Jan 19 2012 2:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 7: “There isn’t anything worse than the Ctheah!” Speculations on the Ctheah

We’re half way through our excessively 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 wild 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 one more speculative summary posts after this one, on Master Ash. Then we’ll get on with WMF from the meeting with Felurian.

The Ctheah

Lions Rampart wants to know why the Ctheah is there at all:

I would love to know why the reader was exposed to the Cthaeh. As a character, the Cthaeh is amazing. A manifest of evil and grace with no apparent tangent agenda is always fun. But I felt that the argument with Bast and Chronicler was a story derailment on purpose. The argument of fate and the ability to change it at first seemed so far off the path to Kvothe’s tale, but maybe fate is at the heart of his story. Kvothe’s interaction with the Cthaeh is brief and fleeting, but I can get on board with Bast’s opinion that a meer sentence from the Cthaeh is more that enough to affect one’s life, as it changes view, motive and reaction. What in those few sentences would derail Kvothe to actually affect him in the long run, and in fact, affect the story? Simple or complex, the Cthaeh could be one, both or neither, simply a rock on the road or a compass.

Daedos thinks the Ctheah is the real enemy:

I definitely think the Cthae is the “enemy” spoken of during the creation war (or someone that controls it). We are told that seven were poisoned and that only one didn’t betray his city (not sure who this is - could somehow be Lanre).

So? Who protects the worlds from the Cthae’s poison? The Sithe. Who do the Chandrian fear? The Sithe. We haven’t been told anything about the Sithe other than their occupation - guarding the Cthae’s tree and killing those who come into contact with it. Like Kvothe (another parallel between him and a mythical / legendary figure) and the Chandrian.

Mr Awesome has a good point:

I think that I prefer the Cthaeh to Haliax. A sadistic world is better than no world at all. I hope that Rothfuss outlines a similar argument in his book at some point.

Greyhood connects it with Puppet:

The Cthaeh is a story-teller. (A central theme.) One with a particular style, and with a particular purpose. It uses stories to write stories. By telling K about D, he is writing the story of K’s life. How? Because it can see what it needs to say to make a certain outcome inevitable. This is like the magic writing that becomes true once you read it. What is the effect of someone speaking to the Cthaeh? They become its puppet.

Hm. That reminds me of a character named...Puppet! Puppet is also a story teller. He actually uses puppets to tell the stories. (I think this is a bizarre hidden-in-plain-sight device. His actual puppetry somehow distracts us from the deeper significance of his nickname.) And what was the story the puppets told? A young woman being struck to the ground by a priest on a mission. She even begs him at some point.

The mysterious thing about this is that he tells this story before the Cthaeh tells K the same story about D!

So I wonder if Puppet has one-upped the Cthaeh. This is like time-travel. It’s conundrum-ridden. Does the Good Seer’s story trump the Bad Seer’s story, who also must have seen the Good Seer’s story of trumping his story? Or are there two more levels to this I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know...

Wastmarch continued on these lines:

that they at least are the symbolic leaders of the two factions that have fighting since the beginning of the creation war. That I think they are Teccam and Iax is a stretch, admittedly, but I definitely agree that they are foils in an actual sense, given their shared seeing/listening/shaping ability. The Cthaeh scoffs at being called an Oracle by K, meaning he sees himself as much more than that, like a Shaper. Puppet seems to be more laid back about it, likes to listen, and tells stories.

DislexicRiter has an interesting thought on what the Ctheah’s power might be, not so much seeing the future as shaping the stories people will tell:

Maybe the Ctheah (while confined to Fae) with unknown magic (a knack?) is able to change/shape naratives as they travel through the Four Cornners population.

Daedos thinks it might have caused the Chandrian signs:

I think their signs come from the Cthaea. We know the Cthaeh is poisonous (probably both literally and figuratively). We know the betrayers of the seven cities were poisoned by “the enemy”. It stands to reason that the Chandrian are the betrayers (Lanre is among them and has reportedly visited the Cthaeh), and they have been altered somehow by the Cthaeah (bitten?).

Greyhood connects it with the Book of Genesis:

The Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil) that occasions the fall [the Cthaeh];

Herelle has a cool thought:

because the Chandrian are called Rhinta in Ademre and the flower of the Chteah is called Rhinna, which is a panacea, they could have had it and that´s why they are immortal. Apart from the fact that Haliax himself should be immortal because of Selitos curse already it makes sense to me. Maybe Cinder stole it from the Chteah that´s why he (?) is still angry (“did me a wrong turn once”).

That really fits.

Mr Awesome:

If the Cthaeh is a ’broken’ tree, was it whole at some point? That must have been long ago, if so.

Shalter quotes “no more a tree than a man is a chair” and concludes

the Cthaeh is some sort of creature that has been confined to the tree.

Greyhood wonders what it was like before:

What if the Cthaeh was like a skin dancer before they caught it. He would take over people’s bodies temporarily and they would speak disaster into their friends ears, and then it would move on. I somehow doubt it was a guy.

Artful Magpie has an interesting speculation:

Okay, so the Creation War. According to Skarpi’s story, Lanre and Lyra and Selitos all fought on the same side at first, defending the great cities of the now-lost empire from their great enemies...enemies never specifically named. In the battle of Drossen Tor, when Lanre slew the uber-Draccus and was killed and brought back to life by Lyra, the “enemy was set behind the doors of stone.”

WHO was that enemy? Who was the “other guy” in the Creation War? I wonder...could it have been the Cthaeh?

Except that the Ctheah isn’t behind the Doors of Stone, it’s sitting in a tree being malicious.

Mr Awesome:

The Creation War was Namers vs. Shapers. We don’t have anything that suggests the Cthaeh was a Shaper...

We also know that “Iax spoke the the Cthaeh before he stole that moon, and that sparked the entire creation war”.

Thus the Cthaeh is definitely not a Shaper.

The Enemy is Iax. Felurian says that the one who “is shut beyond the doors of stone” is the same person who “he stole the moon and with it came the war”.

Artful Magpie:

there is still nothing that says that the Ultimate Enemy pulling all of the strings cannot be the Cthaeh. It sparked the Creation War. It poisoned Lanre, turning him into Haliax. It is the precursor of all doom everywhere, according to Bast and the Fae...


I picture the Ctheah as being the one causing the Shaper/Namer war and probably interfering on both sides. The game is more beautiful by getting everyone else to do the dirty pieces for you (or so the Ctheah might think.)


I picture the Ctheah as being the one causing the Shaper/Namer war and probably interfering on both sides. The game is more beautiful by getting everyone else to do the dirty pieces for you (or so the Ctheah might think.)


maybe Fae was created as a prison for the Chteah and that was the trigger for the Creation War. Could be the Chteah was responsible for the Battle at Drossen Tor which led to his imprisonment and the creation of Fae and then the Creation War. The tree itself is like a prison in a prison, making sure nobody comes close to the Chteah. How better to isolate someone than by making a whole new world? Until now we only speculated that the shapers created things and especially Fae just for fun, but they might have had a reason for creating Fae then. And certainly the confinement of a creature like the Chteah was disputed which would be a much better reason for a war than just the creation of some playground world called Fae.

The Sithe are a fraction of the Fae people who are responsible for guarding the tree. At the same time they are hunting the Chandrian, so are they some kind of Fae warriors?

This works with the excessive way Bast reacts to K’s mention of it. But as GBrell points out:

We know that the Cthaeh talked to Iax before he stole the moon (if we believe Bast), so it likely predated the creation of Fae.

But he goes on:

what if his creation of Fae was to trap the Cthaeh? We know that the Fae-people (at least some of them) predate the creation of Fae-realm, but we don’t know the origin of the Fae people (or how they relate to the pre-humans).

I’ve always been struck with a weird vibe by the Fae, one of constrained will. Were the Sithe created to guard the Cthaeh (either pre- or post-creation of Fae-realm)? What keeps them performing their job? Is it imperative? Is it a choice?

Interesting point that was brought up a couple threads ago: we always assume that the listener in Hespe’s story is Teccam - who could also be Taborlin/Tehlu - but there is no Cthaeh analogue in the story. The character that we paint as the white hat (if only Jax had listened to him) is the one who gives him the advice, albeit seemingly unintentionally, that lets him steal the moon. Going further, this either means that a) Hespe’s story omits the Cthaeh; b) Hespe’s story merges the Cthaeh with Teccam; c) the Cthaeh and Teccam are the same; or d) the Cthaeh appeared and we didn’t catch it.

The only other character in the story (besides Jax and Ludis) is the Tinker and it’s perhaps telling that his “speaking” to Jax started him on the path that led him to steal the moon. Isn’t that the predestination attributed to both Tinkers and Cthaeh? The ability to provide something that will be useful in/affect the future (the strawberry wine, the rope, etc.; a rhinna flower that starts a war). We seem to assume that Tinkers are a force for good; what if they’re not? What if they are playing an incredibly long con (just like the Cthaeh appears capable of)?

Westmarch thinks we shouldn’t believe Bast:

That parenthetical is very important, because Bast believes that from stories he’s been told of the Cthaeh, and we know that not all stories are true. Kvothe handled Bast’s dread of the Cthaeh so nonchalantly in response it makes me believe that he knows something Bast does not.

The theory I’ve laid out before is that we do not have two prehistoric malevolent forces in Iax and the Cthaeh, but a single one, Iax. He at length becomes the Cthaeh through some corruption, perhaps the very foresight he gains. Through stories passed down years, and his own influence, he obscured his true history (most likely to escape imprisonment.)

and Shalter builds on that:

The Cthaeh being essentially Iax’s mouthpiuece to the world while most of him sits imprisoned would be an interesting twist. It could go either way on that one (Cthaeh is a mouthpiece to Iax or Iax was a puppet to the Cthaeh) both could be an interesting story.

RobTCore asks:

What direct evidence do we have of the Cthaeh’s evil intent? What if the intent is more in line with the Amyr’s own motto - “For the greater good?”

I don’t disagree that the effects of interacting with the Cthaeh are misery and strife, but is the creature simply causing suffering for its own sake, or is there an ultimate goal in mind?

To mangle Freud: “What does the Cthaeh want?

and Shalter responds:

At this point we only have Bast’s word for it that the goals of the Cthaeh are malicious. It could be trying for a “best of all possible worlds” and just has to do a lot of bad things to get there.
It is interesting to see how the intent of the story changes if we ascribe various goals to the various actors.

Mr Awesome thinks Teccam’s razor makes the Ctheah evil:

To some extent, this is an unanswerable question. It’s nonfalsifiable, as any objection can be responded to by asserting that the Cthaeh presented itself that way in order to manipulate Kvothe or the Faen, perhaps in some unmentioned and indetectable way.

However, I still think there are substantial problems with any theory that doesn’t believe the Cthaeh is malevolent.

1. The Cthaeh killed the butterflies. Rothfuss doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who thinks that insects have absolutely no moral value. Killing the butterflies is almost certainly of no service to any greater good. Therefore the Cthaeh is almost certainly evil, or if not evil at least what is generally thought of as evil.

2. To say that the Cthaeh is secretly good and is only causing bad things for the greater good assumes that the Cthaeh is constrained so that it can only cause the greater good by causing bad things, which isn’t plausible.

When you’re omniscient, it’s unlikely that you’d have to adopt such a specific role in order to manipulate the world around you. Imagine if Maud’Dib had time to learn of every possible prescient outcome, instead of only the one which lead to the Golden Path. Given the complexity of all dynamic systems, it seems like he’d have been able to create a utopia within only a few dozen years. Maud’Dib, of course, failed, but it’s emphasized within the Dune books that his failures were largely caused by his inability to percieve ALL of the possible futures in time for him to act to cause those futures to come about. If the Cthaeh is like an uber Maud’Dib who can choose between all possible futures and is aware of all of those futures, then it would be able to cause the good outcome without causing all the suffering along the way.*

Therefore the consistency of the Cthaeh’s actions with bad outcomes suggests malicious inten rather than some mysterious hidden purpose.

Reasonably Important Sidebar:
It’s intuitively implausible that any non omniscient being would act so consistently if it were dedicatedly pursuing a certain end. It seems likely that the Cthaeh would have varied behavior if it had to adapt to external circumstances on a case by case basis.

The Cthaeh therefore either doesn’t care about any ultimate end and is concerned only with the short term gratification of its evil desires, or it percieves itself as all powerful and so it thinks it can cause every possible instance of suffering.

Of course, there’s a third option: the Cthaeh could also know about the limits of its predictive ability and simply not care, because it knows that worrying about what you can’t control is silly. I think this is the most likely. It can’t cause total evil and it knows it, but it’ll do its best to try.

*This assumes that the Cthaeh can see and choose between all possible futures, rather than assuming that the Cthaeh is just a pawn of fate; I know. The former assumption is necessary to make sense of the Cthaeh’s intentions though, so I think the assumption is justified.

and I kind of do too, if only because I dislike typing its name so much. Nothing so hard to spell could possibly be benign!

and Shalter has a really good point:

I agree that the butterfly killing signals “evilness” on the part of the Cthaeh. I suspect it also serves a purpose—call it the butterfly effect. The buttflies give the Cthaeh a method of exceeding some effect upon the outside world. It could know for example that Felurian would have spent 1 second looking at this particular butterfly and by it not being there she later is slightly early to something and so on

No matter how much the Sithe try to prevent interactions with the Ctheah, it’s interacting and it can predict how those interactions will work out on subtle levels.

