Jan 12 2012 2:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 6: “Expect disaster every seven years” Speculations on Kote

Patrick Rothfuss reread of The Wise Man’s FearWe’re half way through our ridiculously detailed re-read of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear, and we’re going to pause here for another speculative summary. After we’ve summed up some of the speculation we’ll be moving on. These posts assume you’ve read all of both books The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, and they are absolutely full of off-the-wall speculative spoilers for all of both books. Please don’t go beyond the cut unless you want that!

Abbreviations: NW = The Name of the Wind. WMF = The Wise Man’s Fear. DT = Day Three, the forthcoming final volume. K = Kvothe or Kote when I can’t figure out what to call him and I’m feeling Kafkaesque. MT: Myr Tariniel. D = Denna

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

We will have two more speculative summary posts after this one, on the Ctheah, and Master Ash. Then we’ll get on with WMF from the meeting with Felurian.



Foxed said:

I like the implication of the cut-flower. Kvothe is a cut flower. His name is cut, and he is Kote.

Maybe that’s fatal.

We have several theories. We had a Kvothe summary post before, so only new thoughts here. But Artful Magpie sums up the different theories very well:

Did Kvothe change his name and take away his own power? Is he using his Alar to wall himself away from his abilities? Is he just being a trouper to his bones and acting the greatest part of his life? People have made convincing arguments on all sides.

The Change of Name

Greyhood wonders what that shapechanger was really asking:

There’s been some discussion about how someone changes their Name. I know I always thought about how a person would change it themselves. Then it occurred to me that it would take a Namer to do that. But no, of course it must be a Shaper...

Te rhintae..?

Alar like a bar of Ramston Steel

Daniel Rixy:

the references to Ramston steel could mean that in order to get his name back, K might have to break his own alar.

Interesting, and wouldn’t that be cool to see, if awful for him to experience!

Greyhood has a very good point.

On Ramston steel Alar. When Devi wins the duel, his alar suddenly breaks. She moves a little, and then all of sudden is pulling out the heat thing. I’m not sure that the snapping Ramston business means he permanently snaps his Alar.

Jonathan White suggests:

I understand the Ramson steel reference, but breaking Alar seems to me like breaking a mind, and Kvothe doesn’t seem insane to me. If his Alar was broken, I’d expect him to act more like Elodin, for example.

So my theory is that it is hidden from him, and only emerges when he is feeling some strong emotion. The arrival of the skindancer wouldn’t have been enough - it would have to be some reference to his past life. Most everyone agrees that if it is not broken, he has hidden it from himself - but this is not necessarily true. What if someone saw what he was doing to the world and decided to forcibly conceal his Alar from him to stop it? And the only two people I can think of who would be able to do this are Elxa Dal and Devi - of them, Devi is probably more likely. I think she has a much bigger role to play, and holding back Kvothe could be part of it.

Sleeping (like in Tarbean)


We already saw Kvothe mentally break down when his family was killed, so how much worse would it be if he felt (or actually was) responsible for the deaths of his new family? Since K is no longer a child he can’t react the same way, so instead of putting most of his mind to sleep he puts the dangerous parts-the parts that got his friends killed-to sleep instead. His retreat into Kote would therefore be not just out of guilt or grief but also out of a desire to protect those around him.

The Waystone

The quick version of this theory is that it isn’t changing his name that has changed Kvothe into Kote, but some magic he has done centered on the Waystone Inn itself. The silences, perhaps:


Is it possible that K built his inn like Elodin’s cell in the Rookery was built in NW? With the basic idea that whatever caused the almost tangible heaviness in the air in Elodin’s cell and prevented him from using naming is causing the almost palpable silence in the frame? K potentially would do this to keep himself hidden: whatever presumably kept Elodin’s magic within the walls of his cell would also prevent others on the outside from sensing it. This could be why it drives Bast so crazy, if these types of prisons don’t exist in the Fae, Bast has never experienced anything like it before. As a Fae creature he might experience the sensation more as silence rather than a ’heaviness’ that K did as a human experiencing it. Also why Bast is the only one presumably feeling it. This also could explain why K was able to deal with the scrael in the forest but not deal with the bandits in the inn.

This does answer the interesting problem summed up by Maltheos:

K has a weird level of competence flux in the frame. He is powerful and capable in combat vs the scrael, and not so capable vs the brigands — either he is restraining, or he is manipulating his name, or he is trying to trick/play Bast or Chronicler.

He defeated the scrael physically outside, when he couldn’t physically fight the bandits or the skindancer inside.

Wetlander NW:

Part of the point of the theory is that the “palpable silence” is built into the inn itself. (Or, possibly, invested in it, since I was under the impression that Kote had come along and bought an existing place. No idea why, though.) In either case, it would mean that anything occurring outside the inn is unaffected - hence, Kote would be unaffected by it during the scrael-fight, which takes place outside (at some distance, IIRC), but still be unable to fight the soldiers within its confines. Any person who is sensitive to such things would “feel” the silence; both Chronicler and Bast are definitely in that group. And obviously, the heavy silence doesn’t preclude sound, or they wouldn’t be able to have conversations. It just never quite goes away, somehow - which is why I think greggors’s theory has distinct merit. No matter how much noise or conversation takes place, including roaring fights, the feel of the heavy silence is still... there. Part of the inn itself, like Elodin’s cell.

and expanding on that, still Wetlander NW:

I was thinking in terms of K more or less having put himself where he is, rather than someone else having imposed… well, anything on him. My thought was that, in the process of whatever he did to himself, there were several steps. One of the first was to find (or build) his inn, investing in it the Name of Silence – or whatever the right verb might be, to get an effect similar to Elodin’s cell. Once that was done, he did… whatever it was… to put the other limitations on himself, “locking v and h in the chest” – whether it’s part of his name, or his Alar, or whatever he’s got stuffed in there, including his mastery of the Name of Silence. (Also, probably, all his various rings.)

I’m convinced that the chest holds part of what he was as Kvothe, in some way; that when he can open the chest, he can return to his full power; that he did it himself, deliberately; and that he will be able to get in, when the time is right. (Okay, that last one is a little less sure, because it’s entirely possible that PR intends him to do what he has to do without his powers.)

Anyway, I don’t see K as being imprisoned by anyone else, so I don’t see it as a curse put on him by anyone but himself. I’m not glued to the theory about the Name of Silence; it just sounded really cool. But if it’s true, that Silence is bound into the inn, the bar, the hands… I think he did it himself, and then locked away his ability to remove it.


DrFood said

What I wanted to bring up was K’s hands. I’m concerned that he’s lost some of the function of his hands. He swears to Denna “by my good left hand” that he won’t attempt to uncover her patron. (He offers the right, she says she prefers the left.) Later, he swears to Meluan “By my hand, I will not speak of what I see to anyone.”

I wonder if Kvothe broke his vow to Denna and lost some function in his hands. Not all, obviously (he can make pie!), but maybe some sensation, proprioception, fine motor control. . . this would have a serious adverse effect on his lute skillz. When he’s trying to make a wreath of holly and stabs his thumb, it really doesn’t seem to hurt at all—it’s almost like he has to see the injury to know he’s injured. His reaction to this apparently minor setback is rather intense. (“All the laughter faded from his expression, and his eyes were hard and dark.”)

When Kvothe is examining the Lockless box, he feels the faint carving that he postulates may be Yllish story knots. Neither Alveron nor Meluan had noticed any carving. He explains “I have exceptionally sensitive hands—they’re necessary for my work” and he later clarifies this is for his music, as well as for his magic.

So, if something has happened to his hands (or to one hand) could that explain why “of course there is no music”?

This theory is, Kvothe broke his word and his hands are now unreliable, he can’t have music, or other skill with them. There’s all kinds of evidence for this in the text — the fist he makes without knowing it, and clumsiness, as well as the thorn. I really believe this is at least part of it, because it’s hidden in plain sight, the way the moon was in NW, and it’s clear that Rothfuss likes doing this kind of thing.

