Dec 29 2011 1:30pm

Rothfuss Reread: The Wise Man’s Fear, Part 17: All the Stories in the World

Welcome to my no moon left unturned reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This week’s post covers chapters 86-93 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 86 is “The Broken Road”

The broken road, right.

They finished searching the north side and started on the south. They told stories every night, touching on:

Oren Velciter, Laniel Young-Again, Illien. Stories of helpful swineherds and lucky tinker’s sons. Stories of demons and faeries, of riddle games and barrow draugs.

Oren Velciter is alive, and told Chronicler his story. Pat has recently mentioned that he wrote a short about Laniel Young-Again, a middle aged women going off on adventures. Illien is the Edema Ruh poet, the person Kvothe thinks is the greatest who ever lived. We met a helpful swineherd near Borroril in NW.

The Edema Ruh know all the stories in the world, and I am Edema Ruh down to the center of my bones.

Unless he’s not — he’s only half Ruh to his own knowledge... but I guess his mother was a convert and that counts? In any case, if they know all the stories in the world, why not this one? And anyway, we know they don’t. Look at Arliden questing for the story of Lanre. They might want to know all the stories in the world — though why? — but it’s quite clear Kvothe is exaggerating here.

But he enjoyed the stories even though he knew them, they had new details, even though he knew their bones. A story he didn’t know was rare, and after twenty days he got one.

Hespe tells it. The story she told before was a romantic one, and this is anything but. It’s also a recitation, she has to go back to the beginning when she is interrupted. She says this is exactly how she heard it from her mother. We don’t know where Hespe comes from, or I don’t, but she’s a Vint.

It begins with a strange boy named Jax who fell in love with the moon.

We later, from Felurian, hear that name as Iax. Shalter and others have pointed out that Iax, Jax, and Jakis are similar, and perhaps Ambrose is a descendant of Jax as Kvothe is of the Lackless.

In Hespe’s story, Jax was always strange, and he lived in an old house at the end of a broken road, later a “alone in a broken house at the end of a broken road”.

We’ve speculated about the broken house being the Underthing, or being the 4C world, or being Fae.

One day a tinker came to Jax’s house and asks for a drink, which Jax gives him, water in a cracked clay mug. Jax proposes a trade — if the tinker has anything in his pack that will make him happy, he’ll trade it for his broken house, and if not the tinker will give Jax

the packs off your back, the stick in your hand, and the hat off your head.

One of the tinker’s things is a book of secrets, another is a meteorite.

Jax tries on a pair of glasses and can see the stars and the moon, and he thinks the only moon would make him happy. The tinker can’t give him the moon, so he takes all the tinker’s things — including the hat, which the tinker asks to keep. Jax replies rudely.

Then Jax goes off with the three packs and leaves the tinker to mend the broken house. We’ve wondered whether what the tinkers are doing, going about with things people need, might be a kind of mending the 4C world, a kind of tikkun olam.

Dedan interrupts when Hespe said Jax wandered searching, to try to pick a fight with Kvothe about what a waste of time their job is. Tension builds and Tempi breaks it with a consciously naive question about hairy balls, which makes everyone laugh.


Chapter 87 is “The Lethani”

Tempi and Kvothe go into Crosson for supplies, trading words. They hear a sound in the woods and think it’s bandits, but it’s only deer.

Crosson has a general goods store, a post station that’s also a farrier and a church that’s also a brewery. Unusual combination, that last! It makes me wonder about the brewery that couldn’t have been a better trap for Ben, if brewing is something the Tehlin church are involved with. (Also Bredon beer?) The inn is called the “Laughing Moon” which is a good name. Kvothe has brought his lute because he’s desperate to play. The inn is crowded with unemployed caravan guards “a fight waiting to happen”.

One comes to the table and picks a fight with Tempi, who finds the talking of picking the fight irritating. Tempi tels Kvothe “Watch my back” and Kvothe thinks he’s being idiomatic instead of literal — to see how straight Tempi’s back is. Kvothe gets out his knife. Tempi flattens three mercenaries without breaking a sweat, and then frowns at Kvothe’s knife.

On the way home, Tempi speaks of the Lethani. He asks what Kvothe knows about it.

It is a secret thing that makes the Adem strong.

If you know the Lethani, you cannot lose a fight.

Tempi agrees, but when Kvothe gets on to burning up words, Tempi says that’s mad. He says they train to be fast, train to fight. He says the Lethani is a type of knowing, and that Kvothe needs it, but only women can teach it and not to barbarians. Then he explains “The Lethani is doing right things.” It’s the right way and knowing the right way. Right action — not like Kvothe’s knife. He gives the example of a tinker, you have to be polite, kind, help them, only one right thing to do, the Lethani. Knowing and then doing. Kvothe doesn’t understand, and Tempi says that’s good.

The Lethani comes over as very Zen here.


Chapter 88 is “Listening”

It’s impressive how Rothfuss manages to write about them being bored and squabbling without making it boring to read. They have dinner, and Hespe tells the rest of her story.

Jax had no trouble following the moon because in those days the moon was always full.

I’m still overwhelmed by this.

Jax walks for years, in love with the moon. He passes through Tinue, and then he keeps going east towards the mountains.

It says the road passes through Tinue as all roads do, but the Great Stone Road doesn’t! So anyway, he goes up into the Stormwal, and up there he meets a hermit in a cave, who we have speculated may be Teccam, but who in any case is a Re’lar, a listener, who found the cave while chasing the wind. The old man refuses to give his name, because if Jax had

even just a piece of my name, you’d have all manner of power over me.

Now he’s clearly a namer, as opposed to a shaper. He’s also clearly in the same tradition as Elodin and Kvothe. The old man offers to teach Jax to listen, which would take a couple of years to get the knack of it. Jax says he wants to catch the moon, the old man says he wants to meet her, and asks what Jax has to offer her. The things he has are in the third pack, which he hasn’t been able to open. The old man persuades the knot to open by being polite to it.

The pack contains a bent piece of wood, a stone flute, and a small iron box. (Iron, not wood or roah or copper. Iron.)

The bent piece of wood is a folding house,  the flute summons birds, and the box is empty.

I’m amazed you can’t hear it yourself. It’s the emptiest thing I’ve ever heard. It echoes. It’s meant for keeping things inside.

Jax leaves, and unfolds the folding house, but it doesn’t fit together properly. I feel quite sure that this is Fae, the constructed world. Jax goes to the topmost tower and plays the flute to lure the moon, and the moon comes down, and for the first time he feels a breath of joy. They talk, then she says she must go, but she’ll come back. He asks her to stay, but she won’t. Then he says he has given her three things, a song, a home, and his heart, and asks for three things in return. First is a handclasp, which she gives, saying “One hand clasps another” — or in other words that this is mutual. Then a kiss, which is the same, “One mouth tastes another”. She thinks the third thing will be something that starts “One body...” and is eager, but instead he asks for her name. She gives her name as Ludis, and he catches a piece of it in the iron box. So she has to stay, but she comes and goes, and this is the just so story of why the moon waxes and wanes.

At the end of the story, Dedan is impressed with Hespe and says she should teach it to her daughters because it’s a great story. Then they start squabbling again, and then it starts to rain.

There is no comment by Kvothe on the story, either in the story or in the frame, only on the teller and not the tale.


Chapter 89 is “Losing the Light”

It’s raining, it drips, Marten catches a cold, they stop having stories and the bread is wet. Dedan buys drink instead of food and comes back to camp very loudly. Kvothe’s boots leak. He comes back to camp and the fire is out, Dedan is spoiling for a fight, and Kvothe threatens him with magic. Tempi comes back and breaks the tension. He has killed two men a mile away and an hour ago. There’s an hour or so of daylight left. He orders Dedan and Hespe to stay and goes with Marten and Tempi to see if he can find the bandit camp and make a plan. Kvothe takes a pinch of ash as a link to the fire.


Chapter 90 is “To Sing a Song About”

Kvothe examines the bodies, and Tempi makes him ask permission first. Marten finds their trail. They follow it, then find they’re being followed, they lay an ambush — but of course it’s Dedan and Hespe, and they have put the fire out. They all want to attack the bandits tonight, and Kvothe makes them agree they will at least follow orders. They creep up to the camp. It’s the middle of a thunderstorm. They see a sentry and Marten shoots him through the heart — “a shot to sing a song about” but Marten says it’s luck.


Chapter 91 is “Flame, Thunder, Broken Tree”

Which we have been told, way back in the boast in NW, is the meaning of his name Maedre, but I for one had completely forgotten it.

The bandit camp is below them with a stream and an oak tree. There are enough tents for between ten and thirty bandits. There are mysterious poles set up. Marten goes back to tell Dedan and Hespe to go back for now, Kvothe and Tempi stay to try to get a better count. Tempi thinks they should kill some and tell Alveron where the rest are and come back with reinforcements. Marten comes back panicking, he can’t find the others. Then Dedan blunders into the bandit camp at the other side. The bandits set up planks against the poles, making it a proper encampment, almost a fortress. The bandits start firing arrows towards Dedan’s position.

Kvothe takes the dead sentry and uses it as a link with his live bandit friends, stabbing the sentry and wounding the live bandits. The bandits, unsurprisingly, start to panic — it really must be horrible being wounded by a weapon you can’t see, and seeing your companions suddenly bleeding from the eye or whatever. Ick. The corpse is a great link, but Kvothe is using the heat of his body to power the sympathy, because it is all he has.

The leader comes out, and Kvothe is reminded of something and he is “terribly familiar”. This is Cinder, of course, but my guess when first reading was Caudicus. Marten shoots him, and he calmly pulls out the arrow and points out their position to his bandits.

Marten swears “Great Tehlu overroll me with your wings.” Good one.

Kvothe is in Heart of Stone and doesn’t react similarly. He asks Tempi to bring him the dead sentry’s bow, and then he breaks the string and five bow strings down in the camp. But Kvothe has binder’s chills — think how well we have been set up to entirely understand what’s going on here, in Elxa Dal’s classes. None of this is anything real, but we know it really well by now. Kvothe goes out of Heart of Stone and stabs the sentry’s body until his knife snaps. (Ramston steel...) Marten keeps praying, and Kvothe is getting chilled and will die of hypothermia if he doesn’t warm up soon.

Kvothe has an idea. He makes Marten shoot the tree. Cinder can hear Marten praying, and it disturbs him, he doesn’t attack though Kvothe thinks he is going to. Is Tehlu one of the things Haliax keeps Cinder safe from? Is Tehlu one of the Sithe? Marten prays calling on the angels: Perial, Ordalm, Andan... Cinder looks up to search the sky — which is what the Chandrian all do before they disappear at the camp. Marten shoots the tree, Kvothe calls lightning to it, thinking the slippage will kill him, but he’s dying anyway. He binds the arrows, makes a spark, says “As above, so below”, a joke only someone from the University could hope to understand. He passes out.

This is similar to the incident at Trebon with the draccus — we’ve been set up over a long time with the magic so we understand it, and then it’s a very dramatic scene that is ultimately leading nowhere. Hespe’s story is leading somewhere. Tempi’s hand gestures are. This, as far as we know so far, is just an action scene.