Sabotenda queries whether it’s telling the truth about omniscience:

has anyone mentioned the possibility that the Cthaeh is lying about its prescience? What better way to spread mischief and misfortune than to lie? I know it can at least read the past, with its specific knowledge of K’s life, but has it said anything that has come to pass, or even anything about the future in the first place? Even then, if you’ve got an encyclopedic knowledge of someone, you can usually predict pretty accurately what they’ll do in reaction to something you say.

and DT considers its plan:

What we know about the Cthaeh
1. It knows all the futures
2. It is trapped in the tree
3. The only way it can effect the world is by manipulating the future actions of someon it comes into contact with

We have also been told that it is responsible for basically every major disaster and that it is totally malicious, however I am skeptical. I feel that it is playing its own game with the possible goal of getting freed from the tree or seeing something interesting happen.

So we must look at what it says to Kvothe very carefully. I wish I had my copy of the book in front of me so I can qoute it. Essentially the Cthaeh tells Kvothe to stick with the Maer to find the Amyr. He tells Kvothe this knowing that the Maer will throw him out and pay for his tuition at the University, in Imre (Amyr-re). Then the Cthaeh laughs about some inside joke only it can understand. The Cthaeh laughing makes sense if Kvothe has been searching for the Order Amyr in their headqauters. Then the Cthaeh goes on to goad Kvothe back into his hunt for the Chandrian and hints at the Adem connection. It might be that the Cthaeh wants Kvothe to learn the sword and the Lethani, but I think that it helps percipitate the falling out of Kvothe and the Maer. The final bit of taunting the Cthaeh lays on Kvothe is about Denna. The Cthaeh wants Kvothe to HATE her patron. I don’t feel like hate was a strong enough word so I put it in caps. Above all the Cthaeh wants Kvothe back in the mortal world and out of the Fae. Since the Cthaeh sent Kvothe to learn the Lethani I don’t think the Lethani is a defense against the Cthaeh’s influence since the Cthaeh would have forseen that. If Bast is to be believed then the most disasterous outcome would be a confrontation between Kvothe and the Chandrian.

Freelancer queries point 3:

We do not know that the Cthaeh is trapped in the tree. We know that there are forces charged with keeping everyone else away from where it is. We know that Kvothe initially mistakes its voice as the tree itself speaking to him. We know that Kvothe never sees it, except as a blur or some sinuous movement about the tree. We know that Felurian was concerned that it might have bitten Kvothe, or that its words may have injured him psychologically. We know that Bast, referring to stage plays among his people, refers to “the Cthaeh’s tree”. Beyond that is conjecture. Some readers have chosen to believe that it has possessed the tree. Some have decided that it is invisible because it wasn’t seen. Some have concluded that it is magically bound to the tree by unidentified means. But there is no explicit information from the text to support any of these suppositions.

Also, you said that the Cthaeh knows “all futures”, but this is not what is written. Bast says to Kote “It sees all the future”. Rothfuss isn’t promoting a multiverse concept in this story. There is one future, and there is plenty enough to know about one future for it to be mystical beyond comprehension. There is a difference between saying that it can see “Everything that can possibly come to pass, branching out endlessly from the current moment”, and suggesting that there actually are multiple futures. As I said, a nit, but philosophically notable.

Bast is horrified to hear of the encounter, and in the midst of that, is very curious at Kvothe “just happening” upon the Cthaeh, whom the Sithe guard against precisely what Kvothe has become, a potential plague, a time-bomb of destiny. Why does Felurian not wonder about the same thing? She is rightly concerned that Kvothe might have had his psyche badly damaged by the thing, but doesn’t ever question how Kvothe got within range of the creature’s tree. It seems that any Fae would think twice before releasing the Cthaeh’s work into any society. I am left to conclude that she isn’t very interested in the consequences to the lands of men, as long as Kvothe, her “sweet poet”, seemed to be himself.

“What’s its plan” seems like a really good question to be asking. What does the Ctheah gain by what it does?

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

Katy Maziarz
1. ArtfulMagpie
One thing that's been nagging at me...if the Ctheah can see all possible futures, how/why did it allow itself to be "trapped" in the tree? Surely it could have avoided that somehow! Is there actually some benefit to being "trapped?" People think they're safe as long as it's in the tree, but really, the Ctheah can do more damage there than it could free? Really, that does make a twisted kind of sense. If the Ctheah were free, it could be ANYWHERE, making it hard to locate for questors. But now, anyone who wants to risk seeing it knows exactly where to find it...and clearly, if they want it enough (or are lucky/unlucky/being played with like Kvothe!) they find a way through. Also, there is a certain (sorry for the Biblical pun) forbidden fruit aspect. Telling people they CAN'T do a thing--like visit the Ctheah's tree!--makes certain people want to do it even more. It may well be a beautiful game...I wonder if the Ctheah could really leave anytime it wanted to, but it suits its purposes to stay....
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
Folsom Prison Blues was going through my head for some reason while I was reading the Cthaeh portion, and since, as Kvothe states:
“Poetry is a song without music,” I said loftily. “A song without music is like a body without a soul.”
Here are some of my thoughts on the Cthaeh: :-)

"Stuck in This Tree in Fae Blues":

I see those futures comin'; they seem without end,
If you ask your questions, your answers I will bend.
'Cause I'm stuck here in this tree, til the stars fall down.
But the future keeps unfoldin'; no way to skip this town.

When things were just startin', a Wise Man told me, "Son,
Always be truthful; don't ever hurt no one."
But I de-winged a butterfly, just to bring you nigh.
I keep those mortals comin', just want to make them cry.

I bet there's people walkin', out there in the sun,
They think that they've got free will, they're havin' lots of fun,
WELL I had to see it comin', I ended in this tree,
But I keep the game on movin', it sets my tortures free.

Well, if I could travel in the sunshine, if the future was just mine,
I'd play a different game, maybe drink some wine.
Far from this tree, that's where I should be,
And when those doorways open, I will laugh with glee.
Rob Core
3. robtcore
shalter - plus 100 internets to you!

That is fantastic. Thanks,
Anthony Pero
4. anthonypero
The re-read index link is broken. It is missing the preceding / before features. The current link reads features/series/patrick-rothfuss-reread. It should read /features/series/patrick-rothfuss-reread
5. ryan7273
"The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He’s already come close to them, though he doesn’t realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door."

Could this be referring to the Lackless door? The Maer may have "come close to them" by marrying Meluan. I would suspect the 4 plate door in the Archives, but the Maer has never been near it. Or maybe we have it all wrong and it isn't "door" in the sense of leading him to the Amyr, but "door" in the sense of one the Amyr created to contain something. Wouldn't that be a good joke if Kvothe opened a door he thought would lead to the Amyr and, in doing so, released something they had kept imprisoned?

Trying to make guesses about the Cthaeh is difficult because we have been told that it always tells the literal truth but in a misleading way. If we believe that then we have to parse every sentence carefully. As an example: "Maybe this Cinder did me a bad turn once." doesn't actually give us any information. The Cthaeh did NOT say that Cinder did give it a bad turn, but that maybe he did. As a maybe, it could be either true or false and the Cthaeh would still be giving the literal truth. It would be interesting to see someone go through the entire interaction with K and pull out the "facts" that we would logically know.
6. Rikken
Okay i did not read the entire thread and i may repeat something that has already been said. in my interpatation of the reading the Ctheah is likend to a serpent...Kvouthe thought he caught a glimpse of something slithering, Felurine asks if it bit him. In biblical reference the devil is a serpent, and they call said serpant the father of lies. So I belive the Ctheah is just telling Kvouthe things to manipulate him, plus what it told Kvouthe was not even really that bad, his gf gets beat down every now and again by some guy, "probably Cinder" and he is close to finding the Amyr, and what else? Maybe that his family and or the Ruh are more than likely the Singers, that the chandrian mention they need protecting from. Well is that even malicious? I dont think so maybe the way he layed it out was a bit harsh.

and to argue against DT and the Ctheah's plan I think that the confrontation between the Chandrian and Kvouthe has already happened in the present tense of the book, Kvouthe seems to be only after Cinder and not the entire Chandrian, and I remember something about killing an angel to kill or trick a demon, I think he followed in the footsteps of Lanre when he became Heliax to save Denna.
7. sprintfish
I hate to ask this since I'm worry it's been discussed somewhere else in this reread, but how do you think Ctheah should be pronounced? I really want to say CHEE-ah (almost like a chia pet), but I could also see a softer first consonant (she-ah) or a glottal stop (Kuh-Theah). Is there any consensus?
Chris Hawks
9. SaltManZ
Am I the only one who finds it weird we're discussing the Ctheah just before we get to it in the reread?
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
A bit off point but I've been re-reading NOTW and noted that at an early point it is claimed that K was "counselor to a King." I hadn't recalled that, but based on story to date it seems likely that the Maer will end up the King during D3 - and, potentially, be killed by K.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
SaltManZ@9:We had that discussion--we're just remembering the future backwards like any good oracles would. :-)
Skip Ives
12. Skip
While the Ctheah may see "all the future", a shaper would be able to change reality, and create a new future, which is probably how he got bound to the tree in the first place.
George Brell
13. gbrell

I've always thought that mention referred to a future event that is likely loosely connected with Princess Ariel and the numerous mentions of Royal/Court Arcanists that have been littered throughout the text.

Interestingly, Kvothe (the man, the myth, the legend) was never publicly attached to the Maer. He "was" a visiting nobleman, but his actual role vis-a-vis the Maer was known only to a small handful. There's also little evidence that his nobleman persona was ever connected with the legend of Kvothe that had begun to spread.
Rob Munnelly
14. RobMRobM
@13 - definitely a D3 issue, but the story seems pretty teed up for a public recognition by the Maer of K's successes, followed by his elevation to kingship and followed by some sort of serious kingkilling sh*t. But I agree that D3 could see us with with door no. 2 (K advises actual king, kills him, Maer takes over as the Penitent King).
15. Jeff R.
@7: The audiobook pronounces it "Kuh-Thay"

(It's interesting, having experiences the books in that form rather than the text. Ones ears tend to lead one to spellings far more normal than the actual ones: I was thinking "Cathay" until I started catching up on these posts, and, for that matter, "Mayor")
Ross Smith
16. CaptainCrowbar
This is a crazy theory, but I think there is a bit of textual support for it...

In chapter 115, Vashet tells the history of the Adem:
“Long ago,” she said, “the Adem were upheaved from our rightful place. Something we cannot remember drove us out. Someone stole our land, or ruined it, or made us flee in fear. We were forced to wander endlessly. Our whole nation mendicant, like beggars. We would find a place, and settle, and rest our flocks. Then those who lived nearby would drive us off."
Does that remind you of anyone? Notice the resemblance between the names "Adem"/"Ademre" and "Edema"/"Edema Ruh".

Kvothe was apparently the first Edema to learn the Lethani; and it was at least partly the Cthaeh's advice that sent him there ("You’d have to leave your precious corners far behind before you found someone who might take you seriously. You wouldn’t have a hope until you made it to the Stormwal.”).

Has the Cthaeh just arranged for two long-separated pieces of a puzzle to be brought together at last?

(By the way, if everyone will excuse me turning briefly into the spelling pedant: it's "Cthaeh", not "Ctheah".)
George Brell
17. gbrell
I made a much longer post last week about the Cthaeh that touches on a lot of the stuff culled from the prior re-reads. I won't repost it here, but would love to discuss it further here or in last week's thread. Jo, thank you again for hosting these discussions, even while you're on tour. I'm going to try and make it into Borderlands on Saturday, hopefully having completed Among Others by that point.

A small thought I had related to the Creation War (and possibly to the Cthaeh) is whether Rothfuss is making a Biblical/Tolkien-reference with Iax. Felurian (presumptively) identifies him as "the first and greatest of the shapers."* If we believe that the capacity to Shape and to Know is the same, that it is a matter of choice, perception and intent, then what made Iax into a Shaper?

*It is possible that Felurian is using "first" as a moniker for rank, but this is an archaic usage and would be made redundant by the context of the sentence.

What caused Iax/Lucifer/Morgoth's fall? Was it the Cthaeh, instructing him on how to steal the moon? Because from Felurian's story, it appears that the Shapers (and thus Iax) and the Knowers coexisted for a period, perhaps even with the hope of peace. Did the Cthaeh set Iax's path so far in advance that he knew Iax would eventually reach too far or was it only the final straw?
Kevin Stafford
18. Kevinaught
Has anyone noted that it refers to itself as a Cthaeh, not The Cthaeh? The wider world of Fae and those few from our 'precious corners' who are aware of it always refer to it like a singular name. But what if it's...I don't know...more of a role-definition? Or if they were a sub-race of Fae-folk, like the Sithe, and our Cthaeh is the last of them?

