Mar 22 2012 2:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: The Wise Man’s Fear, Part 23: A Real Person

Welcome to my ridiculously detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This week’s post covers chapters 120-126 of The Wise Man’s Fear but also contains extensive spoilers for the whole book and the whole of The Name of the Wind — these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books. These posts are full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them. 

Abbreviations: NW = The Name of the Wind. WMF = The Wise Man’s Fear. D3 = Day Three, the forthcoming final volume. K = Kvothe or Kote when I can’t figure out what to call him and I’m feeling Kafkaesque. MT: Myr Tariniel. D = Denna, 4C = Four Corners, CTH — that thing I can’t spell!

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

Argh! The Kindle chapters are numbered differently! This is really annoying and messes everything up.

So, in the Kindle, 120 is “Kindness” which is 118 in my ARC. This is going to drive me crazy. I’ll stick to the ARC numbers for now, which are at least consecutive, and list the kindle numbers in brackets but I may screw up and I apologize in advance. Can somebody who has the hardcover or the new trade paperback please check how the chapter numbering works there?


Chapter 120 (122) is “Leaving”

Kvothe wakes early and goes to Vashet’s house, taking everything important including the wax mommet. He snags a hair from Vashet. Vashet tells him Penthe has interceded for him and Carceret has interceded against him. Both have irritated her by meddling, but she respects Penthe more. She says Kvothe is a puzzle, but breaking a puzzle because you don’t understand it is leaving the Lethani. (This is a rare direct Tolkien reference, we can put it with “edro”.) She tells him to leave his bag and his lute but to bring the cloak because she can teach him to use it.

His training continues, including with the cloak. He becomes good enough to be nearly equal with Celuan. He sometimes speaks to Penthe, but he’s very cautious with Vashet and thinks twice before speaking. (This is probably really good for him, horrible as it must be to go through.)

Then Vashet comes and tells him he has his test tomorrow. He has almost forgotten the purpose of what he was doing. Vashet says it’s not because he’s ready but because he has been there long enough that people have started to notice him and some of them like him, and if they have to kill or mutilate him it’s better done “before more folk notice I’m a real person and not some faceless barbarian”.


Chapter 121 (123) is “The Spinning Leaf”

Of course it is. His special mindspace.

Kvothe doesn’t know what the test is. Vashet says Carceret has been praying for a storm, and he doesn’t understand why and doesn’t ask. Penthe hugs him. He and Vashet limber up. There are dozen people, gender unspecified, watching. Vashet explains that he has to go through the razor sharp leaves to the heart of the tree, where there are several things. He has to choose one. He asks about getting cut, and she’s reassuringly practical about places that are less awful. He asks about crawling, and she talks about dignity — and he realises it’s a test of many things. He says nerve and pride, and Vashet says behaviour. Some of the other watchers are heads of other schools. Vashet says they can’t overrule Shehyn, but signs “however”.

As he walks to the tree, it reminds him of the CTH tree for a second. He thinks of Celuan doing it and knows he can’t do it like that. He realises he has an audience, and there’s nowhere he’s more comfortable than on stage.

Kvothe’s thought process here is interesting:

When you’re alone it’s easy to be afraid. It’s easy to focus on what might be lurking in the dark at the bottom of the cellar steps. It’s easy to obsess on unproductive things, like the madness of stepping into a storm of spinning knives. When you’re alone it’s easy to sweat, panic, fall apart.

I wonder about this in the context of the frame. Kvothe’s audience there is the village, but also Bast, and also Chronicler. But we do see him alone, fighting the scrael, chopping wood and weeping for his family, not performing. I think we can take it that all the time he’s not alone he is performing. And alone, afraid? I wonder.

Anyway, he watches the leaves and his mind goes into Spinning Leaf and he sees the pattern and then the wind. He sees the name of the wind and he doesn’t command it to be still, that feels wrong. He follows what it is doing with the leaves and walks carefully and comfortably through them, moving the way Shehyn moves, perfectly. Then he gets in and sees what’s there — a sword, an arrow, a red shirt, a scroll cylinder, a gold bar, another sword, blue flowers, a half-penny, a whetstone, and his lute case. Seeing it crashes him out of Spinning Leaf and the name state. He realises all the things are traps. He sees a book, a spindle, and a stone. He can’t guess what he should choose. Then he wants to relieve himself, and the thought of pissing on the Latantha while they all watch makes him laugh. He gets the name of the wind back, and speaks it, and stills the wind. He walks out empty handed and deliberately cuts his palm.

He gestures “willing” to Shehyn and blood runs down from his palm, which signals Ciridae to the rest of us. And she nods.

I really like this chapter, I really like the description of knowing the name of the wind and the leaves and the tree and the comedy moment.


Chapter 122 (124) is “Of Names”

Self explanatory title, for once.

Vashet says he’s a “gaudy showboating bastard”. He brought back “silence and stillness” and offered to bleed for the school. She says he can fool them but not her, and “It’s like you stepped out of a storybook”. She accuses him of melodrama, and he says the Adem are also melodramatic. She takes him to somebody who will patch up his hand. Daeln, a man, but mentions that the apothecary is a friend of Carceret’s mother, so that’s 20:14 for anyone still counting.

Shehyn takes him and Vashet into her study, where he has not been before. There’s a picture of three birds in flight made of enamelled tile. He tells her his hand is fine but he has to keep it still for four days and he finds it hard to talk without gesturing with it. Shehyn asks if it is true that he made blood magic and called the lightning against the bandits. Vashet hadn’t known. Shehyn says he is powerful, and asks if he seeks the ketan to have power. He says he seeks it out of curiosity, and she says knowledge is a form of power. 

Then she says Tempi says there was a Rhinta there. How would Tempi know? Kvothe hadn’t known until the CTH told him. Kvothe doesn’t understand “rhinta” and asks if she means a demon, and she says there are no such things as demons. She says there are old bad things, and he says he has heard them called Chandrian. She agrees but says Rhinta is a better word. She asks if he has met them before. He admits it. This is literally the first time he has told anyone. She asks if he will meet them again. He says he will, and he will kill them. She asks if he’ll use the ketan for that, and he says he’ll use all things. She says that’s good, because his ketan is poor. Good for a barbarian and somebody who started so late, but poor overall. He says he wants to know more about the Rhinta. And it is what he really came for. She says she’ll consider it, and changes the subject, and astonishingly for Kvothe he lets it go. He really is visibly growing up!

She says he could be as good as Tempi if he trained for a year, which is not high praise as we’ve heard that Tempi is barely good enough. She says Vashet has been worried about his spirit, but then that everyone has shadows. They go to get him a name.

They go in silence up a hill, and Kvothe doesn’t ask what’s happening because it feels formal and ceremonial and significant. He compares asking to a groom asking what happens next half way through a wedding. They come to a cave-home where an old woman is writing. (21:14) This is Magwyn, and Shehyn says they have come for a name. Magwyn examines him, and she asks him to speak. He says “As you will, honoured shaper of names” and she asks if he is mocking her. If shaping and naming are different things as we have hypothesized, then calling her a shaper of names might me more mocking than it seems, because otherwise I can’t see anything that could be mockery.

He says her eyes were like Elodin’s, in that she looked at him as if he were a book she could read. This is explicitly saying that she’s a Namer, a Master Namer like Elodin.

He thinks she’s startled when her eyes meet his, and then she names him “Maedre”. Vashet has a hint of dismay in her voice as she repeats the name, but Shehyn cuffs her to make her silent. Kvothe laughs because it’s the same gesture Vashet makes to him. Magwyn asks if he’s laughing at the name, and he says he wouldn’t, names are important. She tells him to keep his name secret.

That night there’s a party in Penthe’s house, then he goes to see Vashet. She asks him how it feels to not be a barbarian. He says he didn’t convey to Shehyn how much he wants to know about the Rhinta, Vashet says she’ll mention it.

Then he and Vashet have a conversation about sex and jealousy, how barbarous jealousy is and so on, because Penthe has made a pass at Kvothe and he’s checking it’s OK. She says it’s intimate but not shameful and not exclusive. He asks about love and she laughs and says there’s a lot of difference between a penis and a heart. She says her poet-king was the same way.


Chapter 123 (125) is “Caesura”

The sword, of course.

In the morning he goes to the baths, hungover, and then Vashet and Shehyn catch him before breakfast and take him to a locked room full of swords. It’s the first locked door he has seen. Shehyn asks Vashet to choose a sword. Vashet tries to protest, but Shehyn insists. She makes him try various ones. Eventually she gives him one he likes and which makes the ketan seem easy. Vashet says it is the one for him and it might “offset his name” — as if the sword is lucky and the name unlucky, or something? Shehyn agrees, and Vashet is relieved.

Vashet says the sword is called Saicere, which he hears first as Caesura, the break in a line of verse. As he draws it, it says “saicere” and as he sheaths it, “caesura”.

Then Vashet teaches him how to care for his sword, including disassembly and reassembly — with a sword? Of what? Does anyone have any idea? Vashet is horrified when he asks what he should do if it breaks. The sword belongs to the school, and it must be sent back if he dies or can’t fight any more.

She takes him to Magwyn to learn the story, the atas, of his sword, the names of everyone who has held it. When Vashey tells Magwyn what sword he has, she says “I can’t say I’m surprised”. Then he memorizes lists of owners. There are more than thirty before Finol who was killed at the battle of Drossen Tor. He says “Caesura” and Magwyn tells him not to meddle with the name, and that Saicere means “to break, to catch, and to fly”. But Kvothe feels the name is Caesura, that it fits better. He thinks he’s a better namer than Magwyn.

There have been 236 owners. He estimates that at a lower bound that makes it more than two thousand years old.  He has to stay with Magwyn until he has it all learned.

First came Chael. Does “Chael” sound like an Adem name? What does it mean? If it’s pre Creation War, what language is it? How about Finol, which certainly seems to go better with “Lanre” and “Lyra” and “Selitos” than with “Shehyn” and “Magwyn” and “Vashet”?


Chapter 124 (126) is “The First Stone”

The next part of the test.

He spends three more days — four in total — learning the list of names from Magwyn. He says it’s a “laundry list” of names, which implies commercial laundries with lots of customers, which there must be in Tarbean and maybe even Imre, but how surprising. I’d have thought anyone would could afford laundries would have had enough servants to do it at home — in our world commercial laundries spread with the rise of the middle classes and the industrial revolution. I suppose in the Commonwealth? And we’ve talked before about the tech level being more advanced than one might expect — more nineteenth century than the Renaissance it at first appears.

Shehyn is surprised at how fast he has memorised the atas, and irritated that he has removed his bandage — he’ll have to have the stone trial even though Vashet is away. He doesn’t know what it is, or even that he’s supposed to bring his sword. Shehyn explains when he comes back after lunch that he has to recite the atas and then climb the hill, fighting people at the stones.

When he sees the hill, he sees a greystone at the top, “familiar as a friend”. Shehyn is by it. Penthe is at the third stone. Someone is selling roast chestnuts, and he thinks this is just a pageant for the locals. Then Tempi rushes up and warns him that Carceret is at the first stone, and that she’s enraged because Caesura was her mother’s sword.