Or does Tehlu help? Is it Tehlu’s name that scares Cinder away?


Chapter 92 is “Taborlin the Great”

It’s one of the shortest chapters in the book, less than a page.

Kvothe is warm and dry and in the dark, and he overhears Marten telling Dedan not to cross him, that Kvothe did it, he killed them all, and called the lightning, like God himself — and Kvothe thinks no, like Taborlin the Great, and falls asleep again.


Chapter 93 is “Mercenaries All”

This is the chapter that concludes the Eld adventure, so I may as well go on and do it here.

Kvothe sleeps for fourteen hours warm and dry and wakes up fine, which surprises his companions. Hespe has an arrow in her leg, Dedan has a cut on his shoulder, Marten has a bruise, and Kvothe has some scrapes. Tempi is unhurt.

They burn the dead bandits, except for the one Kvothe mutilated, over which he builds a cairn and then throws up.

The lightning struck the oak over and over, which is a lot from one galvanic binding, even in a storm. Maybe Tehlu really was trying to get Cinder?

They get their stuff and Kvothe plays his lute all day, which is therapeutic. Tempi listens.

The leader has disappeared — Marten mutters about demons, and is substantially correct, as it’s Cinder.

They find a box, Hespe and Marten try to pick the lock. Kvothe hits the top and says “Edro” like Taborlin and it opens. He is as surprised as they are...

Inside is a map, and lots of looted cash — 500 talents worth of gold. Kvothe gives them all a gold piece each for being honest.

Kvothe takes a sword, and Tempi says he doesn’t know how to use it. Kvothe admits it, and asks Tempi to teach him. Tempi asks if Kvothe will teach him the lute. They agree to do this.

Then everyone scavenges from the camp. Kvothe gets a new knife and a razor.

This may seem a little ghoulish, but it is simply the way of the world. Looters become looted, while time and tide make us mercenaries all.

This is the end of the chapter, and it’s an interesting note to end on — mercenaries all, the cycle of looting like the cycle of life.


And we’ll start from 94 and Felurian next time.

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.

Ryan Reich
1. ryanreich
Just an action scene or not, it's a great scene. I believe the important content was Cinder's reaction to Marten's praying: it wasn't that he could hear him praying, but that he could hear Tehlu and the angels responding to the prayer. Just like Bast says later in the frame: there are some things that know where their names are spoken.

Also, I think Re'lar means "speaker". A "listener" is probably El'the.
Julia Mason
2. DrFood
I wasn't under the impression that the lightning struck more than once, more that it was a mighty bolt that wrought great destruction.

When I was a child, lightning struck a tall tree in front of our church. No, that's not describing it correctly. The church is on a corner, set back and L-shaped. The big tree was in the center of the semi-courtyard between the church and the two streets. When the lightning struck, the bark of the tree was stripped off and fell, four long pieces, laying at right angles still attached at the base (yes, making a cross).

I'm sure few will believe this, but we have pictures, or at least my parents do!

Hmmmm, I'm not sure where I was going with this. I guess just to say that one lightning bolt can achieve a lot. When I read the description of a great white pillar of lightning, I thought of the great tree of my childhood, walking around it, still standing but doomed to die stripped of its bark, carefully stepping over the long strips of bark.
Julia Mason
3. DrFood
Oh, now I see the part about "From the stories the others told, when the lightning struck it wasn't a single startling bolt, but several in quick succession." I should read more carefully before I offer a comment!
4. BJS
The book makes a point of saying that Kvothe had blood all over his hands and running down his arms. Although Cinder heard Marten praying, it didn't seem to scare him, just gave him something to look for, a way of locating them. Didn't Cinder actually saw Kvothe at this point...? I wondered if Cinder fled because he thought Kvothe was a tattooed Amyr.
5. wcarter4
What I think Kvothe means by the Edema Ruh 'knowing all stories' isn't that every Ruh knows every story but that as a rather large collection of clans roving all over creation gathering and making stories they have access to all stories as a single unit.
In other words while Ruh 41 of one band may not know story x Ruh 17 of another band does and so on. In fact if you look at it from that perspective, it not only becomes possible, but probable that the Ruh are as a collective unit the most complete repository of oral and written stories in the four corners world including the universit(y/ies).
James Golden
6. Treemaster
Do we have indisputable proof that the bandit leader is Cinder? The Cthaeh makes a reference implying so, and Kvothe concludes that he is Cinder, but I don't recall the Cthaeh directly saying so. I may have just missed it.
Scott Silver
7. hihosilver28
I don't find it terribly surprising that there were multiple lightning strikes to the tree. If I remember correctly, Kvothe makes at least 4 bindings from the arrow in the tree to the arrow in the ground. Now if you ground anything once, it provides an excellent conduit for the charge in the cloud to the "ground" which in this case is literally the ground. Now with knowing how Sympathy works, what Kvothe did, was amplify that x4! This would make it much more than an excellent conduit, the tree would basically become the only conduit for lightning. After all, electricity follows the path of least resistance. Therefore any lightning that struck, would strike the tree, which would lead to the multiple strikes that they mentioned.
8. Jeff R.
I'm not sure if there's anywhere to go with this, but that chest doesn't make any kind of sense at all as collected taxes.

I mean, if it was collected from farmers and innkeepers and the lower middle classes and such, it should all be in the form of slips and drabs and pennies. If it was collected from lesser lords who might owe taxes denominated in gold coins, or if it was taken to a center of commerce where those pennies and drabs could be exchanged for gold, then, since we know that there is a reasonably advanced banking system in which letters of credit are possible, such a letter would be far more practical to transport across dangerous country as a chest of gold. For that matter, odds are that there's a functional bank closer to their origin than their destination even if there's some way for them to end up with a chest full of the highest denomination currency without banks...
Philbert de Zwart
9. philbert
Actually, the chance of lightning hitting the exact same spot with a second bolt is quite large. This is because a lightning bolt leaves behind a trail of ionized (air) molecules, making the place where it has been a better conductor than the rest of the air.
George Brell
10. gbrell
[A] church that’s also a brewery. Unusual combination, that last!

Numerous monasteries are famous for having produced alcohol. Trappist beers are produced by Trappist monks. Also, the first sparkling wine was thought to have come from Benedictine monks.

Is Tehlu one of the things Haliax keeps Cinder safe from? Is Tehlu one of the Sithe? Marten prays calling on the angels: Perial, Ordalm (sic), Andan...

According to Skarpi's story, Tehlu was the first angel (NotW, 188). They are described as singing "songs of power," so I would think that they are most likely the Singers referenced by Haliax, not the Sithe.

Interestingly, Perial is not mentioned in Skarpi's story of the Angels. She was the mother of Menda (who is "Tehlu who was Menda"). The virgin mother is also an angel, which parallels nicely with the Virgin Mary's position in Catholic mythology.

The other angels listed in Skarpi's story are: Kirel, Deah, Enlas, Geisa, Lecelte, Imet, Ordal, Andan.

Andan and Ordal are also the angels mentioned by Nina when she presents Kvothe with her drawing of the Chandrian vase. They are the two angels whose names rest on the shoulders of the Amyr.

What do we know about those two: Andan, "whose face was a mask with burning eyes, whose name meant anger;" Ordal, "the youngest of them all, who had never seen a thing die."
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
The Jax story is fantastic. It tells why the moon now has phases and the origin story of a world--most likely Fae. Jax is shown to be impatient (and impolite to Tinkers). He doesn't want to understand things, he just wants to get what he desires in the most direct way he can. In doing this he doesn't put the mansion (Fae) together properly. This gives us the origin of the many oddities of Fae.
The fact that the bent wood was in the Tinker's pack and while rare was not unknown (or singular) has very interesting implications.
The capturing of part of the name of the moon in the iron box not only gives us the moon's phases, but also lets us speculate on Kvothe's name being in Kvothe's wooden box.
The journey of Jax itself is interesting. We have the start at the broken house (Underthing? or a different world?) down the long road, through Tinue and into the mountains, to a high place where the bent wood house is built.
There is so much information here but it is also in a nicely metaphorical/allegorical form so we can't be quite certain what it all means and what it true vs. distorted. Well done PR.
12. Matthew Carpenter
I have mostly been lurking throughout the discussion of both books, but there were several things that happened (or didn't) in the latter part of this book that bothered me. Chapter 91 is one of them. Kvothe was whipped and nearly expelled from the University for malfeasance by using a binding to cause a relatively harmless hotfoot. Here he uses similar bindings to essentially massacre some bandits. It bothers me that it never seemed to bother Kvothe that he used his Universitytraining to kill, and also, a bit less, that he didn't even consider this story might follow him back across the ocean and cause his ultimate expulsion from the University. Was Mr. Rothfuss just trying to show us that Kvothe has all the conscience of a sociopath? Perhaps this is what got him into the trouble we all anticipate in Book 3?
13. spirit theif
The part that bothers me most about this all is the broken road. It was even specifically pointed out in the text, with Dedan mocking Hespe about it. A broken road? As in a concrete road with potholes? Or does the road just end? Is it metaphorical- Jax comes from a bad family, the road of his life so far has been riddled with misfortune.

So far we've been introduced to broken houses, broken road, broken Ramson Steel blades, Saicere- to fly, to break, to catch, and the Broken Tree which is also one of K's names. And the Cthaeh is the root behind all of it.
Rereading what I just wrote makes it sound like I'm looking for conspiracies.

What do you think it is that pulls the Moon back and forth? Can a shaper steal the Moon's name, or did a namer begin the war?
14. Speculations
Just as obtrusively as the screw story, the
"As above, so below" is an incursion from our world.

Made me smile though.
15. mr. awesome
Was the map in the chest important? It seems odd to lock away a map with lots of gold. If you have a map then you're going to use it, and there's no reason to keep basic geographical information a secret (unless you're Rothfuss). Treasure map? Something else? Is there more info on the map in the book?
16. mr. awesome
Also: broken house as the Underthing makes a lot of sense to me for some reason.
17. cyan
In last week's discussion, a number of people commented that the screw story felt out of place. I thought the story was representative of Kvothe and how he, in his boundless curiousity, (un)does something that causes him to lose his ass (metaphorically).
I'm sure we'll get a taste of whether
any of our speculations are true when
whoever bought the sneak peak of day 3
off ebay surfaces.
George Brell
19. gbrell
@12.Matthew Carpenter:

I don't think Kvothe ever adopted the University's views regarding sympathy, he simply suffered the consequences of violating them once and has since avoided breaking them. I'm willing to chalk up his apparent ignorance of consequences to a combination of his well-known habit of acting without thinking and the life-or-death situation he was placed in.

Also, a lot of people use the term sociopath in these discussions and I think it's being interpreted differently by different people.

Kvothe can be viewed as having many of the classic traits of a sociopath:

1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors;
2. deception for personal profit or pleasure;
3. impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
4. irritability and aggressiveness;
5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
6. consistent irresponsibility;
7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

The only problem is that many of those traits are also those of a teenager, which is why antisocial personality disorder isn't generally diagnosed until after one has reached 18. In addition, Kvothe's behavior when dosed with the plum bob (a deus ex machina of sociopathy) clearly differed from his behavior when unaffected. He clearly manifested significantly worse behavior in regards to points 1 and 3-7 when affected.