The Dune referencing above, as well as speculation on whether our Cthaeh is good or evil, puts me not so much in the mind of Muad'Dib, but of the God-Emporer. If you knew it all, saw it all stretched out before you like the long strings of a harp, what would you do? How would you live? Would you play a song? Cut the strings? If you, not unlike our Kvothe, had to make yourself into a killer, an assassin, a broken tree, just to avert a fate even worse than that...if the greater good is truly what guides you, and you have what amounts to infinite vision...what, then, is good? What is evil? Leto II killed and oppressed countless multitudes , and made himself into a Holy Abomination. For what? The greater good. (God-Emporer of Dune got me asking myself a lot of tough questions when I was young...still asking them :)

So I look at our Cthaeh, our Kvothe, the Amyr, the Chandrian...and I wonder: Why would any of them play anything other than a beautiful game? What else but a beautiful game would be enough? At the end, how else could you contest ones such as the Chandrian and our Cthaeh? At the end, what Leto II prized most was something he refered to as Holy Surprise.

If I set myself against an immortal, all-knowing force, I would play the only card I had: I would conceive a game in which my opponent's defeat is the most beautiful solution. Bredon does not play for victory. I'm not so sure Haliax and his merry band does either. But they most certainly ARE playing for something. If Haliax wants to burn down the house because all the Doors are barred against him, and all he wants is an End...offer it to him. Easier said than done, of course. :) But why would we want to speculate on anything but a beautiful thread?

(note - I haven't slept in about 40 hours, and I usually try to compose my posts...looking back quickly, I see that I have meandered a a bull meaders in a china shop, perhaps. :) Please forgive me for my messy synaptic firings.)
Adam Bodestyne
19. thanners
@16 CaptainCrowbar

*blinks* You make me suddenly think of another fantasy series, with a wandering travelling folk, and a bad-ass warrior race, both of which share the same ancestry.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Oracles are cool and oracles are dangerous. They are a danger both to the characters and to the author as they can either heighten the story or leave it flat. So far PR has handled his oracle (the Cthaeth) well. We meet it in the next section and get to witness its conversation with Kvothe. It drops marvelously ambiguous hints here and there to (we would guess) steer Kvothe in the direction it wants him to go. That direction would appear to be against Denna's patron, against the Chandrian and towards the Adem.
From Bast we hear that the Cthaeh is evil and a perfect oracle and everything it touches is corrupted and a group of Fae devote themselves to destroying any such. Of course, we don't really know if Bast is completely correct. So, ambiguity abounds.
Oracles are dangerous in that if not used with a light touch, they can take the wind right out of a story. If a foe (or ally) really can't be defeated then there really isn't much tension. So, there always has to be a flaw of some sort. Maybe the oracle isn't perfect--it has a hole in its vision. Or, maybe no one understands/believes the message (Cassandra being the classic example here). Or maybe we (the readers) don't understand the intent. There are lots of interesting techniques that can be used here. Cool/dangerous.
Something that may be of interest is that there are parts of computational theory that deal with oracles. Look for Turing Oracle Machine if you are curious here.
There is, a bit further out, a branch called Hypercomputation that basically asks just what kind of setup would you need in order to get the answer to some sorts of normally non-computable functions. Interestingly (in terms of this 4C discussion) the ability to create your own universes is one possible manner in which to construct such a device. The shapers were able to make at least one other world that we know of, so that's intriguing.
Another possible oracle creating mechanism is making use of a non-rotating black hole (ignoring quantum tunneling). So, there are some interesting ways in which an extremely advanced set of beings could construct an oracle. But, once it was built maybe it wouldn't provide quite the answers the builder wanted it to provide ...
21. Lackless
@7 I think it's kuh - thay, two syllables. i'm not sure about that, but i think you might be a little confused, because it's actually spelled CTHAEH and not CTHEAH, the way it's spelled in the reread.

Okay, moving on. @5, I have a copy of the book with me so I'll go through it in detail here, everything definite the cthaeh says (with some speculation, too), leaving out things like "the red ones offend my aesthetic" (I don't know whether that's important, but I can't really analyze it). This post is going to be very, very long, so I hope I have some dedicated readers. @Jo, take all, some, or none of this to use in the reread, whatever you want. This post is going to be like a reread of its own, except analyzing a few pages, not a few chapters. Anyway:

"'I am no tree. No more than is a man a chair. I am the Cthaeh. You are fortunate to find me. Many would envy you your chance.'” So the Cthaeh is a being in the tree, we know that. What I find interesting is that the Cthaeh considers it good fortune that Kvothe found it. This could be for one of two reasons: 1. the Cthaeh likes its own motives, so it considers it fortunate that someone has come, and even more so, someone with some power. 2. Kvothe actually is fortunate to meet the Cthaeh - in other words, it is telling a direct truth. Remember, Kvothe's main goal is to find and kill the Chandrian, and the Cthaeh knows this, and it might actually be helping him do that with what it says in the conversation. Therefore it could be considered fortunate for Kvothe that he comes across the Cthaeh, even though supposedly Kvothe's life will be tragic. The third sentence - it is never said what the chance is of. It could be the chance to talk with the Cthaeh, which I initially read it as, or it could be interpreted as meaning "luck," which could connect back to being fortunate in that the Cthaeh will bring him luck in a way.

"'I am Cthaeh. I am. I see. I know.'" The interesting thing about this is that it is the only time the Cthaeh is referred to as just "Cthaeh," rather than "the Cthaeh." That makes me think that "Cthaeh" is both a name and a title, much like the Adem names (Maedre - the flame, the thunder, the broken tree; Saicere - to break, to catch, to fly), so Cthaeh might actually mean "I am. I see. I know." in some language. Initially I took it as it describing what it did in a dramatically curt way, but now I think Cthaeh is a word that means to be, to see, to know - like Saicere.

“'What is this? Why so guarded? Why the games? Ask me of the Chandrian and have done.'” There's not really much here, other than that the Cthaeh seems to know Kvothe even before he's really said anything. The reason I point this out is because the Cthaeh really sounds like Puppet there, and I know some of you made connections between them earlier, so I won't rewrite those.

"'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.'" Again, a very Puppet-like comment. I wonder, though, whether the Cthaeh really can see through him, or whether it just saw the future and knew what he was going for. The Cthaeh might be giving him the idea that it is more powerful than it actually is.

"There was another blur of motion and two pairs of wings went spinning to the ground, one blue, one purple." A blur of motion - this makes me think that the Cthaeh is physically pulling the wings of the butterflies, but so fast that Kvothe can't even see it clearly. Sounds like a snake striking to me. Follow it up with the sinuous motion, and it really makes me think the Cthaeh is some sort of serpentine creature. It also makes me think that the Cthaeh is not as trapped in the tree as we were led to believe, if it's (partly) going out of the tree sometimes to kill butterflies. Of course, it might be able to change its shape, so we can't really say anything definitively about it being a snake or anything else. I really wish Kote had taken Bast more seriously and asked him more about the Cthaeh in terms of its physical form. I certainly would have asked that if I were Kote. Then again, I'm not, and there is the possibility previously mentioned that Kote knows more about the Cthaeh than he's letting on.

"'Pure spite,' the Cthaeh said. 'I envied its innocence, its lack of care. Besides, too much sweetness cloys me. As does willful ignorance.'" The Cthaeh admits that he even sometimes kills the butterflies out of spite, if "they offend my aesthetic" isn't bad enough. I think the Cthaeh is fairly evil. But it does care about what it's doing, it seems, because it says it envied the butterfly's lack of care. So the Cthaeh may be driven by some sense of purpose rather than just manipulating the future for fun. It also dislikes sweetness and willful ignorance, but I can't draw any connections there. Maybe just that Kvothe is being willfully ignorant? Or something else? I'm not sure.

"'Not much to say really,' the Cthaeh remarked flippantly. 'You would do better to call them the Seven though. "Chandrian" has so much folklore hanging off it after all these years. The names used to be interchangeable, but nowadays if you say Chandrian people think of ogres and rendlings and scaven. Such silliness.'" Well, we already knew that, so I'm not sure what to make of this. Maybe there's something hidden? Because if the Cthaeh really does know Kvothe, he would know what Kvothe already knew about them. The only advice here is to call them "the Seven," but I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes vs. Chandrian. Also, he doesn't listen to the Cthaeh's advice, and continues to call them the Chandrian throughout the book, so I'm not sure whether this is significant or whether it's just a throwaway remark. I'm thinking throwaway, but you can never be sure.

“Why this sudden need? The masters at the University might know the answers you’re looking for. But they wouldn’t tell you even if you did ask, which you won’t. You’re too proud for that. Too clever to ask for help. Too mindful of your reputation.” Hmm. The Cthaeh really does seem to know Kvothe. Maybe he's been watching Kvothe in some way ever since his family was killed. The specific things he knows about Kvothe's personality don't really seem like things it could have foreseen, because Kvothe hadn't met it up until that point. It's not like he saw the Cthaeh a few years before and the Cthaeh influenced him to be what he is. This is the first time the Cthaeh has seen him. Still, maybe I'm reading too much into this and the Cthaeh just figures it out from the stuff Kvothe will do in the future. I don't know.

"'Haliax has been alive five thousand years. Five thousand years and not one second’s sleep.'" So we pretty much know this from Skarpi. Not sure what to take from that. Skarpi doesn't give us any dates to compare, so nothing there either.

"'Clever to go looking for the Amyr, I suppose. Even one proud as you can recognize the need for help. The Order might give it to you. Trouble is they’re as hard to find as the Seven themselves.'" Might, not will. So the Cthaeh isn't actually telling Kvothe that the Amyr will help, and he "supposes" that it is clever, but that's vague. The thing is, though, Kvothe has found the Chandrian a couple times already - the killing of his family, and then Cinder. If he's found the Chandrian, it makes me wonder whether he's also found the Amyr, or at least one or two of them, if they're both about equally hard to find. Bredon? Master Ash who might be Bredon? Puppet? Master Lorren? There's been plenty of speculation on that already.

"'It would be frustrating, I suppose,' the Cthaeh continued calmly. 'The few people who believe in the Chandrian are too afraid to talk, and everyone else will just laugh at you for asking.' There was a dramatic sigh that seemed to come from several places in the foliage at once. 'That’s the price you pay for civilization though.'" The Cthaeh uses a lot of subjunctives and "I suppose"s. Makes me wonder how much he's leading Kvothe to believe vs. how much straight up truth he's actually telling. That might be his thing, misdirection, misleading. "The few people..." Yeah, we've heard that before. Too bad for Kvothe. The dramatic sigh that came from many places? What, a multi-headed snake? Who knows? I'm starting to become just as curious about what the Cthaeh looks like as about what he's telling Kvothe. Final sentence - so civilization can be a bad thing? Maybe that's why the Cthaeh wants to destroy it, because of:

"' assume you know everything. You laughed at faeries until you saw one. Small wonder all your civilized neighbors dismiss the Chandrian as well. You’d have to leave your precious corners far behind before you found someone who might take you seriously. You wouldn’t have a hope until you made it to the Stormwal.'" It's worth noting that he does make it to the Stormwal - Ademre - and that Shehyn takes him seriously when he asks about them. So this throwaway comment turns out to be important, even if Kvothe doesn't realize it.

"'The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He’s already come close to them, though he doesn’t realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door.'
The Cthaeh gave a thin, dry chuckle. 'Blood, bracken, and bone, I wish you creatures had the wit to appreciate me. Whatever else you might forget, remember what I just said. Eventually you’ll get the joke. I guarantee. You’ll laugh when the time comes.'" So, the Maer. It was mentioned that the Maer pursued the Amyr when he was younger, so the Cthaeh might be referring to that. It’s also highly possible that Meluan is related to the Amyr in some way, and since they just got married, the Maer would be very close to the Amyr. The thing is, Kvothe doesn’t stick by the Maer, at least not in WMF. This makes me think he has to return to the Maer in D3 to do something. “Blood, bracken, and bone” – sounds like something Bast would say. Some sort of Faen saying, maybe? The interesting thing about it is that blood and bone go together, but what’s with bracken? Can anyone make any connections there at all? Also, Kvothe apparently doesn’t have the wit to appreciate him. Kvothe has a lot of wit, so...the Cthaeh is saying that it is really witty? Seems kind of unfair, considering its omniscience. It must be making some sort of joke that Kvothe can’t understand now, but eventually will. I wonder whether he’s referring to sticking by the Maer, not having wit, or both when he tells Kvothe to remember what he just said. It’s unclear.

“‘Since you ask so sweetly, Cinder is the one you want. Remember him? White hair? Dark eyes? Did things to your mother, you know. Terrible. She held up well though. Laurian was always a trouper, if you’ll pardon the expression. Much better than your father, with all his begging and blubbering.’” This is interesting, because I was under the impression that Kvothe wanted all the Chandrian. Here the Cthaeh is telling him that Cinder specifically is the one he’s looking for. I don’t know whether this is just because Cinder is the one who has done Kvothe the most wrong (“did things to his mother...”), or because Cinder really did do the Cthaeh a bad turn and the Cthaeh is setting Kvothe after Cinder specifically. Not at any point does the Cthaeh actually say the Chandrian killed his family, but it is obviously implied. Still, it leaves a little room for those of you who think the Chandrian didn’t actually do everything Kvothe thought they did.