He recites the atas. Then he takes his wooden duelling sword and goes up. Carceret puts her sword down scornfully. He puts his down. They fight and she is way better, but he manages to strike her twice. He says she is angrier than anyone he has ever seen, including Ambrose and Hemme and Denna and the Maer. Then she kicks him and he falls, and she has won but without disabling him as was her plan.


Chapter 125 (127) is “Anger”

Tempi is cross with him for putting his sword aside. Shehyn and Tempi start having a conversation about whether he was right. Penthe says she has stuff to put on his bruises and takes him away, then says she rarely wants to have people tell her why she has lost a fight — which is very kind and also perceptive. Penthe takes him through the woods to some flowers, because Vashet has said barbarians like flowers before sex. I laughed aloud the first time I read this.

They talk about stories people have told Penthe about barbarians — that they drink urine, never bathe, and are seven feet tall. Kvothe makes a joke back, asking if she doesn’t drink hers, and when she’s horrified laughs and she laughs with him. He says they tell stories about the Adem, and he tells her about the story that they don’t have sex to improve their ketan. She says she’d never have reached the third stone if that were true. She says they say it because no Adem would have sex with a barbarian. We know this isn’t true because of Vashet, but Kvothe asks why she brought him to the flowers. She says he’s Adem now, and then asks if he is diseased. Vashet asked the same thing. The Adem are clearly really horrified by STDs and sensible about avoiding them — Kvothe says 5% of people are infected, Penthe says absolutely no Adem are. And she says if she were to catch a disease she’d go to the Tahl to be cured, even if it took two years.

After they have sex, which is mercifully not described, they talk about what Penthe means by anger, which seems to be a kind of life force. She says men have anger in sex energy and give it to women and then feel sleepy, while women feel more energised.

This seems to me a really odd thing to state as a universal, and my experience does not match this.

She says anger is like wine, more isn’t better. They move to Penthe’s house where:

The moon was in the sky and had been watching us for some time through the window, though I doubt we showed her anything she hadn’t seen before.

This seems an odd way of putting it — I mean, yes, it’s a metaphor, but often in these books things that look like metaphors turn out otherwise. I think of our D theory, and Hespe’s story.

And then they have the man-mother conversation. Penthe thought it another silly story about barbarians. She’s absolutely sure that women ripen with children and sex has nothing to do with it. And I’m not at all sure she’s wrong, for the Adem anyway.

Then she says men are like empty branches, with no fruit or flower, and all they can offer the world is their anger.


Chapter 126 (128) is “Names”

This chapter begins “It was the day that I would either stay or leave” as if there was still doubt about it. Vashet is nervous and tells Kvothe not to use Saicere improperly. He asks what is improper, and she says cutting kindling and carrots are also uses for the tool that is the sword, not just fighting.

Vashet is proud that he put down his sword in the stone trial. Shehyn formally invited Kvothe to stay and train. He asks Vashet about man-mothers and she says she doesn’t believe in them but she doesn’t care if he does. He says there can be many opinions but only one truth, and she says she’ll worry about joy and the school and the Lethani and if there’s any time left over then think about truth.

He asks Vashet what his name means, and she says he shouldn’t talk about it. Then when he says he should know what it means, she says “Flame, thunder, broken tree”. He asks why she didn’t like it, and she refuses to comment.

They go to see Shehyn, and he says he cannot stay, he has an obligation to the Maer. He also thinks of D. Shehyn says he mustn’t hire himself as an Adem mercenary even though he has a sword and a name. He says Vashet has explained, he’ll send the sword back if killed, he won’t teach the ketan or wear the red. He asks if he can tell people he studied with them. She says he can, but not that he is one of them or equal to them. She says it serves their reputation — if he wins people will think that even a bit of Adem training made him good, and if he loses they’ll think well, he only had a bit.

Then she mentions the Rhinta. She says he can’t ask questions after, and he can’t speak of it until he has slept a thousand nights (about three years) and travelled a thousand miles. He agrees, and she tells the story.

She says there was a great pre-Adem empire full of songs of power. Since then “the land has broken and the sky changed”. There were seven cities and one city. The one city was Tariniel. There was an enemy who was not of the Lethani, and who moved like a worm in fruit. He poisoned seven others and six cities fell. One remembered the Lethani and the city did not fall, but its name is forgotten. (...But we think it was Tinue...) But there are names of the one and the six who followed him and they have been remembered:

Cyphus bears the blue flame.

Stercus is in thrall of iron.

Ferule chill and dark of eye.

Usnea lives in nothing but decay.

Grey Dalcenti never speaks.

Pale Alenta brings the blight.

Last there is the lord of seven:

Hated. Hopeless. Sleepless. Sane.

Alaxel bears the shadow’s hame.

Seven Rhinta, or Chandrian, seven signs. We’ve seen decay and blight and blue flame, and we know Cinder/Ferule/Ferula has black eyes and Alaxel/Haliax/Lanre has a shadow hood.

This fits better with Scarpi’s version of the Lanre story than with D’s. But it’s much more a “watch out for the Chandrian” story with real names, from people who routinely memorise lists of 236 names of owners of swords.

And we’ll stop there and go on from the interlude next week.


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

George Brell
1. gbrell
As I noted last week, the ARC numbers appear to be two behind the Hardcover. This week's span is 122-128.

Then Vashet teaches him how to care for his sword, including disassembly and reassembly — with a sword? Of what? Does anyone have any idea?

My best guess is that the hilt is removable and made of two or more interlocking pieces. This is supported by Kvothe's questions about breaking the sword:

Around the fifteenth repetition, I asked what I should do if the sword broke. Not the hilt or the guard, but the blade itself.

I think this can be read to suggest that the hilt and guard are separate elements.

I’d have thought anyone would could afford laundries would have had enough servants to do it at home — in our world commercial laundries spread with the rise of the middle classes and the industrial revolution.

I'm not claiming a great historical knowledge of the rise of laundries, but I would think that the University would be a perfect example of a burgeoning middle class. Students there would seem to have both the disposable income and the lack of servants to benefit from mass laundry.
Ryan Bogle
2. FanBogle
Over at the Rothfussians Goodreads group we have a whole thread devoted to the Chandrian. A few weeks back another member posted the most amazing little theory about the Chandrian. I loved it so much I asked if I could post it here after the summary of "Names" was posted. I asked...

"So where did the Chandrian get their respective powers, and what purpose do they serve?" To which he replied...

"I don't think the signs are powers. I think it's a result of a curse placed on them. Selitos said the dead were protected from joy. So the curse could keep them from enjoying the things that give them joy.

Cyphus bears the blue flame: alchemist or chemist, the heat of the blue fire is too hot for those arts?
Stercus is in thrall of iron: Smith? Can't work with iron/steel anymore because s/he makes it rust? Perhaps an engineer and s/he rusted the working parts making them useless.
Ferule chill and dark of eye: Found joy in the warm company of others, but he radiates cold and has creepy eyes making him forever alone? Or he loved warm places?
Usnea lives in nothing but decay:Loved wood craft? perhaps a great carpenter, and his life's work crumbled into decay? leaving him with nothing.
Grey Dalcenti never speaks: perhaps the one that drives animals mad? loved animals, had a special bond with them by speaking names? Pale Alenta brings the Blight: a gardener, had lucious beautiful gardens that no whither, so they can see no beauty?
Last there is the lord of the seven: Hated. Hopeless. Sleepless. Sane. Alaxel bears the shadows hame: Kvothe spoke of the four doors of the mind. Forgetting, Sleep, madness, and finally death. He is forever alive(the price of his power), but Selitos barred the other 3 doors from him. So he has no hope of being free of his misery."

I thought this was a really nifty little theory, I later asked how he came up with it...

"Part of my idea about the signs being curses, came from the title of Denna's song (song of seven sorrows), in which the Chandrian are victims of Selitos."

Just thought I would share...
Katy Maziarz
3. ArtfulMagpie
So, just out of curiosity, I googled the phrase "dissasemble a sword." All of the results that came up were specifically about disassembling Japanese katanas, either to clean them or to change the guard/tsuba. I find that interesting, given the Asian elements we've already seen in Adem society...the ketan is basically a kata, the Lethani is basically the now, of course, I'm picturing Adem swords as being katana-like. Here's the description of the sword hanging in the Waystone:

And while it was obviously a sword, it was not a familiar shape. At least no one in this town would have found it familiar. It looked as if an alchemist had distilled a dozen swords, and when the crucible had cooled this was lying in the bottom: a sword in its pure form. It was slender and graceful. It was deadly as a sharp stone beneath swift water.

Sounds like it could possibly describe a katana...also, if one of the reasons you need to know how to disassemble your sword is to change the guard, and the guard on "folly" is the main thing different from it and Saicere...
4. ryan7273
@1 Sovoy did have a manservant at one point. During the conversation at the meal we first meet him, right after he leaves:
“He is having a rough time of it,” Simmon admitted. “Remember when he had to let his manservant go?”

I agree that the University/Imre and also Hillside Tarbean are good candidates for rises of laundries, though I am also not an expert in the history of such things.
5. twojots
Dissasembly and reassembly is common practice in maintaining a Japanese katana. The hardwood tsuska (handle) of a katana needs to be removed periodically to fully clean the blade, and can be replaced if necessary.

By contrast, European blades typically have metal hilts, which are often welded to the blade. They don't require the same level of dissasembly maintenance.

The emphasis on the importance of dissasembly and reassembly here is a nice touch. It gives a clear picture of the type of blade that the Adem typically use without requiring a minute description or comparisons that would shatter the wall between our universe and the Four Corners. Caesura is not a katana, but we now know that it probably has a hardwood handle and a removable blade.
George Brell
6. gbrell

That is a neat theory. It ties to a theory that was posted here awhile back that suggested that the Chandrian's signs were possibly related to knacks. Either putting them into overdrive or turning positive knacks into negative ones (which would be consistent with Selitos' language about names being turned against one's self). Another theory was that all of the signs related to time and entropic decay (things burn faster, metal rusts quicker, plants die out).

Random thought: We should really archive these comments in an easier to read/search format. Would make going back and finding things much easier.


Thanks for the catch. Didn't have my copy of NotW with me.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
I also really like the chapter “The Spinning Leaf” The writing is quite lovely and in a way it represents a lot of Kvothe's story. He is alone with only himself to rely upon and there are potentially inimical forces gathered watching him. But, when most at doubt his sleeping mind comes through and does the right thing. In this case, exactly the right thing.

As others have mentioned, it would be the guard and hilt that would be disassembled.

It's a good thing Kvothe's trooper training stood him in good stead for the memorization. I hate memorizing lists of things. If I was in the story that would be the end--I'd probably just be stuck there for months endlessly reciting the list. Not an exciting story at all. :-)
Ryan Reich
8. ryanreich
I believe that Kvothe speaks of being forced to do his own laundry in the river rather than having it done for him, due to poverty.
Ryan Bogle
9. FanBogle

Yes! I've come across those too... very interesting... the entropy one seemed a little to "scientific" for me, but still really interesting.