Dr Food again:

K is described as rubbing his left hand with his right a couple of times, and when Bast tells him that the flower of the Rhinna (the tree where he spoke to the Cthaeh) is a panacea, he looks down at his folded hands on the tabletop. I’d guess he was thinking that a panacea would be a very useful thing.


in WMF he mentions his fear of injuring his hands way too much for it to be irrelevant.

Yes. and in NW too, he’s always worrying about hurting his hands.

And there’s the Ciridae connection. Trollfot:

Kvothe bloodies his hand a lot. Auri washes him up in the Underthing and he cuts himself on purpose on that tree in the Ademre. Connection with thre Amyr and their bloody hands?

And in the fight with the bandits he cuts his hands and blood runs down, which may have been what made Cinder vanish, if he caught sight of Kvothe and thought it was a Ciridae.

Dr Food takes the hand thing even further:

Kvothe’s hands—all important to him in the main story, possibly malfunctioning in some subtle way in the frame story. Back in early September I expressed concern about Kote’s hands, saying maybe he now (in the frame story) has a problem with sensation, proprioception or fine motor control


Devi asks “What did you think about the chapter on proprioception?”

Whoa. Proprioception is not a word that pops up in most people’s everyday conversations. I’m reminded of what Jo said earlier, that given all the editing these books have been through, you can assume that nothing is in there as filler. Everything that is there is there for a purpose.

So, what is proprioception? It is the sensation of your own body’s position and movements within space. It’s how you can clap your hands with your eyes shut. It’s the difference between an 8 yr old trying to play a piano piece that uses both hands, stopping and starting and looking first up at the music, then down at her hands, and Billy Joel (or Sarah Maclachlan) belting out a song and looking out at the audience whilst both hands are moving all over the keyboard. If you lose your sense of proprioception, you won’t know what your hands are doing if you can’t see them.

So, it’s interesting that this little bit of apparent time killing prior to his disastrous confrontation includes a brief discussion of proprioception. Kvothe argues that the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he talks about people with amputated limbs. Here it seems we have a reference to the “phantom limb” phenomenon, where a person who has lost a limb still “feels it there.” Most commonly what the person feels is phantom pain in the missing limb. One theory about this phenomena is that the brain is primed to receive data back from all parts of the body (that’s proprioception) and if the part of the brain expecting feedback from the, say, left hand is getting nothing, then this lack of data may be interpreted as bad/pain.

I can’t imagine Pat going all Empire Strikes Back on us and having Kvothe actually flat-out lose a hand, only to have it replaced by a simulacrum that doesn’t have good proprioception and thus can’t play the lute. So what could he “do” to Kvothe’s hand, within the Four Corners world? Something about unbound principles?

and SillySlovene building on that:

Proprioception and K’s problems could also account for K’s lost fight to the soldiers- if someone’s got you around the neck from behind, seeing your hands could be very hard, and if he’s got some problem with his hands as has been hinted, this could account for him still being able to perform the “perfect step” and beating the Scrael but failing when he can’t fully see his hands for the complex counter movement...

The thought about unbound principles could be an interesting answer- as K in the frame seems much more knowledgable about alchemy (coaching Bast on the use of Cellum Tincture, which IIRC is an alchemy text) than in the story proper. He apparently has put in a lot more study in the area after the point he is at in his story- could that have been his motivation?

and first Lune:

one of the silences in NW has to do with Kvothe’s hands: “The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. [...] And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.”

and then Artful Magpie find a direct connection between Kvothe’s hands and the silence:

Okay, interesting thing here. I just looked at the first and last sections of both NotW and WMF...the 3 silences parts. The third silence, the great silence, is in every instance described as being held inside two things: 1) objects and things that are part of the inn, such as the floor, the hearth, the clay cider jugs, the plaster walls, the locks and 2) perhaps more interestingly, the hands of the red-haired man.

The silence, the third silence, is in K’s hands. Given all the discussions we’ve had about “good right hand” and upon which hand Namers wear rings, and the ring without a name possibly being a ring of silence, and K’s proprioception, etc etc ad infinitum, the fact that the silence pervading the inn is always described as being in his hands becomes...interesting, non?

Brilliant, I think.

and DrFood:

His “good left hand.” When he looks down and seems surprised that his hand has clenched into a fist, I don’t think it’s because he’s lost control. I think it’s because he’s lost his sense of proprioception, that thing that lets you know where your various body parts are (and in what configuration) without looking at them.

Silentia even finds hope in it:

I like the hands theory. If it’s not a ring of silence, it might just be that they are broken. He’s always saying his hands are the most valuable thing he has...everything talent he has is based on his hands. Threpe tells Kvothe in NW, after he sings the Lay of Sir Savien, that he thought he was a brave boy, too brave. He didn’t know he couldn’t save the end of a broken song with a broken instrument....but he did. Kote might be broken, the talent of his hands may have been impeded, but I think he will save the end of his broken song/story and while it may not end “perfect” it will be “complete”, which I think refers to the frame story as much as Kvothe’s narrative.

A New Chandrian

The ever-perceptive GBrell suggests:

I almost wonder whether Pat’s mention of a “new” Chandrian is hiding the ball in plain sight. What if the reason for Kvothe’s weakness in the frame story is that he broke not just his mind, but himself (a la Ged)? We know the Chandrian aren’t human (or pre-human), but what if “he” is literally responsible for the wrongs in the world and Kvothe is punishing himself. This also allows for the Kingkiller duality stuff we’ve talked about (he could’ve literally killed his own self, his poetic side - hence no music, or locked his “self” in the box).

What if what Bast wants is Kvothe whole, both parts recombined? The Road to Levinshir, Flame, Thunder, Broken Tree and Shehyn’s comments all demonstrate that Kvothe has a dark side, something “wrong” in him; what if what we see now is only half of Kvothe (just K) and his actions have unbalanced not just the world, but literally himself.

If so, which half is Kote, light or dark?


“Some might even say that there’s a new Chandrian out there”, “The important people know the difference”. (Appr. quotation from early tNotW.)

Kvothe has done terribly things that render him equal to the Chandrian, almost like an 8th Chandrian. Also, on the vase that Nina sees there are eight persons (which are often described as the Chandrian + Ciridae Amyr) and Nina see them all as the same, or even figures that the Ciridae is the worst. Does Kvothe feel like the Ciridae on the vase? He’s done evil but for a good case. Most people might not understand the difference, but the “important people” know

Which leads to the interesting question of who the “important people” are. I think that’s something that’s certain to be answered in DT.

A Beautiful Game

This theory was first proposed by AO, and it’s summed up here by The Faceless Man:

I’ve been coming back to the idea proposed about K setting a trap by playing a “beautiful game” as Kote. Why after all this time would he just dump his solitude and give his story to one of the most famous writers known? Certainly if the story spread people would be pretty aware of the fact that A. Kvothe is not dead and B. Some previously unknown and personal information would be out there not only about K but everyone involved (some powerful and important figures) C. And this is what makes me think Kote IS his beautiful game; K is putting down a record of everything he knows about the Amyr and Chandrian. We know that he has crossed their (Chandrian) path personally twice already (the killing of his troupe and Cinder with the mercenaries.) Most likely there will be some part in his story where he meets them again and if there is one thing beyond all doubt we know about the Chandrian it’s that they do not like people telling stories about them. Is this his version of his father’s song? Letting some truth about the Chandrian back into the world to draw them to him? It seems that he is drawing Fae creatures and other powers towards him already with the Scrael and Skindancer. Could Kote be the cheese on the mouse trap?

Yes, yes he could.

Again, no conclusions here, just pulling together thoughts and welcoming more.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

1. Ophidian
Does it make sense that Kote's lack of 'clever hands' merely is symptomatic of his true essence/self being trapped away in the box?
Adam Shaeffer
2. ashaef

I love these posts, but every time I read one my impatience comes just a little bit closer to killing me!
Kristoff Bergenholm
3. Magentawolf
>2 - Agreed. I just want the story, I've already read these comments. :(
4. DEL
JO! I have been waiting months for the next are killing me here.
Katy Maziarz
5. ArtfulMagpie
Well, I, for one, find the re-cap posts extremely helpful in crystallizing the core points being made throughout the discussions.
6. sdm
My theory is this,

Each Chandrian is cursed to live eternally without the talents that they enjoyed in life, in fact, the signs of the Chandrian are actually curses on the Chandrian's human gifts. If one was a blacksmith, now he causes iron to decay, if one was a gardener, he now causes plants to die. What the Chandrian want, is to find a way to die, thus, bringing themselves peace.