“’Why?’ the Cthaeh echoed. ‘What a good question. I know so many whys. Why did they do such nasty things to your poor family? Why, because they wanted to, and because they could, and because they had a reason.’” Again, “did nasty things,” not “killed.” I’m on the Chandrian did kill his family side, even though it is never explicitly stated. So, the Cthaeh knows a lot of whys. “Because they could” – that makes sense; of course they could. But the other two seem like the same thing. They wanted to because of the song, which was also their reason. Or at least that’s what we think was why they wanted to. The fact that “wanted to” and “had a reason” are different whys makes me wonder whether the Chandrian had another motivation besides the song for killing his family.

“‘Why did they leave you alive? Why, because they were sloppy, and because you were lucky, and because something scared them away.’” The first two we know; we saw that in NW. The third one – has to be the Amyr, the Singers, or the Sithe, I think. That’s what Haliax says to Cinder when Cinder is messing around – "Who keeps you safe from the Amyr? The singers? The Sithe?” And then, also in NW, right before the Chandrian are scared off: “A feeling of being watched pulled at my attention. I felt a tenseness, a subtle change in the texture of the air.” This sounds like what the Faen realm feels like to him, when he says it is aware, or something like that. It makes me think that whoever was coming was Fae – maybe the original Amyr that Felurian was talking about, maybe the Sithe. We don’t really know about the singers.

“What scared them away? I thought numbly. But it was all too much. The memories, the things the voice said. My mouth worked silently, questioning.” WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK THE QUESTION, KVOTHE!

“‘What?’ the Cthaeh asked. ‘Are you looking for a different why? Are you wondering why I tell you these things? What good comes of it? Maybe this Cinder did me a bad turn once. Maybe it amuses me to set a young pup like you snapping at his heels. Maybe the soft creaking of your tendons as you clench your fists is like a sweet symphony to me. Oh yes it is. And you can be sure.’” Here we have three “maybe”s in a row. Since the Cthaeh confirms the last one (“oh yes it can be sure), I have made the assumption that the other two are true as well. I do think Cinder did him a bad turn, and the Cthaeh does seem amused. So the question is what Cinder did. I don’t think we get any more info on that, so we can only guess.

“That’s right, I suppose you don’t need me to tell you what he looks like. You’ve seen him just a day or three ago.” This follows the Cthaeh asking why Kvothe hasn’t found Cinder. The Cthaeh doesn’t actually say that Cinder is the bandit leader, but Kvothe seems fairly sure of it in the next paragraph, so I think we have to accept that.

“‘Pity he got away,’ the Cthaeh continued. ‘Still, you must admit you’ve had quite a piece of luck. I’d say it was a twice-in-a-lifetime-opportunity meeting up with him again. Pity you wasted it. Don’t feel bad you didn’t recognize him. They have a lot of experience hiding those telltale signs.’” So, the Chandrian can hide their signs. This raises the possibility that Master Ash could be both Bredon and Cinder, although I’m only with Bredon/Ash. Also, the Cthaeh says it’s a “twice-in-a-lifetime-opportunity.” From this I assumed that Kvothe has seen Cinder twice. The first time, of course, was when his family was killed. The second time was with the bandits. If Cinder is the bandit leader, and if the Cthaeh does mean that he’s seen Cinder only twice, then that tosses the Bredon/Master Ash/Cinder theory.

“‘He beats , you know. Her patron. Not all the time, but often. Sometimes in a temper, but mostly it’s a game to him. How far can he go before she cries? How far can he push before she tries to leave and he has to lure her back again? It’s nothing grotesque, mind you. No burns. Nothing that will leave a scar. Not yet.’” So we know for sure he beats her. Sometimes in a temper, mostly in a game – this to me does not sound like the “training” some of you have proposed. I think Master Ash is just a mean guy playing a nasty game. “How far can he go before she cries?”????? This is not training. I’m sure we can find ways to argue this, but I don’t think Master Ash is helping her in any way with the beatings.

“‘Two days ago he used his walking stick. That was new. Welts the size of your thumb under her clothes. Bruises down to the bone. She’s trembling on the floor with blood in her mouth and you know what she thinks before the black? You. She thinks of you. You thought of her too, I’m guessing. In between the swimming and strawberries and the rest.’” From this quote and the previous one, it seems the beatings are getting worse. The walking stick, of course, is a big plus for Master Ash/Bredon.

“The Cthaeh made a sound like a sigh. ‘Poor girl, she’s tied to him so tight. Thinks that’s all she’s good for. Wouldn’t leave him even if you asked. Which you won’t. You, so careful. So scared of startling her away. And well you should be too. She’s a runner, that one. Now that she’s left Severen, how can you hope to find her?’” A sound like a sigh? A hiss, maybe? The question is, why is she tied to him? Is he holding something over her? Why did she leave Severen? Probably because her patron left. I still don’t think Cinder is her patron, though, because if he is the leader of the bandits, he must have been out in the woods leading them around while Kvothe was in Severen with Denna. Bredon was there the whole time. I wish we had a little more information. It’s very frustrating.

“‘It is a shame you left without a word, you know. She was just beginning to trust you before that. Before you got angry. Before you ran off. Just like every other man in her life. Just like every other man. Lusting after her, full of sweet words, then just walking away. Leaving her alone. Good thing she’s used to it by now, isn’t it? Otherwise you might have hurt her. Otherwise you just might have broken that poor girl’s heart.’” Just beginning to trust him? It took a while. I think the Cthaeh is twisting his words to hurt Kvothe here, because from what we know about Denna, it’s she who walks away after getting gifts and money, and the nobles who want to keep her. Kvothe is different because he doesn’t act like that, and the Cthaeh is trying to compare them anyway. To me, he’s trying to make Kvothe feel bad.

And as I ran I could hear Cthaeh speaking behind me. Its dry, quiet voice followed me longer than I would have thought possible. “Come back. Come back. I’ve more to say. I’ve so much more to tell you, won’t you stay?” Yes, Kvothe! Stay! Ask more questions! But no. That’s all we have. To whoever is reading these words, I’m exceptionally proud of you.

So that’s the end. Please feel free to comment additionally. I’m sure even this isn’t all there is.

Alf Bishai
22. greyhood
I dunno. I'm going to be really disappointed in the Cthaeh turns out to be a snake.

A boutique thought. I mentioned in an earlier post that in Genesis, God invites Adam to name every living thing. Someone responded that in the Quran, God taught Adam the names of all things (and left the angels without this knowledge.) That difference has been lazing around my mind in lounge pants ever since then.

The Bible account gives more agency to Adem - excuse me, Adam - on earth (but puts him lower than the angels - Hebrews 2), while the Quran account gives Adam less agency on earth (but puts him higher than the angels). In other words, in the Bible, Adam is really a Shaper; in the Quran he is a Knower.

Creation wars?
George Brell
23. gbrell

You have some of the same ideas I laid out last week, particularly with regards to the Cthaeh's triplet name.

Re: Haliax's age

We often connect the Loeclos box to Iax or Haliax, but the dating provided in the series seems to place the two quite far apart. Kvothe guesses that the Loeclos box is approximately three thousand years old (which aligns with Meluan’s family’s guesses), while the Cthaeh identifies Haliax as having been “alive five thousand years,” which would place Lanre’s renaming (which occurs after Iax was sealed behind the doors of stone) as being two millennia older than the Loeclos box.

We can't say that the dating of the box is accurate, but if we think the Loeclos box is the Amyr's door (as opposed to the Valaritas door which holds Iax), the dating problem is somewhat alleviated. Unfortunately, I believe the Church's denouncement of the Amyr is dated more recently, but need to check the text first.
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter
Pythia was the name by which the Oracle of Delphi was known.
The name comes from Pytho which Homer gives as the original name of Delphi and comes from that place being where Apollo slew the dragon/serpent Python.
It seems serpents were often associated with oracles--often as their protectors in antiquity. Maybe there is more than one creature in that tree.
I suspect that if the Cthaeh is "serpentish" it won't be a simple serpent, but more a creature with serpentish characteristics.
Rob Munnelly
25. RobMRobM
"Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door." The "Stick" by the Maer is Bredon's. (That's the pun the Cth is hinting at - it is not for Kvothe to stick with the Maer but, literally, someone with a stick by (near to) the Maer - Bredon. So either Bredon is a Chandrian or he will lead Kvothe to the Chandrian.
26. The Great Sigh
I think the Cthaeh is the Draccus from the blac of Drossen Tor. In the battle it breathed darkness onto Lanre. Later on he goes insane, despite defeating the draccus.

We think that the Cthaeh is a snake. Also, "There was a dramatic sigh that seemed to come from several places in the foliage at once." Sounds a lot like the dark breath that enveloped Lanre.

Also, a completely irrelevant yet interesting idea is the idea that K did not fall under a Geas in Tarbean or as Kote, but is instead a reincarnation of Tehlu or some other great figure. When he is put to 'sleep' it is infact referring to the fencing off of Tehlu within Kvothe's mind. His usual brilliant self seems to be absent. Also K embellishes two traits that Tehlu embodies, pride and vengeance.

When K is being beaten by Pike upon arrival in Tarbean one of the boys complains that Pike is speaking Tehlu's name in vain and says "Tehlu watches over us, but he is vengeful". The lute is crushed by K's body and later on K exacts revenge.

I believe it to be more a matter of possession than reincarnation. K seems extremely similar to Tehlu's son. He learns things at an insanely high level, has access to names that others would spend lifetimes hoping to achieve (Felurian's). Although he doesn't physically age quickly, his wit does.

I'm currently re-reading NOTW and have just arrived in Tarbean, thoughts would be appreciated.
27. Georgiana89
What really puzzles me with this section is that the Ctheah doesn't seem to tell K anything that he doesn't already either know or suspect, or anything that would encourage him to do something he wasn't already planning.

In essence,whether or not the C is telling the truth/twisting things, he suggests that:

*Cinder/all the chandrian killed his parents and he should hunt him/them down - he's basically known this and being trying to do it for years

*Denna's patron is beating her - he's always strongly suspected this and has been constantly trying to warn her away from him

*The Maer has some connection to the Amyr and he should stick by him - the Maer told him of his interest in the Amyr himself and at this stage K's plan is to go back to him and continue his Amyr research.

*He might be able to get some information/be believed re the Chandrian is he went to the Stornwal - this is new info, and K doesn't appear to have thought of going there before. However, when he decides to do so, it appears to be mainly because he wants to defend Tempi rather than becuse of the C's advice. Plus does anything bad come of him going there?

*Denna was starting to trust him and now doesn't - this is seemingly what he assumed when he was angry with himself for getting angry with her, and I can't see how it would lead him to act differetnly.

So in summary, other than adding some gory detail (his father begging, Denna's bruises to the bone) which certainly can't make him hate the Chandrian any more than he already does and probably onlymake him hate the patron a bit more, the Cthaeh really adds nothing. The implication seems to be that the worst things K could do would be to attack the Chandrian and go after Denna's patron - both things that already seemed inevitable.

Is it possible that the C actually couldn't make things any worse, that K was already "a plague ship heading towards shore" from the moment that his family was killed/when he heard Skarpi's story/when he fell for Denna, and thus decided to go after the Chandrian and maybe the patron?
Jo Walton
28. bluejo
Sorry about the spelling -- if Rothfuss had deliberately spent years making a word my fingers couldn't type he couldn't have done better.

From now on, I will refer to it as the CTH!

Gbrell, if you come to my reading this afternoon do introduce yourself!
29. Lackless
I see what you mean, Jo. It's so unintuitive to type Cthaeh.

@Georgiana89, the Cthaeh certainly adds things. I'll try to point them out in relation to your points.

1. Kvothe has been searching for the Chandrian, not Cinder specifically. It seems like the Cthaeh's goal is to make Kvothe go after Cinder, the reason being that Cinder "did the Cthaeh a bad turn once." By telling Kvothe about what Cinder did, the Cthaeh is trying to set him after Cinder.

2. The detail about the beatings you're talking about is actually very important - mainly the game that it is to Master Ash and the walking stick. These are clues that strongly suggest Master Ash/Bredon. I'm not saying it's a given - it may be a red herring - but the fact that it's there is important. Kvothe didn't know that before; he knew only that Denna was being beaten, and really nothing about Master Ash.

3. Maybe, but the Cthaeh also says that it's making a joke. That may be important in D3. There's just not enough information there to say for sure whether what it says is important or not.

4. I know I pointed out that he got the information on the Chandrian beyond the Stormwal (or at least partway beyond it) but the Cthaeh didn't actually say he would get information there. It said people might take him seriously, which Shehyn did. Plus, we don't know what he will do in D3, so that might be important if he goes to the Stormwal somewhere else later on. The thing you have to remember is that the Cthaeh sees "big picture." I would agree that some of the things it says don't seem to have much of an effect in WMF. However, they might be important in D3. Also, "does anything bad come of him going there?" Good? Bad? Who can say. But different? Of course. Look what he learned in Ademre - fighting, a new language; he got another name, his worldview is changed - all of these things help make him the man who will do whatever he does in D3 that ruins the world. You can even see the effect it has in WMF when he kills the nine pretending Edema Ruh. The journey changed him, and most likely for the worse.