I've been clinging to the curse theory because it seems to allude to the Chandrian's character... which we just have so little information on!
10. Matthew Carpenter
I'm unlurking to bring something up that's bothered the heck out of me since I first read it. I think the completely unnecessary plot flourish of the Adem not understanding human reproduction was really bad world building. Here in the real world every human society from the Inuit to natives of the Amazon basin to Australian aboriginal peoples to the Bushmen of Africa understand and caerfully monitor human sexuality. No wonder the Adem are dirt poor and have to be mercenaries. They couldn't even breed chickens with that level of understanding. I really like Mr. Rothfuss' books, writing style and I appreciate how hard he works to develop his ideas but this just struck me as a flat out error in judgment. I'll give him the herbal remedy for male fertility to preevnt pregnancy, although just anything administerd exogenously as a drug that actually interferes with sperm production also impairs male potency. I also don't get why Mr. Rothfuss felt compelled to include this idea; the book would have ben fine without it. It struck me as indulgent. It is one of a few things about The Wise Man's Fear that made me find it not as compelling as The Name of the Wind.
Don Barkauskas
11. bad_platypus
Matthew Carpenter @10:

That's why a number of people hypothesize that the Adem are actually correct, and (at least in part) can reproduce by female
Jo Walton
12. bluejo
Matthew: That's one of the reasons why I think they may be right -- that reproduction may not work for them the way it does for us, and that in addition to sexual reproduction there is also parthenogenic reproduction. Lizards do this. And Tehlu's mother does it in the story. I think making us think they don't get it could be misdirection. And it's why I've been keeping track of gender ratios. Check back posts for more discussion of this.
13. grapnel33
With regard to disassembling a sword, it refers to removing the handle and the crossguard. This often involves rivets so it's not as if you do it barehanded or learn to field-strip your weapon blindfolded like a marine. I've seen japanese swords that came with a couple of small tools, like a combination of dental picks and chopsticks, for taking the sword appart. These tools slipped into little slots on the scabbard. Perhaps they used something more akin to cotterpins or screws than rivets to hold the wooden handle onto the metal tang.
14. grapnel33
Dagnabit. That earlier comment was one I cancelled when I saw others had said it better than I could. Not sure why it popped up now.

I know that the man-mother thing has been kicked around a bit in the comments on earlier posts but this is the one where it comes up in the text. Possibilities that occur to me are:

A. Penthe, Vashet et al. are simply wrong. The Adem notion of female-only spontaneous reproduction is a weird folk belief like Korean fan-death or Nigerian penis thieves.

B. The Adem are wrong but have been paying attention and have come up with an hypothesis which appears to fit the available facts. They have sex constantly, can't imagine going without for any length of time unless isolated from acceptable partners, and yet aren't producing babies willy-nilly. It could be the body-fat/exercise thing; women who decide to have a baby subconsiously slow down enough to put on the additional physical resources required for pregnancy. Adem mercenaries on assignment never get pregnant either because of an absence of acceptable partners or because they keep up such a stenuous training regime that the women's bodies haven't got energy/nutrients to spare for ovulation/zygotes/etc. Only when they come home and think it would be nice to procreate do they start eating a bit more and punching&kicking a bit less until the constant sex causes something to catch.

C. Penthe, Vashet et al. are right. Some Adem women carry a mutation that allows parthenogenesis. Some is more than zero and may be as much as 100%. It doesn't have to be universal throughout Ademre, just widely distributed throughout the population with sufficient density that everyone knows someone who's had a baby independantly. Technically this means the Adem are a different species from everybody else but only slightly and due to genetic drift. It may simply be a successful mutation that spread or the result of !Shaping!

D. The Adem are a completely different species no more human than Bast for all that they don't have hooves. Felurian is an awful lot like a human woman without actually being one. Penthe doesn't have to be human, in the purely genetic sense, either.

E. Men are totally superfluous for procreation for everybody. That Kvothe thinks fathers are necessary is as incorrect as the generally accepted lore for arrowroot. I'm not sure what this means for animals. The common draccus uses flame for a mating display so presumably it actually needs to mate.
Ryan Bogle
15. FanBogle

At first I did think that this was simply a cultural flourish... but no disease? That really struck me as odd...

But this detail might just reflect the elevated status of women in Adem society...
Matthew B
16. MatthewB
@3. ArtfulMagpie
Unless curved swords were the norm, a curve would certainly be worth mentioning. If curved swords like sabres and scimitars were the norm, then a katana could definitely seem like a distilled, pure form of a sword.

It seems to me that a katana is not at all close to a distillation of western-style swords, though a Chinese jian would be while at the same time being slender and graceful.

Do we have any other detailed descriptions of swords in the books? What's in the description of Folly? I recall it being a fairly typical broadsword-y kind of thing, but i don't trust that to be more than assumption.

edit: Oops - just realized that was the description of Folly. What other descriptions do we have?
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
grapnel33@14:Men not being needed for reproduction anywhere would be an amusing twist. That would explain their use of
silphium. It doesn't do anything, but it doesn't matter.

I still vote for the Adem being correct and that they are a somewhat different species. Shaped or evolved.
18. images10dream
@14: Even if the Adem do reproduce through parthogenesis, that doesn't mean they are a different species; the common concepts of species all don't work. Reproductive compatibility doesn't count, because not all species reproduce sexually. Differences in genetic code don't count either because DNA mutates all the time with no noticable difference in an organism's phenotype (the traits it has). That being said, perhaps there are definite natural kinds in the four corners world. Also, without doing a lot of biology, there is no way we could no whether the Adem adapted to parthogenesis, or whether it was the product of genetic drift.
John Graham
19. JohnPoint
re Man-mothers and the Ademic belief about reproduction:

Contrary to what the right-wing and several religions tell us, for humans -- in our world, at least -- sex isn't about reproduction. Unlike in virtually all other animals (chimps and bonobos being the main exceptions), we use sex primarily for social bonding, between couples and groups. For us, ovulation is concealed (so there is no easy way to tell when a woman is fertile). The ratio of sex acts to births (for the population) is something like 1000:1. Unlike what Matthew @10 argues, many tribal cultures actually believe in "partable" paternity, where a child can literally have several biological fathers. See Sex at dawn : the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá for a really great, in depth analysis of human sexuality.

As such, in a polyamorous society where the women engage in intense physical labor -- like the Adem -- it doesn't surprise me one bit that they would believe that men don't play a role direct role in conception.

I don't find it to be a bizarre, incomprehensible belief that has to be explained by literally being true, but rather, as a direct outcome of their way of life.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
The leaves of the tree are pretty interesting in themselves. In addition to being sharp, they must be relatively heavy also. Kvothe just holds his hand up and gets a deep cut. That takes some energy, sharpness, rigidity to do. It is also interesting that the tree isn't cutting itself to pieces. The leaves/branches must either be tough enough not to cut themselves or arranged such that they don't come into self contact.
21. grapnel33

While I was unaware of "partable" parenthood (outside of Heimdal, son of nine mothers) until you mentioned it, it appears at least theoretically possible for us humans. Though so incredibly rare there probably haven't been enough people born since the beginning of time for it to have happened yet.

Lydia Fairchild (google her) is a woman with two distinct sets of DNA. Essentially she is a fusion of two fertilised eggs that merged at an extremely early stage. She is one person, yet both herself and her siamese twin.

Heteropaternal Superfecundation is a rare (in humans, not uncommon in felines) occurrance where a woman bears fraternal twins each with a different father. Obviously she has to have sex with two men close together in time.

So if a person can be composed of the fusion of two ovum and it is possible to simultaneously carry two ovum fertilised by different fathers it is at least theoretically possible to produce a child with two biological fathers.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter
grapnel33@21: Chimerism is the general term for the results of the two eggs fusing back together. I haven't heard of the two separte fathers being actually documented (most chimeras are never detected), but as you say, it does seem theoretically possible.
23. tnv
I think the completely unnecessary plot flourish of the Adem not understanding human reproduction was really bad world building. Here in the real world every human society from the Inuit to
natives of the Amazon basin to Australian aboriginal peoples to the
Bushmen of Africa understand and caerfully monitor human sexuality. No wonder the Adem are dirt poor and have to be mercenaries.

There are actually human cultures that did not believe in a connection between sex and reproduction. It is debated, but sources say the Trobriand Islanders (Malinkowski described them in "Argonauts of the South Pacific") used to not be aware of the connection between sex and pregnancy, because yams that were their primary food contained natural contraceptives, so they could only conceive when the yams are not in season.

Thus, the already complex fertile period of a human woman became even more difficult to ascertain, and the Trobriand developed a kinship structure that did not need the concept of "father". I suspect that the Adem culture was heavily inspired by this.
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter
Here's an interesting paper reference:
Nature Genetics 11, 164 - 169 (1995)
A human parthenogenetic chimaera
Lisa Strain, Jon P. Warner, Thomas Johnston & David T. Bonthron
In mice, parthenogenetic embryos die at the early postimplantation stage as a result of developmental requirements for paternally imprinted genes, particularly for formation of extraembryonic tissues. Chimaeric parthenogeneticnormal mice are viable, however, due to non–random differences in distribution of their two cell types. Species differences in imprinting patterns in embryo and extra–embryonic tissues mean that there are uncertainties in extrapolating these experimental studies to humans. Here, however, we demonstrate that parthenogenetic chimaerism can indeed result in viable human offspring, and suggest possible mechanisms of origin for this presumably rare event.
Ryan Reich
25. ryanreich
@Matthew: The Adem could totally breed chickens, because as Penthe says when arguing with Kvothe, humans are not like animals and have no reason to reproduce as they do. She accepts that cats (Kvothe's example) could actually have "man-mothers", but rejects that people do. And why not? Humans can't have calico fur patterns like cats. I do think that Kvothe did a poor job pleading his case.

As far as poor world-building goes: if you've been lurking, you know that we have decided that nothing Rothfuss writes is "just" word-building. There is no gratuitous fluff; everything has plot or character importance. So if Penthe spends an entire chapter discoursing on the Adem view of human reproduction, that is something Rothfuss thinks is crucial to the way the story will develop and to dismiss it out of hand from personal bias is foolish.
Ashley Fox
26. A Fox
The Chancellor's Yllish Socks "All ownership was oddly dual: as if the C owned his socks, but at the same time the socks somehow also gained ownership of the C. This altered the use of both words in complex grammatical ways. As if the simple act of owning a socks somehow fundamentaly changed the nature of a person."

I believe that this is not merely grammar but the inter-relation of Names. this ties in two ways with parts of this span.

a) Caesura/Saicere. Here Jo posed that K assumes he is a better Namer than Magwyn. This is certainly a valid perception. But if we view it in light of inter-relation of Names the they are both correct. The sword is Saicere but when it is in Relation to (k newly Named as) Maedre it is Caesura. Each Name changes the other somewhat because of their relation to one another. Namer, Named.

b) "walk a thousand miles" one of the prohibitions after hearing the true Names of the Rhinta/Chandrian. The presence of this Name, even spoken will have an effect on the Names in relation to it (of poeple, on the wind, in the stone) even as it changes in relation to them. Is this how the Chandrian can find a place their Name has been spoken? Great Namers/Knowers can percieve the Name of all things, so could they also pecieve the effect other Names have had on one another? In a landscape this would be a soft merging of Names, as each Name is in a relative constant relation with one another (an ecosystem). But people..people move, they are inconstant. Some people have power, there Names are greater and so would have a greater effect on the Names around them. Is this then why the above is one of the conditions? A thousand miles of your Name, you, inter-relating with all those other Names...enough to confuse your trail for anyone looking? (For some odd reason I dont think this will work for K, he's rather catalytic.)

