. Building your house with all the doors in a row is completely new to me. Any thoughts on the significance?

Then Felurian:

Lady of Twilight. Lady of the First Quiet. Felurian who is death to men.

Twilight, we know is a physical location in Fae. But it also connects to Bast, who is son of the Prince of Twilight. And “first quiet” in the context of twilight, connects to the one-sock horse.

Tempi then interrupts to find out how she is death to men, and when he finds out she kills them with sex is horrified. Hespe mimes a man’s heart stopping in sex, and Dedan says sometimes they don’t die but go crazy. Tempi seems relieved by this. What was he thinking? (In the context of fairy mythology and death through sex, I was thinking about the vagina dentata Julian May gives the Firbolg. Ick.)

So, two men hunting hear singing in the light of the full moon. Dedan sings the song, and Kvothe doesn’t recognise the language of the words and finds the tune utterly unfamiliar.  Felurian’s “naked as the moon”. Kvothe notices that Hespe isn’t happy, but Dedan goes on with his description without noticing, until Hespe stalks off. Dedan stops and starts to go to bed angrily, but Kvothe begs for the end of the story. He hates not knowing the end of a story. He guesses it ends with one of the men never being seen again and the other prevented in leaving, and Dedan confirms “put his foot in a rabbit hole”.

Marten uses the metaphor of getting burned if he tried to intervene between Hespe and Dedan, and then says:

“Attractive as some things are, you have to weigh your risks. How badly do you want it, how badly are you willing to be burned?”

Of course this makes Kvothe think of D.


Chapter 82 is Barbarians

They move camp, and Kvothe does more Adem language with Tempi, despite being weirded out by the way mentioning singing upset him. Tempi’s Aturan improves as well. Then Tempi does his “slow dance”, the Ketan, and goes to bathe, and Kvothe makes simulacra out of the candles.

Tempi comes back naked and asks what a tick is, they don’t have them in Ademre. Kvothe is impressed with his scars — from the tree of course, but he doesn’t know that. He is also disconcerted by Tempi’s lack of body-modesty, but hides it. And when Tempi says he hates ticks and makes a gesture, Kvothe figures out that it is a gesture of disgust, and the intuituve leap that all Tempi’s “fidgeting” is how he does expressions. (This is so incredibly cool.)

Then we have the revelation that everyone is left handed:

Most lutenists chord with the left hand and strum with the right. The left hand is more nimble, as a rule.

Kvothe learns the language of gesture. He’s delighted because it’s something to learn, and it’s “a secret thing, of sorts”. Then he asks why, and Tempi says it’s more civilized. And he says everyone outside Ademre is a barbarian, with “No women to teach them civilization. Barbarians cannot learn.” This makes Kvothe more determined than ever to learn the gestural language. Tempi does the Ketan, and Kvothe copies him, but it’s very hard and exhausts him. They make dinner, Tempi cutting potatoes with his sword. Then Kvothe copies him through the Ketan again, and Tempi ignores him, which of course gives him a challenge.


Chapter 83 is Lack of Sight

Kvothe, missing Elodin’s method.

We’re immediately in another story, Marten telling one about Taborlin, in which we learn that he always keeps his word. It’s twelve days later, Kvothe is slowly learning Adem language and gestures. The Taborlin story is full of Taborlin using naming.

They talk about the cloak “of no particular color” and how they see it. Hespe sees it grey, Dedan like shimmery like oil on water, Tempi white, Marten blue (!) and Kvothe as patchwork, or too dark to be any one colour. Kvothe loves that cloak, of course, and it’s why he has been wearing cloaks his whole life.

And the story goes on, until it gets to a copper sword. Dedan queries that, and Marten abandons the story. Kvothe tells the story of the boy with the gold screw in his bellybutton. There’s a mention of “the witchwomen of the Tahl” across the Stormwal as one of the groups the kid visits, and also tinkers, with wise men and hermits.

To test this story, I told it to a mixed group of people who haven’t read the book. They all reacted with “Huh?” and none of them laughed. I urge you to do the same and report back. I laughed when I first read it.

The other thing worth noting about this story is that it is an oral story, with barely any concessions to the fact that it is written down.

And of course, he explains to Marten that his father told him it as a child to get some peace, and Marten thinks that was cruel. From this I deduce that Marten has no children. Kvothe explains that having unanswerable questions to think about is the best education, and then going to bed figures out that this is Elodin’s method and he’s been missing it. About time too.


Chapter 84 is The Edge of the Map

The inside edge, places nobody really goes. Brilliant concept.

They continue searching and backbiting. Kvothe is becoming friends with Tempi, and Dedan keeps pushing. Kvothe keeps on mimicing the Ketan and Tempi keeps ignoring it. Then the day after the loose screw story, Tempi corrects a movement where Kvothe kept stumbling. And Marten finds a plant “An’s blade” that dies if it comes near people. He talks about how wild the forest is, as different from most forests as a wolf from a dog. And Kvothe thinks of being sent there like a move on a Tak board.


Chapter 85 is Interlude: Fences

Another interlude, and again K senses the disturbance before the others and in time for them to break off safely. I think there might be something in this theory that the Waystone itself is affecting things.

The Bentley family come in, K gives them cider, refuses payment, they get Chronicler to write a will. Bast asks why they would do that when he knows Mary can write because she has written him letters — with the implication of love letters. K says to keep things formal, and private from the priest. Then Mary takes the little girl to the bathroom, leaving the baby with Bast, who has no idea what to do, and K entertains him with a rhyme. The last line is “Baby, give your daddy a hug” and K waits to see if the baby will hug Bast, who is offended and says that the baby is blonde. Is this magic?

After the family leaves, it becomes clear in conversation that K and Bast have been helping them out, giving them manufactured jobs to do. Then they talk about the extra tax levies, the “bleeders” taking the money of poor families. Chronicler said the nobles hate them too, and get just as squeezed by them, citing his father. Talking about the Bentleys not asking for help, K says he knows how they feel “I could never have asked a friend for money. I’d have starved first.” Then:

The innkeeper looked down at his hands on the table and seemed surprised that one was curled into a fist.