If Kvothe kills Halix, then he would somehow take his place as a Chandrian. His name would change to Kote, and his curse would be to lose his music and sympathy.

The reason Kvothe is "waiting to die", is because he cannot die, he is now cursed to live forever without Music and Sympathy.
Ashley Fox
7. A Fox
@6. Mmmm. For me this theory is flawed in that the text indicates that the Chadrian were not human. They, the leaders of the various factions/cities during the Creation war were a seperate species. Three have been identified (Pre Aelph's Shaping). The Fae, humans (IMO the Ruarch were the origanal group of humans, who bred and spread in the dark age following the Creation War, leading to deritive groups of the Ruh and Ademre (and likely a as yet unmet group in Yll)) and the'folk that came before'; Shapers/Namers/Knowers.

Felurian states that there were no Human Amyr. Selitos was the first Amyr. Selitos, Lanre, Lyra, Iax et al are all spoken of in the same context suggesting there are of the same ilk. Curiously so is Aelph.

The Chandrian were also leaders of Cities, not blackmiths etc. When Selitos cursed Lanre he became cloaked in shadow to show what lay within. In contrast in his reputation for being fair (inspiring, beautiful).

Perhaps the other chandrian had similar such qualities/repuataions/element of their Name that was stripped away/transmuted o show the corrupted within. Perhaps cinder was as strong/resolute as Iron. Perhaps Delcenti was a great speaker.

Whilst this does seem to reinforce the idea that K has somehow also come under this curse-his silence-there is the question of power. The Chandrian still have power despite the curse. Kote, seemingly, does not. If he was under the curse it would also imply that either a) Selitos cursed him with the same curse b) he allied himself with Haliax and the curse transferred (one of the not-so try epithets of his is that he made a deal with a demon, but does that really qualify as the same sort of aligence that led Haliaxs allies becoming the Chandrian?). Also the Chandrian are subject to their name. K is not. Clearly people say his name reguarily; he is part of common stories and there is a price on his head. If we had nt seen him leave the Waystone on occaision then I would consider that there was some magic there that stopped him being called. But then surely, over the millenia, the Chandrian would have discovered such magic and used it.

A new Chandrian. For K it would be one of the worst insults, painful and fraught with meaning. He set out to find them, to enact revenge for the muder of all he loved. He hates them. We know he has done something terrible (or at least people think he has, and he takes the blame for the Event). If that event was so terrible people equated it with their worst legends, that of the Chandrian, it would explain K's comment. He is not literally an new Chandrian, but accepts that his actions were equal to those of a Chandrian.

If his detracters knew him very well, they may also fuel such comparisons in order to enact the most hurt on him/his memory. (His enemies obviously know/suspect he is still alive despite the common held belief of his death as there is still, after all, a bounty on his head! Trying to flush him out?)
Beth Meacham
8. bam
I am absolutely certain that Kvothe's lute is in the chest. I don't know why he has locked it away in a chest he cannot open any more. Everything we know about him says that there is no greater pain than the loss of his lute, and his music.

The silence is in his hands...the hands that no longer play the lute. I don't know why, yet.

I think that the surprise he shows at the holly thorn stick is because he's never before had no calluses on his fingers. He's surprised at the blood because it shouldn't happen, not because he didn't feel the stick.

To change his name, he had to change his nature; there is nothing more essential to Kvothe than his music. He had to lock it away, and it's killing him.
Jo Walton
9. bluejo
DEL: I think it's useful to do these recap posts. Also, I'm on a book tour, and WMF weighs a couple of kilos and doing a re-read post takes me most of a day. If I'd done them all in advance, you'd have noticed the lack of feedback I think, especially with a section like Felurian.

I'm looking forward to it too.
10. Rkernie
Has anyone asked why Hallowfell is detailed on the map? Yes I know Ben is there (or is he), but why has that one "throwaway" reference risen to the importance of the capitals, the university, and the stone road?
Julia Mason
11. DrFood
Love it! This is torture, in that I can't wait for Day Three, but it is an exquisite sort of torture.

I love the observation that the greatest silence is in the hands of the red haired man each time.
12. DEL
Sorry! I was jesting... but that came across petulent. I love the recaps! and the summaries! I was just anticipating reading about theories of Felurian and Cthaeh with the same feeling you get on christmas morning.
David C
13. David_C
Here are a couple of comments I've made already about whether K is playing a beautiful game.

1. If the chest is a game-piece, why is it upstairs? It's possible that the chest is intensely personal to K, and he keeps it in his room as others might jewelry or love-letters. But if it's a Jax-like box ... why upstairs?

I think that it might be useful to have a "loose threads" summary at some point.
2. Is the point of the whole story to delay Chronicler for three days? In other words, are K's actions in the frame story part of some carefully timed plot which require that K remain hidden, or that Bast and Chronicler are held incommunicado until some specific sequence comes to fruition?

3. "The Waystone Inn" is certainly a clue hidden in plain sight.

4. If indeed this a beautiful game, the framing of the sword of uncertain name indicates some reasonably long-term planning. Is it the display of the sword that starts the clockworks ticking?

I think that it might be useful to have a loose-threads summary.
14. beerofthedark
I strongly agree with the Beautiful Game theory. Not least because it ties in with me and my wife's pet theory!

I know I've said this elsewhere, but our take is that he is indeed the cheese and that the reason for the telling of the story is twofold. i) to draw the Chandrian for some sort of confrontation, and ii) to put their story out into the world as his revenge if he loses said confrontation.

Can I also second that DT literally can't come quickly enough!
andrew smith
15. sillyslovene
Out of nowhere thought:

Looking at the title of this page, from Kilvin's quote: "Expect disaster every seven years"-
First, does this adage fit well within what we know of K's life up to the end of WMF?
and could it be used to speculate on the timeline of D3?

The first disaster which we could start from would be the death of his parents- occurs when he is what age? (I'm at work, don't have the books nor the time ATM to look everything up, maybe later), have we covered 7 years since then yet? Could we then postulate that the next "disaster" i.e. the BIG one that turns him into K/sends him into hiding, occurs 7 years after that? or is there another disaster that I can't remember?

Just thinking outloud/in print...
16. dwndrgn
I love the 'K as cheese in the trap' theory! It fits his character well - he has always believed that no matter what, he'll be able to get done what needs to be done and that arrogance leads him to believe that while he may use himself as bait, he won't lose. But he also has that 'safety and protection' side that says, "Always Be Prepared For Disaster" which leads me to the thought that... could be that he has changed his name or locked away part of it in order to recoup himself after the expected conflict with the Chandrian that he is engineering.
Alf Bishai
17. greyhood
Jo - does your tour take you to NYC?

on summaries: I can't help but thinking that the theories summarized above are really what is happening. Well done everyone!
1) The Waystone: YES. (Set up by Elodin's cell =brilliant catch.)
2) The further limiting of himself by means of the locked chest: YES.
3) The proprioception bit: YES! Wow.
4) The beautiful game: YES! YES! YES! On that...

I can't imagine that D3 will include a completion of the flashback story (a lot more to tell, it seems) AND a new elaborate adventure in the frame. Hence, for economy's sake at the very least there's going to be a show down at the Waystone. And Kote has set the trap with all his preparations. And that means that he's probably expecting Bredon. (It makes narrative sense, anyway.)

This also gives us a ticking clock. Can he open the box before the Enemy shows up? although it does seem he's given up. 'Oh I know what kind of story this is, Bast.' (This was pregnant with sadness.) When Bredon trashes him in Tak, he desribes it as being like an owl destroying a mouse or something like that. He had been hoping to win, now he's just waiting to die. (Or is this the Game? Chronicler will publicize his despair which is actually false?) Maybe he's lying about meeting the Cthaeh? This would give his enemy false confidence in Kote's futility.)