This is what is viewed as Naming, an individuals Name in close relation with Wind, or Fire, or Stone. So an indivuals innate power must be equal to or greater than the Name it is seeking to relate to, if it is too have an effect on that Name. Fela's power is greater than the power of Stone, Elodin's greater than the psuedo eco-system of Names that trapped him, K's is greater than Felurian. The Name of the Moon the greatest power we have come across, the passing of which causes doors to open between worlds.

Sword. Cover of WMF in UK, K is holding a sword that is slender, with a distivtive asian curve. Perhaps someone who knows more about ketans etc could percieve specificaly which type it is. The image is PR aproved ;)

@18 'Without doing a lot of biology'-like Gibea did? At the same time the Aturan Empire was antagonising/at war with the Adem. His works mostly lost. What was he, an Amyr ooking for? What the greater good that worth all the carnage? Such carnage that even the other Amyr put a stop to.

Oh my on going noting of scent/Fae (relating to K as cuckoo in Netalia and Arliden's nest/magic concentrating in Faen after MS) and fire as power. There is also another aspect to his name, Flame. (Thunder aspect previously realised by Elodin's in/mate at the Rookery. "don't bring thunder")

D to K WMF969
"You smell like dried flowers. Like strange spice smouldering, close to cathching flame. "
27. kwant
"There was an enemy who was not of the Lethani, and who moved like a worm in fruit."
Sounds a lot like snake, which as we have discussed before, matches very well with CTH living/hiding/trapped in the tree. Sinuous movement, biting, poison, etc. Plus it kinda goes with the biblical theme of the serpent who gave the gift (and curse) of knowledge to humanity.
28. josh2778
"Then Vashet teaches him how to care for his sword, including disassembly and reassembly — with a sword? Of what? Does anyone have any idea?"

If it's anything like a katana, which is how I was picturing it, then yes, they can be taken apart and reassembled.
29. herewiss13
@27 I think this is less literal and more "spoiling secretly from within." Betrayal, subversion, etc.
Jo Walton
30. bluejo
A Fox: Gibea and the greater good -- oh nice! And I wonder what his lost books covered?
John Haley
31. Ghrakmaxus
"Madre" caused a reaction from Vashet. Later, when Kvothe asks about it's meaning, she clams up after giving the superficial meanings. IMO, this may imply that there is some type of prophecy about "Madre" that learned Adem know of and Vashet is young enough to show a reaction to the choice of his name, thus receiving a corrective smack from Sheyn. Just wondering if anyone else's thoughts may be running the same course?
@2 - My thoughts were similar to this...the Chandrian are cursed and thus everything they touch is turned to that purpose (the path of pain that Telhu refers to in the story Kvothe hears from Trapsis)
This brings me back to something that Haliax/Lanre says when they have just killed Kvothe's troupe. He implies that Cinder/Ferule has lost focus on their (Haliax's) true purpose and convinces Cinder/Ferule that it is his only purpose as well.
If the story of Skarpi is to be believed, that purpose is to destroy the world so that the creators have no choice but to release or kill Haliax/Lanre as there would be no reason for him (and the Chandrian) to suffer/exist any longer. AND, since he can live forever, he will be patient and change history over time (killing story tellers, destroying artifacts) to subvert the "skarpi" version of history and promote the Bredon/Denna version of history.
John Haley
32. Ghrakmaxus
@26 - Another thought spawned from the name Gibea. If Felurian is to be believed, Gibea was not an Amyr as there were no human Amyr, only humans (children) playing at being Amyr. (Yes, I am paraphrasing). So, Kvothe is wrong in assuming that Gibea was an Amyr because the "the greater good" appeared in the book in the archives, based on her statement that none of the Amyr were human. Unless Gibea was not human, of course. I know it isn't related to the "birther" string of posts, but I couldn't resist when I saw Gibea's name.
Jeremy Raiz
33. Jezdynamite
"First came Chael. Does “Chael” sound like an Adem name? What does it mean? If it’s pre Creation War, what language is it? How about Finol, which certainly seems to go better with “Lanre” and “Lyra” and “Selitos” than with “Shehyn” and “Magwyn” and “Vashet”? "

Carceret's mother, Larel, has a similarly constructed name to Chael and Finol (2 syllables, starting with a consonant, ending in a vowel and an 'L'), so no reason why it couldn't be Ademic if it was based purely on sound and structure, ignoring the historical gap in languages.

My wild guess is "Chael" probably has its origin in either Temic or the language that Temic came from, via the word "Chaen" meaning 7. I doubt "Chael" has much to do with the word "Scrael".

**Changing Saicere's name**

I'm assuming Magwyn didn't name Saicere, she just knows not to mess with an existing name, which was probably given by the creator Chael.   Perhaps if Magwyn knew a different language (I'm assuming Caesura is Eld Vintic) she might agree with K but, even so, she still wouldn't consider changing the swords name. It doesn't mean that Kvothe is a better namer than Magwyn, it just means Magwyn wouldn't think of changing a given Name.

**a bit of silliness**

Dear me, Ademre remade is Maedre.
thistle pong
34. thistlepong
He says it’s a “laundry list” of names, which implies commercial laundries with lots of customers, which there must be in Tarbean and maybe even Imre, but how surprising.
Others have mentioned it in passing, but it bears out in the text. The University has its own laundry. It's one of the things Jamison oversees. But yep, there are commercial laundries.
Wilem pointed out a few more notable buildings, including several good taverns, the alchemy complex, the Cealdish laundry, and both the sanctioned and unsanctioned brothels.
And we'll see Kvothe use the Cealdish laundry on his trip to Tarbean near the end of the book. In fact, it might even be on demand dry cleaning 'cause he sends his clothes out while taking a bath at an inn.
Then she says Tempi says there was a Rhinta there. How would Tempi know?
Wow. Good catch. If Tempi's as average as Vashet says, they must be part of the basic curriculum. Not the names, of course. I wonder if it's just obvious to folks talented enough at reading the wind to pass the tree test.

Sacha G
35. Fortune_Prick_Me
@33 "Dear me, Ademre remade is Maedre" - one shiny new internet for you!

Major brilliant points in this thread. Keep it up everyone.
36. robocarp
Just thought I would share...
It is safe to say the names once. Thanks for sharing.

A Fox: Gibea and the greater good -- oh nice! And I wonder what his lost books covered?
Apart from former human flesh, you mean?


My theory on the Adem is that they are descendants of neutral parties in the Creation War; they became neither human nor fairy, and thus are still of the same species of people that lived before the War (Ruach?). Which may partly explain why they still have swords that were used in the Creation War.


And now for a little horror. Suppose the Adem are ordinary humans who reproduce sexually, and their ideas on reproduction are simply dead wrong (which I doubt, but it is possible). Now, if this is the case, it would seem likely that the Adem leadership knows the truth and is actively suppressing it. This would entail some pretty sick things: feeding the Adem contraceptives in their food supply to keep the birth rate down, for instance. But most horribly, it would mean young girls in Ademre would be forced to have sex whether they want to or not, so that nobody can notice that those who don't have sex never get pregnant. Imagine if Celean were a couple years older; it might be typical for her to have sex with her sparring partner, and she could be forced if she refsued. How would Kvothe have reacted to that? (Again, I don't believe this; I think the Adem are parthenogenic or something else, but if the Adem were human it could have some pretty unfortunate implications.)
Claire de Trafford
37. Booksnhorses
Informative comments as usual. Gbrell @1 said pretty much my thoughts on these chapters. I enjoyed these immensely on first read, so much more after the interminable Felurian interlude. I think Penthe was being a bit harsh though, men are very useful for tall shelves and heavy objects ;)
38. master
I personally think that the adem are wrong. there is no evidence to assume they are right. while the evidence that they have made is mistake is quite substantial.

1. they have sex all of the time. obviously they would fall pregnant. and if they don't stop having sex how would they know it is required to have a baby.

2. the times they do stop having sex would be the times that they would never want a baby. while in the barbarian lands, sick, on a journey to the tahl, etc. they seem to have convinced themselves that children only come when the mothers want them to. which is while they are in ademre, which is quite an odd coincidence. the times they stop having sex are the times they don't have children.

3. their medical knowledge doesnt seem to be that great. they go to the tahl to cure their stds, and they claim that people are different to animals. though this point is less substantial than others.

4. their society is matriarchal. which is different to a large number of earth societies. it may be that without the need for paternal lines of inheritance fathers arent as nessesery.
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
I wonder if it isn't rather that Maedre remade became Ademre. Maybe Maedre (in a form) is what they refer to themselves before they became the Adem through the Lethani. Or something like that.
Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
A Fox@26:
"The sword is Saicere but when it is in Relation to (k newly Named as) Maedre it is Caesura."
I like this quite a bit. Magwyn is thus a fairly static keeper of the names. That's another reason for the epithet shaper of names to be disparaging to her. For her, everything is about maintaining order--remembering the lists of names exactly as they were.
Kvothe is seeing how the sword fits with him--with Kvothe it is Caesura. And that may not be a good thing.

The "single perfect step" concept is similar here also. Any given step in and of itself cannot be perfect except in its relation to the surrounding situation. Fluidity of thought and action is necessary for perfection in this context.
Steven Halter
41. stevenhalter
Gharkmaxus@32:Felurian is referring to the actual Amyr. She isn't precluding that there could be human groups calling themselves Amyr--playing dress up in her eyes.
Gibea would (presumably) be a member of a human group calling themselves the Amyr.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
42. maestro23
I don't think Magwyn's question about mocking has anything to do with Naming or Shaping (though of course it always could). I read it that it was in response to Kvothe being his usual melodramatic self, and that his honorific to her was a little over-the-top. It's probably not unlike the eyebrow that would be raised if you addressed, say, a professor you'd just met as Most Wise and Beneficent. Whether or not you're sincere, it's a bit much. (And the Adem don't seem to go in for that sort of flowery flattery; Kvothe's words struck me immediately as culturally tone-deaf even before I read her reaction.)

On the Adem: Readers have been drawing parallels with East Asian cultures, but I'm not convinced that's the closest fit. Inasmuch as anything real-world aligns to their society, I have a suspicion that there's more than a little of mythic India that went into their inspiration. For one thing, the Lethani doesn't quite read to me like the Tao, though it's something like that too; more than anything else, it sounds like the Hindu concept of dharma, the word that's sometimes inadequately translated as "right action." And I find it interesting that Aethe, founder of the first school, was a master archer - so was Arjuna, the warrior prince who is one of the heroes of the epic Mahabharata and who was given perfect understanding of dharma by Sri Krishna in Dharma for Dummies the Bhagavad-Gita.

(As an aside, the fact that Rothfuss has made the Adem blond and pale-skinned, thus sidestepping at least some of the uncomfortable Orientalism that sometimes creeps into this kind of fantasy culture, is very clever. OTOH, the lack of obvious nonwhite people in the world of the 4C is potentially troubling.)

I think the idea that the Adem are descendants of the original, pre-Creation War people (and thus capable of parthenogenesis) is spot-on; if my suspicion is correct, I wonder if we'll find out anything in the Creation War that may have been borrowed from the Pandava/Kaurava war in Mahabharata. Time and D3 will tell, I suppose - this could be nothing more than wild and idle speculation on my part.