Which one, I wonder? His good left hand? Out of his control?

K says he understands the bandits better now he has the inn, because before now he never paid tax.

And we’ll stop there because the next chapter starts the story of the moon, and we don’t want to break that one up in the middle but discuss all of it next week.

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.

1. Lulfas
Most lutenists chord with the left hand and strum with the right. The left hand is more nimble, as a rule.

Most stringed instruments work that way. Righties strum with the right, lefties strum with the left.
George Brell
2. gbrell
Tempi then interrupts to find out how she is death to men, and when he finds out she kills them with sex is horrified. Hespe mimes a man’s heart stopping in sex, and Dedan says sometimes they don’t die but go crazy. Tempi seems relieved by this. What was he thinking?

I read this as an early allusion to Penthe's reaction to the idea of sexually-transmitted disease.

Then we have the revelation that everyone is left handed:

Most lutenists chord with the left hand and strum with the right. The left hand is more nimble, as a rule.

I second Lulfas. This is the traditional method of playing stringed instruments.
Jay Matteo
3. j4yx0r
I've brought this up before, but now we're in the proper place.
...Baby, give your daddy a hug.
We're meant to think that Kvothe is teasing Bast, but this could be a subtle clue indicating that they have a more familial relationship.
4. Robert Sparling
There's some weird Feng Shui belief that is opposite the "build your homes with doors in a row" thing. Apparently placing 3 or more doors in a row when building creates a poison arrow of chi, or something. I'm barely familiar with the idea. On a practical side, if you have all your doors in a row, it might be harder for a fae in the house to pick the child's room.
5. Thurule
1st - I so love the boy with the golden screw story, and I'm glad you're not the only one who wanted to gauge reactions to it. I told the story to my wife and she gave me the same reaction you got. A friend has told it to his children, and of course they thought it was hilarious.

Not sure what that says about us... :)

2nd - About putting your doors in a row - I took it to mean more of a front door to back door kind of thing. Almost like Fae could only walk in straight lines, so if they came in your house, they would only be able to walk straight through and out again, but if they hit a wall, would be able to wander your house. (or something...)
6. Jon D
Actually, I wonder what all your doors in a row actually means. Does it mean that all the doors are in a row like a hallway where all the doors are on the left? Or does it mean all the doors in a row where you can go in a straight line opening doors in front of you to get from the back of the house to the front?
S Cooper
7. SPC
The doors in a row thing is interesting - apparently doors in shotgun houses were sometimes deliberately misaligned to keep spirits from wandering through, and isn't there a Japanese garden thing about not having straight walkways for the same reason?
Rob Core
8. robtcore
Jo wrote (and quoted):
Then Felurian:
Lady of Twilight. Lady of the First Quiet. Felurian who is death to men.
Twilight, we know is a physical location in Fae. But it also connects to Bast, who is son of the Prince of Twilight. And “first quiet” in the context of twilight, connects to the one-sock horse.
The "Lady of the First Quiet" made me think of the very start of the prologue:
. . . it was a silence of three parts.The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have ?lled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamour one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music . . . but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.
We have established how careful Rothfuss is with his words. What jumps out at me in this is the description of the first silence as being "made by things that were lacking." Which leads to the Lackless family.

Is there a connection between the family and Felurian? There has been much speculation about a Lackless/Fae connection, but could it be even more specific?

I don't have a conclusion, but I hope someone else can take this and find something in it.

Once again to all of you: Thank you for making my Thursdays at work bearable!
9. tim1724
I laughed out loud when I read the screw story. Funniest thing ever.

As others have pointed out, it's normal for right-handed people to strum with the right hand and do the fingering with the left.

I figured the "doors in a row" thing meant having all the doors in the house line up in a straight line, from front door to back door, so that unwanted Fae would pass through without stopping. (The opposite logic of some cultures here on Earth, as pointed out by others. Deliberate misalignment is common across many cultures, as a way of preventing spirits from entering a home.)

As for Bast being the Prince of Twilight and Felurian being the Lady of Twilight, I think it's possible that Bast is the son of Kvothe and Felurian. Time flows differently in the Fae world.

Perhaps Kvothe isn't sure about Bast's parentage and is testing Bast with the song, not the baby.
10. Thurule
@8. robtcore

I like what you're getting at, but you actually led me in a different direction. We've always been assuming it was Denna that took K's music because he made a promise to her, but what if it was Felurian? He used his music to escape her, and maybe he doesn't exactly return to her as promised, so she took his music away from him?
Alice Arneson
11. Wetlandernw
@several, re: Most lutenists chord with the left hand and strum with the right. The left hand is more nimble, as a rule.

While I agree that most of our stringed instruments are played (by a right-handed person) using the left hand to chord, that doesn't mean the left is more nimble. If you want to do anything more than a strummed accompaniment, your right hand has to pick out either an interesting accompaniment or a melody line with accompaniment.

I would argue that while the first sentence is true, it most definitely does NOT prove the second. In fact, for anyone who goes beyond beginning levels in an instrument like lute, guitar or banjo, the left hand has the relatively simple job of placing and holding a limited set of chords, while the right hand does the really nimble work. (If you get really good, though, the difference in dexterity between the two hands is negligible.)
12. jmd
Didn't really have much to contribute here, but I wanted to say Hello and Happy Holidays to all the denizens of the University. It's funny that we seem to have a sacrifice with the wheel and bloody oaths, but no Christ-like figure here..

I didn't really like the screw story, it really kind of took me out of the narrative and it didn't make me laugh. I liked the tick scene, saw waaayy too many of those this year in the office.

And of course, a huge thank you for the re-read and everyone's thoughts.
Jo Walton
13. bluejo
OK, I didn't know that about instruments. But "Right hand strong and left hand clever" just strikes me as the wrong way around for normal people. (I'm ambidextrous and have trouble telling left from right.)
Andrew Mason
14. AnotherAndrew
I'm fairly sure that the 'screw in bellybutton' story is not original with Rothfuss, but exists as an urban legend in the real world. Of course, the way it is adapted here is significant, as telling us about various peoples - especially the Tahl, who here turn up for a second time. We are clearly meant to watch out for them.