Furthermore, I think it is a narrow interpretation to think that Kvothe satisfies the majority of these categories. Does he routinely deceive "for personal pleasure or profit"? No. He is impulsive, but is not incapable of thinking ahead. Nor is he consistently irresponsible. He is not constantly irritable or aggressive. He demonstrates a recklessness for his own safety at times, but is certainly conscious of others (Denna, his friends). And while he does rationalize his unlawful actions towards Ambrose (theft) and the Maer (theft), he is open and admitting regarding his actions towards Denna.

I think one should readily admit that Kvothe is a bit narcissistic and has a moral compass skewed a little towards gray. But to call him a sociopath lowers the bar a lot, in my opinion.

If what Matthew Carpenter meant was that he doesn't appear to show remorse for his actions/inactions (which would be a more tv-style/Sherlock Holmes sociopathy), I would point out his recriminations about failing to interrupt the young boy's rape in NotW, this re-read's Chapter 93 and Kvothe's reaction to confronting the corpse, and Kvothe's nightmares about killing the bandits in Levinshir. I would also acknowledge that he's telling the story, so perhaps he has elided over his misgivings at times.

I think that Rothfuss is writing a self-aware fantasy series. I don't think he's writing a "gritty" fantasy series. Kvothe is not Bayaz.
Katy Maziarz
20. ArtfulMagpie
"Then he explains “The Lethani is doing right things.” It’s the right way and knowing the right way. Right action — not like Kvothe’s knife. He gives the example of a tinker, you have to be polite, kind, help them, only one right thing to do, the Lethani. Knowing and then doing. Kvothe doesn’t understand, and Tempi says that’s good.

The Lethani comes over as very Zen here."

Really, it seems more Tao than Zen to me. Taoism is about the right way or the right path. True Tao cannot be expressed in words, and can only be experienced. But basically, it is about becoming one with the fundamental nature of the universe and performing only those actions--mindlessly or without having to think about it--which are in accordance with the universe. Wu wei--effortless, natural, harmonious action. A plant grows toward the sun because that is the right way for plants to be. A human's path is more complicated, but one who understands the Tao is like that plant, doing only what is natural and right. Sounds just like the Lethani to me!
21. FBob93
Constant lurker, first time commenter. I note Pat's homage to Tolkien here, where K says "Edro!" and strikes the box to open it, mirroring Gandalf's last attempt to open the doors to Moria, where he yelled "Edro! Edro!" and struck the doors with his staff. The word didn't open the Moria doors, but it works for K (and for Taborlin in the earlier story).
Nathan Love
22. n8love
@ Jo

and this is the just so story of why the moon waxes and wanes.

I'm happy you say that. This story felt like it needed a "best beloved" or a "one two three, where's your breakfast".

@8 Jeff R
A tax collector who is skimming may not want to leave a paper trail and could prefer large denominations for ease of transport and concealment. Since the bandits allegedly waylaid several tax collectors, they may have divvied the smaller coins and put any gold in the chest. The amount we find could be achieved after relatively few robberies.

There is also the possibility that the bandits' gold was actually payment from whomever hired them to ambush tax collectors. I imagine the parties involved would also prefer to avoid banks and letters of rights in this scenario.
Alice Arneson
23. Wetlandernw
I always got a chuckle out of Kvothe’s statement that “The Edema Ruh know all the stories in the world, and I am Edema Ruh down to the center of my bones.” He implies that he personally knows all the stories in the world, but of course he doesn’t. It may (or may not) be true that the Ruh as a whole know all the stories, but that doesn’t mean that every Ruh knows them all. But… the implications as Kvothe used it here are much more fun – and useful to him. (I'm actually with wcarter4 @ 5 as regards the actual meaning of the saying.)

If Jakis is a descendent of Jax/Iax (the Shaper), does Kvothe’s Lackless ancestry lead up to his direct opposition among the Knowers? That would rather fit both with Kvothe “knowing all the stories” and knowing Names.

Hmmm. There’s a whole treatise just waiting to be written on the Lethani and its parallels to RL beliefs… but I’m not going to.

Interesting note that the Great Stone Road doesn’t go through Tinue. I wonder if it used to… which would require some massive changes in either geography or the location of the entire city. Will have to think on the implications of that one. If there are any.

Oooh. Shivers. “It’s the emptiest thing I’ve ever heard. It echoes. It’s meant for keeping things inside.” This just begs for comparison to the silences in the Waystone… I haven't had the time to let that one stew just yet, but I will. It seems like it ought to be truly profound.

Ouch! I, too, had forgotten that this chapter title was the same as the meaning of Kvothe’s Ademre name. Seems like this should be a huge clue – except that he’s not given the name until well after these events, so how does “prophetic” fit? I must assume that Rothfuss is doing a double- or triple-play with words again. He seems fond of that idea, which is probably why I enjoy his writing so much!

The battle was really creepy. The first time I read it, I don’t think the full creep factor hit me, because I was caught up in the tempo of the scene itself. And it is, after all, kind of a cool application. Reading the recap is almost worse, because I’m not caught in the story and the idea of having one’s companions (or oneself) killed by an invisible foe is… really creepy. Poor Marten, having to watch that! I know, poor Kvothe, who will feel the full impact of it later, but Marten really got blindsided by this whole thing. What a nightmare. No wonder he prays without ceasing!

Jo: excellent point on how well we’ve been set up to understand all of what’s going on magically, even while there are new story elements happening around us. It’s another example of how every detail (except maybe what Kvothe had for breakfast) matters in PR's writing; if you were paying attention in class, he doesn’t have to interrupt the flow of the story here to explain anything.

Wry note; it’s good to see that Kvothe doesn’t think himself “like God” but rather “like Taborlin the Great.” While I love the line (Babylon 5) regarding delusions of grandeur: “Well, if you're going to have delusions, you might as well go for the really satisfying ones!” there are limits, and thinking you’re like God (when you’re not) is a dangerous line to cross. I don’t know that I’d have thought of it if PR hadn’t put it in there, but if he’d put in Marten’s line without Kvothe’s, I’d have thought it a blazing red flag. (I also liked the touch of Kvothe throwing up after burying the body he’d used for all the sympathy effects. Keeps him human.)

SAY WHAT??? I’d completely forgotten about Kvothe opening this box with “Edro!” (Elvish works in the FC! Wouldn’t JRRT be pleased?) And… I don’t have the book right now: do we find out later what the map is all about?

shalter @11 – As usual, sir, you bring up the most interesting observations! I’ll have to do some reflecting, here… And you remind me again of the discussion a few days ago, on how the story is almost as much about story-telling as about the story itself. What a multi-layered piece of work this is!

Matthew Carpenter @12 – An interesting point, and another one that bears reflection. Leaving out the definition of a sociopath (I’m not qualified or interested in that, and gbrell already did it @19) I don’t think it’s so much that Kvothe doesn’t have much conscience (although I’d agree that it’s rather underdeveloped!) as that he tunes out almost everything else while he’s “on a mission.” I also think it’s possible that he hasn’t really internalized the rules of the University to the point where he applies them to anything beyond his behavior while there. What conscience he has, is what was developed prior to his departure from Tarbean – which is to say, probably somewhat lower standards than he learned from his parents. As a child prior to the death of his troupe, a good bit of what stands for conscience was simply enlightened self-interest: if it’ll get me in trouble with the parents, I’d better be cautious about it. In Tarbean, it was all about survival, with flashes of kindness to those in worse conditions than himself. Since then, he’s put on a veneer of maturity, but in terms of conscience he’s about where he was before: if it doesn’t actually get me in trouble or seems necessary for survival, it’s okay. Having said all that – I’ve got to think on it some more, as well. But as you say, it’s interesting that he didn’t even consider the possibility that the story might follow him back to University. (On the other hand, at least this way he’ll survive to get back there at all!)

n8love @22 – “O best beloved” – LOL!! Exactly!

And you remind me… (more re: Jeff R @8) I was wondering if the bandits had even opened that chest. Certainly (or almost certainly) Cinder would be able to open it, but your average bandit/mercenary? Not so much. While one does wonder why a letter of rights would not be employed, if we assume there’s a reason for that, it would make sense that the largest denomination coin would be used for shipping the taxes (as opposed to the bits and pieces in which it was collected). Now I wonder if these particular taxes were shipped in gold in order to provide an excuse to use an “unopenable” box, in which a particular map could also be shipped. I really, really wonder about that map…

And… uh… Wow. That was a wall-of-text nearly suitable to my WoT postings!
Caim Callohan
24. LionsRampant
Chapter 91 greatfully returned me to that dark, twisted part of this story in which I believe Kvothe grows closer to Kote. The Sympathy link on the bandit's carcass brought that needed rush of violence to Kvothe, that was not felt since NotW, when young(er) Kvothe set fire to that bully's makeshift home and watched it burn, then in short, tried to set fire to the bully in an escape. Later in the story, Kvothe eliminates a group of fake Edema Ruh/bandits in a third, violent act. It is in these gruesome acts that I see the best in Kvothe's character development.

I don't know PRs relationship with violence in real life, but to install in Kvothe these acts of violence is what sets the train in motion for me to who Kote really is, so to speak. The gruesome act of dismembering a dead human body, burning another human being and the killing of an entire group of bandits, women included who may have just cooked food for the bandits, sets such a seperation from the reader to the "legendary" Kvothe that sits in the frame story, as we have no idea who Kote really is or was capable of.

As for the return of the Broken Tree name, I was curious to see it in this chapter, as I always, after looking back on the two novels, wanted the reference to be about the Cthaeh. I'm really intrigued with the theory from the mentions by other posts in regards to the lemon smell and wood comments that Kvothe describes in his encounter with the Cthaeh, and then the similarities with the Lackless box. Is the box made of the same wood as the Cthaeh, is the item inside giving off that smell, or is this like almost like a "plum bomb hiccup", where this was one of those moments that the Cthaeh wants Kvothe to remember or pay attention to?
Alf Bishai
25. greyhood
@17 - ha. Nice. The golden screw is foreshadowing of K.'s screw-up (so to speak). He should leave the screw IN. [puppet: I don't think the four-plate door is something a student should be thinking about. Do you?]

On the blood running down his hands. Is it possible that this was K. inauguration into the order? Tehlu was clearly [from Cinder's reaction] present. And K. should not have survived either the slippage or the chills. Perhaps Tehlu, summoned by M., assisted K.s attack with the tree and then revived him.

I love the map speculation. Esp. after the inside edges bit.

We have to crack the multiple 'road to tinue' references! PR gave it such a magical name. It must be significant.
Jeremy Raiz
26. Jezdynamite
@25 - I like your thoughts on the blood running down K's arms and it being like an initiation and Tehlu being there to help and reviving K after the slippage/chills that he shouldn't really have survived.

Also that Cinder may have confused/recognised K as an amyr.