(Oh, and hi, btw. Long-time lurker, &c, &c. Very pleased to have finally finished the man-mothering book so I can join the conversation.)
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
Sadly, I have nothing of real interest to contribute regarding the text. I enjoyed the Ademre interlude, but I found it somehow less absorbing than the “main” story line – as in, getting back to the Maer. We’ll get there, though.

Anyway, the only thing I have to contribute is a note on the chapter numbering. The difference started back in WMF Part 18, with Chapter 97; what the ARC has as Chapter 97, “The Lay of Felurian,” the ebook (and presumably the hardcover and now trade paperback) has as Chapter 97, “Blood and Bitter Rue” and Chapter 98, “The Lay of Felurian”. The following chapter in the ARC is 98, “Playing Ivy” and in the ebook 99, “Magic of a Different Kind”. At the time, Jo, I also noticed some things you described from the ARC as part of Ch 98 that were in a later chapter in the ebook. I didn’t follow up on it, but I suspect the different numbering all comes about from Chapters 97 – 99 (ARC) or 97 – 101 (ebook). For what little that’s worth.

Having finally caught up again, I did want to mention that I like the Dulator = sweet poet interpretation. The thought had crossed my mind (dulce = sweet) but I wasn’t too confident in PR’s use of modern languages as roots for his unknown words. I’m glad someone else – and Jo, at that – had the same idea and posted it. I wonder if that means he’ll go back to Felurian in D3 so she can call him that for us.

I also found the idea of Selitos’s “mountain glass” shard being the item in the Lackless box… intriguing. I’m not entirely convinced, but I’m certainly not dead set against it; it has definite possibilities. If I get any bright ideas about it, I’ll either post it on the thread where it came up, or save it until we see the Lackless box in the upcoming chapters. Anyway, whoever propounded the idea, thanks! Very thought-provoking.
Jeremy Raiz
44. Jezdynamite
Welcome. Any chance your alias is a reference to Michael Jordan? Le Bron?

You could be right. I think it's a bit of fun, but there could be more to it.

bluejo, thistlepong@34

(1) I wonder if the Rhinta story (that Shehyn tells to both K and Vashet) is the first time that Vashet has heard the story too? When Shehyn addresses both Vashet and K about the grave seriousness about speaking of the story, I took that to mean it was the first time Vashet had heard the story too. But not the first time she heard the term Rhinta.

(2) It seems to me that most of Adem would have a basic knowledge of the Rhinta but only elders (or those trusted with the knowledge) are ever told more than basic details. Otherwise, they would put their society at risk by someone inadvertently speaking of specific Rhinta details before the traditional 1000 days/1000 miles have elapsed.

(3) Tempi could guess the leader was a Rhinta by its graceful movements (even after beng shot), its lack of pain when shot and when removing the arrow, and it magically disappearing. Very non-human traits.

(4) It would make sense that only "detailed" questions about the Rhinta are allowed to be discussed with Shehyn. For the safety of their society, I'd assume only Shehyn can reveal detailed knowledge of Rhinta in Haert. Otherwise, how would people in Haert that have heard the tale know that they can tell the story/ask questions if they don't know who last told the story (or when it was last told)?

(5) I wonder why both the Ademre and the suspected skin-changer both used very similar words: Rhinta (Shehyn) and Rhintae (skin-changer)? I don't think the old Mael language (which is close to the Fae language) and Ademic are much alike. Otherwise, K would have had more success learning the Fae language.

(6) I think it's been mentioned before but: What are K's motives for having the names of the Chandrian written down In his auto-biography? I'm guessing he thinks his auto-biography would eventually be read all over the 4Cs, and you'd have people saying the Chandrian's true names everywhere. His aim could be revenge on the Chandrian, after his death, as saying their names all over the world may cause them pain/trouble.

This implies that having the Chronicler show up at his doorstep was all part of his overall plan so he could tell him the Chandrian's true names (or was revealing this information something he only decided was a good idea in the short period of time - 2 days or so - after the Chronicler arrived).

I'm not sure K would put so many people's lives at risk by giving them the knowledge of the Chandrian's names in the book, only to have them tracked down and killed. Could K only be expecting his audience to be a specific person or a specific group of people? I'm at a loss.
George Brell
45. gbrell

As an aside, the fact that Rothfuss has made the Adem blond and pale-skinned, thus sidestepping at least some of the uncomfortable Orientalism that sometimes creeps into this kind of fantasy culture, is very clever. OTOH, the lack of obvious nonwhite people in the world of the 4C is potentially troubling.

This is something that has been discussed previously, though mostly in passing. Back in Part 20, ryamano wrote:

There are no people from other races (as in black, east asian, east indian, etc) in Adem or even in the 4C we have seen so far. The world seems to be comprised so far only of people who are basically white (the ruh are persecuted due to their ways and their red hair, some people might be more tanned, like modegans, but all are basically white/european).

I wrote a brief response that never picked up much further discussion:

Cealds are described as having a "ruddy complexion and dark hair and eyes." They are also repeatedly described as "dark." Since they are an ethnic group that is identifiable by appearance, I've always pictured them as being non-white, though I admit that the term "ruddy" can certainly describe caucasian skin tones.

I'd love to pick this up a little more, however, because unlike @maestro23, I actually thought the complexion/ethnicity of the Adem was one of the more blatant copy-lifts in the series. Mainly because a nordic-featured race of warrior-ascetics is exactly what the Aiel are in the Wheel of Time.

Admittedly, Rothfuss has the good sense to position them geographically in a region that makes more sense for their ethnic characteristics - Jordan's choice to have them be desert people makes little sense without the exile backstory (another thing the Adem share with the Aiel), and even then never really reconciles how they would overcome their bodies' poor adaptation to the clime. But the superficial similarities are readily apparent.

Now, I can list a number of minor differences which makes the two groups non-carbon copies of one another, but ultimately, if our supposition about a relationship between the Adem and the Edema Ruh turns out to be correct, then I really do think there was either copying or homage. *Potential spoiler: If you haven't read the Wheel of Time, or did not get far enough into it to understand this reference, read the entry for "Tuatha'an" on Wikipedia.

As to thier being no non-white characters overall (ignoring my comments about Cealds earlier), I would conjecture that a) the Four Corners appears to roughly parallel Europe, which was composed of primarily Caucasian races for much of its history, b) we have no idea how literal the "Four Corners" moniker is and how far and to what extent the actual world extends beyond the map (at least somewhat because of the lack of the Pirate Isles), and c) the most likely groups that I would expect to be non-Caucasian would be southern peoples and island peoples who haven't really appeared in the story. We don't receive any description about the people of Junpui, IIRC, who would seem a likely candidate for non-whiteness based on geography. Then again, being pointededly not mentioned should matter.

Perhaps at the end of the day I'm wondering if the lack of non-white-skinned races matters. Is it worse to include them, but ignore them/demonize them or to not include them at all? Was Tolkien's treatment of race worse than Rothfuss's? Is this something even worth discussing? Am I rambling? The answer to the last one is certainly yes.
Philbert de Zwart
46. philbert
@gbrell I think the point is that although this appears to be a world without black people, there certainly is a variety of races and there is racism. That makes it realistic enough for me.

Re: the Tempi-Shehyn discussion: I think Tempi is wrong. When Kvothe hit the ground he made the split second decision not to jump up, but to stay down. Thereby he took away Carceret's chance to maim him. Victory was never attainable becaise Carceret was a much better fighter, but he took from her the opportunity for serious damage which was her objective. Ergo: he won.
Philbert de Zwart
47. philbert
Vashet's stance towards man-mothers and the truth is one of my favourite bits from these books:
"Think what you want about making babies. Believe in demons. Pray to a goat. So long as it doesn't bruise me, why should I bother myself?"
I chewed it over for a moment. "There's wisdom in that," I said.
She nodded.
"But either a man helps with a baby or he does not," I pointed out. "There can be many opinions on a thing, but there is only one truth."
Vashet smiled lazily. "And if the pursuit of truth was my goal, that would concern me." She gave a long yawn, stretching like a happy cat. "Instead I will focus on the joy in my heart, the prosperity of the school, and understanding the Lethani. If I have time left after that, I will put it toward worrying on the truth."
What we have here, is the key to world peace, ladies and gentlemen.
48. Trollfot
I wrote this elsewhere, posting here as well. (Assuming man-mothers are real.)

Interesting discussion about the Adem's take on reproduction!

Personally, I bought it. I think it's believable that a culture would regard pregnancies as spontanous. The idea is not new to me though, I've come across it in a book about native Australians - fiction, so I don't know if there is any truth to it, but still it got me thinking.

I'd say an important factor here is that the Adem is kind of a matriarchy. Even if someone were to connect the dots, the idea about male participation might not be recieved well. Consider the Middle Ages, scholars knew that Earth is round but it didn't catch on, the church was too strong. Something similar might be going on here, not that the Adem would kill off people for suggesting that men has a part to play (after all, they are not barbarians) but the matter might be laughed upon and not taken serioiusly, it just doesn't fit with their conception about the world and how things work.

Also, in a society like that, is it certain that you would remember who you slept with last month ? Vashet compares sex with a conversation or a meal. A pregnancy test is not reliable until a couple of weeks after the actual conception (for argument's sake assuming a 28 day cycle). But those tests are only taken by women who know they might be pregnant. If you are not expecting pregnancy, and don't have access to tests, it would take even longer to find out. Adem women never expect pregnancy (as it could happen at any time) and they don't have tests. I'm under the impression that it's not uncommon to find out about an unplanned pregnancy during the 6th-or-so week, perhaps even later, and for an Adem, who would remember having sex six weeks ago? I certainly don't remember who I had lunch with back then.
49. Trollfot
Re black people: are we sure 4C is the entire world? It comes across as small to me, Kvothe has already been all over it. I'm thinking something like Europe in size. Europe is way too small for different "races" to develop. We have Scandinavians (Adem) in the north, Mediterraneans (Cealds) in the south, Irish (Ruh) in the west and Slavics in the east and that's as diversed as it gets.

I wouldn't be surprised if black people lived south of Vintas or west of Stormwald. Especially on the other side of Stormwald. Seems like people don't cross the mountains a lot so they wouldn't interbreed and affect the paleness of the Adem.

Btw, I never thought of the 4C as the entire world, more like a continent.
50. master
@ trolfot

there are references to places outside the map of the four corners. the tahl over the mountains, syclla , etc.
Jeremy Raiz
51. Jezdynamite
I feel similarly that there is much more to the world than the 4Cs, including the Tahl, Sceria and the people with a Lenatti accent (e.g. Uresh et. al.)

What are syclla and the hyhenas? I can't remember reading about them.
Andrew Mason
52. AnotherAndrew
The Lenatti are said to come from a long way off and to be recognisable by their complexion.