5. Like I said before, I think everything in that paragraph (which includes the trust issue) was to hurt Kvothe. The Cthaeh is a malicious entity, and it likes to twist truth to hurt people. That's what it's doing there. And clearly, it has a great effect on Kvothe, who, after that paragraph, runs away from the Cthaeh because he can't take it anymore. Knowing how Kvothe would react, the Cthaeh said what it did to cause him the most pain it could.

You're right that Kvothe might have been on a destructive path from the beginning, but there's no way to know. The Cthaeh ensures that he's a plague ship.
jon meltzer
30. jmeltzer
I haven't read these books, but my complete outsider thought is of another Cth. One with bat wings and tentacles. Is there any connection?
Alice Arneson
31. Wetlandernw
Late to the party, but thought I'd contribute this much.
"Except that the Ctheah isn’t behind the Doors of Stone, it’s sitting in a tree being malicious."
It suddenly occurs to me to wonder... could the "Doors of Stone" be the waystones by which one passes between Fae and the Four Corners? Being shut behind those doors would be a matter of perspective: if you're in the FC world, Fae is the other side, and when you're in Fae, the FC is the other side. So when "the enemy was set behind the doors of stone" he was stuck on the other side of the waystones from the FC - in Fae. This just might be the Cthaeh. And when Felurian says that the one who “is shut beyond the doors of stone” is the same person who “he stole the moon and with it came the war” she would be saying that Iax is shut on the other side of the waystones from Fae - in the Four Corners.

I know, that leaves all sorts of holes. The Cthaeh seems to be stuck in his tree, not behind stone doors - but that tree is behind the doors of stone as far as the FC is concerned, so it has the same effect. Are the Chandrian stuck in the FC with no access to Fae? Or at least, is Haliax? (Umm... are Iax and Haliax the same person? I forget what's been proven and disproven.) Even if not, is it possible that Iax is stuck in the FC, and so "shut beyond the doors of stone" as far as Felurian/Fae is concerned? It’s entirely possible that Skarpi and Felurian were talking about two different people, and we’ve wrongly assumed that “shut behind the doors of stone” was a clue that they were talking about the same person. If, in fact, the waystones that mark the places of passage are the “doors of stone” and it is possible to somehow bar a person from using them, it could readily work both ways. Maybe.

Okay, I'm not sure I think this is even close to a valid theory - it's pure, WAG-style speculation. Someone please tell me that there's something fundamentally wrong with it... Or, in case my brain is actually working and I just didn't know it, tell me it's a neat idea. :) I see that Herelle touched on this with the idea that the Fae realm was created as a prison for the Cthaeh, so I'm not totally out on a limb.

I was going to say that the biggest problem with it, in my mind, is that we actually have two stone doors already, so there’s no real sense in inventing new ones. However, when I went looking, the most frequent reference to “stone doors” is actually the entrance into the Archives, which is repeatedly described as a pair of massive stone doors. There are two references to the single “stone door” inside the Archives, but that one is more often referred to as “the four-plate door" - which could, of course, be a matter of giving us just enough info to know it's there, but not repeating it enough to be obvious. The Lackless door isn’t described as stone at all; it is merely “a secret door. A door without handle or hinges.” And, interestingly enough, when Kvothe, Sim and Willem are scrounging the archives, Sim reads from a book which describes
“…a pair of matched stone monoliths with a third across the top. The locals refer to it as the door-post. While spring and summer pageants involve decorating and dancing around the stone, parents forbid their children from spending time near it when the moon is full. One well-respected and otherwise reasonable old man claimed at certain times men could pass through the stone door into the fair land where Felurian herself abides, loving and destroying men with her embrace.”
So. Maybe it’s worth considering after all.

Additional notes:

shalter @2 – Bravo!! ::applauds:: Bravo!!

Geminaut @18 – Actually, Kvothe is the one who calls it “a Cthaeh” when he tells Felurian what happened. Everywhere else, including its initial self-identification, it is “the Cthaeh” with the one exception being “I am Cthaeh. I am. I see. I know.”

RobMRobM @25 – The stick notion is interesting. It plays on the double meaning/idiom of “stick” but I think we can expect that of Rothfuss. As with some previous discussions (e.g. Ash) I have to wonder what the translations imply.
Julia Mason
32. DrFood
shalter, lackless, you have my respect. I love the song and I appreciate all the effort made to bring us each of the Cthaeh's words.

I do think the Cthaeh is serpentine--the strike of a snake could cause a butterfly to suddenly be body-less, the wings falling to the ground. There's certainly precedent for snakes in trees causing trouble.
Alf Bishai
33. greyhood
@32 "There's certainly precedent for snakes in trees causing trouble."

Interesting popular misconception about the serpent in the Eden story. The serpent's curse - after the disaster it caused - was that it would go on its belly, eating dust. In other words, its form was changed from a non-slitherer to a slitherer. There is no indication of what it looked like before the curse, except that it may have been more human-like because no one found it strange that it talked/was highly intelligent.

Perhaps a similar thing happened with the Cthaeh?
Katherine Gielissen
34. limblessninja
Finally caught up will all you brilliant thinkers...

I find the first comment by Lions Rampart (regarding Bast and Chronicler's later conversation about the Cthaeh) very interesting. The first time we hear about the details of the Cthaeh from Bast, we learn everything we need to know to legitimately fear (or at least anticipate) its influence on Kvothe's life. Why then, do we have another scene that makes us question the extent of that influence? Prior to the B+C conversation, I could feel this looming presence of doom in the back of my mind as I read, knowing that the Cthaeh's influence would color Kvothe's story for the remainder of the trilogy.

Then we have a conversation that essentially adds up to "you are the master of your own fate" or perhaps more accurately "you can't live your life fearing your fate," or more morbidly "just 'cause we're gonna die doesn't mean we can't enjoy life."

We can already guess that Kvothe's story will not have a happy ending. Lord knows he's given enough foreshadowing to predict at least some tragedy. So why, then, does PR - an author that spent years pruning scenes out of his story - choose to include a conversation that seems to (at least somewhat) diminish the looming threat that hangs over Kvothe's head? We know that K had no knowledge of what the Cthaeh truly was until the frame story, so - in a way - K lives his life in relative ignorance of his fate until the present.

What purpose does this scene serve? Perhaps some (faint) glimmer of hope for the frame story? Or did someone glean a deeper meaning from the conversation?
- -
35. hex
The name 'Cthaeh', typographically, always called to mind 'Cthulhu' for me. Another melevolent 'Cth'.

@1, Is it ever explicitly stated that the Cthaeh is bound to the tree? We know it's not completely imobile. The Sithe (are supposed to) kill anything that gets near it, but are they also preventing it from it from moving around? Staying put certainly makes it easier to find, but it also seems like it would provide fewer opporunities to create mischief.

Sidenote, I presume the Cthaeh itself is not a flowering plant, and that the rhinna comes from the tree it sits in. If you wanted to screw with people, but couldn't move, hanging out in a rhinna producing tree seems like a solid plan.

@22, Re: The dichotomy between Adam giving names to everything, or finding out what everything is named is mirrored neatly by this early quote in NOTW:
“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
36. stevenhalter
Cthaeh is an odd looking word/name in English. The Cth part pretty much immeadiatly (to people with an F/SF bent) invokes shades of Cthulhu -- which is really someone's best try at transcribing a horrific name-sound into English.
If you go into Greek for chthon for earth from which we get Chthonic - chthonios, "in, under, or beneath the earth", and which pertains to the various deities of the underworld. Interesting how that echos down through the ages. In all of these cases the ch pronunciation is generally given as k.
37. ryan7273
I've tried to parse through everything the Cthaeh says while filtering out things that are ambiguous. We've been told that the Cthaeh speaks the literal truth but in such a way as to cause the most pain and damage. Some of the breaks in the sentences remind me of someone trying to lie through misdirection. Explicitly say something in one sentence, use a pronoun or leave out the subject entirely in the following sentence. Our brains fill things in without us noticing most times. This is not to say that I think everything the Cthaeh has to say falls into this category. Most of the stuff about Denna gets left out, for example, and we KNOW that she has bruising. Still, it's interesting to see how little of the conversation is explicit.

The red ones offend my aesthetic.
I am no tree.
I am the Cthaeh.
You are fortunate to find me.
I am Cthaeh.
I am.
I see.
I know.
At times I speak.
There are no red ones left.
And the blue ones are ever so slightly sweet.
I can smell the iron on you.
Your silence much offends me.
You’re like a clear pool.
I can see ten feet through you, and you’re barely three feet deep.
Pure spite, I envied its innocence, its lack of care.
Besides, too much sweetness cloys me.
You would do better to call them the Seven.
'Chandrian' has so much folklore hanging off it after all these years.
Haliax has been alive five thousand years.
Even one proud as you.....
The few people who believe in the Chandrian are too afraid to talk, and everyone else will just laugh at you for asking.
Arrogance, You assume you know everything.
The Maer is quite the extraordinary man.
Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door.
Eventually you’ll get the joke.
You’ll laugh when the time comes.
Cinder is the one you want.
Laurian was always a trouper, if you’ll pardon the expression.
....your father, with all his begging and blubbering.
I know so many whys.
Because they wanted to, and because they could, and because they had a reason.
Why, because they were sloppy, and because you were lucky, and because something scared them away.
You’ve seen him just a day or three ago.
They have a lot of experience hiding those telltale signs.
She was just beginning to trust you before that.
I’ve more to say. I’ve so much more to tell you.
Michael Durant
38. Foxed
... Oh. I have to log in to post now. DUH.

Before I get to my actual point, I wanted to quote the intense Cthaeh transcript.
"'The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He’s already come close to them, though he doesn’t realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door.'
The Cthaeh gave a thin, dry chuckle. 'Blood, bracken, and bone, I wish you creatures had the wit to appreciate me. Whatever else you might forget, remember what I just said. Eventually you’ll get the joke. I guarantee. You’ll laugh when the time comes.'"

The simplest theory is that if K sticks with the Maer, through the Maer's pretty new wife, the Maer will lead K to the Amyr's (Lackless) Door. Presumably via the box. Not that K will stick with the Maer and Aunt Meluan. The joke being that there is literally a door to be led to.

Anyways, my actual point that I've been trying to post forever:

The narrative in WMF has been bothering me. NW ended with a climax that the entire book was building towards (draccuses, denner, Denna, Chandrian, personal finances, Tehlin myth, sympathy, and stories versus reality). WMF can be split into five episodes. Ambrose. The Maer. Bandits. Fae. And the Adem. It's not really building towards anything at its climax. It's just the further adventures of K.

Then I tried to think of a thematic tie-in. Of course! TREES!

... Hear me out. The latter three episodes all involved trees. Cinder's bandit camp is centered around a giant tree (the Broken Tree when K is done with it). In Faerie, K meets the Cthaeh. And finally, there is that sword tree in Ademre.

I strongly suspect the last two are related. Not literally related. But maybe there's a reason the coming-of-age rite for Adem youths includes braving dangers to reach the trunk of a tree and return with a weapon. Perhaps originally, the Adem would brave the Cthaeh to retrieve a personal fortune.
George Brell
39. gbrell

This isn't purely a textual argument, but Rothfuss has stated a couple of times that the draccus-subplot was a much later addition to the book. In fact, if I remember correctly, it was added after he sold the whole series (originally one book) as a means of giving NotW a climactic scene. Whether that should color our opinion of its significance is up for debate (supposedly Auri was another very late addition), but I don't know that NotW was necessarily intended to build to that scene.

Rothfuss has said in interviewsthat NotW is a book about a boy becoming a young man while WMF is about a young man becoming an adult (in terms of responsibility, sexuality, cultural awareness). There's your theme, if you want it. I'll try and find the interview.
- -
40. hex
Another thought-
It always struck me that the Cthaeh refers to Kvothe's mother as 'Laurian' rather Natalia. I suppose that not straighting that mystery out provided more opportunity for devilry down the road.
Saldaña Leopoldo
41. Earendil
I've found this wonderful reread and I've read the whole. There are very interesting theories here. I've noticed something connecting the Cthaeh and the Loeclos box. When K head to the Cthaeh, he said:

"The wind shifted, and as the leaves stirred I smelled a strange, sweet smell. It was like smoke and spice and leather and lemon. It was a compelling smell. Not in the same way that food smells appealing. It didn’t make my mouth water or my stomach growl. Despite this, if I’d seen something sitting on a table that smelled this way, even if it were a lump of stone or a piece of wood, I would have felt compelled to put it in my mouth. Not out of hunger, but from sheer curiosity, much like a child might."

Then, when he was inspecting the Loeclos box:

"The wood itself was interesting. It was dark enough to be roah, but it had a deep red grain. 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 sort of wood is this?”"