What else is hidden in plain sight in the Waystone that may be part of the Game? The Sword (as someone mentioned). Whoever has made a deal about the chest being upstairs is onto something. That detail is underlined in the text.

Why is it called the Waystone? WHy does he leave the discarded memoir on the floor (he wants someone to sneak in and read it perhaps)?
Ashley Fox
18. A Fox
The further we go down this re-reading road the more I cant help but start to suspect that the box is a red herring/metaphor. A symbol.

The truth of stories gets twisted/condensed into symbols. This is a theme of the text.

The magic we see used is actually of the mind..purely mental ability. Names and Sygaldry are aruguable condensed/separated forms of this perception. representations of a greater whole. Achors.

What if this is also what K's box is? What if there is no inherent power in the box beyound it symbolism? It represents what K has done (or had done) to his mind/Name (Name of course encompassing his mind). That elusive third lock. Within are things that are also symbols-as his lute would symbolise his music, the greatest part of his soul and possibly power. The opening of the physical box would not necessarily 'unleash' K as his whole. What if the box were opened withut his being aware? I would argue that it is his mind that needs to 'open'.

Like folk who go through traumatic experiances and suffer memory loss. Sometimes it is recommended they go back to the place of the experiance to try and remember. The memory is always in their mind but the confrontation with the place/symbolism and suggestion that this will unlock the memory often prevails.

This theory also lend a certain beauty to the scene in which K invites Bast to open the box. Bast represents a young K, trying brute force, cunning, etc. But he canot open the box. This parraels the methods he is using to 'awaken' K. Cunning rumours, brute force with the soldiers. Yet he cannot fully awaken K.

The box is a symbol of what is lost. Of what is locked away. Of silence.

Or maybe, you know, its just a magical box.

::dramatic whisper:: Edro...
19. Spirit Theif
@17 Greyhood

Waystone Inn because waystones are safe havens. We have the discussion in NotW between Kvothe and his parents about greystones, how they mark safe places for travellers.

We also have substansial evidence that greystones/waystones are entrances to Fae. Kvothe sees Felurian standing beside greystones as he's leaving Fae. And Bredan performs pagan rituals besides the stones.

So the Waystone Inn is so named because it is a safe place for K and/or because it marks an entrance to somewhere. Personally I disagree with the speculation that the inn was built around the Lackless Door. Doesn't seem like something so important would be in a farmtown called nowhere.
20. Foxed
@18, the symbolism theory fits in with my own, because sympathy IS symbolism.

To wit, my theory is that Kvothe has used sympathy to tie his talents to an object. He then locked this object, representing his talents, in the box. This symbolic, sympathetic act locked his talents away in his head. I wouldn't be surprised if Ramston steel was used in some way on the box, to symbolize/sympathize his alar.

To unlock his talents, of course he has to open the chest... and I don't know how.

But inside that chest, mark my words, is his lute, which symbolizes his talent. And its song will break the silence of the Waystone.
21. Dao
Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but Hallowfell brims with foreboding. The name itself is oxymoronic; if you break it down you get "Hallow," which means "to make holy," or "to consecreate," "to raise" and "Fell," which is the past tense of "to fall," but can also mean "fierce," "destructive," or "cruel." E.G. the "Fallen angels."

There are a few reasons I bring this up besides the fact that it, and a very few other towns, shows on the map. For one, in NW Kvothe says Ben laid the foundation for what Kvothe was to become, and tells Chronicler to forgive Ben, because "He meant well."

So what does this have to do with Hallowfell? The name sounds like a parallel to Kvothe's life. Abenthy sparks his curiosity, sets him on course to become a "hallowed" legend. Shortly after, Abenthy then settles in Hallowfell. Eventually Kvothe becomes "fell" and falls to the lowly position as an inn-keeper. I know this really oversimplifies Kvothe's life, but perhaps it's a clue?
22. New Reader
I'd just like to add something I thought of recently: it seems Devi is becoming someone who makes perfumes (all those different smells from the back room, and she sounds upset when Kvothe can't smell "pear" as she wanted it to be). He has a giant chest made of roah wood, "prized by perfumers and alchemists". Could she have acquired the materials for him?
23. BT
I would just like to point out that Kvothe built the inn or at least part of it. I can't recall which book it is from but during a scene in his room Kvothe looks at the fire place in the center of his room and refers to it as a "minor piece of engineering of which he was rather proud."

The sword on the mantle has a single bright scratch. It is the dull grey burnished material NEVER scratches. Not in 3000 years has one of those blades been scratched. Kvothe mentions this specifically in WMF. He also makes a point of mentioning breaking his sword. Not the hilt but the blade. The sword on the mantle is described as if an alchemist had taken all the swords in the world and placed them in a crucible and that sword was the result. Could Kvothe have broken Casera and reforged it? He killed someone in front of the Eolian I think. In NOTW there is a reference to "I saw where you killed him in Imre. The cobbles are all shattered an no one can mend them." The Eolian has a great cobbled square in front of it and it would make sense for something important to happen there. Also who did he kill and why are the cobbles shattered. He must have used some serious magic for them to remain shattered. Why did he use that kind of magic? That is where he could have broken the sword. Another possiblilty is could be Cinder's sword. I don't find this very likely though since Cinder's sword was described with very cold language. While this sword talks of endings. It might be both Cinder's and Kvothe's sword reforged into one. That would fit the alchemist reference.

On the inn itself I think Kvothe got the fund for it from Alveron as a thank you for killing the King of Vint. That way Alveron could place a bounty on the Kingkiller and Kvothe could disappear. It makes a certain amount of sense to say the Maer would kill the king if you consider a few facts. The only person in Vintas that would profit from having the Maer lamed but not killed would be the King and who else has the resources to employ an arcanist to do so. If the Maer was healthy he represents a serious hostile threat to the king that Roderick can do nothing about without starting civil war. When the Maer figures out Roderick was behind his posioning he enacts revenge with his only trusted arcanist. This accounts for the Kingkiller moniker and the fact that the king's colors are now the same as the Maers colors (Blue and White).

On the Chandrian I was rather confused about who they betrayed. Was it the Knowers or the Shapers? It could be they betrayed the Shapers. Felurian mentions that they made amazing things and talks of sitting in one of the cities under a silver tree (Tolkien reference). If the shapers stole the moon then it was the Knowers who waged war upon the Empire. When the Chandrian betrayed the Shapers they were cursed. The other argument is that Selitos was not a Shaper. Skarpi mentions that only Iax, Alehu, and Lyre could match him in naming. In a later story Selitos and Alehu are plotting revenge on the Chandrian. Selitos starts the Amyr and Alehu creates Tehlu and his angels. Iax is nowwhere to be seen and Lyra is presumbably dead. Since we know Iax was the formost shaper then it can be assumed that Selitos was the foremost Knower. That implies that the the Empire was of Knowers.
Katy Maziarz
24. ArtfulMagpie
"Could Kvothe have broken Caesura and reforged it?"

Oh dear. "Renewed shall be blade that is broken; the crownless again shall be king." Hrm.
25. Jnai
Reading the bits about Proprioception, I remembered a case from Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat". A brief description of that case from another source:

"Oliver Sacks' fascinating work demonstrates what can happen when proprioception, the internal sense of one's body, is either absent or destroyed. One of his patients was an athletic young woman who had lost all sense of her body. Her five senses, including touch, functioned at near normal levels but proprioceptive perception was lost in a medical accident. She could not feel her muscles, joints, tendons: as she put it, her body went blind. As a result she felt disembodied and could not assert her will over her body and command it to perform the simplest tasks such as sitting up in bed. Interestingly, Christine felt whole or "connected" when she rode in convertible cars and allowed the wind to rush over body, the way, say, the current of a river rushes a bather.