I agree with everyone who says the Four Corners isn't the world. I'm not sure even Ademre counts as part of the FC - the Adem clearly don't agree that the FC people are civilised. And the Tahl are certainly outside it. I think a bad habit has developed of using 'the Four Corners' to mean the world where Kvothe lives, by contrast with Fae - but in the books, as far as I remember, it's not used that way; the world is called 'The Mortal'.
thistle pong
53. thistlepong
Pat has said, in writing, that the Four Corners are Tarbean, Ralien, Cershaen, and Renere; and that the map isn't the entire world.

gbrell@45 (et. al.)
The last time it came up I got halfway through something before any number of other things came up to interfere. I started by searching for ruddy, dark, &c. There's one direct reference to dark skin:
“And the work itself?” Kilvin prompted. There was sweat beading on the dark skin of his forehead, but he didn’t seem otherwise bothered by the heat.
It's not much to go on, but it's a foundation block. Without it, we'd be left with ruddy which ranges from sort of pinkish-red in Britain to tan and darker elsewhere. Luckily, there's another big clue here: (not linked, of course, so copy and paste)

It's a hypothetical NW movie poster created by Nathan Taylor available during the first Worldbuilders fundraiser. The dark fellas are likely Wil and Kilvin. In any case, they're somebody.

maestro23@42 (gbrell, etc.)
So there's clearly a better range of skin tones than pale to tan, though creamy folks get a lot of attention from Kvothe and Rothfuss. And we're left to wonder why it's not more explicit. I suspect it has a lot to do with "potentially troubling" always applying to any depictions of race. He's struggling with ways to describe skin tone without using the same words we're used to, that we tend to use, that are always already burdened with deep meaning.

Obviously, the cost of his decision to do it that way is the appearance of whitewashing. It's a valid criticism, too. Lots of readers are left out. And the Cealds are still saddled with most of the worst overt racism in the books. Kind of a failed effort.
54. Thurule
@33, @39

I think you may have overlooked what you actually said:

Maedre remade is Ademre.

It definitely is, Maedre remade is also REMADE. Ademre, the land they remade from the land they were forced to flee, a land nobody wanted.

Maedre, Kvothe remade from a barbarian into a civilized person of the Lethani.

Coincidence? PR showing off?
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
@54:Of course, it's also reamed and that may be what Kvothe really is in the frame. ;-)
And, Read Me which is what all the namers are doing with Kvothe. An interesting set of letters.
I suspect that it is not an accidental rearrangeable set.
56. Thurule
@55: And let's not forget that Adem = Made. As in a created race? One in which man mothers aren't necessary?

Hm, I wonder what other words we can play scrabble with...
George Brell
57. gbrell

Obviously, the cost of his decision to do it that way is the appearance of whitewashing. It's a valid criticism, too. Lots of readers are left out. And the Cealds are still saddled with most of the worst overt racism in the books. Kind of a failed effort.

But why is it a valid criticism? Is it valid solely because he made them varieties of white, i.e. if they had all been varieties of brown (think Indian sub-continent) would the problem be the same? Why is his demonstration of racism/ethnicism against the Ruh/Cealds problematic? Is it automatically problematic to present racism against a white (or near-white) race?

I'm not trying to argue for post-racism here or trying to belittle an awareness of color (if nothing else, the fact that people are thinking about it here strikes me as a positive element), but why is Rothfuss's treatment a "failed effort" and why is it "problematic"? Is there any evidence that Rothfuss is trying to comment on race in his text?

The standard that your comment seems to be advocating is that every author must always present multiple races, must always balance their spread of characters amongst then, must always have racism be equally spread or non-existent. That's a pretty confining standard.
58. Jayhem
K's new name (Maedre) seems to scare the Adem and one of its meanings is broken tree. Is it possible that it has something to do with CTH?
thistle pong
59. thistlepong

Depictions of race are always problematic. Hopefully folks enter any discussion thereof aware of that. Criticizing the KC for appearing predominantly, if not entirely, white is absolutely valid. How one develops that critique might or might not be valuable or constructive.

Don't assume I'm advocating a simplistic standard and refrain, having done so, from putting words in my mouth/text. That's beneath you. It's also no way to respond to someone who went out of hir way to prove your point.
Matthew B
60. MatthewB
@33. Jezdynamite

"Dear me, Ademre remade is Maedre."

That is some grade-A clever insight. Nice one!
61. mr. awesome
The Lethani really only bears a superficial resemblance to Taoism.

If I remember right, there are two versions of Taoism, the corrupted and popular version, and the one that accurately reflects the views of its founders. The first preaches social harmony and conformity and service to the will of the leaders. The second preaches going with the natural order of the universe. Nothing about the second encourages moral goodness or badness, most Taoists would deny those exist or would try to find value in badness as well. In contrast, the Adem's notion of Lethani conforms very closely to our modern view of morality.

"Then Tempi rushes up and warns him that Carceret is at the first stone, and that she’s enraged because Caesura was her mother’s sword."

Her mother is dead. Bears note.

"He asks Vashet what his name means, and she says he shouldn’t talk about it. Then when he says he should know what it means, she says “Flame, thunder, broken tree”. He asks why she didn’t like it, and she refuses to comment."

I've done some thinking. Flame is destructive and showy but wonderful and a useful tool. Thunder is loud and showy, and a portent of storms to come. Trees represent growth and goodness and to some extent the future, and so "the broken tree" symbolizes a setback in those areas (think of the burned white tree in LOTR) and it is also possibly the Cthaeh. But the tree isn't destroyed, it's broken...
George Brell
62. gbrell

I was not trying to put words in your mouth, and I'm sorry if my comment read that way to you.

I agree that depictions of race can often be problematic. It's this point I'm not sure I agree with:

Criticizing the KC for appearing predominantly, if not entirely, white is absolutely valid.

I think we may just be disagreeing on terminology. If you mean that it's valid in the sense that there aren't apparent non-white characters, i.e. it's an accurate statement of fact, then I agree.

But "valid criticism," to my mind, requires engaging with a text. I don't read much, if any, of Rothfuss's novel as discussing or commenting on race. I think there are some small arguments to be made about the Ruh viewed as the gypsies or the Cealds viewed as the Jews in Europe (based solely on similar socioeconomic roles), but I think such comparisons are, at most, ancillary to the main thrust of the text.

It appears to me that you say two things in your comment that, to me, seem contradictory. You write: "Depictions of race are always problematic." This seems to imply that the moment an author mentions a skin-tone, he is subject to a valid racial critique.

At the same time you write: "How one develops that critique might or might not be valuable or constructive." This suggests that inclusion of racial elements isn't problematic if a critique can't be effectively mounted on those elements and their use in the story.

I'm willing to acknowledge that fantasy and science fiction tend to be rather homogeneous genres, that they generally tend to reflect white, male viewpoints and that any author who is writing with an awareness of fantasy literature, as Rothfuss appears to be aiming to do, should acknowledge this and write accordingly. But where the text makes no point about or with race or does it in a way that doesn't map to real-world race relations, I think we're only left with making up the simple arguments that both you and I dislike.
Katy Maziarz
63. ArtfulMagpie
"The second preaches going with the natural order of the universe. Nothing about the second encourages moral goodness or badness, most Taoists would deny those exist or would try to find value in badness as well. In contrast, the Adem's notion of Lethani conforms very closely to our modern view of morality."

I must say that I quite strongly disagree with your statement that the Lethani conforms to a modern view of morality. Based on everything that was said about the Lethani, it very much felt to me like "going with the natural order of the universe," as you put it. Doing what is right, not because of some moral view, but because it is the only thing that can be done. A dropped stone must fall. A man or woman on the path of the Lethani must do what they must do. I don't have my copy beside me now to quote from, but the whole concept of the Spinning Leaf mindstate seems to me to be a way of tapping into this natural state, this sleeping mind that doesn't need to think or to moralize, but just to act and react.
Ashley Fox
64. A Fox
@63. Agree.

Penthe's (Adem's) idea of sex energies is very similar to that of Tantra. There are quite a few Tantric influences on the Adem. (Tantra exploded all over Asia)

Mudras-A language of the hands

Chakras, the heart is seen as the seat of waking conciousness. Haert.

Mandukya Upanishad-for places occupied by the soul: waking consciousness, dreamless sleep, dreaming, trancendance/illumination. Quite similar to PR's four doors of the mind. The last is an absolute realisation of one's self. Is this what Aethe demonstrated with her last unspoken story, her death?

Siddhis-mystical powers that can be gained from mastery of yoga (relative to the ketan) and the elements such as fire, air. Much like Naming isnt it? Inc the more common Naming of 'base' elements such as Wind and Fire. Arguably the Lanthana leads some Adem to the Name of the Wind.

Trancedance is linked to the Divine Consciousness, which Tantra seeks in everypart of a persons life. Seeking to end samsara/cylce of suffering. Ahem, Lathani and CTH....

(There's some Devi worship in the Shaivite philosophy ;) )

Theophany! The belief that creation is not achieved by the creator (Shiva/Aelph) acting upon the world but is actually a process of shrishti-letting go/pouring forth/casting out. The world is not an a creation, but an emanation, a theophany. (Mebe Gibea should have read more Teccam)

Bet you a bottle of strawberry wine that we will see Vedic influences in the Tahl (Singing/Hymms).

A contrasting belief system: Plato (Ideas/spiritual archtypes/(Names) and their shadows/physical existance) influences Plotinus, who believed there were three spiritual worlds: The One, from which emanates the Nous, from which emanates the World Soul. Parralels to Mortal, Faen & Names (If Names are representing the sprit of a thing. Ties in well with my above post).

This post is already getting too long so im going to stop poking round! There really is a lot of fascinating stuff here, generally and in ref to the KKCs.

EDIT: Mindfulness, buddist meditation. Indriya, a spiritual faculty, used in seeking enlightenment/wisdom. It helpd determine the right or correct path. Midfullness should be sort in all aspects of life.

Apaithia (Spinning Leaf). From quiet apaithia may be reached, a stillness of the mind allowing one to be one with one's self, god/enable pure prayer
Ashley Fox
65. A Fox
Double post but I aint sorry. Pop over to PR's blog, he has put a story up 'Kvothe vs Aslan' :D
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
I really liked the Kvothe vs. Aslan write-up; I also really liked some of the stuff he had to say earlier in the blog. Like this:
...But vastly more irritating to me is the odd opinion that strength/power is the key factor when two people come into conflict.

The truth is, I find that sentiment more than irritating, I find it troubling. It means a lot of you haven’t been paying attention to the books I know you must have read.

If power is the only important thing, then Frodo loses against Sauron. Hell, if power’s the only important thing then Gandalf loses against Sauron. If magic is the deciding factor of a fight, then four plucky kids from England get their asses turned to stone by the White Which.

So yeah, Rake can turn into a dragon, but the point of fairy tales is that they teach us that dragons can be beaten.

I see too much fatalism these days, folks. The truth is that the world is full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks. But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.
I'm reasonably sure there are a great number of philosophical points on which I would disagree with Mr. Rothfuss, but not this. Besides, anyone who quotes GKC to make a point moves several points up the scale for me. :) Thanks for the notice, A Fox.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
67. maestro23
That will teach me to come in late at night and make observations I damn well know will result in Big Conversations, however much I intended them as offhand remarks.

Srsly, though, knowing that PR has clarified that the world extends beyond the map makes a big difference, at least to me; and I'd forgotten about the hyenas. For some reason I'd remembered a comment wondering if the 4C was all there was, and took it as given. (And FWIW, I also picture the Cealds looking more or less Middle Eastern, though as noted it's hard to tell if this is what's intended.)