Do we ever get to hear a whole story about Taborlin?

Merry Midwinter, everyone!
15. kelly1767
One thing I saw demonstrated with the Golden Screw story is the cultural differences in humor. Tempi thinks the story is hilarious while the others in the group don't get the point. It reminds me of how many Americans who watch British comedy for the first time don't see why it's funny.

On another subject, I am curious just how many times K swears by his hand and what he swears to. He swears by his hand not to reveal any information about the Lackless box and not to look for Denna's patron. Both of these promises seem likely to be broken.
Alice Arneson
16. Wetlandernw
Jo @13 - I'm with you. That doesn't make any sense to me either, and I'm definitely right-handed. Right is both stronger and cleverer than left, I think. Partly the cleverness is a matter of training; obviously for typing, both hands are equal in dexterity. For playing piano or harp, both hands require dexterity but the majority of the tricky fingering tends to be in the higher notes - the right hand. For writing, my left hand is nearly illegible at any speed, and for sports I'm a rightie all the way. As for strength, while there's not a great difference, my right hand is definitely the stronger. Huh. Sounds like an urban legend! :)
Don Barkauskas
17. bad_platypus
Re: Stringed instruments

OTOH, for bowed instruments (violin, etc.), it is close to (if not completely) universal that the fingering is done left-handed and the bow is in the right hand, regardless of the handedness of the player. (There's no reason I'm aware of that someone couldn't reverse the strings, chinrest (for violins and violas), and bridge and play the other way. I just have never seen it.)
Alf Bishai
18. greyhood
One of my music students is a left-handed violinist. I recently asked her if this was an advantage or disadvantage. She smiled wickedly and said 'advantage'.

On the Golden Screw. I heard a version of this as a kid (thirty years ago). Instead of a boy it was a trapeze artist that always had a belly-button jewel. A kid pulled it out and you know the rest. A dozen years later I read Thomas Pynchon's V and was confronted with the Golden Screw story almost as it appears in Rothfuss. The variant: there was a tree with a golden balloon (IIRC) and in the balloon was the screwdriver. So when I read it in WMF I assumed that it was a writer ritual; everyone takes a swing at the story but gives it their own telling. I would say that appropriating this ritual (if that's what it is) is to add depth to the Storytelling theme in the KC, except that this is a reflexive, extra-textual affair, calling attention to the craft (our world) and away from the created world. A little post-modern for Rothfuss.

In fact this was extremely jarring to me when I read it. 'Foul' (as in foul ball) came to mind. It felt like K referenced the Watergate coverup or something like that.
19. Speculations

Nicely articulated.

I had the same reactions to the screw story. (And also surprise that most other readers here didn't hear that in childhood. )

You've now sent me off on a tangent, imagining Rothfuss telling the tale of Byron the light bulb in his world...
Alf Bishai
20. greyhood
Incidentally, the Golden Screw is my kind of humor.
Julia Mason
21. DrFood
I'm glad I'm working on a Thursday so I can participate. Of course, it's weeks (months?) later and I'm still obsessed with K's hands. Well, his left hand in particular.

I think that the comment about the left hand being more nimble is part of the continuing setup for trouble with K's left hand. His "good left hand." When he looks down and seems surprised that his hand has clenched into a fist, I don't think it's because he's lost control. I think it's because he's lost his sense of proprioception, that thing that lets you know where your various body parts are (and in what configuration) without looking at them.

To move away from my obsession, I'm fascinated that there are multiple versions of the golden screw story. I'm off to look for some--does anybody know of any that have made it to the web?
22. Deprived
With regard to the relationship between Bast and Kvothe:

"Chronicler, I would like you to meet Bastas, son of Remmen, Prince of Twilight and the Telwyth Mael." - The Name of the Wind (Mass Market Paperback) 103

Unless one of Kvothe's myriad names is Remmen, its safe to say he isnt Bast's father by Felurian. That doesnt mean that Felurian can't be Bast's mother, but i find it very unlikely that he is a relation of Kvothe.
Ryan Reich
23. ryanreich
My girlfriend told me the screw story years ago, though I'd forgotten when I read the book and laughed aloud when I saw the end.

I have tried a lot of instruments and none of my teachers had any particular sympathy for my being left-handed; I was always instructed to hold it as a rightie would. Violin in particular. Since the strings are tuned in a particular order, it may be uncomfortable to play standard music with the neck reversed, though I wouldn't know since the only one I'm good at is piano. I must say there that I don't feel an agility deficit in my off hand, which does all the tricky fingering. The only other context I remember being taught anything about strong/clever hands was in kendo (Japanese "fencing"), where you hold the long swords with your right hand at the hilt (for direction) and the left hand at the pommel (for striking force). It's true that I can't actually form letters at all with my right hand, but then, I couldn't with my left hand either when I was four. I like the left-handed theory, though, because it's consistent with Rothfuss's puns and fake etymology, where he invents in-world reasons that support real-world facts.

The one option that no one mentions with regard to the cloak is that it changes color. That makes it almost a meta-detail, a concession to the fluidity of this kind of factoid in retellings of the same story. Also, of course, it is a bit similar to the idea of the shaed, though it's not the color of that that changes. It seems to me that Taborlin is not a real person but a synthesis or idealization; that's why the Fae don't have stories about him, because he's not their ideal (for example, fighting the Chandrian). Does anyone remember any other story where a character is said to have a cloak of any kind at all?

I love the inside edges idea too. Though in this case it's not entirely a metaphor but a direct observation of the truth that Fae touches the real world at places like these, so that the map really does end there. Also may be a clue that references to national borders are unreliable; c.f. Yll and the Lackless family lands.
24. amphibian
I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a hobby. It's akin to wrestling, but with chokes, joint locks and judo-style uniforms thrown in.

Within most grappling sports like BJJ, many people have a preferred side that they like to move towards. For most right handed people, they like to move to their right, in order to employ their strongest side to jam and push, while simultaneously attacking the left side of their opponents, which will generally be weaker.