I wonder if K is acting "for the greater good" already(i.e. as an Amyr) without being conscious of it himself; killing the draccus to save the town (not sure about this one though), the horrific multiple stabbing of a dead body to decimate a small army, slaughtering the group of bandits who kidnapped the 2 girls: all of these seem to me to be acts for the greater good.
Jay Matteo
27. j4yx0r
@26 (Jezdynamite)
I wonder if K is acting "for the greater good" already
Absolutely. I'm pretty sure we are told this in the scene after Kvothe is suspended from the archives after confronting the rude students who were disrupting people in Tomes. Sim says something like, "we need more people like you." I think this effectively dubs Kvothe as an Amyr (or at least very Amyr-like).
Nisheeth Pandey
28. Nisheeth
What does As above, so Below exactly mean?
I didn't get that.

I also noticed something, though I don't know if it has been pointed out in any of the previous article's comments.
Kvothe told to read the Celum Tinture. Kvothe gave the Celum Tinture as a gift to Devi, after stealing it from Caudicus. Could they be the same book?. Maybe it has some other significance?
Alf Bishai
29. greyhood
On being just an action scene:

I once learned that there are three kinds of conflict in story-telling (someone please clean this up): the wider world of the story (the main plot), interpersonal conflict, and internal conflict. (is this McKee?) example: skywalker in the trench. Trying to blow up the deathstar/Vader on his ass/use the force, Luke.

It seems to me that the interpersonal thing between Cinder and K. really moves forward here, even though this reveal is delayed (makes it even better!). K. Is after Cinder! And though he doesn't hurt him, he does go head to head against him. C. had 30 men and a makeshift fort. K. had four people and limited weapons. And K. WON.

NW opens with the Chandrian ganging up against taborlin. K. is also compared (by himself) to Taborlin in this fight.

OAN- why didn't cinder just come out with sword swinging right away.

Also, here is Cinder alone. Do we see any of the Chandrian signs here? He's concealed the black eyes, but blue fire, etc.?
Alf Bishai
30. greyhood
Another thought about the map:

The Chandrian are looking for something. Haliax said something like "have you forgotten that we looking for something." Perhaps cinder is searching on his own, trying to become free of haliax. It seems to me the real question is whether cinder is using the map or creating the map. If he's creating it, then this was a real find for K. It may reveal something about the chandrians plans.

But the map is never mentioned again. Weird.

So is he just there making a little map? Then why the bandits? Why the looting? I think cinder may just have wanted the money. Maybe he's raising a little army?
George Brell
31. gbrell

Cinder's signs, as far as we can tell, are his irises, his "cold" nature and, potentially, a relationship with the weather. It's unclear if the poor weather experienced by Kvothe and Co. is related to Cinder or not.

Another Chandrian (Cyphus, I believe) appears to be associated with blue flames. Also, remember the Cthaeh's admonition that the Chandrian are adept at hiding their signs.


Haliax is not, unfortunately, that specific.

"And you seem to forget our purpose," the dark man said, his cool voice sharpening. "Or does your purpose simply differ from my own?" The last words were spoken carefully, as if they held special significance.
Cinder's arrogance left him in a second, like water poured from a bucket. "No," he said, turning back toward the fire. "No, certainly not."
"And whose purpose do you serve?"
"Your purpose, Lord Haliax." The words were choked out. "Yours. None other."
"Some of you seem to have forgotten what it is we seek, what we wish to achieve."

You can read the last line as referring either to a specific (the thing they seek) or as being a repetition of the same thought. I don't think anything in the text suggests that killing Kvothe's troupe helped them find anything, but rather that it was part of their plan to eradicate true knowledge of them (for an unspecified ultimate purpose). How the former goal (if it exists) relates to the latter is not made clear by this section.

This does not mean, of course, that Cinder could not be working for his own ends, although the passage the above language is taken from does suggest that when left to their own devices the non-Haliax Chandrian tend to be petty and cruel, rather than motivated.

Also, I noticed that the title of the chapter containing all of this is "Hope," which might be the most heart-wrenching and poignant thing in these books.
32. bp

I don't think this is teh story of Kvothe becoming Kote--it is the story that leads to the angry, powerful Kingkiller, who kills what he loves (both Denna and the Ruh) and then runs. It is the running and hiding that make Kote. Kvothe never runs and hides, which is of course his fault.

Everything is in the Adem stories: Kvothe playing music, shaping the story of the world around him (as he did when lost in the woods after his parents death) is a good man. He understands, in his signing and playing, the shape of the world. Without thought, he rescued Fela. I thikn this is the story of how he will pick a path through the future set by the Ctheah. Everything is foreshadowed there. The tree, the path through the swirls (and the link between the wind and fate is made ever so clear.)

My hope/belief is that there is a redemption for Kvothe, once he admits to his faults, and takes back his name. And that is when he becomes a Tarborlin-like character, a storyteller, namer, and listener to tales moving about the world. And protector of the Ruh (who I think are going to suffer the beginnings of a pogrom in the story of Day 3).

But now, he is also arrogant, curious, and Rothfuss, beign smart, draws him as a parallel to Jax, not Taborlin. Unable to listen, both unwise, and very strong. That is why this is the book of the stor of Iax/Jax--because this is the parallel of where Kvothe, in his mind, is.
33. Thurule
@28. Nisheeth

"As Above, So Below" - Among other things, it is a belief in Thelema and Hermeticism (Wikipedia) equating the microcosm (man) and the macrocosm (the universe or god).

That part stuck out like a sore thumb to me and seemed out of place, because I instantly recognized it as a real world reference. Apparently I just wasn't up on enough other things to notice the other references that everyone has pointed out!
Julia Mason
34. DrFood
@33: Fascinating Wikipedia link--thanks. Again we see alchemy, an avowed interest of PR. There's an interesting essay on the topic here:

@24: the Cthaeh is not a tree ("I am no tree. No more than is a man a chair. I am the Cthaeh. You are fortunate to find me.") The Cthaeh is a being, possibly snakelike, that lives in/is confined to a tree. The tree is the Rhinna, and its flowers are a panacea.

@12 I don't see Kvothe as a sociopath, but speaking as a pediatrician he is a pretty classic ADD individual. Bright, charming, but not great with the social niceties. Impulsive. Impatient. Hyperfocus on that which engages him. The first to act in an emergency. (A study with adult ADDers found that they are more effective in emergency situations than normal folk.) I'm a proponent of Thom Hartmann's "Hunter vs. Farmer" theory of ADD, which you can read about here:
Jeremy Raiz
35. Jezdynamite
I'm thinking about the difference between Ferula and Ferule.

I'm assuming Ferule is the real name (together with the other 6 real names in the poem) and Ferula is a slightly modified version of the same name (that Kvothe uses to recite the story of seeing Haliax and Cinder in NOTW).

Using the modified name Ferula (instead of Ferule) means Kvothe won't be saying Cinder's true name more than once during his recital of his own story, which shouldn't draw the Chandrian's attention to him.

Which makes me think:

Does that mean Cinder is still alive in the frame story because Kvothe is still afraid of drawing his attention?

Or does saying one of the Chandrian's names when that Chandrin is dead - if K has supposedly killed Cinder before the frame story - still draw the Chandrian's attention?

My belief is that Cinder is still alive during the frame story.
Hello There
36. praxisproces
Well this is an exceptionally dense entry in the reread!

So, first of all, with respect to "as above, so below", it is as others have said clearly a reference to real-world hermetic philosophy, but given the context it's also a clear reference to what Kvothe calls the Principle of Correspondence; Kvothe is joking, in extremis, that he is making the arrow in the tree identical to the ground, so what is above is actually the same, via sympathetic link, as what is below. It's also actually quite a horribly macabre joke, as the deep meaning to the expression in hermetic thought was that the cosmos and the human are one, that humanity and deities and the universe share identity with the individual person. Which is pretty gruesome coming moments after Kvothe has used an individual body to kill a number of the other bandits.

However, let's think about what this real world reference says! Hermetic thought had three components: alchemy, associated with the sun; astrology, associated with the moon; and magic, associated with the stars. We don't have a significant in-saga referent for the sun, but we certainly do for the moon and the stars, and all three of those subjects have some pretty big resonances for the story. Moreover, hermetic magic was based on a kind of purported spirit-familiar system, with demons serving for dark magic and angels for white magic. Clear analogues continue for the Four Corners. This expression shouldn't stick out like a sore thumb; it shows us that University teaching is hermetic! As we'd understand it in our world.

Why does this matter? In part just because it illustrates the complexity and elegance of PR's worldbuilding. But it also indicates the clear esoteric secret-society nature of the arts the University practices and how they're located in profound intellectual and historical opposition to the established church. Hermetic thought is inherently pantheistic, syncretic, universalizing; it folds the world in. Unlike theological orthodoxies. So we learn from this casual phrase that Tehlinism and the University are irreconcilable opposites, that the intellectual structure of the University as much as its unusual arts are rooted in a worldview that cannot accept the basic premises of the Tehlin outlook.

I'll write a bit about the Jax story later.
Ryan Reich
37. ryanreich
I just noticed an interesting allusion in Jo's interpretation of Hespe's story. Namely: Jax's original broken house symbolizes (perhaps) the FC world, in opposition to the one he creates later, which is Fae. The original house goes to the tinker when Jax goes looking for the moon, and thus the tinker (symbolizing all tinkers) is entrusted with the task of fixing that house, i.e. the FC world. This is the first direct texual evidence for the so-far popular but unsubstantiated theory that tinkers are actually something more than they seem. Perhaps, even, on the same level as the namers and shapers? But, going by the roles played in the story, they are a third party distinct from both of the others.

I have to say I'm a little disappointed. I never liked that theory.
Philbert de Zwart
38. philbert
'edro' is first used by Taborlin to open the king's box, then later Bast tries it to open K's box (though I fail to find that again) and finally K tries it again on his own box.
I figured it might be a Name for 'box'.
Jo Walton
39. bluejo
Ryanreich -- they are not necessarily a third party. This story is part of the story of the Creation War according to Felurian, but it isn't told in that context. They could be identified with the people on the other side, the ones who didn't build the crooked house and steal the moon.

Philbert: "Edro" is a direct Tolkien allusion, it's the word Gandalf uses to mean "Open", and I think we can assume that it keeps that meaning, in the same way English words do...
Ryan Reich
40. ryanreich
Jo: Looking at Felurian's story, I can't identify a party that seems analogous to the tinker in Hespe's. He clearly is not "moving smoothly through the world" nor is he "thinking of changing it". The part I can see is that he is the occasion of a repetition in the plot: he is the only other thing, besides the knot on the bag, to which Jax is rude -- rude enough for everyone to take note.