So, there you go, there's your Proprioception / Wind connection. =)

Love these posts by the way, thanks for this!
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
I took another look at Denna's odd letter with an eye towards hiding in plain sight and noticed something. If we take only the words that absolutely shouldn't be capitalized and are we have:

So, OOSSHCWFML. From this jumble we can get:
Now, this could be a coincidence, but the WMF seems like a good crib phrase. If this is a message in the letter then we would have to ask what Denna is trying to say. One interpretation would seem to be a warning to Kvothe about staying at the University. When they meet next D doesn't say anything about this to Kvothe, but maybe she was happy he was at the U any more.
We have seen that Kvothe has enemies at the U. There are Ambrose and a few masters. Maybe the U isn't the home Kvothe thinks it to be.
Or maybe something else, or that isn't really the message.
Bruce Wilson
27. Aesculapius

Yes, I'm inclined to agree with you about the Waystone - the reference is fairly early in NW when K is upstairs in his room eating the stew Bast brings for him, after they first discuss the scrael that attacked Carter. The comment in the narration in respect of the fireplace does indeed suggest that K either built at least part of the Inn or undertook some modifications to a building that was already there.

I have to disagree with you about the sword though: the whole point of the description early in the Frame is that the blade is, in the wording of the text, unmarred. It's a link back to the apparently ancient swords of the Adem in WMF - they have just a few among many their many blades which are described as having unusual "grey" blades that appear undamaged despite being obviously very old. The text specifically mentions that the surviving blades are mated with new hilts when the old ones wear out. It's a comment from Vashet, if I recall correctly, made when K first notices that her sword is somewhat different to many of the others. The reaction to K suggesting that blade might break engenders such horror and disbelief - perhaps the Adem have become used to thinking of these grey blades as effectively unbreakable.

Whether the sword in the Waystone is Saicere or not is open to debate but if it isn't then it's clearly very similar. Vashet's comment is interesting given that the thing that Chronicler notices is that the sword on the wall has a different guard to the one K describes when he first receives Saicere.

The analogy of the weapon looking like the distilled essence of a "sword" struck me as being just that - an analogy. Having said that, I take your point that anything in PR's writing *could* be significant. I speculated in an earlier thread that the grey-bladed Adem swords might even be Namers' or Shapers' swords with some rather special properties (we know Saicere had many owners even *before* the battle of Drossen Tor) and we've certainly discussed the possibility that K may have re-forged or at least re-hilted Caesura but it has also occurred to me that just maybe K had learned enough to be able to combine his Naming and Artificing and create himself an entirely NEW grey-bladed sword from scratch. For what it's worth though, my bet (for now, until any new evidence emerges!) is still on Caesura with a replacement hilt.
28. Firelightfeather
Okay, I have a crazy idea. I've been paying a lot of attention to the Creation War stories, and someone's comment earlier (ah, #7) stated that there were several races present at that time, and that the earliest namer/shapers were of a race different than that which became "todays" humans. Aleph, Lyra, Selitos, Lanre, etc, all are from the non-Ruach race.

So, I had a thought... What if the Creation War was just that, a war of creation? It wasn't cities on the earth that were destroyed - it was realms (like the fae/human realms). Since, IIRC, the CW was *before* Iax tried to steal the moon, having only one realm left would make sense. It would also tie in to all of the creation stories, with Tehlu and all the angels, and how it's not specified (in fact, it's purposefully muddied) as to whether or not Tehlu is an angel or a god. What if all of the "angels" and "gods" are one and the same?

This is really just the bare bones of an idea, but I'm curious to see what others think of it.
Bruce Wilson
29. Aesculapius
Thus far, Felurian is (at least as far as we know) the only "eye-witness" we have to the time of the Knowers and Shapers and the events that led to the Creation War. We have no way, as yet, of verifying that what she says is true - or that K the narrator is reporting what she said fully and accurately - but assuming for the moment that her comments can be taken at face value then it's worth reviewing what she has to say and then looking at the other "evidence" that we have (mainly Skarpi's stories) in the light of what Felurian says.

Let's start with time and place:
She begins by saying that the events were "long before the cities of men. before men. before fae." Later, when she talks about being in Murella and the wonders that were there, K asks if Murella was in the Fae. Felurian frowns and says "no. I have said. this was before. there was but one sky. one moon. one world, and in it was murella..." When K asks how long ago this was she just shrugs and says "long ago."

Of the origins of the Fae, she explains that after the initial wonders, the early Shapers "grew bolder, braver, wild. the old knowers said "stop," but the shapers refused. they quarreled and fought and forbade the shapers. they argued against mastery of this sort."

She then goes on to say that the shapers made "the faen realm. wrought according to their will. the greatest of them sewed it from whole cloth. a place where they could do as they desired. and at the end of all their work, each shaper wrought a star to fill their new and empty sky. then there were two worlds. two skies. two sets of stars. but still one moon. and it all round and cozy in the mortal sky."

About the Creation War she says:
"but one shaper was greater than the rest. for him the making of a star was not enough. he stretched his hand across the world and pulled her from her home. that was the breaking point. the old knowers realized no talk would ever stop the shapers. he stole the moon and with it came the war."

K asks who this great shaper was, and if he was of the Faen Courts. Felurian replies:
"no. as I said, this was before the fae. the first and greatest of the shapers." She then refuses to name the shaper: "no calling of names here. I will not speak of that one, though he is shut beyond the doors of stone." She finishes with: "this shaper of the dark and changing eye stretched out his hand against the pure black sky. he pulled the moon, but he could not make her stay. so now she moves 'twixt mortal and the fae."

The timeline, then, is more or less this:

In an ancient time the city of Murella existed - and we can, perhaps, infer that the other cities of "the Empire" did too. This was before the inception of Shaping and before the Fae. There were no "humans" as such. Of note, however, this is still referred to as the "mortal" world.

Deep knowing developed into shaping and there was conflict between the two groups.

The shapers created what would become (but was not yet) the Fae.

The first and greatest Shaper stole the moon and so the war between the Knowers and the Shapers began.

The implication is that the lands created by the shapers, already different, somehow became further separated from the "mortal world" either during or because of the war.

My battery is dying now so have to stop now but more later on the relative peoples of these worlds.
30. DEL
There are indication from several fronts that Kvothe is a creation involving multiple sources: Himself, Cthaeh, Chandrians, Faen, and regular people telling stories.

Cthaeh sees all possible futures, and has had a hand in twisting the world for his own amusement. Does he offer consultations to Haliax? When we first meet Haliax his directive to Cinder is to "send him off to his sleep." It is easy to assume the Seven seek his death after all the horror visited upon his troupe, but given the information we have about the sleeping mind and the importance of storybook tales, isn't more likely this is a first step towards creating Kvothe the Arcane? The Cthaeh desires the creation of a "hero" with a fatal flaw he can manipulate to it's own ends?

The Maer talks of granted power versus inherent power and the relative merits of each. What are the stories of Kvothe and the rumors he spreads? Do these stories grant him power? Does he wear the mantle only when he is seen as Kvothe. Where does this granted power go the longer Kote is an inkeeper and Kvothe is believed to be dead?

Bast make much of being and seeming. The parallels with granted versus inherent power open much up. If Kote views himself as a tragedy and disaster is he denying both his inherent and granted power? The scene where he futilely tries to open his thrice-locked chest, versus the unthinking "erdo" to open the Maer's lockbox come to mind.