I am ass-backwards and go to the left side, even though I am right handed. I am not sure if this yields results as in most people being used to fending off attacks on their left side, but it does lead to my right hand being freer from jamming and pushing.

On a related note, my BJJ and bit of Muay Thai experience have me groaning and rolling my eyes at the Ketan and other concepts that essentially have no place in a sparring, actual fighting-based martial arts.

In this, I wish Rothfuss was more like Jim Butcher, who now does BJJ and other grappling related stuff. But if wishes were fishes...
Julia Mason
25. DrFood
Found it:
(use control-F or similar and search for "screw" to find the tale)

Wow. That really is very much the same. It's a boy with a golden screw in his navel, and he goes all over to be rid of it, and finally a Haitian voodoo doctor tells him how. It's a screwdriver found in a red balloon, with a yellow handle rather than being gold. The ending, at least the last words, is exactly the same: "his ass fell off."
26. Stefan Jones
Thanks to various for unearthing the golden screw variants. I knew I'd heard that story before . . .

Jo's reading is getting close to the Felurian episode, which just didn't do anything for me. Fae stuff in general doesn't do anything for me, but here it was mixed with Kvothian boasting. I look forward to the analysis; maybe I missed something.
27. thesissy
I laughed out loud when I read the golden screw-story - I had it told by one of my music students more than 10 years ago, but I never realized it was a "wandering story", so I was delighted when I saw it in Rothfuss' edition! I'm Danish, so the story is indeed travelling all over the world.

Merry Midwinter, everyone!
28. dreameister
@ amphibian Well, the concept of Ketan is taken straight out of Tai Chi Chuan, which IIRC Patrick Rothfuss used to train. Most of the names he uses for techniques are reminiscent of TCC as well which has “Grasp the Brids Tail”, “Fair Lady at the Shutter”, “Tiger Shoots to the right/left” etc.

Now, while Tai Chi Chuan didn’t travel very well to the West (mostly know there for its meditative/health “benefits”) and its push hands competitions are as effective in a real fight as Kendo or Olympic fencing techniques in a real swordfight (meaning very limited), I can vouch that Tai Chi Chuan can be a formidable self defense system when properly thought and applied.

Also, thanks to everybody who frequents here, I’ve only recently started following this reread and it’s been very enlightening.
Beth Meacham
29. bam
"Chronicler, I would like you to meet Bastas, son of Remmen, Prince of Twilight and the Telwyth Mael." - The Name of the Wind (Mass Market Paperback) 103

Remmen could equally well be Bastas' mother.

I've never thought that Bastas was K.'s child. But he is K's apprentice, in a weird and unwilling way. Why would a Prince of Twilight and the Mael want to learn Sympathy and Alchemy? Could he even do so? It's one of the puzzles in plain sight of the books.
Katy Maziarz
30. ArtfulMagpie
"Chronicler, I would like you to meet Bastas, son of Remmen, Prince of Twilight and the Telwyth Mael." - The Name of the Wind (Mass Market Paperback) 103

Or the son of Remmen part could be a lie. Something put around to cover the fact that his father is a mere human, perhaps?
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
I laughed at the golden screw. I had no idea it was a variant of a "well known" tale. Thanks all for pointing that out. I wonder what it means that a folk tale from here exists there?
32. mr. awesome
@30 Or we could not manufacture conspiracies in order to support a flawed theory?

There's no real evidence to support the idea that K is Bast's father.

This is a list of your "evidence" as I understand it:
1. K mentions babies and daddies when he and Bast are in the presence of a baby. There's obviously nothing unusual going on here, it seems normal to talk about babies when you're in the presence of babies, it seems especially likely given Bast's womanizing.
2. Bast loves K. The idea that love and loyalty between two individuals necessitates family is obviously flawed. We're given a translation of Reshi at some point that likens it to master, and the teaching lessons K gives to Bast further boost this interpretation. It's possible that love suggests family ties, but love certainly isn't sufficient to do anything remotely close to proving their existence.

This is a list of the opposing evidence:
1. A direct textual contradiction "Bastas, son of Remmen".
2. Bast and K are roughly the same age.
3. The secret paternal reveal is an overused fantasy trope, and it doesn't
seem like PR's style at all. He seems to spend most of his time
destroying those tropes, not reinforcing them.

Now, it's probably possible to explain away all of my objections, through the crafting of secret conspiracies and time travel manipulations and a rearticulation of PR's fantasy habits. But those conditions seem extremely unlikely. I thus suggest that you either stop with the frequent references to your unsupported theory, or go find some better evidence.

This also probably sounds more hostile than I intend it to be. I find it difficult to refute arguments persuasively without using strong rhetoric, and that can sometimes lend itself to the perception that I'm angry. I'm not. I've got nothing against you personally, and the only objection I have to your theory is that it's most probably false.
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
Not buying the Bast-as-K- Son theory. Not ridiculous but unlikely.

I still, in the back of my mind, have the Bast pulled Denna into Fae, corrupted her, and got her kicked out of her home theory floating around somewhere. So when the K v. D poop goes down in D3, it will turn out that Bast will feel partially responsible and latches onto K.

One way or another, Bast's tendency to womanize (and womenize) has to be a material fact for plot development/resolution. Too prominent of a Checkov's gun not to be "fired" (LOL intended).

34. Elizabeth K
I think I laughed harder at the screw story than I did at any other part of either of the two books.

I actually heard a different version of that story a long time ago, except it was supposed to be scary, not funny. A girl wears a scarf around her neck her whole life, and finally when her husband gets too curious, he unties it. And her head falls off.

Also, I loved Rothfuss telling us what color all the different characters imagined Taborlin's cloak to be (I imagined it to be grey, like Hespe did). It's a great illustration of how the same story means different things to different people. Everyone in Rothfuss's universe has heard the same stories Kvothe has, but he's the only one trying to actually find out about the Chandrian and become like Taborlin.
35. mr. awesome
I imagined the cloak of no particular color as a cloak that's extremely stained with lots of different colors, with a predominantly gray (not grey, I legitimately see think of those as too different colors, grey is more white in my mind) background, but with mainly tinges of green, tannish-brown, and blue. Saying that it's a predominantly gray background is misleading though, because while it's more gray than any other specific color, it's more nongray than it is gray.