Now, the relation of the knot to the story is that the old man, who is a namer, opened it by being polite. So the knot is one of the things the namers Knew: perhaps it symbolizes "the fox and the hare" and "the space between the two" -- a thing in nature, that is. The tinker has everything in the world in his packs: does he represent nature itself? It fits with the story: Jax lives in a house (a world) that has already been broken, separated somehow from nature, and he is dissatisfied with everything that nature has to offer him. So he takes it all (achieves mastery over it) for himself and goes off to steal the moon and create Fae.
Beth Meacham
41. bam
The speculation that the "broken house" is the Underthing leads me to realize that the road from Imre to the University is "broken". It stops on one side of the river, and starts again on the other side, with a huge and somewhat perilous bridge between them.
Mike McD
43. msmcdon
Re: breweries and churches being an unlikely combination, many great German breweries grew out of monasteries. It's funny to think that even while fasting, you could still drink beer -- and of course, with beer as strong as they'd make it, and being on an empty stomach during the fast, I bet you'd be pretty drunk, pretty quick!
44. spirit theif
On Jax-

He walks along the Great Stone Road and through Tinue in the book, so I assumed he was in FC already, with his journey ending in the Stormwal mountains. Fae does seem to be the unfolding mansion, where doors don't align and time and weather act unusually. Maybe the first broken house is where Iax is locked back up, behind the Doors of Stone. Just another thought.

Who actually sacks Myr Taraniel? Lanre betrayed the city, but was it Encanis and the demons or some other force? What army are the Amyr opposing?
45. Stargazer
I don't think that Jax's house is either the Four Corners world or Fae, or anywhere else we've directly seen yet. I'm pretty sure it's some separate space, or perhaps a subregion of Fae at most, in which Jax/Iax is currently imprisoned. Remember, Felurian says he's "shut away behind the doors of stone" and I'm pretty sure Skarpi says something similar, that after the great battle whose name I forget, Lanre falls but the enemy was imprisoned.

So that's what the stone doors are: they block the various scattered portals into Jax's domain, turning his house into his prison.
Ryan Reich
46. ryanreich
I think it's a bad idea to take literally any kind of specific detail in Hespe's story, particularly anything making reference to a familiar feature. Fact: this story is six thousand years old. Fact: it is part of a purely oral tradition and contains almost entirely metaphorical content otherwise. Fact: it is in "English" (the modern language), and in particular, the place names are in English. I think that, just like Taborlin's cloak, these are details inserted in the many retellings in order to modernize it, to hang the story on a familiar frame. He walks along the Great Stone Road because it's the world's straightest, longest road. He walks to Tinue because, well, everything goes to Tinue. He goes to the Stormwal because we've already learned that it is the location of magic, mystery, and foreignness. Trying to discern Jax's starting location from this kind of detail is exactly the same as trying to place the Garden of Eden from descriptions in the Bible.

On that basis, there's no reason to believe that the broken house and the broken road are "in" the FC world even though he later is "in" that world himself. The Underthing is surely interesting and important, yes, and right now it is also definitely broken, but for all that we know about it we may as well say that Jax started from a bookseller in Tarbean ("The Broken Binding").
George Brell
47. gbrell
I have a lot of somewhat scattered thoughts regarding these chapters (and ideas that originated re-reading these chapters). I'll try and group them coherently.

Cinder, the Weather and Lightning/Thunder

There have been some comments in previous threads regarding Cinder's possible connection to the weather and, more specifically, to the weather experienced by Kvothe and Co. in these chapters.

Both CPJ and greyhood have noticed this before, so I decided to go through these sections and see if we can connect the weather in any way to Cinder.

While I'll go through them in detail in a moment, I think my conclusion is that the two could be related, but are not explicitly connected in the text.

The first mention of foul weather is on page 595:

"The day after that, the weather grew foggy and damp, souring everyone's mood and slowing our search even further.

"Then it began to rain."

These events preceded the attack on the bandit camp by four to six days. (Based on the opening to Chapter 89: "The last four days had been endlessly overcast and raining.").

This escalates into lightning/thunder. What follows is essentially every mention of lightning/thunder that occurs in these chapters (ignoring a use of the word as descriptive or referential):

[When Kvothe gives Dedan the order to stay]
"Thunder growled through the sky above us. A wind moved through the trees, clearing away the endless drizzle. In its place a steady rain began to fall." (600)

[With less than an hour of light left]
"Hunting down the bandits’ camp without getting caught was going to be difficult enough. Doing it in a pitch-black storm would be a nightmare." (601)

-Note that Kvothe appears to be describing the current weather as a storm. Or he's hinting that it could foreseeably get worse.

[When Kvothe, Marten and Tempi begin tracking the bandits from the two bodies]
"There was a flicker of lightning across the sky and an accompanying grumble of thunder. The rain started to come down harder." (602)

-The rain does get harder as they get closer to Cinder.

[As the three are setting up their "ambush" of Hespe and Dedan]
"There was a bright flash as lightning struck nearby. The thunder was like a fist in my chest. I startled. Tempi stood." (603)

-Based on the fact that Kvothe was "startled," I assume that the thunder occurs more rapidly then prior, indicating the storm is closer in proximity. Ignoring that it's idiotic to hike during a lightning storm (due to the risk of ground conduction), either the storm moves towards them or they moved towards the storm.

[While waiting]
"Lightning flashed again, and I was counting the seconds until the thunder when I saw a pair of figures slink into view." (604)

-This is actually a problematic passage for this theory because Kvothe has time to speak to Marten ("Shoot them") and then walk to Dedan before: "The thunder rolled over us as I caught and held his eyes." (605). That's a long time considering that thunder moves at the speed of sound.

[While proceeding to the bandit camp]
"Noise, at least, was not a concern as the thunder made a near constant grumbling overhead." (606)

-So lightning/thunder are occurring constantly, but no comments regarding proximity are made or whether thunder had been constant before.

[Immediately before attacking the sentry]
"Then lightning struck. In the near dark, it was enough to blind me, but not before the muddy bank was highlighted in dazzling white." (607)

-In order to be sufficient to "blind [Kvothe]," I am assuming that the lightning would've had to be quite close.

[Same scene]
"The lightning showed me all of this in a great flash, then left me blind. The thunder came an instant after, deafening me as well." (607)

-Confirming that the lightning was very close given the quick follow-up of the thunder.

[Same scene]
"Lightning flickered again above us, more gently this time . . . ." (607)

-Again, we have textual evidence that the storm is not necessarily closely localized to Cinder, since the following lightning is further away (at least I assume "gently" means that in this context).

[While looking at the camp]
"I shivered as the rain continued to pelt down. It felt colder than it had a couple minutes ago, and I began to worry that I'd caught Marten's cold." (609-10)

-This isn't about lightning/thunder, but I think it's language that I skipped over previously, but that in retrospect seems to be a precursor to Cinder's appearance.

[After Dedan and Hespe stumble into the bandits]
"Rain began to pour down more heavily. Thunder grumbled. (611)

[When Kvothe begins attacking via the sentry's body]
"A scream rose above the sound of the thunder." (611)
"One of the wounded men continued to scream, high and piercing over the grumbling thunder." (612)
"I was deciding where to strike next when lightning lit the sky, showing me a clear, stark picture of the body." (612)

[Cinder appears]
"He snapped orders I couldn’t hear over the sound of rain and thunder." (612)

[Later in the scene, after almost being shot]
"Rain pelted my face and lightning spidered across the sky." (614)

[During the setup to Kvothe's galvanic idea]
"Lightning etched the sky again." (614)
"Lightning flashed again and showed me what he saw." (615)

["The bandit leader turned and bounded for the tent . . . ."]

"A second passed. The wind faded.

"There was a whiteness. A brightness. A noise. I was falling.

"Then nothing." (616)

-I assume this is the pillar of lightning.

"The next day was overcast but blessedly free of rain." (618)

[Durng the three days spent at the bandit camp]
"With our job completed, the tensions plaguing our group faded. The rain stopped . . . ." (620)

-It's unclear if this is a continuation of the previous day(s) being rain-free or if rain returned and then stopped.

So what does all this text tell us. Nothing in the text appears to connect lightning/thunder explicitly to Cinder or suggests that the storm is centered expressly on him. At the same time, the storm does get generally worse as they get closer to Cinder (they would've been moving closer over the four to six days of rain prior to attacking the camp based on their strategy of moving camp "every fifth day" so the original appearance of foul weather makes sense as well).

But, I didn't find any text indicating that the storm was unseasonable, simply bad luck. That's not to say that Cinder could not still be affecting the storm, but it isn't explicitly connected, in my opinion.

But what if Cinder actually uses the lightning?

One of the poem's regarding the Chandrian that, in hindsight, I ignored is the one discussed by CPJ way back in Part 8 of our WMF discussion is:

The Chandrian move from place to place,
But they never leave a trace.
They hold their secrets very tight,
But they never scratch and they never bite.
They never fight and they never fuss.
In fact they are quite nice to us.
They come and they go in the blink of an eye,
Like a bright bolt of lightning out of the sky.

It's the last two lines that now fascinate me. What if Cinder (or all the Chandrian) can use lightning to travel? Not only would it synergize with his (potential) ability to cause storms, it would explain why he fled to his tent rather than attempting to escape in a more mortal fashion. He wanted the lightning to strike so that he could escape.

This is tenuous, but, if true, would be an absolutely fascinating example of Rothfuss hiding something in plain sight.

A possible counterpoint, of course, is that the Chandrian fleeing from the ruins of Kvothe's camp simply stepped into Haliax's shadow. But this could also mean that Cinder/Haliax's traveling abilities are connected to their unique signs. Considering the robust previous discussion of how the signs might be connected to "knacks," this also struck me as a cool connection.

But is Cinder/Someone else controlling anything?

Three times the wind is described in such a way as to ascribe sentient control to its action.

"A gust of wind saved me." (614)
"Wind buffeted [Marten] as he continued to pray." (615)
"The wind faded." (616)

I don't always make a big deal over italicization, though I think it can be important as something the author has concrete control over (and had to take specific action to select).

Why is only a portion of Marten's prayer to Tehlu in italics? And why is it only during that portion (and not the earlier "Tehlu who the fire could not kill, watch over me in fire" and "Tehlu who held Encanis to the wheel, watch over me in darkness") that Cinder becomes aware of something?

If Cinder was controlling the wind (at least in the latter two instances because there is no reason for him to save Kvothe), note that it disappears immediately prior to the final bolt of lightning, which would be right as Cinder left.

A final note about Cinder

The two bonfires in the bandit camp could actually be serving a dual role. While they would undoubtedly be useful for a camp of twenty-plus fighters, they would also help conceal Cinder's unnatural coldness. Make the bonfire large enough and no one would notice his chill when near the fire and they would attribute any coldness away from the fire as a function the temperature differential. When they got further from the camp, they wouldn't notice the difference because they'd feel they simply acclimatized.
George Brell
48. gbrell

Kvothe gives a hand-waving explanation of the lightning sympathy (619), but one thing he leaves out gave me a random thought.

He makes the following thought-comment immediately before the lightning strikes:

"It might do nothing. It might kill me. The slippage alone..."

In addition to the links he mentions in his own explanation, he would've needed to bind something to his own body in order to transfer electrical energy into heat energy and re-warm his body.

Previously, I had always thought of slippage as being heat excess, based off Wilem's comments to Denna (though he simply uses the term "energy"). But in this case, slippage could've been exactly what Kvothe wants, since it would warm him (though he clearly wouldn't want to boil himself alive) and he wouldn't need the link I mention previously.