Why, oh why doesn't Kvothe come clean with Denna about the tragedy of his family? Who knows of Kvothe's right's to the Kingdom of Vintas?
31. Herelle
I just caught up reading the posts since december and I must say I regret not having time for taking part in the discussion, it's been as brilliant as ever.
Here are some things I'd like to share:
1. Lackless like her riddle raveling
I took that for raveling=little Ruh ravel, so riddle raveling = the little ravel is a riddle, like in who is he, who's the father, which connects to the innuendo of the song (plus redhaired stepchild and the over emphasis on "I'm Ruh down to my bones")
2. Lanre /Haliax
Haliax was accursed by Selitos by his own name. He has already changed his name from Lanre to Haliax, why doesn't he change it again? That would free him of the curse at least, his immortality and insomnia might be a different matter, though - that had already happened before he met Selitos. On the other hand, Selitos says "I can kill you, for an hour, or a day. But you would return... Your name burns with the power in you." Changing his name might free him of his powers and he can send himself to the painless blanket of sleep ;-) That's actually parallel to the discussed Kvothe / Kote change.
3. Maer / Amyr
As far as I remember the Maer talked with Kvothe about researching the Amyr and he admitted unsuccesfully looking for them too, so the Maer himself clearly is not an Amyr. When the Chteah said "stick with the Maer and he will lead you to the Amyr's door I remembered the Lackless riddle - candle and Lackless door. Maybe the pun is that Kvothe lead the Maer to Meluan (again the innuendo) and the Lackless door has something to do with the Amyr.
4. The seventh city
Actually it is the eighth city, again the misleading with the numbers, like 8 persons on the Chandrian Vase, here it is Selitos observation of "Myr Tariniel was gone, and six cities destroyed but one city remained." The leader of this city, probably Tinue, (someone in the last post's comments wrote "a single individual like the Chandrian but alienated") could turn out to be Skarpi/Sceop. Fits with the beggar story (homeless and friendless after he betrayed everyone on both sides) and that he is so old and seems to know Tehlu personally.
5. Rhinna, Rhinta, rhintae, rhinata
I just checked if someone else had come up with this but I couldn't find anything, so here we go:
We have rhinna (Chteah tree with the panacea), rhinata (Vorfelen rhinata morie), te rhintae? (the skindancer) and Rhinta (Adem word for Chandrian). I figure the only proper / personal name / noun out of these four would be Rhinna, which is what the Chteah tree's blossom panacea is called so this should be the "root" for the other words. In itself it probably doesn't mean anything, so it would just be taken into other languages, that's why it's the same in Fae, Ademre and in old vintish (or whatever it was on the archive's doors). I think the link is the panacea - that's what might have made Lanre immortal, that's the better name for the Chandrian for Adem standards because it describes what they are, not only how many, that's what the skindancer wanted to know, because he was looking for Kvothe specifically. I just can't imagine why it would be on the Archives and roughly translated into "the desire for knowledge shapes a man."
Bruce Wilson
32. Aesculapius

Hi again Herelle!

Your point #4 about the surviving city and Skarpi/Sceop - possible but we also know that the Lackless House used to rule Tinuë. That just *has* to be significant...
33. Elunea
Hello! I’ve been following these re-reads for some time, and the connections being made are truly ingenious and thought-provoking. You guys are quite amazing!
Recently, I’ve been re-reading the books and found some things I don’t think have been mentioned previously (although if they have, please forgive the repetition). Now that I’ve finally mustered up the courage to contribute, here it goes…

When Kvothe goes through admissions for the first time and the masters ask for a letter of recommendation, K explains Abenthy’s note is in a book in Tarbean. Lorren then states that he is headed to Tarbean “tomorrow to fetch necessary materials for the upcoming term” and would check out young K’s story (NotW 229). My response to this – why in the world would the Master Archivist have to go to Tarbean for “supplies” when 1) there are plenty of book shops surrounding the university and 2) he has gillers normally collect books for him. My theory is that he is headed to help out Skarpi who was just recently jailed. Skarpi told K that he had “friends in the church who can help ” (NotW 192). This seems to support the theory that Lorren/Skarpi are working together as Amyr to nudge Kvothe into perceiving the Chandrian as evil.

“Borrorill” – We were first lead to believe the massacred family near Trebon had discovered the Chandrian/Amyr pot while digging up a crypt or barrow. Later, Kvothe thinks “an old hill fort was built ” due to the strategic location, coloring of the stones, and the fact that barrows are built in Vintas (NotW 536). If this is truly the case, then why was a pot with the Chandrian and their signs held in a fort? Was it built by a group that specifically fought against the Chandrian like the amyr? Or by the “watchers” mentioned by Cinder on page 116? Maybe I’m just reading too far into this but that fact that we were misled at first into thinking the pot was just a sort of burial artifact…

“Folly”/Sword at Waystone – Some detail a found that could support the theory that “Folly” is Cinder’s sword is Kvothe’s description: “ sword was pale and elegant. When it moved, it cut the air with a brittle sound. It reminded me of the quiet that settles on the coldest days in winter when it hurts to breathe and everything is still” (NotW 115). This “quiet” provides a link to the silence that’s associated with the Waystone and the sword hung there. Anyways, just a thought.

Something that really just confused me – maybe I’m missing something obvious – but why did Elodin during admissions on page 88 of WMF ask Kvothe the 3 + 5 spades question that Manet had just teased K about at the Eolian? Manet even said “Here’s a primer for admissions” but I assume that was simply a joke since it was easy math (WMF 59). But how did Elodin know about it? Manet doesn’t strike me as being a close friend of Elodin. Kvothe also doesn’t react with surprise when Elodin asks the question…

@31 – Just a quick comment on the Rhinna thing – could the connection between them have something to do with shaping? I know some previously suggested that Wilem’s translation of Vorfelen rhinata morie may be incorrect and instead read closer to “with knowledge a man can shape.” The Ctheah also “shapes” the world by manipulating those it comes in contact with. The skindancer takes on someone’s shape (which isn’t really the same sense of the word but the creature does manipulate the body and change its essence). As for the Chandrian… maybe they are/were shapers as they were possibly the city leaders who betrayed the namers or knowers during the Creation War.

Sorry this turned out so long and doesn’t really relate to this thread’s topic… Just wanted to throw some of my thoughts out there.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
@31:The various forms of rhinta seem to all be in phrases having something to do with "man".
George Brell
35. gbrell
This was going to be part of a longer post that touched on a lot of issues, but it got too long. I understand that some of this is going to be discussed in the coming weeks, so I hope that putting this out now will give me something to refer back to and also possibly serve as a jumping off point for discussion.

The Cthaeh

Possibly the most interesting creation in the series to my mind, I find the Cthaeh fascinating. This fascination is not only due to its powers, but also to its limitations. The fact that it appears to have played a pivotal role in essentially every major event of the pre-storyline only heightens the intrigue surrounding it. But what do we actually know about it?

The Cthaeh’s Powers

We have confirmation from two sources that it is a perfectly accurate oracle.

Felurian describes it: ““the Cthaeh does not lie. it has the gift of seeing, but it only tells things to hurt men.”

Bast describes it similarly: “It sees all the future. Clearly. Perfectly. Everything that can possibly come to pass, branching out endlessly from the current moment.”

What’s interesting is that Kvothe appears to have been unaware of this until this point (even with Felurian’s comments) given his reaction to Bast (“It can, can it?” and his subsequent verbal extrapolation of the Cthaeh’s powers, which, while useful to the reader, would be otherwise out-of-character exposition).

I’d like to briefly consider what the actual effect of the Cthaeh’s powers would be and perhaps what its motivations are. If we consider what Bast said about the future “branching out endlessly from the current moment,” I think the use of the word “endlessly” is wrong here. To the Cthaeh, the future is actually a diminishing quantity. Every moment of time infinitely reduces the possible future as choices that were not made (or were foreclosed years or millennia earlier) fade from the sphere of possibility. The constricting space of the future will cease with either the world’s end or that of the Cthaeh. Either way, the Cthaeh exists on an inexorable path towards oblivion.

Faced with that doom, it is perhaps natural that it would choose to speed up that oblivion or force all other sentient beings to confront the constrained and doomed existence it itself lives. This would be even more of a torment if it, at one point, was not so constrained and was unaware of the doomed progression of its own existence.

What exactly is the Cthaeh?

The Cthaeh is almost completely undescribed. What we do have is Kvothe’s firsthand experience and the reactions of Bast and Felurian. Some things that I’d like to highligh:

“I am Cthaeh. I am. I see. I know.”

Interestingly, the Cthaeh’s name appears to be a conjugated Ademic triplet much like Vashet, Maedre or Saicere.

The only Ademic I believe we are given is the tantalizing “Sceopa teyas” which stands for “I’m not speaking.” Assuming Sceopa is “speaking” (given its connection to Sceop in Kvothe’s story and Skarpi), “teyas” would be connected to “ not.” Unfortunately, “teyas” is not particularly close to Cthaeh (though it's not completely separate), but it’s also possible that negation is more complicated in Ademic or that the Cthaeh’s name is Faen or some other language.