I know this level of detail seems ridiculous, but it's actually what popped into my head immediately when Rothfuss mentioned the cloak of no paticular color. That's very interesting to me.
Nathan Love
36. n8love
I've got nothing against you personally, and the only objection I have to your theory is that it's most probably false.

If Tor had signatures like a lot of forums, this would be mine. Not suggesting anything, but this made my evening.

On that note, thanks for softening the end of that a bit. I don't think K is Bast's father either, but point 1 is not a direct textual cotradiction if Remmen is Bast's mother (I don't think we know whether Fae lineage is Patriarchal or Matriarchal) or if K is known in Fae as Remmen (so far only Felurian and the Cthaeh have met him there). You must concede that neither have been ruled out. Oh, and time differential is established. I'm not itching to shoot you down or anything, but we should be willing to step over our little lines in the sand here; PR likes to surprise all of us, even when we expect him to buck certain trends.
Jay Matteo
37. j4yx0r
Happy holidays, everyone!

I wanted to share the wonderful, Kingkiller inspired card my girlfriend made for me today. I love it!
Claire de Trafford
38. Booksnhorses
I saw the cloak as made up of many colours and patch-work, but I'm not sure how influenced by the warders' cloaks in WOT that reaction was. Wonder how I would have visualised them if I hadn't read that?

Happy Xmas folks.
39. spirit theif
First off, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

On Bastas as a son of Kvothe,
I am sure that somewhere in an interlude Bast says that he is over a hundred years old. So he probably isn't K's son, unless Fae time is dramatically different (which we don't know). Also, Fae and Human are as different as alcohol and water. I doubt they could procreate together.

On Illien,
Just reread part of Fae. Felurian has not heard of Taborlin, but she knows Illien, one of the Ruh. Have we speculated on the origin of the Ruh? One family of travellers that is despised by the majority of the population. Why? Why the hatred and degradation if Illien was great and everyone likes the Ruh performances? I think that they could be part of why the Lacklesses split. It would be the ultimate betrayal for Netalia to run off with a traitor.
Julia Mason
40. DrFood
I hope that we get a lot more information about the history of the Edema Ruh in the third book. At first, it seems like the Ruh are looked down upon because they are landless, but as you get further into the story there are hints of something much more serious. There's the usual anti-Gypsy type prejudice but then there's even more than that.

As an aside, I grew up in the midwest but did my pediatric residency in Los Angeles, where I was surprised to find out that Gypsies still exist.
They apparently do a lot of driveway resurfacing (with asphalt). When I lived in London there were Gypsies there as well, looking very down at the heels and living in worn out camper trailers. When I was a girl if my mother was unhappy with my level of grooming (meaning I had wild tangled hair) she'd tell me about her own mother chastising her for looking like a gypsy child.
andrew smith
41. sillyslovene
My grandfather told me the golden screw story when I was really young, and I can recall hearing it a number of different times around some different campfires. For that reason, the telling of it here did resonate for me a little bit- it is right up my proverbial humor alley also. But for the same reasons it felt a little too contrived/out there (read: "foul" ala Greyhood @18).

As for the great Bast Controversy- I'm on the "it's way too improbable that he is K's son" side. Though the relationship between K and him is kind of weird and not fully defined as of yet, and does leave some room for ambiguity (as does most of the info we have on him- thus the wild theories of how he fits in with K, etc). His name really hints at 'bastard' sometimes when I read it, and given the word plays of PR, I can't get past it... All in all, I am interested to see D3 for the rest of the story.
Alf Bishai
42. greyhood
On Bast...

Is there some textual prompt I am unaware of that he is K.'s son? It seems to me that it's a better story - better writing - if he is NOT his son. If he is NOT, then that points to K. having been truly formidable - gaining even Fae disciples (!) - and thus truly to have fallen/shrunk. If Bast IS his son, then the bond is simply familial, and little more needs to be said; K. changed a bit, Bast prefers the old dad.


Everything points to K. having risen to some height of intrinsic power and then to have transgressed or been manipulated through betrayal into causing disaster.

Paternal relationship is unnecessary. Teccam's Razor applies.
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
greyhood @42 - One funny thing I've noticed on this reread series: there's an astonishing tendency for an idea to transmute itself from looney theory to firm conviction with little or no textual evidence. It starts out as a crazy notion that, if true, might answer some questions about a particular scenario, but it catches the imagination of certain readers, and suddenly you find it being treated as proven fact - or at least as highly probable surmise.

IMO, the idea of Bast being Kvothe's son falls into this category. It was first suggested back in April, and promptly dismissed due to textual evidence. Since then, it has reappeared from time to time, and each time it takes on a slightly greater air of respectability - due to familiarity more than actual supporting evidence.

mr awesome @32 got one of the "opposing evidence" items way off, and the textual evidence is actually far stronger. Bast and K, rather than being "roughly the same age" are in fact far from it. For the relationship to work, you must believe that time in Fae runs so much differently than time in the Four Corners that Bast could somehow be a hundred years older than his father. Alternatively, once could choose to believe that everything we've been told about Bast's age and parentage is a direct lie, but that seems a little far-fetched to me.
Philbert de Zwart
44. philbert
When I grew up, it was quite a common joke to kid with children that if you unscrew your belly button, your ass falls off. I told my own 5 yearold now, and while he understands that it isn't true, the little engineer in him finds it fascinating.

So when I read this story, I immediately connected it to ass-falling, giving away the punchline.
Still, I do find it hilarious that it has such a longwinded buildup and then Bam!, his ass fell off, end of story. No further explanation.
(Also, it is kind of pretty that 'ass', 'fell' and 'off' all end with double consonants, but that may just be me)
Nathan Love
45. n8love
@43 Wetlandernw
I agree, but I think one of the best things about the reread is that we don't have to fear ridicule. All of the regulars have strongly disagreed with someone at one time or another, but for the most part tensions don't linger past a few posts. Also, if K and Felurian had a child it would be Taborlin and he would go back in time, each time hoping that his next leap would be the leap home.
46. Trollfot
As a non-native English speaker (with a "minor" in linguistics), I find the belly button story interesting because it (imo) doesn't work as well in languages where the button is simply called (for example) navel. The idea of the navel as a button implies it can be turned and unscrewed, while a "navel" is stuck. The first times I read the story, I simply translated "belly button" to "navel" in my head which made the whole thing more nonsensical than it already is.