His fear of slippage, however, makes sense if slippage doesn't always manifest itself as excess heat, but manifests instead as the force being manipulated. This tracks with Mant's identification of thermal and kinetic slippage and his pairing of kinetic with an El'the tearing his arm off trying to life a manure cart.

In this case, slippage would've been galvanic. It would've either been like having a current applied directly to Kvothe's body or it would've affected his body's electrical potential. If his body became sufficiently ionized (think building up static electricity by rubbing your feet on carpet), he would become either a fountain of static, which would probably have killed/destroyed everyone/thing around him or he would've become a magnet for lightning like a tesla coil. Either way, pretty bad.

Kvothe's Psychological State

When they set their ambush up for Hespe and Dedan, Kvothe has the following thought:

"My stomach churned as I thought about what we had been sent here to do: hunt and kill men. True, they were outlaws and murderers, but men nonetheless. I deepened my breathing and tried to relax." (603)

So he is clearly thinking about these things.

For the actual encounter, we should note that Kvothe descends into Heart of Stone ("Deep. Deeper than I had ever been before. All fear left me, all hesitation."), immediately after conceiving of his blood magic, an action which would certainly push off considering emotional consequences.

It doesnt' break until page 614. The only magic he tries after that is described as taking place "in a delirious rage." It appears to have been successful, but it's not made explicitly clear.

Kvothe then laughs "a terrible laugh," and begins laughing as he begins to perform his complicated, electrical sympathy.

I read this as a massive surge of adrenaline and terror, particularly when paired with Kvothe's own observation that "[he] would go into shock soon. Perhaps [he] was already there."

He doesn't confront the body of the sentry on which he wrought his bindings until later, and is immediately sick.

Tehlu and Angels

According to Erlus, Skarpi's story of Tehlu as an angel is heresy. But note that Marten describes Tehlu as winged ("overroll me with your wings"), a characteristic completely absent from Trapis's story.

Perhaps, much like Christianity, the dominant interpretation present in the Commonwealth is distinct from the Vintish interpretation.

Also, why should Tehlu shelter him from "iron and anger"? That's a particularly Fae-seeming description.


I've always half-thought Kvothe actually opened the box with Edro!. Note the italicization of the word as compared to Kvothe's use of it later (where it's not italicized, 990). It's italicized both times Marten uses it. But also note how Kvothe describes it, "What had obviously happened is that one of them had actually tripped the lock . . . ." (622) It's an interesting word choice: obviously rather actually. Is Kvothe being truthful or modest?
49. knnn
On knot theory:

One of the key points of the story is that Jax is being impolite to the knot - which the old man points out. Jax is obviously one of the main shapers in the Creation war. At first, I thought that the tinker might represent the namers - after all, he originally owned the bag (which would also serve explain the reverence people seem to place on tinkers. It's a throwback, much the same as waystones).

In a few chapters Kilvin shows Kvothe those ward stones, and mentions how they are no longer able to reproduce them, which led me to the following correspondence:

Sympathy --> Sygaldry
Naming --> Crafting (or whatever we call make those items).

Consider a "true" language where things are called by their true Name. It would be very dangerous to write things down in that language, as the mere act of writing could change things. Instead, they would have to invent a method of writing without actually writing (like knots?)...

What I'm hinting at is of course that Yllish might be the key to naming. It fits in a number of ways. When Kvothe talks about how hard it was to learn Yllish, he mentions how the language is fundementally different (all about relationships and ownership of items, etc). Also, the Lackless box, and the knot on the bag. It might be worth looking back at other places knots are mentioned.
Ryan Reich
50. ryanreich
Mentions of "knot" in NW (also catches "knots", "knotted", etc. Kindle search):

Figurative: the tough boys in Tarbean ("I'll tie your arms in a knot");

Metaphor for pain or discomfort: the first night in Tarbean ("my stomach was a hard knot" [from hunger]); early in Tarbean ("Hunger knotted my stomach"); after being beaten by the guard during Midwinter ("[my body was] a tight knot of pain"); waking up with Denna on the greystone ("My thighs and calves were tight, hard knots of pain");

Metaphor for anger or anxiety: right after the suffocation episode (Ben's body was a "knot of anger"); in the Eolian when receiving his pipes ("My stomach tied a knot as [Stanchion] walked toward me"); Threpe on the performance ("I saw the blood on your hand and my stomach knotted up"); waking up after the Fishery fire ("with a sour knot in my stomach" [over missing Denna]); learning the draccus had been burned and buried ("My stomach knotted")

Literal but mundane: leaving Tarbean ("[I examined] the knots Roent used to lash his cargo into place"); being stitched by Mola after the whipping ("making her final knots behind me"); Elodin in the Rookery ("[he] tied a knot in [one of his socks, to wedge the door open]"); Bast repairing Chronicler's pendant's cord after breaking it ("Bast [knotted the ring's cord] together again with quick fingers").

Very significant: Kvothe's dream after the Chandrian (Ben fictitiously teaching him knots. "The knot will either be the strongest or the weakest part of the rope. It depends entirely on how well one makes the binding.")

Mentions of "knot" in WMF (more than twice as many results, but then, the book is twice as long!):

Figurative: when the Adem mercenaries find them ("The Adem stood in a close knot a quarter hour as I practiced the Ketan"); the appearance of Haert ("all its houses and shops weren't huddled together in a knot"); fighting Celean ("[she] struck me squarely in the thick knot of muscle directly above the knee"); returning the girls to Levinshir ("a dozen of [the women] had formed a protective knot around the two girls", "the knot of women loosened to release [Krin]", "[the mayor] forced his way into the knot of women"); the deserters at the Waystone ("his fists were broad knots of scar and knuckle"); Bast brandishing a burning branch at the deserters ("the far end was a solid knot of glowing coal")

Metaphor for pain or discomfort: pleading with Elodin to protect Auri ("[as though in Tarbean,] my stomach a hard knot of hunger"); trawling the Archives re: the Chandrian ("[Kvothe acquired] a knot between my shoulder blades from hunching over");

Metaphor for anger or anxiety: after the plum bob ("I lay in bed, clenched into a trembling knot"; "[Auri] gently uncurled the tight knot of me"); with Elodin and Auri, while Auri is briefly away ("a sharp anxiety [tied] knots in my stomach"); negotiating with Sleat for the gram ("I felt a cold knot forming in my gut"); the Maer not trusting him over the poison ("a cold knot began to form in my stomach"); worrying about being Deadnettle ("Slow fear began to knot my gut [over his helplessness]"); with Tempi in the inn's bar ("my stomach knotted as I watched Tempi [confront the mercenaries]"); receiving preliminary judgment from Shehyn ("My stomach knotted itself as I tried to maintain a calm appearance"); Kvothe hearing he is to take the exam ("I felt a rush of excitement in my chest, followed by a chill knot in my stomach"); during the test ("I finished my slow circuit of the tree with a knot of worry tightening my stomach", "when the laugh rolled out of me, the tension knotting my stomach [and back] melted away"); admissions without Herma ("it was with a knot of sour dread in my stomach that I prepared for [admissions]")

Yllish: Interesting Fact, Elodin's correction ("They used a system of woven knots"); the Loeclos box ("It might be a Yllish story knot", "I don't know enough Yllish to read a simple knot", "the knots would have changed in the last three thousand years"); back at the University ("I attempted to learn something about Yllish story knots", "[most books] gave no information as to how I might actually read a knot]", "Inside [the collection room] were hundreds of large wooden spools wound about with knotted string", "I quickly found that reading the knots was impossible without first understanding Yllish"); a book Kvothe finds secondhand ("Full of drawings of knots, the bookstore owner thought it was a sailor's journal"); studying with the Chancellor ("My understanding of the story knots was even worse [than of Yllish speech]"); Deoch ("the only person he'd ever known who could read story knots had been his grandmother"); Denna's hair ("It's almost like a story knot, isn't it?" [six strands instead of four]); Denna's reply ("Even the ones that do speak it don't bother with the knots")

Literal but mundane: Denna's letter ("[Denna] learned all manner of sailor's knots"); learning Ademic from Tempi the first time ("I learned the words for iron, knot, leaf, spark, and salt"); on the voyage back to the University ("They tried to teach me sailor's knots, but I didn't have a knack for it, though I proved to be a dab hand at untying them")

Very significant: Hespe's story ("the knot is too much for me [Jax]", "the knot says you [Jax] tore at it", "he [the hermit] lifted the pack until the knotted cord was in front of his face", "the knot unraveled")


First of all, the number of literal mentions of knots is vanishingly small. They are almost universally regarded metaphorically or, more occasionally, figuratively, with the exception of Yllish knots, which account for fully one-third of the mentions in WMF but none in NW; this is the vast majority of the difference in occurrences of the word "knot" in the two books. As metaphors, knots appear always as pain, either physical or emotional. Obviously a lot of this has to do with the connection between knots and (literal or figurative) tension. Metaphorical knots tend to be in the stomach, and Rothfuss loves this turn of phrase; it can refer either to hunger or, more frequently, anxiety or anger.

There are occasional non-metaphorical figurative mentions of knots. Most of them are in WMF, and most of those describe a defensive formation of people. Every other figurative use of "knot" is violent: the tough boy's threat, the deserter's fists, Celean's target, and Bast's weapon.

The literal uses of the word are quite disparate. Two refer to sailor's knots (which are mentioned again in connection with Yllish knots, and also in Kvothe's dream of Ben); a few seem to be just cigars; and we have the first few words Kvothe learns in Ademic. Iron is significant; leaf is significant (Spinning Leaf and, perhaps, the sword tree), salt is used occasionally to mean something precious and essential, and I don't know what spark signifies.

We have a few Obviously Important mentions of knots. Two, in fact: Kvothe dreaming that Ben taught him sailor's knots, and Hespe's story. The two are related! In the story, Jax finds the knot to be the strongest part of the rope, while the hermit, knowing things, finds it to be the weakest. I could hypothesize about the significance of "knots of anger" being either the strongest or weakest parts of a person's psyche, depending on how they are formed, but I won't :).

Finally, of course, there are the Yllish knots. This is so overtly factual and obviously important it's hard to say anything. Only a few mentions are not just plot hooks. You need to know Yllish to read the knots but almost no Ylls can do either. Yllish knots can be confused with sailor's knots (is this a joke or is it important? Denna mentions sailor's knots in her letter, and Kvothe fails to learn them on his voyage, but can easily untile them. He also learns the names of stars. Also significant about stars: they are different in FC than in Fae. This is not breaking any new ground). Kvothe is terrible at speaking Yllish and worse at the knots. I observe that, just as he is good at untying sailor's knots, he induces Denna to untie her own hair-knots whenever she sees him.