A Fox, many thanks for pointing out further parallels with Vedic philosophy; I have but a dilettante's understanding of Hindu thought and am pleased to see I might not be completely batshit on this score.

I would have to agree that the Lethani doesn't line up well with our modern morality - it's a philosophy that thinks nothing of crippling a musician's hand, for goodness sake. (And while I'm on this train, traditional readings of dharma could also produce results counterintuitive to the modern mind; when Arjuna protests that he cannot go to war against his teachers and cousins, Krishna tells him, "I am Time, and have already killed these people; you are but my instrument. Arise therefore and do your duty." I can't quite decide if I can picture the Adem saying something like that, but it doesn't ring entirely false either.)

The Ademre/Maedre/remade/read me line of thought is compelling. I'm inclined to sort of doubt that it will have in-story significance, but I'll bet my talent pipes it has meta resonances.

OT: Jezdynamite @44, no reference intended, save that all things are inevitably subject to the Law of Fives fnord fnord. Your Illumination may vary. Void where inhibited. This is not a pipe.
Jeremy Raiz
68. Jezdynamite
Do all the references at the end of post 67 relate to the Illuminati Trilogy?

Also, what hyenas are mentioned please? Is it this from WMF Kindle Chp 15 "Interesting Fact":

"Inyssa frowned at him. “Fine. There’s a type of dog in Sceria that gives birth through a vestigial penis,” she said."
Alf Bishai
70. greyhood
Maedre remade is also Read Me.

Oh crap I just got the cleverness.
71. DEL
When the skin walker asks "Rhintae?" is he searching for Kvothe, half cursed, who separated himself from his name and music? Kvothe killed the King, is he the new villian?
George Brell
72. gbrell

Though interestingly, hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs, a nice example of convergent evolution.
73. DEL
How similar are the people decribed here:
~~Tehlu's volunteering before Aelph~~
Others came forward.
Tall Kirel, who had been burned but left living in the ash of Myr Tariniel.
Deah, who had lost two husbands to the fighting, and whose face and mouth and heart were hard and cold as stone.
Enlas, who would not carry a sword or eat the flesh of animals, and
who no man had ever known to speak hard words.
Fair Geisa, who had a hundred suitors in Belen before the walls fell. The first woman to know the unasked-?for touch of man.
Lecelte, who laughed easily and often, even when there was woe thick about him.
Imet, hardly more than a boy, who never sang and killed swiftly without tears.
Ordal, the youngest of them all, who had never seen a thing die, stood bravely before Aleph, her golden hair bright with
ribbon. And beside her came Andan, whose face was a mask with burning eyes, whose name meant anger.

Kirel, Deah, Enlas, Geisa, Lecelte, Imet Plus Ordal and Andan


Cyphus bears the blue flame.
Stercus is in thrall of iron.
Ferule chill and dark of eye.
Usnea lives in nothing but decay.
Grey Dalcenti never speaks.
Pale Alenta brings the blight.
Last there is the lord of seven.
Hated. Hopeless. Sleepless. Sane.
Alaxel bears the shadow's hame.

(Cyphus, Stercus, Ferule, Usnea, Dalcenti, Alenta)
(Kirel, Deah, Enlas, Geisa, Lecelte, Imet) + {Ordal, Andan}

Kvothe's descriptions of the Chandrian, eyewitness instead of myth/folktale/rumor: Cinder is Ferula/Ferule and seems to correspond to Imet, but also seems to bear the sign that Cyphus is associated with.

For some of these the connection as strong:
Kirel/Cyphus are both associated with fire,
Andan/Ciradae the "lost Chandrain".

For some the connections are weaker but still there if thought of as inversions: Lecelte/Dalcinti, Geisa/Usnea , etc. Maybe a passage in DoW will expand upon each set. I can't seem to find it but doesn't Kvothe give more descriptions of the Chandrian, and his impression? I seem to remeber reading baout one of the women Chandrian having "knowing eyes".

What is interesting is Ordal/Andan and how Ordal evokes Auri and the feirce visage of the 8th Chandrian/Ciradae who is being evoked by Kvothe.

Parallels between Geisa and Denna, or even Deah as root word for Denna.

Ordal/Auri, Andan/Kvothe is an interesting construct as they are presented as a unit "and beside her came Andan". Who don't, either numerically or descriptally, evoke Chandrianness. Andar's name means anger, which is close to how Adem view all men, how Nina felt when she drew him. Kvothe's anger did burn down the world methaphorically, which is also what Nina claimed to see in Andal when seeing the vase.

Maedre, ReNamed: Aelph does this to all who step forward with Tehlu, Haliax seems to have ReNamed his Chandrian. Kvothe/Kote is a rename: Did he rename himself? Preventitively, from either Tehlu/Haliax? or was it done to him through his ill-advised vow on his left hand to Denna?

Shit like this Rothfuss is why I love these books.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
74. maestro23
On the naming of Chandrian*: Isn't stercus Latin for "excrement"? PR has to know this, but I don't know if it's Meaningful or just a wink of some sort.

*Must Chandrian, like cats, have three different names? Were I Mike Ford, I'd do something very clever with this. Alas, he is gone, and the world is poorer.

Jezdynamite: Not so much that, as pointing to the same thing Illuminatus! does. With which I conclude the derail and return to the dissection-in-progress.
J Melick
75. Rudolph
Great observations. I don't know if anyone's brought up those similarities before, but they seem way too close to be a coincidence.

To me, this only further blurs the line between who is "good" and who's "bad"...chandrian or amyr? Or neither. Or both. Or (most likely) both live in varying shades of gray. The different sources tell so many different stories.
76. mr. awesome
On Taoism - I guess I agree that the Lethani isn't our modern morality, but I think it's a disservice to think of it as merely a modified form of Taoism. Many of the points I raised still stand. Taoism and the Lethani are both paths that emphasize harmony with the inevitable structure of the universe, but that is the extent of their similarity. Even some forms of Christianity stress the same thing, so we shouldn't jump to conclusions. I think most people heard Rothfuss describe it like a River or a Path and then assumed it was Taoism, because that's a popular Taoist way of expression on our side of the world.

Taoists generally decry arrogance and certainty, and like to point out the limits of knowledge. Nothing indicates the Lethani does that. Taoists feel that whatever happens must have been morally right. Nothing indicates the Lethani does that. Taoists decry the will, and want individuals to become a receptacle only for what impulses the universe moves into their hearts. Nothing indicates the Lethani does that. Taoists preach the goodness of badness and the badness of goodness. Nothing indicates the Lethani does that.

Seeing two Eastern type religions and then assuming they're the same is wrong.
There's not nearly enough evidence to treat them similarly.

@70, @71

I'm not sure if 71 was trying to be a follow up to 70, but it worked out that way. It made me think of the idea that Rhintae is the changed name of Maedre. They're kind of similar in form. Also, did the creature say Rhintae, or tae Rhintae? Because Rhintae is more likely to be a title if the latter is true.

What anagrams can be made from Rhintae? Check here:

And for more Maedre:

Happy puzzling.
thistle pong
77. thistlepong
@76... Hairnet. Awesome.

ETA: mr awesome, I acknowedge my fault in following your link, but I'd rather you hadn't posted it...

ETA2: maestro23@74 check out Dar Williams's "Playing to the Firmament." Hail Eris.
78. DEL
@76 I believe it is "tae Rhintae" Man, I've forgotten where all the imaginary linguistic posts are; I'd love to know if they've decrypted "rhin" and "tae".

Ok, a few more speculations. Maybe we have this all wrong, maybe Skarpi is only partially right. Maybe Iax changed his name to be Lanre/take his place, and Seitos named him Haliax, not knowing he wasn't Lanre in his waking mind, but his sleeping mind knew.
thistle pong
79. thistlepong
“Te Rhintae?”
Seems so much like "Are you /(a:of the)/ Rhinta?"
thistle pong
80. thistlepong
81. DEL
@79- No wonder he forgets himself and almost sets the skinwalker on fire.

The mercenary’s eyes sharpened again, focusing on
Kvothe. The wide, humorless smile reappeared, made macabre by the blood running
down his face. “Te aithiyn Seathaloi?” he demanded. “Te Rhintae?”

I am so excited for the last book. So. Excited.
Damon Lippert
82. DEL2
Is the skinwalker asking "Are one of the Sithe(or one of the Singers)? the Rhinta?"?

for the confused Rhinta=Chandrain
Stephane Dauzat
83. Zolt
@ 33. Jezdynamite
Maedre = Ademre and/or remade !! If that's you being silly, I fear the world may explode when you decide to be brilliant. "Read Me" is just the awesome cherry on top of the giant cake of awesomeness that is this find, and it goes with Adem names having 3 different meanings

I think that's got to be on par with "Not tally a lot less" and the whole "leaf in the mouth" episode. I just love it that after 6-7 rereads these books can still make me giddy with excitement at figuring out something new.

It also rekindles my fears that Kvothe might have unwittingly started some major upheaval in Ademre with this visit. On the bright side, Kvothe might be a man-mother and not know it yet by the time of the frame story. It would be fun to see a pissed-off Vashet or Penthe knock down the door to the Waystone with a redhead kid in tow, saying: "Ademre is a mess and this is all your fault. Now take responsibility."

1) PR has, in my opinion, very carefully crafted Adem society and its people so that the "man-mother" theory cannot be proved (or disproved) under normal circumstances. The Adem are a very homogeneous people (suggesting maybe a major population bottleneck in their past), are isolated geographically and don't usually welcome strangers. Relating pregnancy to the sexual act itself would be difficult because an Adem who's not having sex on a regular basis is such a rare thing. The mercenaries probably do have intercourse with barbarians on occasion in spite of the taboo against it, but they won't be very fertile because of the mercenary lifestyle. Any odd-looking child can also be blamed on them ripening outside of Ademre. I wonder if it's a coincidence that Adem traits like sandy hair and light eyes are recessive.

2) They make it very clear that a "barbarian" such as Kvothe living with the Adem, learning the Ketan and the Lethani and well, "cavorting" with their women in their home environment is a first. Or at least if it's happened before, nobody in Haert seems to know about it. Kvothe also has become something of a celebrity within Ademre and has a very distinctive look, and red hair with blond certainly has a good chance of producing reddish hair color in children. Same goes for green eyes.

3) We're told that by his presence alone, Kvothe has already stirred quite a bit of unrest about the normally stoic Adem, with some respected members of the community coming to blows over it. We aren't show many adem men other than Tempi, but we're told they are more prone to unrest and "anger".

4) Kvothe using silphium as a male contraceptive whereas it shouldn't be effective in the real world. This would seem innocuous of itself, but a few chapters later Pat gives us that story about arrowroot which a) shows that even the Medica can get it wrong, occasionally and b) arrowroot in the 4c has similar properties to it's real world equivalent so why not silphium?
It's worth noting that, whereas there's a lot of history for female herbal contraceptives, quite a few of them efficient, only a handful of male contraceptives have been proved to be efficient. Papaya seeds looks to be the best but you'd have to ingest them daily for several months.

5) Kvothe comes to Ademre "fresh" from his encounter with the Cthaeh, and on his advice too. If Bast is to be believed, Kvothe is a disaster waiting to happen at this stage.