While I do love the book and Pats way of storytelling, I can't help but notice small things which make the book rely heavily on the English language - not a problem normally, but in this case is does make me believe a little less in the existance of the Four Corners. It feels like Four Corners is located somewhere in the US. (Where else do people mention testicles when talking about courageus people?) I'd be interested to hear what other non-English people think.
47. Mism
This is off topic, and I'm sorry if anyone has posted this yet, but has anyone noticed that Haliax ends halIAX? As in, Hal-Iax? I wonder if that is relevant? Also, Lanre only becomes Hal-Iax after his contact with the Cthaeh... It seems to suggest a connection between the name/term Iax and the Cthaeh.

Alternatively, since it is Selitos's curse that turns Lanre into Haliax, and the curse results in his being shrouded in shadow... could this imply a connection between darkness/shadow and Iax, and what would that mean for the Creation war story?

That also gets me thinking about the name "Alaxel". It is suggested to be either the Adem word for Haliax, or Haliax's true name, which is puzzling, as I thought Lanre had been stripped of his name.
48. Mism
Sorry -I take back the bit about Lanre being Haliax after Selitos's curse. He says "I am Haliax and no door can bar my passing" before he is cursed. This means he becomes Hal-iax after talking to the cthaeh.

But now that I read that part again, it really puzzles me. From what I've read here the general interpretation of that line is that Lanre cannot pass through any of the four doors, or that none of them can trap him. But it would seem to imply to me that he can move between the four doors freely. None of them can stop him entering and leaving whenever he will. I don't know what this means, Perhaps that is how he transports the Chandrian away? No idea.

But another thing that has been bugging me:
The Chandrian's appearances seem on the surface to be linked to when people discover their true names. Merely talking about Lanre, or haliax isn't enough, or kvothe and skarpi and Denna would be dead.

I propose this: The Chandrian appear whenever people discover their individual signs. Arliden was trying to figure out what their signs were and whether they belonged to all Seven, or to individuals among the seven. The Vase depicted the Seven, each with their signs. The Adem verse gives their names - but also their signs. Maybe we are not paying enough attention to the signs.

And lastly, scratch the bit about Lanre being stripped of his name. I looked it up, and I am curious about what is meant by "Your own name will be turned against you, that you shall have no peace."
It suggests to me that Haliax can't have peace because of his true name. Perhaps he is cursed to live until the last person who knows his name is dead? And that is the motive of the Chandrian?

Another theory for "No door can bar my passing": Perhaps this is a bit like "no man of woman born" (macbeth) or "No man can kill me"(the witch king in LOTR). Perhaps by "No door" he means the lockless door, or the four plate door? These are both referred to as "doors" despite having no obvious handle, lock, or hinges. So maybe the lockless door or the four plate door CAN bar his passing, as they are not technically doors at all. This could be another link to the Iax / Hal-Iax
Hello There
49. praxisproces
Worth noting; the issue of copper returns here and its as-yet unclear but certainly exceptional nature.

Also, I've always assumed that Taborlin's cloak was itself a shaed, and it gained its quaint and resonant name in folklore because later retellers had noidea how to describe the mystery of the Fae craftsmanship. I think this is likely if only due to PR's general parsimony, given that we hear about exactly two magical cloaks in the saga so far and they seem to have similar characteristics; it seems reasonable they're actually the same thing. Which also resurrects the curious ongoing convergence between Taborlin and Kvothe. Which in part is why I wonder if Taborlin isn't either a) a Lackless or b) Kvothe himself, remembered somehow backwards. Like in Childhood's End.

The hand issue is of course increasingly intriguing and mysterious. I think its worth though wondering why Kvothe was making a fist at all. He has just said something about his inability to ask for money and his willingness to starve, and that provoke him to anger. Why? Anyone have any ideas?

With respect to the metachatter going on in the comments, I think one of the best things about the reread is the extent to which it increasingly has turned into a practical meditation on exactly the issues with which PR and the saga are obsessed: storytelling, received wisdom, the muddledness of the past, the transforming effect of something being told. It's great.
Alice Arneson
50. Wetlandernw
ConnorSullivan @49 - I agree re: Taborlin's cloak. I had assumed from the first description that it was somehow "magical" and when we got the making of Kvothe's shaed, it seemed logical that they were of a kind. Not sure about the Kvothe = Taborlin, but with the way this is going, such a thing seems at least possible.

Last paragraph: Hear, hear!! I agree with that, too. :)
Hello There
51. praxisproces
Thanks Wetlander. Unrelated: I really love how authentic and carefully observed Kvothe's experience of poverty is. Of course this is one of the triumphs of the saga, this naturalism in culture and civics and economics. But the line there about Kvothe understanding the bandits better because now he feels the burden of taxes is particularly heartfelt, I think (of course its worth noting, though Jo disapproves of extratextual stuff, that PR bought a house for the first time between NOTW and WMF!): it makes us feel Kvothe's normalcy very keenly. He's a taxpayer! Kvothe the Arcane!

The broader implications are clever and significant though, perhaps. Kote, now, is a background character, the flow of the drama has moved past him and left him becalmed in its wake. This isn't an example of the standard wizard-in-hiding trope. He's really, sincerely, authentically just a normal person now. Living in the middle of Nowhere. How better to indicate that than by having him moan about the Vintas IRS? These are not problems the Fellowship faces.