So, is it quite possible that the Loeclos box was made with the Cthaeh's wood? Or am I just paranoic? Sorry for my english, I'm from Spain
Anthony Pero
42. anthonypero
Is Haliax being alive for 5000 years, as the CTH says, consistent with our timeline of Lanre becoming Haliax? Doesn't that happen 3000 years ago? Does that mean that Lanre becomes possesed by something that was already 2000 years old? Or is my timeline on events wrong?
Anthony Pero
43. anthonypero
Also, the CTH said "The Maer will lead you to their door." This is refering to the Amyr, of course.. what if the Amyr's door isn't the lackless door, but the final door of the mind... death? Door/Gate... some thing, right? Wrong? That would certainly give aninteresting spin to saying someday K will get "the joke."
44. spirit theif
@2 shalter
Bravo! Beautifully done.

About the Cthaeh and unrelated topics:
I think the religious symbolism here is very misleading. While Pat borrrows from other sources (Erdo!) this seems too conspicous, too overt. The other references are subtle allusions. I don't think PR is giving us an evil serpent or tree of knowledge. It seems wrong given the rest of the book. The Greater Good doesn't seem to fit with christian ideals of charity and goodwill. If that makes sense.

Here's what I really wanted to talk about. Kvothe's reaction to the Cthaeh's conversation. The Cthaeh begins to speak about Denna, and Kvothe bolts. He hears about Denna's feelings, then starts to cry and flees. He meets Ferulian and remembers "the fires and the man with ink-black eyes. I thought of Denna sprawled on the floor with a mouthful of blood and I choked. I turned and shook my head, eyes clenched shut and unable to speak."

So Cinder and Denna cause Kvothe pain again. It seems incongruous that he should be so hurt by the few words Cthaeh tells him. That those few words should change his fate forever. Cthaeh gives no new information, just phrases it maliciously. Kvothe knew about the beatings and Cinder's killing spree. Yet this conversation causes him enough pain that he passes through the door of sleep.

Another oddment: Butterflies and the lack thereof.
Cthaeh kills butterflies, which are a symbol of rebirth and renewal in many cultures. It's like the CTH is killing mockingjays. After Kvothe returns to Ferulian's clearing, he notices "a curious lack of butterflies. There were usually at least a handful around, but now there were none.'

So did the CTH somehow compel Kvothe (and the butterflies) to the clearing, setting up this conversation. While talking CTH kills all the butterflies that came from Ferulian's clearing, so there would be none when Kvothe returned. Maybe?

And last order of business:
I know someone probably pointed this out but: Amyr, Adem, Imre, Myr Taraniel, Edema Ruh. How would Imre fit in? I doubt that it is Myr Taraniel, as that city is located in by mountains. And if the Order Amyr is Tehlu and his angels, why would the Church of Tehlin disband them?
Alf Bishai
45. greyhood
An ornamental correlation between Puppet and the Cthaeh. A lot is made about the butterfly wings; a lot is also made about the wood shavings coming off of the puppet head of K that Puppet is making. The shavings were a conspicuous detail to me in my initial read.

Perhaps it's a hint of their connection. Or maybe it's just a nice literary ornament. One removes extraneous stuff to shape the true person, the other removes vital stuff to unshape/destroy the person.
46. Lackless
Something I forgot before - about what new information the Cthaeh adds - here's a quote:

I thought of what the Cthaeh had said. The one shred of potentially useful information it had let slip in our conversation. You laughed at faeries until you saw one. Small wonder all your civilized neighbors dismiss the Chandrian as well. You’d have to leave your precious corners far behind before you found someone who might take you seriously. You wouldn’t have a hope until you made it to the Stormwal.
Felurian had said the Cthaeh only spoke the truth.
“Could I accompany you?” I asked.
“Accompany?” Tempi asked, his hands moving in a graceful circle intended to break the long bones of the arm.
“Travel with. Follow. To Haert.” “Yes.” “Would it help your trouble?” “Yes.”
“I will come.”
“I thank you.”

So, the primary reason that Kvothe goes to Haert is not to help Tempi, initially, but rather in pursuit of the knowledge the Cthaeh half-promised him. This is something I did not add to #4 on my last post.
Felipe Martins
47. felipem
@2 shalter
Beautiful, just beautiful!

@25 RobMRobM
That's actualy realy clever I wonder why no one else commented on this. It would realy make a lot of sense and make me laugh! Oh man, I miss so much of these reading the book on my native language! There's absolutely no hint on that on the portuguese version. I'm definitly being the english D3!

Now about the Ctaeh:
How did he get trapped in (or around) a tree? Well, maybe he let it happen! If you were a being of pure evilness you'd sure be hunted to the ends of earth by all sorts of creatures and even knowing all the future that might be tricky. What if of all possible futures the best one is to be imprisioned on a tree? That doesn't seem so bad. He's probably immortal too, eventualy his guardians will forget about him, possibly they already did, Kvothe got to him. Maybe he chose the right time and the right people to let them catch him, and by doing so he was safe. No one would try to hunt or kill him anymore, and eventualy an adventurer would come to him, and by doing that the Cthaeh would keep on with his "work".
I say "work" because I don't actualy believe the Cthaeh has a bigger plan. He's evil and immortal, and probably is just bored. If you ever played The Sims you'd understand. It's boring watching your Sims take out the garbage but realy cool to watch them fight and taking out the pool stairs to see them drown!
Melanie S
48. starryharlequin
'Pity he got away,' the Cthaeh continued. 'Still, you must admit you’ve had quite a piece of luck. I’d say it was a twice-in-a-lifetime-opportunity meeting up with him again.'
Now that's an interesting quote--twice in a lifetime to meet up with him again could be parsed to mean he'd met Cinder again twice, or three times in total. (Of course, given the occasional math troubles throughout the books...)

Liking DT's theory that sticking with the Maer sends Kvothe back to the University, which is the Amyr's door.
Anthony Pero
49. anthonypero
I'd say it means K gets one more meeting with Cinder. The phrase is too specific, and PR had to be being extra careful with CTH dialog, considering what the character is.
Anthony Pero
50. anthonypero
I still think the Amyr's door is death. Sticking with the Maer sends K through it, to become Kote. Now, can Kvothe be ressurected?
51. georgiana89
Lackless, thanks for your comeback, you raise some interesting points. I'm still not sure that what is said about Denna or Cinder makes so much difference, although your comments add some interesting dimensions, but I'll agree, now you've posted the actual "I'm coming to Ademre" conversation, that the "until you got beyond the Stornwals" line is pretty important and causes Kvothe to do something he probably wouldn't have - even if he had gone to support Tempi, without the Ctheaths words, he probably wouldn't have thought to ask about the Chandrian whilst he was there. In that case, I'd suspect the most dangerous thing that comes of it is him learning the true names of all the Chandrian .

Something else I was thinking was that a lot of people assume that the Ctheath is twisting the truth about Denna and her patron and the beatings. It struck me that it could be entirely true, with no redeeming angle, and that whilst Kvothe intervening to save Denna would be the "right" thing to do (as no one wants to leave a women to be regularly beaten) it could still be a disatrous thing for the world, eg. if her patron was important and Kvothe killing him started a war or if he was an Amyr and his death left everyone at the mercy of the Chandrian (or vice versa).
Sort of like the opposite of the Amyr's obsession with the greater good - doing the nice, humane thing in saving someone you love and indirectly causing much more suffering for others.

Finally, considering how the whole "Denna is being horribly beaten and she thinks about you and how you abandoned her" bit is what seemingly upsets Kvothe most, does anyone else find it odd that once he's out of fae, he then makes no effort to find her for months and months? Okay, he has little clue where she is, but that's never stopped him looking before.
52. Richard Hendricks
Could the Cthaeh be manipulating world events to bring about its own end?
David C
53. David_C
@5. I’ve disagreed with the stick theory before, on the grounds that
the pun is awfully English-centric. How are you going to translate that
into Brazilian Portuguese, or, for that matter, Aturan, or whatever the
Cthaeh was speaking? I find the pun far more likely to lie in
figurative/literal senses of “lead you to their door” which ought to
work in many languages, even those of 4C.


Cthaeh. pronunciation. my theory. kth (as in sixth) ay (as in hay) eh
(as in feh, or oy veh). Alternatively, kth (also as in sixth) e as in
bet, ah (as in Princess Leah), or maybe even: kth, a (as in English
grass), ai as in fait accompli.

I tend to agree with shalter about oracles. Leaving them unconstrained
in a story either leads to nonsense, or non-story. Sort of an anthropic
theory of Cthaeh: if it wasn’t confined to a tree, there would be no 4C,
and PR would vanish into a logical incosistency.

Which makes me view the Cthaeh as being somewhat like Tolkien’s Tom
Bombadil: once you let such a thing wander into your story, you had
better wall it off, or it will destroy the plot. Don’t expect
consistency, or further connections or answers around the Cthaeh: they
would just lead to more “Why didn’t ...” questions. (But maybe shalter
will write us a few more songs.)

The meta-point of “the Sithe / Bast” conversation is to preclude future
“Hey, why don’t we just go ask the Cthaeh?” options.

@21. I like the notion that Lackless raises in passing that the death
of Arliden and Laurien may be for reasons other than the song. Are the
Chandrian also after the Lackless bloodline? (raised this before — just
what is the point of robbing the Maer’s tax collectors? new though.
Were all of the tax collectors passing through the Eld?)
54. TotallyKyle
I've only recently discovered these re-reads and first and foremost I'd like to say how awesome they are. Even when I don't agree with all of the theories, they spark intriguing thought.

Since there's so much content on here, I haven't had a chance to read all of the comments or even all of the chapter read throughs, but have seen a good amount. (Spoilers after here)

That being said (from what I have seen) I don't think there is NEARLY enough attention being paid to Bast. While the theory about Bast being Kvothe's child is certainly possible/plausible, I personally just don't think it's the case. I have my own theory though. While it's not fully formed, I think it needs some serious attention.

To start with: I am a firm believer of Kvothe as being an unreliable narrator, and that not everything he is telling in the story is completely true. Even in some cases outright lies (I’ll go more into K’s lies later).

The obvious question is why would he lie? And who would he be lying to?

At the heart of every lie is protection; to protect yourself from shame, or embarrassment, or more importantly, to deceive an enemy.
Am I saying that Devan is Kvothe's enemy? No, not at all. I think Kvothe is trying to (and successfully) deceive Bast.

At the end of NotW and WMF we see Bast in a very different light. We see a creature completely different from the one Kvothe sees. So this leads to one of two things: Bast is trying to deceive Kvothe, or he's trying to deceive Devan. From the dark encounter with the soldiers at the end of WMF, and indeed the task he had them perform shows that it's like that the darker face he show's Devan is most likely the true one.

So he's lying to Kvothe. Not little white lies. These are large and dangerous lies, a complete lie about who he really is. He has several machinations going in order to serve the purpose of getting what he wants. For example: Bringing Devan there in the first place. The soldiers he paid to beat the shit out of Kvothe, and then most likely beat to death with a flaming stick afterward (the acts of a loving student? I think not). And I also suspect that he somehow had the scrael lured there as well.

What else do we know of Bast? He is a Prince of Twilight apparently. Assuming this is not just novelty title Kvothe used for the boy as being from that portion of the Fae, he is royalty of the Faen courts. If this is the case it could play into all sorts of political motives that Bast may have. We also know that he is a glamourer, or a practitioner of "the art of making things seem." So if you think of this not only in the magical sense, but as indicative of his nature it's easy to believe that he is naturally deceptive.

Where my speculations lose their water is when you come to the question, "What the hell are Bast's motives?" This is where I hit a brick wall.

The obvious answer you might think is he wants the old Kvothe back, and not the lame innkeeper Kote. But while I don't disagree with that fact, I think his desire is much deeper than that. I'm not buying the fact that Bast just wants him to be his happy old self again. He's too devious, and at times malicious for it to be just that. I think he wants Kvothe back because of what may happen when he does come back. Perhaps it has to do with the chest. Perhaps he wants Kvothe to do something. Perhaps it relates to the Fae and the Faen courts. Anyone else have any thoughts about this?

What's more, I think that Kvothe knows all this.

You see I’m not 100% convinced that Kvothe has lost all of his powers/abilities. I’m not saying it’s not possible, or even likely. I’m just saying I have my doubts, at least about the extent of his “disability.” The 3rd person narrator refers to Kvothe as Kvothe often. His sharp bright green eyes are mentioned. He is able to defeat a pack of scrael, something that apparently is an amazing feat. When he gets into the fight with the soldiers in the bar dispatches the first solider with graceful ease, and starts easily on the second until he “remembered who he was” and then let him beat the shit out of him. So it’s my opinion that at the very least, he has not lost any of his physical fighting ability, and it’s possible that he hasn’t lost anything else either. Could it be that when the skin walker came at him and he through brand on it to light it afire with sympathy, that was another moment of forgetting who he was, and stopped short of actually lighting it.In the final chapter there's a single sentence about Kvothe going downstairs in silence like a thief and putting up his hands like a dancer and taking a single perfect step. Not only does this sound like the Katan, but it sounds like Kvothe. Not Kote. This to me is Kvothe hiding who he truly is, but has not lost it. That is why he is sneaking about, practicing in the dark when no one is looking. Specifically Bast.
So assuming that Kvothe knows, or at least suspects his student of deceit/ foul play it would be very like him to try and beat Bast at his own game.