Okay, knnn, there's your compendium of knots. My verdict: Rothfuss has a serious thing for the concept. Even if Yllish knots were never discussed he would be using the word consistently as a metaphor for pain. And we have clues that the metaphor is deep: that knots signify tying two ends together, either well or poorly.
andrew smith
51. sillyslovene
Maybe with all those stomach knots the denouement is going to be Kvothe finding some sort of alchemical tums or pepto bismol which removes all the anger, anxiety, and pain from his life turning him into Kote... :P

In all seriousness though, really interesting that K is so twisted and knotted inside when one of his major talents is for untying knots. Interesting though, it seems (based on my quick scan of the above, might have missed something) that K isn't described as "knotted" at all in the framestory (could be deliberate, could be the nature of the narrator- non-first person, or could be both: PR chooses a narrator technique that limits the ability of people to see K's thoughts and knowledge in the frame?). This isn't to say that he isn't "knotted" up, just that the description isn't used. Again, something probably deliberate... Also, interesting that the only uses (according to the info above) of "knot" in the frame story are tightly connected with Bast...

Interesting point though about knots being strengths or weaknesses- it would seem thematically important that K is "knotted" in anger, and that this is one of his greatest weaknesses, perhaps leading to his great downfall. It could also be an intersting link to how he got tied together with Bast
52. knnn
Wow ryanreich. That's quite a serious analysis, and all done on New Year's Eve. Very impressive. I totally missed the part where Kvothe dreams about Abernathy, and the part with Elodin and the knots.

Here's a further thought: We know that Kvothe is good at unraveling knots. If we follow the analogy, maybe he's also good at unraveling enchanments. We know from Skarpi's story that Larne was trying to end his life (he tried to get Selitos to kill him, but knew it wouldn't "take"). Could it be that he (Haliax) sees Kvothe as the "Chosen One" - the one who can finally end his existance permenently? That would make killing his parents was a carefully orchestrated play - just to prod Kvothe in the right direction.
Ryan Reich
53. ryanreich
Yep, New Year's eve; about an hour before midnight (in CA) too.

Since I'm a mathematician, I feel like looking at the statistics of "knot". It's true that I got just over four pages of search results in NW and just over ten in WMF, but two or three of the latter were just the Yllish knots, which are all mentioned in a big, ah, knot in the same place in the book. I think it's more interesting to observe the variation in the individual categories.

Figurative uses went from one to about four, if you lump all the ones in Levinshir into a single occurrence. So it looks like this is "atmospheric": part of the writing style, whether deliberate or unconscious, so that more words in the book mean more knots too.

Metaphors for pain or discomfort (particularly hunger) dropped dramatically; in fact, there's only one new one, since the first is actually a flashback to Tarbean. This is not atmospheric: in NW, all but one of these are in Tarbean, and the last was from camping; in WMF, one was again from Tarbean, and the other was from studying. Conclusion: Tarbean was a source of knots for Kvothe. We know it's significant, but there's no way that just Susan Loyal's binding theory explains its full significance. It is merely the foundation.

Metaphors for anger or anxiety roughly doubled, and none of the uses seem especially notable. This is atmospheric, though I like sillyslovene's observation that none of them apply to frame-Kvothe. However, there is an easy explanation for this: the frame is third-person, and the narrator is impartial (i.e. it's not a POV third-person). Perhaps someone else can trawl the frame chapters and see if any kind of inner emotions are described by the narrator.

Literal but mundane mentions are pretty much the same in both books, though this is the "miscellaneous" category. For example, in NW these were all physical knots present at the time, while in WMF there are no actual knots anywhere in the book, and these "literal" mentions are reported, some of them with a wink and a nudge. I think none of the NW mentions are important and all of the WMF ones are; this is not atmospheric. Again, I like sillyslovene's observation about Bast. Is it important that he first breaks Chronicler's pendant (his faith) and then ties it together (making it stronger)?

Very significant mentions are one per book, and this means that Rothfuss is reminding us that the subject is important.

Yllish knots are mentioned exactly zero times in NW! It's strange how we are so comfortable with this topic and yet it is mentioned for the first time only in passing in Interesting Fact, and then not again until the Loeclos box at the end of the book. Anyway, this obviously makes WMF the Knot Book.

Based on this, I'd say that it's unlikely that individual mentions of figurative or emotional knots are significant, since they appear to be sort of random. General patterns of use are, of course, significant, and I described those in the original post. On the other hand, the strong connection between Tarbean and knots of pain suggests that any metaphorical use of knots (as applied to Kvothe, at least) could reflect the continuing influence of that period of his life. I separated the two metaphorical uses since they are obviously distinct, but the language and intention are formally similar for both. Obviously we should pay attention to the two very significant knot-myths in the books. As for literal knots and Yllish knots, these are entirely a feature of WMF, and probably related.

Edit: One exception to the randomness rule for metaphorical knots: there is exactly one place where a knot of anxiety is described as being removed: at the sword tree, when he laughs and finds the name of the wind again. In light of Hespe's story I can't but find this to be incredibly important. Looks like knnn's hypothesis connecting knots and naming may have something to it.

So: two kinds of knots in these books. The figurative ones: all callbacks to Tarbean? Pain, anxiety, and violence. And the literal ones: all references to Yllish knots? What are the knot-myths telling us: do they each pertain to one of these, or is everything tied together?
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
The knot in the Jax story is certainly interesting. It is presented as having its own sentience and resistence to being unknotted (unlocked).
I found it noteworthy that while Jax had tried force upon the knot he had failed. This reverses an echo of the tale Alexander the Great's dealing with the Gordian knot and seems to also enforce Kvothe's own dealings with his chest. In this case insight and knowledge work where brute force can not.
It is also worth noting that the Tinker clearly knew how to open the knot. Whether this means he was a namer or just possessed the "key" is interesting in and of itself.
55. ryan7273
I find it interesting that D corrects Kvothe on how the knots should be read. He has been trying to look at them like you would a written language. This could be similar to the scene with Puppet telling him that he looks too hard and doesn't actually see. Instead of looking at the knots, you have to feel them; to experience them. This may provide some support for the knots=written-language-for-shaping theory.

Another thought is that maybe the Yllish knots are meant to be read by feel instead of sight because they are part of the written down magic that D asks about. If so, looking at them would cause them to work their magic on you, but touching them would be safe. I really dislike this theory and much prefer the idea that it's a way of writing shaping, but it's worth thinking about.
56. knnn
Totally seperate thought:

Later on, Bast mentions that Jax went to the Cthaeh before going to steal the moon. Has anyone found any hint of this in Hespe's tale? I was going to suggest that the old man is really Cthaeh, but he seems like a nice guy. I suppose we could say that the story got twisted (like with D's song about Lanre), but this sounds a little hollow.

Does anyone have any other ideas?
George Brell
57. gbrell

I discussed this in one of my comments a couple weeks ago:

Short answer: The suggestion I've heard most often is that the old man is Teccam. The only other character in the story is the Tinker and my comment discusses the similarities between the Cthaeh's powers and the Tinkers' abilities.
Julia Mason
58. DrFood
A late arrival: I posted something days ago and it was flagged as spam (perhaps because I have links to two different outside web addresses)? Of course being a holiday it took a while to show up. I'm surprised it was popped in back at #34 (apologies for any confusion caused by changing the subsequent comment numbers).

I'm curious if anyone else sees Kvothe as being ADD/ADHD. I'm currently reading The Lightning Thief to my daughter and the boy hero explicitly labels himself as ADD, but the thought had already occurred to me. Certainly not every impulsive person is ADD, but if there's one word for Kvothe beyond "bright," it's "impulsive."

Or, maybe that's too modern to try to apply to a fantasy novel. YMMV
59. knnn

Thanks for pointing this out. You've got a great summary there.
The only thing I could maybe add is the suggestion that the Ctaeh is the old man, but that he turned bitter as a result of the encounter with Jax. Not great, but there you have it.
David C
60. David_C
Jo wrote:
There is no comment by Kvothe on the story, either in the story or in the frame, only on the teller and not the tale.
Except this isn’t true. At the beginning of Chapter 86 Kvothe clearly indicates that this is a story that he hasn’t heard before, despite being Edemah Ruh and all.

Hespe learning the story from her mother hints at some kind of matrilineal tradition. Do we know of any others beside the Ademre?
61. Kashiraja
@28 and others. the "as above so below" can also generally be recognized as an astrological phrase. not being familiar with the philosophies you mentioned, I recognized it as a notion in indian astrology. the fact that the macrocosm of stars and planets is mirrored in the microcosm of man. from that phrase, I deduced that although not generally mentioned, some kind of astrology exists in the world, and the people at the University find it unscientific, and so Kvothe laughs at the fact that the phrase is both true (he is establishing a link with sympathy from above, the sky, to the ground) and considered untrue at the University (the link between the heavens and the earth).

I find it funny at an additional level, as we are reading a fantasy book and sympathy is the actual unscientific (from the point of view of real contemporary modern science), opposite to what stated in the book.
62. Thurule
Lots of mentions of Skarpi in this thread, and it occurred to me, has anyone brought up the fact that Skarpi seems to know an awful lot of stories? Something that is attributed repeatedly, and specifically to the Ruh?
Jay Matteo
63. j4yx0r
@62 Thurule - I'm sure this has been posited before; As well as the fact that the name 'Skarpi' is pretty close to the name 'Sceop' (the old man taken in by the Edema Ruh in Kvothe's story). I also remember talk of the word sceop meaning 'shaper' or something similar in Greek.
Andrew Mason
64. AnotherAndrew
Like some others, I'm wondering what to make of the broken road. My immediate thought was that the Old Stone Road is indeed broken at its eastern end - it just stops there. But I had taken this to be the result of the Creation War and the destruction of Myr Tariniel. Now, if we just had Hespe's verion of the Jax story, it would be reasonable to think it came after the Creation War, and that is why both house and road are broken. But we later get another version of the same events - less detailed, but presumably more accurate - from Felurian, and she makes it clear that this happened before the Creation War and, indeed, was the cause of it. So, was there some even earlier cataclysm that caused the original breaking?

I think we're going to get some more chronological problems when we get to Ademre.
Jo Walton
65. bluejo
RyanReich: Wow.

DavidC: Yes, he comments that he didn't know the story, but that's more of a metacomment, he doesn't comment on the story itself.
66. GentleReader
This is a slightly silly thought, but with respect to the Cthaeh, the tree and its panacea flowers, has no one considered earplugs? Or is the Cthaeh perhaps assumed to be dangerous in ways aside from its voice and infinite malice?
Nisheeth Pandey
67. Nisheeth
When Kvothe runs away, he says that he heard Cthaet's sound for far more then he ought to. Maybe his sound may penetrate the ear plugs?

What i was wondering was why hasn't any deaf person tried to Kill it?
Nick Spacek
68. nickspacek
Like @12 this part bothered me; Kvothe performs some crazy malfeasance, something that seems to never happen in this world (or at least we haven't heard of it). Why aren't there more sympathists killing people with their powers? Such things would happen in our world. And a rogue sympathist could potentially train others.
69. Kashiraja
@67 I think the Cthae has something like a bite, and if you come close enough to get a flower you may get more mind-poison. That is why Felurian ask Kvothe if he asked for it (I think she means, the flower).
Jeremy Raiz
70. Jezdynamite
My take is that just by speaking to the Cthaeh, it can drive you crazy.
71. mr. awesome
The earplugs thing was probably an oversight by Rothfuss.