So I'm starting to worry about the possibility of eucatastrophe. Maybe his nobody-ness is really the best case, and the conclusion will be that he can't reclaim his powers without risking a larger loss. Kvothe is already dead! Not just in hiding. And he can't come back to life. If Chronicler just rides away at the end of Day 3 and Kote stays behind waiting to die, I'll be a sad reader, though that may be the only move that will let the game be beautiful.
Nathan Love
52. n8love
@ ConnorSullivan
I'm not familiar with Childhood's End. Please enlighten me. For K and Taborlin to be the same person it seems that either time travel or reincarnation must exist, and, other than the time differential between Fae and 4C's, neither seems to have come up. If the former, K could also be from the future (relative to the frame), which would smooth out any confusion about Mating Habits and Chronicler's age and presence at the U. My inner scifi geek just usurped my fantasy geek and I'm sure none of this has anything to do with what you meant; please, I need some logic and textual foundation before he runs amok.
Kevin Stafford
53. Kevinaught
The way in which PR impresses me the most is how all the themes and meta-themes interweave. My favorite (at the moment; I rotate :) is how the Creation War has gone Cold, and is now something more like a Story War. Every side (and really, we may be looking at some kind of crazy polyhedron at this point) seems to be expending a tremendous amount of effort trying to control the Story, or the spin. The Doors of Stone (the opening of which, for my money, is the cataclysmically stupid thing that our curious Kvothe did) seem to function like the Berlin Wall or mutually-assured destruction in this analogy, keeping the Creation War in a stasis of sorts. I say 'of sorts', because it looks to me like it's being waged with great intensity, just spread out over centuries, and taking the form of a reverse-engineered approach to the, "History is written by the victors," concept (each side, in 'winning' the story, wins the war).

You've got mythical and magical forces wielding contesting stories, you've got many of the characters trying to force their own stories onto the world they live in (sometimes to make sense of it, other times to dominate it), you've got PR waging something of a fantasy-trope-war :), and you've got all of us lobbing theories and analysis at each other that, for me, is like an immensely entertaining water-balloon fight. :) And all of these contests just keep adding layer after layer of intrigue and complexity (within the Four Corners) and enjoyment (for us). As much as I NEVER thought I'd say something like this after all the interminable waits between WoT books I withstood, I'm actually grateful that we'll be waiting for so long to read D3. Within the gaps, there is so much fun to be had! :)

P.S. - Months late, but thanks for the promotion to E'lir! :) I deeply enjoy these rereads, but often get so far behind in the comments that, by the time I'm caught up and have something to say, it's already the following Tuesday or Wednesday. So, belatedly, thank you! :)
Alice Arneson
54. Wetlandernw
I so much want a "Like" button for the comments!! I'd hit it for @53. :)
Hello There
55. praxisproces
Yeah, wonderful stuff there @53 Geminaut. The story's ultimately about stories!

@52 n8love, the time travel proposal was more whimsical than sincere, I don't think that's in the offing. Childhood's End is a wonderful Clarke novel whose denoument turns on a sort of psychic trauma which causes ancient humans to "remember" details about a future cataclysm and preserve those memories in myth, folklore and superstition. I think that such an outcome is also unlikey, but its at least a little more plausible given the structure and obsessions of the saga.
George Brell
56. gbrell

I say 'of sorts', because it looks to me like it's being waged with great intensity, just spread out over centuries, and taking the form of a reverse-engineered approach to the, "History is written by the victors," concept (each side, in 'winning' the story, wins the war).

And this is the corollary to Bast's comments about masks to Chronicler at the end of NotW. Great thoughts, Geminaut.
57. Thurule
@49. ConnorSullivan and @50. Wetlandernw

Relating Taborlin's cloak to Kvothe's shaed seems one of those things that are so obvious once they're brought up! And just to throw this out there - we only know of one person that can make a shaed - Felurian. We also know that Felurian doesn't know anyone by the name of Taborlin, but she does know Illien. Essentially, Taborlin + Illien = Kvothe, right? Is it conceivable that Taborlin is just a name that Illien picked up after spending some personal time with Felurian? Is there something in the text that directly contradicts the possibility that Taborlin is Illien?

I have no idea what this would mean to the story, it just seemed fascinating. :)
58. mr. awesome
@48 "I am Haliax and no door can bar my passing"

I always read that in the context of the four doors of the mind which stop pain, but it's interesting to apply it to the DOS. While we know that Haliax isn't behind those doors (because he's running amok), I wonder why Haliax would have the power to escape from any situation.

Additionally, the word "passing" has interesting implications related to both death and travel.
59. wickedkinetic
Echo the musician-handedness - for stringed instruments (particularly guitars) the coordination of using both hands and doing interesting things with the left while leaving the right on automatic (strumming or picking) seems to be the way of things. Only in the case of 'masters' (folk finger-pickers, flamenco-ists, classical guitarists, and metal-gods) are difficult and interesting things done with the right hand (imo). PR's take on this as a professed non-musician is interesting but as mentioned above - not altogether accurate at least in the world of music. In construction perhaps your clever hand holds the nail and your strong/dumb hand swings the hammer - anyway

As far as 'managing their stories' - I'm wondering if all the layers of stories in the KC and D's reference to 'word-magic making things true' aren't huge hints at the importance of popular opinion and legend. Maybe your power is derivative of how many people believe in it, perhaps the stories and songs are self-fulfilling prophecies that impact their subjects? K definitely creates himself as a legend both by making up stories and by actually living through a few. If D's songs became the accepted version of things could it in fact redeem or impact the power and influence of the Amyr of the 7.

I also think the Bast/K teasing indicates only K's awareness of Bast philandering and not any real relationship between them and only the possibility of him fathering some fae-demons among these innocent townfolk (but not if they're blond?)

and I'm definitely in the 'singers/healers are of huge importance to D3' camp. I'm betting his first stop in D3 is to go apprentice to them in some way similar to his time in Ademre. perhaps some of D's dirty secrets involve abandoning her important position among the magic-singer-tribes over the mountains...... would explain her unnaturally brilliant talent as a musician.
kineta chien
60. kineta
mr awesome @32 said "The secret paternal reveal is an overused fantasy trope, and it doesn't seem like PR's style at all."

THANKS for saying that!

Add to that the cliche of the love interest turning out to be a 'princess'. Every time I read those speculations it makes me groan.
61. AlferdPacker
I know that this is incredibly late to the party, but...