So maybe the show of the innkeeper is not just for the townsfolk. What if he is trying to make Bast so frustrated and impatient with his master’s lack of response to his machinations, that he forces a final confrontation with Bast. Hell, Bast could have something that Kvothe wants, or needs Bast to do and is slowly counter-manipulating him to that end.

I understand that this theory is a little flimsy but bear with me, and let me get to my thoughts on Kvothe as the unreliable narrator.
So if Kvothe knows about Bast, then he knows that Bast got Devan to show up and write down his story. So he also knows that Bast is going to listen. Indeed he knew he was eavesdropping the beginning of it during NotW. So knowing he would listen, and that Bast hasn’t heard the events of his life before, he could change details and even large events to suit this purpose.

I can’t think of anything in NotW that I suspect was a lie. At least nothing with the sole purpose of manipulating Bast (as Kvothe said, he is not above embellishing the details). And most of WMF I think of as the same way. I expect there will be more lies to this purpose in D3 however.

The lie I am thinking of is a big one though:

Kvothe has never actually spoken with the Cthaeh.

Think about what with know about the Cthaeh: It can see every possible future, in every possible way. Like the butterfly effect, its words will ripple through out time carrying out its purpose, which is apparently to just cause as much misery as possible according to Bast (should we buy that?).

Whatever the case, I don’t doubt the power of the Cthaeh. I also don’t think Kvothe does either.

I think Kvothe was told about the Cthaeh during his time in Fae, by Felurian. I think, in an effort to ensure he would survive to return, she made sure he knew of all the things that might harm him. I think she made sure he knew exactly what speaking with the Cthaeh meant. I also think that she told Kvothe about the Sithe, and Kvothe hoped Bast just wouldn’t bring them up during his performance.

Which brings up another point: Bast says that the Sithe’s oldest and most important charge is to guard the tree and make sure no one speaks to the Cthaeh. They do this to prevent chaos, destruction, and misery. I find in highly unlikely that Kvothe was just able to wander over, as his buck ass naked readheaded mortal 16 year old self, have a 20 minute conversation with it and then walk away without one of these guards noticing. Think about that. He had to get IN and then get OUT, all without so much as seeing an arrow fly in his direction. Where were they? Did the whole Sithe crew have an emergency case of explosive diarrhea? Even Skyrim guards would have noticed him, it’s not like he was sneaking.

Luckily for Kvothe, Bast doesn’t ask too many questions about it and he gets away with feigning ignorance.

We see Bast’s reaction to the introduction of the Cthaeh, and it (seemingly) has the desired effect as his mood is not the same the rest of the book. It’s almost as if Kvothe was trying to make Bast believe that no matter what Bast does, everything will “end in tears.”
Also interestingly Kvothe is unperturbed by the explanation Bast gives of the Cthaeh.

So all in all, I know there are a lot of assumptions and my theories may not hold water when tested, but those are my thoughts. If anyone has anything to add I’d be appreciative. Sorry for the long post and if you made it to the end thanks for sticking with me! Lol

TL;DR – Bast might be the bad guy in the frame. Kvothe may actually have at least some of his abilities intact
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
@54:The whole of the Cthaeh story being a lie is an interesting hypothesis. It is always possible that any or all of the parts of the story are fabrications included by K to influence his listeners. The Cthaeh tale is interesting in that none of the immediate listeners can say whether it happened at all or not. So it is more possible for fabrication to occur there.
It is amusing to think along these lines, but we do have to be wary of going too much in the direction of plot manipulation. D3 needs to have enough actual connection to the events and descriptions of D1 & D2 for it to be satisfying in the context of the work as a whole.
I think the Cthaeh story will fit in with some of the events in D3 in fairly crucial ways.
56. Presence
I'm not convinced that the Cthaeh is the perfectly malevolent entity that Bast seems to think it is. Such a one-dimensional character would seem out of place in this world, though the evidence for its true motives is almost nil. Consider, though, that Bast's is the fullest account we have of the nature of the Cthaeh, and that might be fabricated by someone else, to keep the Faerie folk from helping it in any manner. The only other words we have on its nature are from Felurian, which don't seem to have the same urgency as Bast's - "all is well. the hurt will go. it has not bit you, and your eyes are clear, so all is well."

Consider also that we have evidence that at least one other person has been to visit the Cthaeh and escaped without being struck down by the Sithe. The story of the Fastingsway War shows that "a young man" (whether mortal or Fae is uncertain) retreived a flower from the tree to heal a sick princess. Was this because the Sithe were not around at that time? Was it because they are not infallible in guarding the tree? Are they less worried about mortals escaping than Fae? Felurian says, " only tells things to hurt men. only a dennerling would speak to the Cthaeh." Do the Fae use denner resin? Does she mean only mortal men?

Ugh. Too many questions.
Rob Munnelly
57. RobMRobM
"It has not bit you." Evidence for the Cthaeh as snake/reptile theory.
Felipe Martins
58. felipem
@53. We already have an Englich-centric pun that pretty much everyone takes as truth by now: Arliden's song on the sleeping under the wagon scene. It makes no sense at all in Brazilian-Portuguese, and makes no mention to any words that even look like "Nethalia Lockless". I think it's safe to assume PR didnt think too much on how his books would look like when translated. I'm def getting D3 in english (well, that's ALSO because I don't want to wait another 6 months after the release just to get a copy in portuguese)

@54. I actualy like your theory. I'm not convinced, but I like it! It'd be beautiful... a beautiful game Kvothe is playing on Bast!

@57. It's not an evidence, but a clue. Many things bite, it could be a snake/reptile, a bat, a flea, a lion... don't get me wrong, I think it's a snake also but I wouldn't call that an evidence.
Nisheeth Pandey
59. Nisheeth
"They wanted to because of the song, which was also their reason. Or at least that’s what we think was why they wanted to."
I think by Wanted to, Cthaeh meant wanted to kill something, and not specifically the troupe.
George Brell
60. gbrell

Rothfuss takes a particularly active hand in translating his books.

The "not tally a lot less" pun is one that I think would be almost impossible to translate. That doesn't mean other portions of the book aren't amenable to translation.

The translation of "Ash," for example, has been taken to settle that Master Ash refers to the tree rather than the byproduct of burning wood, an ambiguity that existed in NotW.
Jeremy Raiz
61. Jezdynamite
Does the Cthaeh use the Sithe to kill those who the Cthaeh want killed? I can imagine there are people who speak to the Cthaeh that could hamper the Cthaeh's plans if they are allowed to live, and the Cthaeh let the Sithe kill these people.

Wouldn't the Cthaeh know who the Sithe will/won't kill when the person is standing before it? If the Cthaeh wanted a person to live after speaking to it, surely the Cthaeh would tell that person how to get past (and avoid) the Sithe guards, or it would orchestrate for the Sithe guards to be otherwise occupied. Wouldn't it do this for any person of merit who had spoken to it if that person could further the Cthaeh's goals?

I've always wondered if (1) the Cthaeh knows all of the future, or (2) only the future of the specific person that stands in front of him/her at that specific point in time.
62. Tox
Is the Cthaeh axualy Iax... why was Iax impresond in the broken house... and did he ever leave the "new house" (the Fay)? does he stay in the same place to get a good look at the moon when she comes by?
Nathan Love
63. n8love
I'm not sure which post of mine you intended to quote, but getting a mention still makes me disproportionately happy. Let us imagine it was something breathtakingly insightful and written much more eloquently than I could ever have actually managed.
64. darknesse
I think that it chose the tree. It's not trapped there or anything, but it chose the tree because if the tree grants immortality or whatever, that it would have the highest rate of interaction with the most influential or driven people around.

Which would let him further his works, whatever they are.
Lauren W
65. laurene135
I just had an idea, and I'm sorry if I'm repeating something someone else already said.
It's speculated that Haliax was once Lanre, and now with WMF we have reason to believe that Lanre visited the Ctheahq and was possibly bitten.
I was wondering what might have brought Lanre to the CTH and it finally clicked. (Again sorry if I'm being slow and this has been mentioned already).
After Lyra died, Lanre tried to bring her back from the dead and was unable to. Then after trying to join her in death he was unable to went mad. We think shortly after he turned into Haliax.
So my thought is this: While trying to bring back his dead wife he learned of the CTH and it's flowers, thus bringing about the encounter with the creature where Lanre was bitten and turned into Haliax. I'm guessing this is when he then betrayed his friend Selitos, burned the cities, and gathered allies officially becoming the Chandiran.

Just a thought in trying to better understand the Chandrian and CTH's role.
Felipe Martins
66. felipem
@65 Yup, that's pretty much the general theory
67. DarrenJL
@ArtfulMagpie Post 1 - False logic. You're assuming two things:

1) That there was always an escape available in the future. Instead, when capture became inevitable, the CTH would have seen that.

2) That it wanted to escape. It may have seen advantage to being captured (rather than killed, perhaps) and so chosen that future.
Ian Weih-Wadman
68. Dunfodabadun
It is mentioned directly in the book that the cthaeh smells of lemons and spices. "The wind shifted, and I smelled a strange, sweet smell. It was like smoke and spice and leather and lemon."
It is also mentioned that the Loeclos box has a similar smell. "A familiar smell I couldn't quite put a finger on. I lowered my face to its surface and breathed in deeply through my nose, something almost like lemon. It was maddeningly familiar."
If the loeclos box and the Cthaeh are related, and Kvothe opens the box at some point, that may be how he released all the evil that exists in the world. It could be similar to pandora's box. As well, if the Cthaeh is really trapped in the tree, the I think the worst thing you could ever do would be to release it, which Kvothe may do inadvertently.
George Brell
69. gbrell

It's not necessarily the Cthaeh that smells of lemons and spices.

I've always thought it more likely that the Cthaeh's tree smells of those things, which would imply that the Loeclos box is made of the same kind of wood.

Perhaps that wood has the unique ability to trap things. There are at least two entities that are known to be trapped: the Cthaeh and Iax. So it's certainly possible that the box holds something keeping those entities trapped.

Another theory that was popular in these threads was the idea that the obsidian stone that Selitos used to curse Lanre was held in the Loeclos box, but Haliax isn't sealed so that would make the potential similarity between the two woods somewhat coincidental.
John Graham
70. JohnPoint
@gbrell --

In the obsidian theory, our speculation is that the stone is in the box because it has Selitos' blood on it. This leads to the speculation that Selitos is the Cthaeh, and is trapped in the tree via his blood, which leaves plenty of room for the theory about the trapping properties of the Rhinna.

When I first proposed the obsidian theory, my feeling was that the blood/stone could be used as a link to control or destroy Haliax (since they were originally used to enact the curse on him), and was being preserved for those reasons. However, thistlepong's speculation that Selitos=Cthaeh fills in a few questions that remained, and seems posible. Far from definite, but likely.
George Brell
71. gbrell

Thank you for correcting that, I hadn't remembered that theory correctly and you're correct that the correction does address some of the lingering issues.
Steven Halter
72. stevenhalter
I like the stone in the box with Selitos blood on it, but then go in a different way. I think it will be there to be used in some way--possibly to summon Selitos (who I don't think is the Cthaeh). It fits into a possible slot as "bringing the blood."
Of course, the lovely thing is that PR has left himself a lot of room. D3 could go in many directions.
73. syvelior
So I'm late to this party - but maybe the Chandrian are everyone living who have spoken to the Ctheah. That would make Kvothe the new Chandrian.
John Graham
75. JohnPoint
@72 -- that was my original thought, too. Either 1) the continued existence of the stone and blood were maintaining the curse on Haliax, or 2) the blood would be used to summon Selitos, with one effect or another.

I'm not willing to put much money on any of the theories, but Thistlepong's idea about the Cthaeh certainly links a few additional unexplained items (characteristics of the box and tree, parallels between C and S, etc). It also connects well with the prevalent theme (in both KKC and Pat's other work) that storie can't be trusted completely, have kernels of truth, and evolve over time (that is, those that we think are good may actually be bad, and those that we think are bad may actually be good. Or, no one is wholly good or bad, we're all shades of gray.)
David Crane
76. meteoroskopos
I'm new to this thread, but I've read through it all and have a couple of things to add (hope someone's still reading):

1) On Cthaeh and the Adem sword-tree: I saw a post above talking about the significance of trees in the bandit episode, Fae episode, and Ademre episode, and I want to follow-up on that with a theory I have about the sword-tree. The sword-tree itself is lethal and seemingly inescapable, and we are often told of the scars it leaves on the bodies of Adem mercenaries. I believe this is meant to be parallel to the Ctheah slicing up butterflies. But we also see advanced practitioners of the Ketan, like Celean, make a game of scampering through the sword-tree's leaves, coming through unscathed. I think that image is meant to be symbolic of evading the Cthaeh's influence - extremely difficult, requiring constant vigilance and ingenuity, but not impossible. And I think that Kote/Kvothe's rehearsal of the Ketan at the end of WMF is a subtle indication that he has come to realize this on some level, as well.