“I thought I saw a sinuous motion among the branches”
“it has not bit you”

These two elements together make me think of a snake, as sinuous is a term rarely used to describe anything else (in fact, Merriam-Webster defines sinous as “of a serpentine or wavy form”). This also fits in clearly with the biblical aspect of a tree of knowledge connected with a serpent.

“I can smell the iron on you. Just a hint. Still, one has to wonder how she stands it.”

This passage could be read to imply that the Cthaeh shares the Fae’s sensitivity/distaste for iron. However, if one reads it carefully, it’s not clear that the Cthaeh is affected, only that he wonders how Felurian stands it, knowing of her sensitivity.

Jumping ahead slightly (or behind, actually), I’d like to reference a line from Skarpi’s story of Lanre: “Lanre stood alone against a terrible foe. It was a great beast with scales of black iron, whose breath was a darkness that smothered men.”

This is a strange line to me. The standard belief would be that Lanre faced a dragon, given the traditional archetype of a great beast that has a breath weapon. This is supported by the appearance of the draccus and its draconic parallels. But I find the description of the breath weapon curious. What is a “darkness that smothered men”? While it could certainly be some form of choking cloud, part of me thinks that this could be a description of the Cthaeh itself. It’s words (breath) are its weapon. I think there are a number of holes in this theory (Lanre’s crafted hauberk, the language describing the beast as killed, Lanre’s position vis-a-vis the beast, etc.), but I wanted to highlight the oddity of language.

The Cthaeh’s Tree

First, I firmly believe the Cthaeh’s tree to be of the same species as that which forms the wood of the Loeclos box (if not the same tree). Both are described with very similar smells (“I smelled a strange, sweet smell. It was like smoke and spice and leather and lemon.” and “What’s more, it seemed to be a spicewood. It smelled faintly of . . . something. A familiar smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I lowered my face to its surface and breathed in deeply through my nose, something almost like lemon. It was maddeningly familiar.”). What this connection means is anyone's guess.

But why can’t the Cthaeh leave its tree? More interestingly, how did it come to be there in the first place?

We are told that the Cthaeh spoke to Iax prior to his stealing of the moon, but this would seem to imply that the Cthaeh existed either contemporaneously or prior to the creation of Fae. So how would it find itself trapped there? And if it was perfectly oracular, why would it allow itself to be trapped there?

We know that some of the first wonders of the Shapers were magical trees. Perhaps the Cthaeh’s tree (and perhaps other metallic trees such as Roah) were creations, or byproducts of attempts to create the Rhinna and other wondrous fruits/flowers. But was the Cthaeh an unintended consequence of those creations (implying that it was created by the Shapers) or did it later find itself trapped in the tree?

The Cthaeh and the Knowers

Interestingly, the persons described with powers closest to the Cthaeh are the Knowers, the benevolent figures in the Creation War mythology presented to Kvothe. They are described by Felurian as “ smoothly through the world. they knew the fox and they knew the hare, and they knew the space between the two.” Selitos is described: “Such was the power of his sight that he could read the hearts of men like heavy-lettered books.” The Singers created by Aleph are described as being able to see “into the deepest hearts of men.” But how does the Cthaeh describe his own perceptions of Kvothe? “Surprised? Why should you be? Goodness boy, you’re like a clear pool. I can see ten feet through you, and you’re barely three feet deep.” These are the groups of “people” who are described as able to see into others. I can’t help but believe they are connected.

But what if this ability made the Knowers immune to the Cthaeh’s power? Not because they existed outside of its precognition, but because they understood the world in the same or a similar manner. Two omniscient beings cancel each other out (a useful comparison would be the use of atium in Sanderson’s Mistborn novels) since both would understand the consequences of each of their potential actions and create an endless Princess Bride-esque loop.

But what if the Shapers’ creation of Fae shielded the Cthaeh from the Knowers’ understanding? Whereas the Cthaeh inherently sees the future, the Knowers’ could not extend their vision to the Fae, a creation which they couldn’t understand as it violated the natural order. The Cthaeh could then escape their vision by moving into Fae (perhaps becoming trapped their).

A number of the magical systems in this series seem to connect the internal workings of a person’s mind to his external abilities (e.g., sympathy, the Lethani, waking/sleeping mind). What if the act of Shaping prevents one from Knowing, the act of enforcing one’s will on the world to change it prevents one from understanding it completely in the way of the old Knowers? What if the Cthaeh’s goals were to eliminate all of the Knowers by forcing them to Shape?

In Skarpi's story, we are told that only three other individuals possess Selitos' power with names: Aleph, Iax and Lyra. While we know that Iax was a Shaper, what if the other three were the only remaining Knowers.

What happened to them? Lyra was forced to Shape to save Lanre. Selitos Shapes to curse Haliax. Aleph Shapes to create the Singers. And then the Cthaeh sits alone, the last omniscient being, limited only by his geography. And cured of the interference of the other Knowers, he sees forward into the future so far as to see only oblivion and faced with that sane vision of madness, he conspires to end it, Lanre's own fate writ larger and more terrible.
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
gbrell@35:Nice summation of things we know about the Cthaeh. It also fascinates me. I think I'll wait for this weeks post to fully discuss, but:
1) I agree with the serpent idea, it has seemed to fit.
2) I like the knower/shaper dichotomy you propose. It has a nice quantum mechanical feel to it.
The introduction of an oracle as an antagonist in a story is always rife with difficulty and possibility. Basically, there must be some flaw in the oracle or in the understanding of the oracle or there can be no conflict. More about that later.
George Brell
37. gbrell
Funny thing I just realized.

Selitos describes Lanre's ability to return from the dead as "pulled like iron to a loden-stone."

But we learn later from the helpful tinker that Loden is a town (presumably where there was a rich deposit of magnetically active ores). This is a fun play on the first human-discovered magnets, lodestones.

This could mean one of a few things: 1) the use of the word loden to denote magnetism predates the name of the town (creating a wonderfully circuitous route: the word defines the town defines the word); 2) the town of Loden existed during the Creation War or was refounded afterwards; or 3) Skarpi is forced to translate the story into the vernacular, meaning the other word choices he uses might be suspect.
38. Bagpipeboy
Random thought that just came to me: Lord Grayfellow or something like that was Kvothe's troupe's patron. Doesn't gray-fellow seem close to ash?
39. spirit theif
If Felurian was alive before the Creation War, is she actually Fae?
She says in that the stealing of the moon was before man and Fae, and the Fae Realm was created by Shapers? Just wondering.

@35 gbrell
I love the summation of Cthaeh, especially the ties to Ademic. Especially since Adem seems to be where it all begins. Elodin, Master Namer, knows Ademic. Words and emotions are a taboo there, due to the power of naming. And the location itself, well Jax did make his unfolding mansion in the mountains. And Selitos looked down upon the ruin of Myr Taraniel.

What killed Lyra that caused Lanre to destroy Myr Taraniel and change his name? Did she need the Rhinna to heal her? Was it the Cthaeh's refusal? It seems to play on emotions ("he beats her you know...")

Last thought. I still think the Kaepkaens keep seven things, having stolen them from the "lacking" families. Which would have caused the split.
Jo Walton
40. bluejo
Today in the art museum in Portland, I saw a print by Yoshitoshi called The Moon's Four Strings. I can only say that my pattern making brain went absolutely crazy and I couldn't wait to share this with you, because I certainly couldn't share it with anyone else!
Bruce Wilson
41. Aesculapius
Jo, that's such an evocative image! Thanks for sharing - you're right though, perhaps only, ahem, "special" people like us would get quite so excited about it! :o)

I did think of an image of K sitting outside, playing in the moonlight but the figure didn't seem to quite fit so in my mind it rather morphed into Illien instead - the kind of painting that, under other circumstances, K might have had on the wall in the Waystone, or perhaps something that might be seen above the bar in the Eolian...!
Katy Maziarz
42. ArtfulMagpie
"If Felurian was alive before the Creation War, is she actually Fae? She says in that the stealing of the moon was before man and Fae, and the Fae Realm was created by Shapers? Just wondering."