I suppose the Cthaeh could influence them indirectly by killing butterflies, but that probably wouldn't have significant impact.
72. Bbqq
First time post, I've been following this for a while. I just wanted to say,

@j4yxor; When Tempi and Kvothe are travelling to Ademre in WMF, Kvothe says 'I'm not speaking..', which is translated into Ademic as 'sceopa teyas'. This is pure conjecture, but I'd personally like to believe that 'sceopa' translates as 'speaking', and therefore 'sceop' in Ademic means 'speak' or 'speaker'. This makes sense, because the character Sceop in the Ruh tale is said to become a great storyteller, and it also underlines the potential link between the Adem and the Edema Ruh.
George Brell
73. gbrell
@66.GentleReader/ awesome:

Ignoring the massive headaches that arise from the concept of precognition (what if the Cthaeh's first actions with the first person it ever spoke to was to guarantee that no one ever wore earplugs and then it reinforced that path every time it spoke to someone?), people went to the Cthaeh for two reasons, only one of which earplugs help with. For those that went seeking the Rhinna (the flower panacea), earplugs sound like a good idea. For those who go seeking answers, earplugs would be kind of self-defeating. Also, I've never found a pair of earplugs that fully block out sound. Presumably, the Cthaeh could influence someone into removing the plugs enough through Rube Goldberg-esque machinations to allow it to further affect them.

I also think that @67.Nisheeth has it right when he points out that the Cthaeh's voice carries in a rather magical fashion.


You presume the Cthaeh can be killed.
74. lancelot
Okay, starting my Alchemical reread. Disclaimers first.
75. Faedrys
Just a very small thing to add as a first comment, and it's possibly an irrelevant coincidence, but in Old English, sceop = poet/singer/bard and is pronounced "she-op", (pronunciation of sc in Old English is almost universally equivalent to modern English sh). Sceops in Old English texts tell stories, sing, and often play the harp. "Skarpi" looks like Old Norse to me, I'll have a look in my dictionary later and post if it means anything interesting.
76. aerlevsedi
Sorry if someone already said this and I'm just repeating, but the small iron box from Hespe's story. When Kvothe is examining the Lackless box, he tilts it and feels something shift inside. I'm pretty sure he says something about how it feels like a metal object (sorry I don't have the exact quotation). Could the metal object in the Lackless box be the box in which Jax sealed part of the Moon's name?

And of course there's all the theories about how Kvothe might have opened the Lackless box and caused something to happen to bring the two worlds back together again, and all that.

Just a thought :)
kineta chien
77. kineta
I think "The Broken Road" is meant as a sort of 'anti-Lethani', or at least it's opposite. (Lethani is the name of the chapter which follows).

Lethani is described very much like the Tao - which, according to wikipedia, literally means "a road, path, way". Where Lethani is described as 'right action', the broken road seems to describe Jax's willfull actions out of harmony with 'right action'.

I think the chapter where Kvothe cuts his hand on the Sword Tree, saying 'willing' is meant as both foreshadowing and double meaning - not just to be willing to do something but also the act of willing something. His way to the tree is in direct contrast to the way the Adem do it - where they use the Lethani, right action, to guide them - Kvothe wills the wind to stop.

This seems to reflect the war between the Namers and the Shapers. The Shapers create - and hands are a fitting symbol of that. The Namers discover the inner workings of things. Magic versus Mysticism. Yin & Yang. The Adem at the Eastern end of The Great Stone Road and the University teaching Magic at the Western end.

This theme seems to find expression when Kvothe gives this as one of the beginnings of his own story: "In the beginning, as far as I know, the world was spun out of the nameless void by Aleph, who gave everything a name. Or, depending on the version of the tale, found the names all things already possessed."
Steven Halter
78. stevenhalter
kineta@77:That is a good observation. Jax was engaged in an incorrect path. Good idea to note the contrast with the Lethani here and to note that Kvothe doesn't quite get the usage of the Lethani.
There may be an additional meaning behind the metaphor of the broken road relating to travel between worlds, but there is no real strong evidence for that meaning at this point.
79. thebloodless
Iax... halIAX... Haliax... Felurian says, that Jax was a creater with black eyes... And since he was the greatest creater in the creation war, might he have been Lanre?
80. Bubbleset
I seemed to have the opposite reaction as most. My first thought is that the Old Man Jax/Iax spoke to was the Cthaeh. It's his final half-hearted "no, don't go" as Jax leaves - as if he knows what he's just set Jax on the road to doing and isn't interested in stopping it. And beyond the Tinker, which seems far more unlikely to me, he's the only other character in the Jax tale. But the ties to Teccam seem equally clear. A man out chasing the wind, listening to the world and trying to understand it, and speaking from a cave.

My crazy thought is - what if they both are true? What if the philosopher Teccam of yore is also the Cthaeh of today? We know Teccam was incredibly wise, a teacher and philosopher, and "knew the shape of the world". We know the Cthaeh is also in some ways omniscient and sees all, though he supposedly uses that power to create the worst outcomes. What if Lanre and Iax visited the wise philsopher, gained great knowledge, and then went on to do terrible things with that knowledge because they lacked wisdom. Teccam became the scapegoat and was trapped in his current prison, where now he maliciously plots. It also explains the Cthaeh's hatred of the Chrandrian. I don't completely buy it, but I think the character of Teccam still has some role to play in this story.

And I'll note that this likely contradicts my current working theory, which is that the Cthaeh is represented by Encanis in Trapis' story. He turned the leaders of the great cities, including Lanre, causing the cities downfall and the leaders transformation into the Chandrian.
thistle pong
81. thistlepong

re: your current working theory

I wrote up a post summing up the connections between Encanis and the Cthaeh here.
82. Adriasc88
"Marten shoots the tree, Kvothe calls lightning to it, thinking the slippage will kill him, but he’s dying anyway. He binds the arrows, makes a spark, says “As above, so below”, a joke only someone from the University could hope to understand. He passes out.
This is similar to the incident at Trebon with the draccus — we’ve been set up over a long time with the magic so we understand it, and then it’s a very dramatic scene that is ultimately leading nowhere. Hespe’s story is leading somewhere. Tempi’s hand gestures are. This, as far as we know so far, is just an action scene."
I really don't understand what has to do the arrow with the lightning. Maybe I don't understand it for the same reason that I don't understand the joke, “As above, so below”. You said he makes an spark with the arrow, maybe that would make sense, but the book doesn't say anything about any spark: he sticks the arrow in the wet ground.

I don't understand it and it's fine, that happens. I just wonder if there is anybody who actually understands it. Or if maybe somebody recived an explanation from Patrick and know what was he thinking on when he wrote the scene.

;) thanks in advance
Nisheeth Pandey
83. Nisheeth
@82, Adriasc88:
How I understood it was that he made the tree the arrow was fired at into a lightning rod. The sympathy amplified that effect considerably indcreasing the probability of lightning striking the tree quite a lot.

I don't understand teh joke, but I seem to remember it being related to Alchemy.
84. jorgybear
“The Edema Ruh know all the stories in the world”. When you combine this with the fact that Kvothe knew the “bones” of the stories, without knowing the details, it rings with the theory of the Seven Story Archetypes. I think the number 7 is significant here, as there are 7 Chandrian. Each Chandrian may be represented by one of these archetypes.
I feel I should note that since I saw mention of Iax, I pronounce both this and Jax as “Yax”.
A church that is also a brewry isn’t THAT unusual. Buckfast Monastery, anyone? I’m sure there are countless others.
“It says the road passes through Tinue as all roads do, but the Great Stone Road doesn’t!” Perhaps it once did, but no longer does, because it’s broken?
Kate Hunter
85. KateH
I don't really get the joke either, despite praxisproces' explanation/commentary. The main point I took away from the lightning episode is that K himself doesn't really understand what he did, how he called the lightning. This is yet another instance that points to some works of magic being performed without full understanding of what is happening, and usually in hightened emotional states.

I had a thought about Cinder in the bandit camp, one which really won't go anywhere, but...Cinder disappears completely, no trace of him is ever found. It made me wonder if Haliax wasn't in the tent where Cinder retreated just after hearing Marten's prayer and scanning the sky for something, as the Chandrian did when K's troupe was murdered. We don't really know of another mechanism for the Chandrian simply up and disappearing, but of course they could have any number of tricks up their sleeves. Like I said, speculation leading nowhere.

Finally, the super brief chapter where Marten talks about what happened. We know it's Marten answering, because K recognizes and identifies his voice. But whose is the "familiar voice" posing the questions that Marten is responding to? Of course, this is another maddening scene with PR deliberately providing limited information. Marten never calls his interlocutor "Dedan," always "Den." I don't think he ever addressed Dedan with such a nickname at any other time, unless I missed it. Suggesting that he was talking to someone other than Dedan in that one episode only muddies the water further, I realize. But the difference in names just screamed at me from the text. Thoughts?
thistle pong
86. thistlepong
Marten never calls his interlocutor "Dedan," always "Den." I don't think he ever addressed Dedan with such a nickname at any other time, unless I missed it.
I found a couple examples. I have to admit, though, that I didn't remember them.
“Shut up, Den,” Marten snapped, nettled at the interruption. “It was so copper.” (554)
There was another tense moment, but before it stretched too long Marten chimed in, “C’mon Den. The boy’s actually got a fair bit on the ball. He set up this little ambush in about four seconds.” (605)
Dedan's probably still the most credible assumption. It's an interesting thought, though.
Kate Hunter
87. KateH
Okay, thanks, thistlepong. That's one complication I can scratch off the list. Phew!
88. Ratty Tat Tatty
I always assumed El'the would mean shaper. Fits with the story.
89. D Murphy
I can't find any discussion on this topic and this seems to be the best place for it:

Kvothe, in the assault on the bandit camp, is frustrated that he has no fire back at the camp to link to. But he has two bonfires right in front of him and a pocket of ash. I realize that, due to consanguinity, the link would be less powerful than if he was linked to the actual fire the ash came from. But it should still be a good link - ash to ash - and would provide him a much better source than his blood and such.

Am I missing something about sympathy? It is trying to be a "rule based" magic system but it doesn't actually utilize its rules. For someone who knows the world better than I do, I'd love to know any answers...
Kate Hunter
90. KateH
@DMurphy #89

That's a good catch, and I haven't seen it raised before. "All fires are the same fire," and are the sympathist's to command, after all. I think it's fair to call this a slight inconsistency in the text.
91. elricprincess
Something i've always wondered about the "heart of stone", is that if your emotions are locked down; how do you get them back?
Is it like a switch, and go from emotionless to having your emotions back or wha?
Its very curious how in many action scened in this book the wind is involved. It blows an arrow out of the way in the scene with the bandits, and i'm fairly certain it stops kvothe from falling backwards when he initially tries to break into ambrose's rooms. Not sure what it means, but perhaps people with the skill for naming get fringe benefits.
Nisheeth Pandey
93. Nisheeth
@89, 90: There is a discussion about it in speculative summary 19, after comment 188.

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