2) On Biblical parallels - Cthaeh is more than just the tree of knowledge or the serpent, it is the tree of knowledge, the tree of life, and the serpent all rolled into one. And one meaning (though not the only meaning) we can derive from the Biblical story is that knowledge brings with it pain and suffering, and reflections on our own mortality. Furthermore, when Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, God set a cherubim with a sword to guard the path to the tree of life. Kind of reminds you of the Sithe. I don't think we can infer anything about how the series will progress from these Biblical parallels, but I do find them to be quite intriguing and a little richer than people have noted so far.
77. Jillz
Artful Magpie has an interesting speculation: Okay, so the Creation War. According to Skarpi’s story, Lanre and Lyra and Selitos all fought on the same side at first, defending the great cities of the now-lost empire from their great enemies...enemies never specifically named. In the battle of Drossen Tor, when Lanre slew the uber-Draccus and was killed and brought back to life by Lyra, the “enemy was set behind the doors of stone.” WHO was that enemy? Who was the “other guy” in the Creation War? I wonder...could it have been the Cthaeh?

Except that the Ctheah isn’t behind the Doors of Stone, it’s sitting in a tree being malicious.
I disagree! The Ctaeh are behind Doors of Stone - waystones are a doorway to Fae. Doors of stone don't necessarily refer to the other doors of stone we are familiar with.
78. Jah
What if the Cthaeh is trapped in the tree and Kvothe releases it for some reason. Therefore, The Broken Tree?
Jenny Creed
79. JennyCreed
Perfectly malicious and perfectly omniscient is a lot to ask from the Cthaeh I think, judging by the fact that it sits in one place where only about one person comes in a thousand generations, who more likely than not knows (or will find out) that it's talking to someone who's supposedly perfectly evil, and more likely than not will be shot before they even see another person anyway. If all it wanted was to hurt people, even with the limited knowledge we see it possesses there's a lot more clever things it could do. Mostly try to not establish a reputation of being so ultimately evil that no one may lay eyes on the decomposing bodies of those who lay eyes on you.

I propose that it just wants to be left alone, and everything it says is designed to keep people away from it. It may hate all humanoids for some reason, but unlike the average cartoon villain it's fine with us existing as long as we don't do it in front of it. So its reputation gives it the ring of fear and arrows maintained by the Sithe which pretty much isolates it, and look at how it gained that reputation: Causing the Creation War so there would be less people in the world, separating Fae and the human world so there would be less traffic, creating demons to foster hate and conflict to help keep the numbers down. (Possibly.)

I have an idea Kvothe is going to end up completely severing the worlds (Will the moon end up here or there?) , and that would presumably leave the Cthaeh with a world where everyone knows where to find it and that they shouldn't. Don't ask me how the Cthaeh makes him do that though.

The healing flowers of the tree kind of goes against that purpose, but we could ascribe that to coincidence. Or maybe the tree grows them as a reaction to the Cthaeh being there, either as an antibody to its poisonous nature or as an indication that that nature is much less poisonous than we think.
80. Smeagoldor
What has been bothering me is why the Cthaeh is so dreaded. Correct me if I'm wrong because I think I must be missing something obvious and vital. The Cthaeh is said to see all possible futures perfectly and to always choose the worst one. Well if it can see all the resulting choices and actions from what it says then no matter what anyone did the world is already set on the worst possible course of action. Now unless it's vision of the futures isn't unlimited and all-knowing the future could only change if the Cthaeh changed what it wanted from the future.
81. jorgybear
I actually sat and read the whole Cthaeh chapter before contributing to this post, and have quoted a few of the more notable things it says.
“Your silence much offends me”. Significant? In therms of the Silence of 3 parts? If it can see the future, it can see the frame.
“Clever to go looking for the Amyr, I suppose”. Does it say this purely to keep Kvothe on this path, for its own end?
“You wouldn’t have a hope until you made it to the Stormwal”. Not specifically Adem, but the Stormwal. I think Kvothe may have unfinished business in this area.
“The Maer, however is quite the extraordinary man. He’s already come close to them, though he doesn’t realise it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door.” He sees this as a good ‘joke’, and probably relates to the doors of stone.
Suggested that Cinder tortured Laurian and Arliden, presumably to anger Kvothe into a greater longing for revenge.
They killed Kvothe’s family “because they wanted to, and because they could, and because they had a reason.” But doesn’t state what the reason was. We think we know the reason related to Arliden’s song.
They left K alive “because they were sloppy, because you were lucky, because something scared them away”. Kvothe never gets to ask what scared them away.
He only SUGGESTS that Cinder was the bandit leader. Could have been someone else he met in the last few days. Unlikely.
Do I recall correctly that the Cthaeh only ever tells the truth?
The Cthaeh also gets Kvothe to hate Denna’s patron. I think this lends credence to the theory that Ash eventually becomes king, and this is the king he kills.
We have EVERYTHING to suggest the Cthaeh is a shaper. It shapes the world through its influence, knowing exactly what to say to illicit the response it wants.
I also agree with GBrell’s theory that the Tinker in Hespe’s story is the Cthaeh. To tinker with something is to meddle with it…
I think the Cthaeh’s “plan” is nothing more than as much suffering for as many people as it can cause. I think it sets Kvothe on the path of killing the king, opening the doors of stone and releasing the flood of Skrael.
82. Eddie B
K says"we all know what kind of story this is" to Bast. So I've been thinking about this and have a few ideas to share: most obvious is a heroic epic like King Arthur... Many similarities between K and Arthur. This leads to relationship thoughts about K and Dana...perhaps siblings like Arthur and Morgana or like Luke and Leah? Or perhaps friends fated to become enemies like Clark Kent and Lex Luther? Another story possibility is and I really hate to say it, but Star Wars. Again too many similarities between K and Annikin Skywalker to ignore. Quick, too young, too angry, incomplete training et. al..Perhaps the Inn is his way of keeping out of the story because he knows where it is going with him in it? For those who know who Icarium is, perhaps K is like Icarium and Bast is like Mappo? For the rest of us think of the Hulk and Bruce Banner. Just after K calls the lightning his friend says he saw him angry and believe me you don't ever want to see him angry. It would explain a lot. Finally this leads to thoughts of Tehlu and his son. Aren't all tragic hero's demigods? Hope you have as much fun discussing there ideas with your friends as I did
83. Steve Thomas
Coming up on the conclusion of my second reading of the series thus far. I'm speculating that Kvothe will re-emerge, challenge, and kill the Chandrian, but will have to sacrifice himself to do so. Beyond that, in each of the books we've seen Bast take some questionable but extraordinary action on behalf of his teacher. Also, Bast firmly believes that the Ctheah could be the cause of his master's suffering. Furthermore, we also know that Bast is a hidden power among the characters of the story, even if he has things to learn from Kvothe. Taking all these things together, it would be really cool, as a finisher, if Bast went out and confronted/killed the Ctheah after Kvothe's story is complete. Kvothe had his ultimate enemy: the Chandrian; from what we see in book two, Bast may have his in the Ctheah.
84. Wan Xiao
Not sure if anyone has brought this up yet, but I thought it was interesting that Lanre calls himself Haliax all of a sudden. It's basically "Iax" with "Hal" tacked on at the beginning. Could it be after he makes contact with the "enemy" (i.e. Iax)?

When saying it out loud, it sounds a lot like "Hail Iax." As if Lanre now owes allegiance to Iax. Considering Lanre was "Yoked to shadow," it sounds like he is a puppet. Could he be a puppet to Iax?
85. Addario
Having just reread the Ctheah-Scene, I thought about what was the "major thing" or the "most important thing" the Ctheah told Kvothe. He talks about the Chandrian, especially Cinder. Well, Kvothe already hates Cinder and is already on a quest for revenge, so I'm thinking the conversation about this topic isn't likely to induce any change in Kvothe's behavior. Then they talk about the Amyr - well, Kvothe already wants to find them. OK, he has to go back to the Maer - no big deal.

So, my opinion is this: What the Cteah really wants Kvothe to know is the revelation about Denna/her patron. Assuming the tree is THE most evil thing in existence (given the length Rothfuss spends on having Bast explaining why that is), I think this is extremely important: The Cteah wants Kvothe to know Denna's Patron beats her for fun. This is the fact that most likely will turn Kvothe's fate to the worse. Why? Because he will probably set a lot of things in motion to find out who exactly Master Ash is and what his motives are with Denna - despite her telling him to stop it.
So, I think this quest of Kvothe to find out who Master Ash is is going to lead to a great crisis of some sorts. Two crises actually: On the one hand, for Kvothe himself (because of his vow on this Name/Power/Good Hand to Denna) and on the other hand, to a tragedy between their romance. Also, in an interview (Triangulation 99) Rothfuss just said how much he likes tragedic stories.

All in All, I think the mystery about Master Ash is a very big deal or will be a very big deal in book 3, given that this is the main thing the Cteah revealed to Kvothe.
86. theJsho
Re: the Cthaeh being shut behind doors of stone. Could greystones be considered doors of stone? After all, they are technically doors that lead to the Fae. It's a fairly vague reference because there are literally tangible doors of stone (like in the archives) and magic doors of stone, which the Fae use to enter the Four Corners.
87. Lennon
One thing to remenber: Felurian witnessed the beggning of the Fae world (the creation of things, the moon being stolen into Fae and the creation of Cteah) and Bast is described as a "young demon".
For Bast, the knowledge about Cteah is like a moral value imposed on Fae children by children stories. I believe Felurian knows more about the Ctaeh and its powers. When Kvothe comes back from the Ctaeh, the first thing she asks is if he was bitten. After she makes sure he wasn't bitten, the only regard she has is about the extreme grief Kvothe is suffering.
Maybe only the ones bitten by the Ctaeh are the perpetuators of Ctaeh evil desires and it was only playing with Kvothe emotions for no good reason. Maybe Kvothe was not killed by the guardians of Ctaeh because he wasn't bitten and is not a real threat to the world. Maybe he was safe from the very beggining because some incorporeal Amyr is following and protecting him since he family was slain.
88. ChristianPL
Drawing off a point made by @Jezdynamite long ago, I think its interesting that the Sithe even bother to guard the Ctheah at all. This certainly depends on the extent of the Ctheah's foresight ability, but it seems likely that it could simply achieve its ends even knowing that the person it talked to would be killed by the Sithe. The very act of righting the wrong that the Ctheah has created may very well advance the Ctheah's plan.

Imagine the Ctheah as a particularly awful form of cancer, its intelligent. It spreads from one part of the body (the tree) by sending off bits of infection (those it speaks to). By doing so it infects the area around it, like a ticking time bomb of destiny. To heal this, we and Bast believe that the Sithe kill the infection, what I will call chemotherapy. But if I'm right about the Ctheah being able to anticipate the death of the person it talks to, and account for it, the Sithe's actions may still achieve the Ctheah's ends, killing many healthy cells. Regardless of whether the infection is treated or not, the disease (the Ctheah) accomplishes its goal of harming the body (the world).

Perhaps a poorly explained analogy.

If the Ctheah is as powerful as Bast seems to make it out to be, I don't see why it would have any trouble in accounting for the actions of the Sithe. We know that Ctheah does not have a problem influencing immensely powerful people, Iax being the prime example.

This leads me to question whether the Sithe actually "guard" the tree at all. The one instance we clearly have of interaction with the Ctheah is Kvothe, and the Sithe, as we have all noted, are conspicuously absent. I think its safe to conclude that the Ctheah is not powerful enough to orchestrate the timing of Kvothe's arrival (as Bast tells us it is after they speak that the Ctheah's malicious influence takes hold). Yet the Sithe are not there. I mean, they basically have one job, right? Well maybe they're never there at all. There are good reasons not to be - they themselves don't want to fall under the tree's sway. Though Bast says that the Sithe do track the affected down, it may be that they do something other than kill them. Killing them may just be part of the Ctheah's plan, yes?

So maybe the Sithe guard the tree in some other way, moderating its influence or muddying the waters of its foresight. We have come to look a the Sithe as sort of a warrior sect of the Fae, but they may not necessarily pursue those who interact with the Ctheah or the Chandrian through force of arms. Say, for example, that the Sithe had many of the same powers as the Ctheah. They could act as a balance, tracking down those the Ctheah had influenced maliciously and returning them to their previous course. This would of course be poetic. It hardly seems fair that there should be an omniscient, all-future-seeing malevolent force without a benevolent one to stop it (though some above have conjectured Puppet may fill that role). Either way, the Sithe must act in a way that is similar to the Ctheah. If they simply ride about cutting the heads off those who talk to the tree, I can see how the Ctheah can be so succesful. The Sithe would be fighting with the wrong weapons.

Bast is Fae though, maybe we should take his word that the Sithe kill those who have talked to the Ctheah?
89. aero
@86: I believe this to be true. The greystones are the doors of stone, with the fae world "locked" behind them. Reading of the Enemy locked beyond the doors of stone, I see that to imply that the Cthaeh was imprisoned within the fae realm long ago.

Also of note, the doors of stone is always plural.

Why are there scrael running about in the frame? Why is the world in such trouble? Because K threw the way to fae wide open.
90. Messiman
Is the Ctheah a (or THE) shaper? Is Puppet? Is K? Are all of the great storytellers, to some degree, more or less shapers?
91. Anonguy
I've read the summary and every single comment and I don't have a final conclusion. I need D3 as hell RIGHT NOW!

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