There's been a lot of discussion about man and Fae and what came before and all that...I thought I'd share my personal understanding of the situation, which of course may well be flawed!

I think that, yes, there were NO humans before the Creation war, but neither were there Fae. I think there was one single ur-species, not human as we understand it, nor yet Fae, but a common ancestor to both. "Magic," if you want to call it that, was perhaps an inherited trait, like hair color or height. Some had it, like Lyra and Selitos and the rest; others did not. (The unmagical known as the Ruach, perhaps?) Once Fae was created, many of those with the magic "gene" went to live there, finding it to be a nice playground for their powers. And the magical realm of Fae changed them, just as living in a world much deprived of magic changed the ones who stayed behind. And so, over all the years between then and now, the ur-species evolved into short-lived humans with occasional occurences of much-reduced magical ability in the "real" world and all the various types of (long-lived and probably more powerful) Fae in the Fae realm.
43. Mar
Re Hands:

Here is a description from chapter 1 of WMF that I thought significant:

"When he pulled against the wooden handles (of the apple press), the muscles of his forearms stood out, tight as twisted ropes. Old scars crossed and recrossed his skin. Most were pale and thin as cracks in winter ice. Others were red and angry, standing out against his fair complexion."

K may have gotten some of these scars while training in Ademre, but he didn't describe any significant injury to his arms. At least, nothing that would result in this degree of scarring. We'll have to wait until D3 to find out what happened. I suspect he has suffered nerve damage, enough to inhibit proprioception.
George Brell
44. gbrell

Something else I've never seen anyone address:

"As he was undressing for bed, the fire flared. The red light traced faint lines across his body, across his back and arms. All the scars were smooth and silver, streaking him like lightning, like lines of gentle remembering. The flare of flame revealed them all briefly, old wounds and new. All the scars were smooth and silver except one."

Is there perhaps a more mundane reason for Kvothe's transformation into Kote?
Katherine Gielissen
45. limblessninja
Interestingly, the nerve fibers that carry proprioreception are also closely related to those responsible for fine touch, vibration, and two-point determination (the ability to sense two closely approximated touch signals as separate in space) through the dorsal column-medial lemniscus pathway in the spinal cord. However, I'm not sure if they all share the same nerve endings in, say, a hand. It seems to me that prioprioreception is derived from stretch receptors near muscles/tendons.

Yay applying medical knowledge!
Katherine Gielissen
46. limblessninja
@44 - Perhaps Denna finally stabs K with that knife she keeps hidden on her person. Why? For sleeping around with that trollop, Felurian, of course. That would leave a mark.

All kidding aside, an interesting observaton.
Nathan Love
47. n8love
@22 New Reader

"I'd just like to add something I thought of recently: it seems Devi is becoming someone who makes perfumes"... "Could she have acquired the materials for him?"

Better yet, could Devi have locked it for him? Instead of playing "Seek the Stone" with himself, which he could solve if he really wanted to, why not have the only person who's Alar he couldn't best do it? It makes sense to me...

Side Note:
Thinking of non D-ish women having roles to play in the frame made me think of Auri. No special insight, but I feel like we haven't thought of her in the "present" and it bugs me.
48. Ron6632
Firstly - this fantastic set of threads has literally given me a sleepless night - damn you all :)

I do have a few thoughts, especially on Bast and PR's propensity to keep things hidden in plain view. There seems to have been much speculation on Kvothe "splitting" (is that the right word?) alar.

Can I take this one step further and suggest that somehow Bast is part of K. Kvothe has been described a couple of times as being Fae around the edges - I don't know how, or even if it would be possible in this world - for K to split his alar into a separate being. It would go some way to explaining Basts existance, and his desperation for K to be re-awoken.

The story of Jax - Without going back and reading the story again - could the University (or the early buildings at least) be a remnant of the expanding house taken from the Tinker? Not that I'm suggesting the moon could be hiding behind "that" door!

There is one last thing - and quite fanciful really but -

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 cuss
In fact they are quite nice to us
They come and go in the blink of an eye
Like a bright bolt of lightning out of the sky.


Jo Walton
49. bluejo
Ron: That's brilliant and nobody has suggested it before and if it weren't for the bit about the CTH and all the knowledge of Fae that reveals I'd be quite convinced. I could believe Kvothe splitting off a piece of himself into a person, even though we have seen nothing like this, but not a person with knowledge that's clearly utterly new to him.

But good thinking all the same.
50. jillz
I know I am late to the party here but all the talk about hands got me thinking about why the silence in them is so important. Without the proper use of his hands, Kvote loses his music, which seems to be an inherent part of him. The most he ever does in the frame story is chant to the Bentley baby. His music is an integral part of him in the Kvothe part of the book but is so utterly absent in the frame part. I think this is why his hands are silent. I also think that Kvothe knows the Name of music and that is one of his rings. Perhaps the one that is invisible.
George Brell
51. gbrell

I don't disagree with your theory, but I'd point out that Kvothe does sing in the frame (from NotW, Ch. 3):
Then, when the time for songs came and everyone had sung their favorites and still wanted more, Kote led them from behind the bar, clapping to keep a beat. With the fire shining in his hair, he sang "Tinker Tanner," more verses than anyone had heard before, and no one minded in the least.
52. jorgybear
“Te rhintae” reminds me of “Rhinta”, what the Adem call the Chandrian. Interesting…
I’m sorry to be really boring here, but I think that Kvothe, motivated by his belief that he “broke” the world (whether by killing the king or unleashing the “flood” of scrael from the door of stone or whatever) faked his own death and retired to the Waystone. Using any of his skills (sympathy, naming, music, ketan,) would draw attention to him, (and the dexterity of his hands, to a lesser extent) so he hasn’t used these in years, and so has grown out of practice. I would love some of the other theories to be right (the self-imposed fugue state in particular), but I think he’s simply forgotten who he is from pretending to be Kote for so long. And I think he simply chose a name similar to his own because the best lies are close to the truth, and it’s very hard to lie convincingly about your name.
It’s also just struck me as odd that Chronicler is surprised at how young K is.
OK, Chronicler wrote “mating Habits of the Common Draccus” before Kvothe was at the University (as Kvothe had access to a copy at the time), and attended(?) the University after Kvothe left (or at least was in the area) to have heard the first-hand accounts of the stories, so he presumably knew how old Kvothe was at the time the events happened, and how long ago they happened, so should be prepared for how old K is now (in the frame). The fact that Chronicler ISN’T prepared for this lends credence to the theory that K spent a good deal of time in the Fey between the story and the frame.
53. Fishydish
Late to the party, but:

Much is made of the silence in the inn. Recall the story if Ias stealing the moon and the box full of silence that was made for keeping things. That may lend creedence to the idea that Kote is setting a trap.
54. danbobdavis
As for the "expect disaster every seven years" bit, I'm guessing someone's already noticed this, but seven is a very important number in this story. Can we get a list of references, implicit or explicit, to the number seven? I can think of:

"Seven things has Lady Lackless"
"Seven things stand before the entrance to the Lackless door."
"Lackless, Loeclos, Loklos, Loeloes, Lack-key, Laclith, Kaepcaen" Seven Lackless families. However, "Lochees" sounds suspiciously close to these. And could these names have been derived from Iax being called "Luckless"?
"'Chaen-dian' means ‘seven of them.’ Chandrian.”
"Expect diaster every seven years"
The span is made of up the first seven days, which are just Temic numbers, then four days relating to the myth of Tehlu. The span was originally seven days in length
Seven days of High Mourning
Chapter 7 of NotW is “Of beginnings and the names of things.” and is where, in the frame, K begins his retelling. I doubt Rothuss went as far as to encode the chapter numbers, but who knows? It's worth a look. Possibly chapters like 70, 49, or 77?

I'm sure many of these have been pointed out already, but if this subject has been touched on already, could I get a link? And if not, let's get these more glaring examples out of the way and get down to the subtle hints that are no-doubt present in the books. :) I'd be surprised if the chapters in the Fae didn't have a reference to seven.

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