Bast denying paternity based on hair color further contradicts the Adem notion of childbirth.

It implies that Fae and humans can intermingle, and the father's genetics matter. Given that Fae and humans are like "alcohol and water" and can interbreed, I doubt that the Adem are so drastically different as to have different rules for procreation.
62. Redgrl
Ik I don't think that Bast is Kvothe's son, but according to irish folklore fae can't have kids very well and steal human children and crossbreed. What if the Lackless family mix breed with fae to receive favors. That might explain things about kvothe, such as his changing eye color
63. jorgybear
The description of Felurian, “the First Quiet” also reminded me of the silence of three parts. “A hollow (or vast in the case of the start of WMF), echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking.” Also reminded me of the Lackless family, and my earlier comment that the lackless recurring misfortune reminded me of Iax/Jax.
On the right/left handed thing, it’s explicitly stated that the right hand is strong (the left being clever). In Piano music, the left hand is often given much more to do than the right.
Kate Hunter
64. KateH
Did Marten's story of Taborlin catch anyone else's attention? A few things about it caught mine. First was the name of the king/wizard, Scyphus, which again echoes other names; in this case Sceop and Skarpi. But I can't see any real connection between Scyphus and the others. Maybe PR just has an affinity towards certain phoneme combinations, and that's why we have so many names echoing so many others. Moving on.

Second, there was the chest that Scyphus locks Taborlin's gear in. To me this is an obvious echo of K's "thrice-locked" box. I think K has stashed multiple physical items in his box, but that's not the relevant point here. If we compare Taborlin's story to K & Bast trying to open the chest, there are similarities and differences. They both use the word "edro." Taborlin ultimately succeeds where K & Bast fail. Taborlin first finds the chest locked and is unable to open it, just like K & Bast. But Taborlin is angry when he gives the command to open, whereas Bast is calm. In fact, K is almost unnaturally calm most of the time in the frame. Several times we see momentary flickers of emotion from K in frame which subside so quickly that observers question their own perceptions.

Strong emotional states have been linked many times in the books to performing magic. It happens when K first calls the wind and then calls it again to save D, when he breaks the bottle of wine in frame, when he finds his lute under the Adem's blade tree, when he uses Felurian's true name. Lyra is also in a paroxysm of grief when she recalls Lanre from the dead. Conversely, lack of strong emotion is linked to failure of magic. K fails at sympathy when the skindancer shows up, and his calm emotional state is mentioned just prior to that failure.

I'm not going to speculate on whether K has done something to his own emotions. I'm not especially persuaded by the ideas of K locking away his name, or his powers, or his emotions. A general sense of cut flower fatalism might explain his limited range of emotion. But I do think it will take some strong emotion on K's part to open that chest. We know it has two keys, and we know K has those keys. He tries them on the chest in private, fails, and merely sighs. The third key must be some sort of acute emotional state.
Laura Taylor
65. Lauranimal

One of the Chandrean is named by the Adem as, Cyphus. Which is pretty darn close to Scyphus. And it also makes me wonder... of all the factions going back to the time of Lanre and Selitos... how many of those individuals are in positions of power and or influence, going by a different name ... during Kvothe's time?
(by the way... I've been following your comments, and while I don't really have much to add at this point, I appreciate you adding your thoughts!)
Kate Hunter
66. KateH
Thanks, Lauranimal. I'm posting my thoughts here as I work through my own obsessive re-read. It's nice to know that someone is reading them, however late I am to the game. Good point about Cyphus. Haven't gotten to that part of WMF yet, but I'm getting close.

As for people going by different names, I just don't know. Other than the Lackless bloodline/heirloom, and these tantalizing similarities with names, I haven't seen evidence that PR is the sort of author where characters turn out to be heir to some mystical power, or the chosen one, or so-and-so reincarnated, or the literal embodiment of some metaphorical thing. PR's signature blend of magic, mythos and realism doesn't point to that sort of plot device in my reading of his work. Narrative drift (such as Iax becoming Jax, or a human Selitos becoming one of Aleph's angels, conflicting accounts and viewpoints of Lanre) - yes, certainly and obviously PR incorporates that into his work in spades. And these stories within The Story, do include metaphor, alegory, just-so explanations, coincidence, and all sorts mystical stuff. But stories are stories, and not necessarily the "literal truth" of PR's imagined world. If anything, I'd buy that Selitos, Lanre, Iax/Jax, etc. turn out to be some flavor of immortals - angels, Fae, demons, demi-gods, beings that pre-date the human-Fae split, something, and thus still around today in some shape or form. But that's just me, and we'll see what happens in book 3.
67. LukasAli
Well, this is WAY late, but regarding handedness and musical instruments:

I am a professional musician (jazz primarily) and there is NO WAY that any pro-level string player would consider one hand less important than the other. Hobbyists/beginners might, especially on guitar and related instruments (such as lute), but anyone taking their craft seriously would need to move beyond that limitation at a fairly early stage.

What that means in relation to WMF...I don't know...but there you have it.
Joanna Andrews
68. highwaycrossingfrog
I too had heard the story of the boy with the golden screw before, although I didn't recall it until I read the end of Kvothe's version, and I have absolutely no idea where I might have heard/read it. Anyway, it made me chuckle.

The doors in a row superstition regarding the Fae made me think of the Chinese practice of building curved roofs due to the Buddhist belief that evil spirits could only move in straight lines. If one fell from the sky onto a roof it would be channelled back into the sky. Perhaps the doors in a row (I am assuming front door in line with back door) in Vintish superstition meant that a Fae or malicious spirit entering a house would simply be funneled out again.

I wonder where the Maer was sending his taxes. Presumably he is beholden only to the King of Vintas, and quite possibly not even he. It is mentioned that the King is also sending taxes north in any case. There has been no mention of a supreme ruler owed fealty by all the realms in the Four Corners. The bandit attacks are taking place in The Eld, which according to the (possibly unreliable) map is almost entirely located in Modeg. Why would the Maer and the King of Vintas be sending taxes to Modeg? Is there an in-text explanation? Or is it simply a plot device to get Kvothe to The Eld?

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