Of course it's always possible that the Parthenogenesis theory is right and that nothing special will come out of Kvothe's trip to Ademre . Note that parthenogenesis would not necessarily exclude normal, sexual reproduction or else they might have no males at all. That is unless Adem females also carry a spare Y chromosome.
Steven Halter
84. stevenhalter
DEL@78: From July:
On “Te aithiyn Seathaloi? Te Rhintae?”:

I'm not seeing anything that bears resemblance to Seathaloi. It is capitalized, so it is probably a name of some sort.

Rhintae is quite interesting and we have two words that resemble it (although that may mean nothing). We have "Rhinta" from Ademre that
refers to Chandrian and means "Old thing in the shape of a man" and then we have "Rhinata" from the phrase "Vorfelan Rhinata Morie" that Wil
translated as "The desire for knowledge shapes a man". So, the Rhinata portion could be the part Wil is translating as shapes a man. We've already mentioned that Wil's translation is suspect.

If Rhintae, Rhinta and Rhintae are related they could all be refering to some aspect of Shaping and Man.

So, the "skin dancer" could have been asking if K was a Shaper. Or if he had been Shaped. (Or something else entirely).
Also, it has been pointed out that Rhinna (the Cthaeh's tree) is also similar. A paqnacea would possibly be doing some shaping of its own.
Greyhood & Jo mentioned the connection between a name change and the Skinwalker:
The Change of Name
Greyhood wonders what that shapechanger was really asking:
There’s been some discussion about how someone changes their Name. I know I always thought about how a person would change it themselves. Then it occurred to me that it would take a Namer to do that. But no, of course it must be a Shaper... Te rhintae..?
So, I am leaning quite a bit in the direction that the various words having something to do with Shaping and usually in a negative sense. Te rhintae? ==> Have you been reshaped/renamed?
85. wickedkinetic
2 Things occurred to me reading these comments -

First - the discussion of Bast being a Satyr made me think of another hooved fantasy/mythology archetype. Now Bast hasn't been seen with a pitchfork but I wouldn't be surprised if he had the pointy tail and horns.... I could totally see him turning out to be some all-powerful ironic version of 'the devil himself' or his bored/naughty heir apparent with a peculiar set of motivations - a Rothfussian twist on 'the prince of darkness' - I feel there is much and more to be revealed about Bast...

Second - what if the 8 angels of Tehlu and the Chandrian are 1 and the same... some successful initiative of the Chandrian to create a religion (The Tehlin church is relatively young I think) and make their legends dissappear behind the perverted near-truth teachings of the church. This is probably a long-shot - but I'm beginning to think that day-3 will have to simplify and reduce the number of players to effectively make any sense.. Motive could also be to seriously damage the Amyr (or the fake-Amyr) by having the church drop 'em like a bad habit.... (there's a nun-pun just hanging there but I'm not going to say it)

at any rate, love this re-read, and the comments, can't wait for next-book.
Steven Halter
86. stevenhalter
Speaking of Imaginary Linguistics :-) I just posted the lists of words and phrases Jhirrad and I compiled into the forum section of
They can be found at:
Imaginary Linguistics
Basically, we have tried to assign words by language, in the order we found them (mostly).
Take a look and have fun.
Alice Arneson
87. Wetlandernw
shalter @86 and Jhirrad - Well done! Got it bookmarked for reference. :)
Ashley Fox
88. A Fox
@86 Thanks!

To those purprting the singers and chandrian being one and the same. I find this unlikely in the extreme. Scarpi tells two stories, each concerning each group, clearly different. The numbers are wrong. the asociations of the singers are of what they were before they changed/were Shaped into their presnt state. The Chandrian descriptions concern their characteristics/signs after their change, of their present state. The similarities between the two sets of descriptions could come from the fact that these two groups went through their various changes at the same time (relatively), and the methods of storytelling/culture would be similar.

Then of course the major points being that the Haliax himself refers to the singers as someone he protects the chandrian from, they look to the sky. When K is a bandit huntin', the woodsman guy (sorry, name?) is calling on the angels names (Tehlin version of singers) Cinder has the same reaction again. The two groups are consistantly presented as different.

Also..Adem. Sex. Their culture does not view sex as intimate (unlike singing). This does not mean they are all nymphomaniacs! lol. There are a few comments implying that the Adem are at it al the time. imo this is unsupported, the ratio of sex to other activities we whitness is significantly low. Sexual appetite varies from person to person, some choose to have standard families, others not to. A casual attitude regarding sex does not necessarily mean promiscurity.
thistle pong
89. thistlepong

I wondered if y'all had put that up anywhere. Thanks.

You might wish to consider noting that most of the speech in the book is Aturan even though we read it in English.
Steven Halter
90. stevenhalter
thistlepong@89:Good point--I have noted that now.
Camilo Caceres
91. DoomDuck
@Del for post 73:

I hadn't noticed that, and I find it *awesome*. Particularly combined with the previous thoughts on the Chandrian's tells being curses:

Tall Kirel bears the blue flame, to remind him of the ash of Myr Tariniel.
Enlas who would not carry a sword or eat the flesh of animals brings the blight.
Lecelte who laughed easily and often never speaks.
Ordal who had never seen a thing die lives in nothing but decay.
Imet who killed swiftly is in thrall of iron (a stretch - but unable to use a weapon , thus making him somewhat impotent if he was a weaponmaster of some kind)

"Chill and Dark of Eye" is left, which we already strongly suspect to be Cinder, who is a bit of a bastard (tortures his victims) seems to fit best with Andan, whose face was a mask with burning eyes, whose name meant anger. Burning eyes to chill and dark!

Sadly, this leaves me with two of Tehlu's volunteers: Deah who had lost two husbands, and Fair Geisa the first rape victim. Both women, if that's significant in some way.

More significantly, as some have already said, it definitely blurs the lines regarding who's good vs. who's evil. It also possibly implies the corruption of Tehlu's Angels. Is that why Tehlu is so pissed at the Chandrian? Is that why his name scares them off so quickly? For that matter, if these are the corrupted angels, who remains?

Wait wait, we have two women whose signs (in my mind) don't quite match up? Is it a coincidence, then, that our two mystery people are Auri and Denna? Could there be a tie? Maybe not quite so perfect as that - but what if Auri is one of the two women? Deah or Fair Geisa? I could see her having undergone a pretty severe trauma, i.e. Fair Geisa.

And lastly, just to counter-argue myself, Nina's vase shows an Amyr/ Ciridae who "... looked so angry. He looked like he was ready to burn down the whole world." Which could also describe Andan pretty well, thus possibly showing he was not Cinder the Chandrian.

thistle pong
92. thistlepong
Maybe I missed some nuance of the theory, but it literally doesn't add up. Seven Chandrian. Nine Singers. Eight folks on the Mauthen urn. And that it suggests that Selitos is standing right next to the Chandrian in Skarpi's second story after he'd cursed them...
Ryan Bogle
93. FanBogle
@thistlepong 92:

I know! I really want to make the connection... but the numbers just don't add up. But there has to be some connective tissue. I do find it interesting that two of the Chandrian (Grey Dalcenti and Pale Alenta), and two of the angels (Tall Kirel and Fair Geisa) both have adjectives in their names... might be a connection I suppose.
Camilo Caceres
94. DoomDuck
I hear ya, it really doesn't fit the timeline we've got so far.

Still, the parallels are nice =)

And besides! A good conspiracy theory is allowed to ignore facts in favor of fancy *grin*.

thistle pong
95. thistlepong
We fiddled a bit with how translations into other languages changed that in the timeline thread, and I'be asked folks elsewhere. Alenta is the only one who normally keeps her adjective. That's interesting in itself, I'm sure. In languages where the adjective would reveal gender, the list ends up looking a bit stilled: Dalcenti, the one with the grayish silence, never speaks. I'll see if I can get some folks to show me Kirel and Geisa.
96. DEL
Some ideas to think about:
The Rhinta poem names the Chandrian(haliax plus the six), through Ferula/Ferula We know its close. One thing it Doesn't name is the Angry, bloody handed former(?) Chandrian on the vase.

The tehlu pal Andan seems a perfect fit for the bloody-handed angry Ciradae. Auri defintely evokes Ordal. Plus they are presented as a unit.

If you take those two out of the set, you are left with 6 Tehlu pals who's signs overlap the Chandrian signs.
Ryan Bogle
97. FanBogle
@ 96. DEL:

I do see your connection... but the figure on the vase is most certainly an Amyr, which seem to descend from Selitos... I figured that both Andan and Ordal were something else.

But it is provocative... and it's such a nice fit when you get those two out of the equation.
Ashley Fox
98. A Fox
um, still opinioning that this is utter tosh. Despite the fun you may be having, O_o

The story in which we get the description is also the story in which we whitness Selitos founding the Amyr, inc his first recruits. Andan is not an Amyr. He is a singer. Thats a very big fact to ignore, far from a perfect fit.

Felurian does not recognise ciridae. They are a later development of the Amyr.

It is also likely that all of the chandrian were present during the massacre of K's troupe. We see various signs, male chandrian and women chandrian mentioned. No child chandrian.
99. DEL
Andan may have been the poisoned one who remebered the Lethani. The timelines have a bunch of play in them. Plus, if you take Trapis' story at face value, the 6 chandrians are relatively new. If you don't take it at face value....

And Skarpi admits he changed some facts to fit the theme :)
thistle pong
100. thistlepong
“Do you know the seven words that will make a woman love you?”
Cyphus, Stercus, Ferule, Usnea, Dalcenti, Alenta, Alaxel...
There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will.
Kirel, Deah, Enlas, Geisa, Lecelte, Imet, Ordal, Andan, Tehlu, Selitos

the last of the ten could be Aleph I guess...

A Fox@98... It took me a long time to come around to Nine Singers and Selitos with his Amyr. The stage setting in Skarpi's fragment of a story is terrible. Honestly looking at it again it still reads as though Tehlu comes to kneel next to Selitos. After a year of theory wrangling I've got nothing invested in that reading, but I can see where folks would get that idea.
thistle pong
101. thistlepong

Please show me in Trapis's story where the six other Chandrian appear. I know Jake suggests that as an interpretation at the beginning of NW, but I don't remember any actual link in Trapis.
Jeremy Raiz
102. Jezdynamite
Thank you.

Have you guys got an entry for Eld Vintic?
Words like Calanthis and Facci-Moen ve Scrivani (and maybe Caesura).
Ashley Fox
103. A Fox
@99And Felurian?! The Adem? Hespe? Arliden? Netalia? Ben? Elodin? Denna? Bast? Scarpi does not say he changed the facts. His comment is on the nature of story telling, he does state that this story really happened.

@100. 'Invested in that reading.' sorry, a specific reading, or that section in general? Have had a little giggle at your comment that the stage setting is terrible-yes it is, but K did arrive late and misses the begining. We catch a fragment. (In my mind the setting is a great consul after the last of the enemy is locked up, in Tinue...but that really is just opinion.)

When veiwing the veracity of the story I think we need to compare three sections: this story, Trapis' story and Scarpi's arrest (against the back drop of our knowledge of the Tehlin church and Aturan Empire).

Scarpi's story matches the timelines given by other people/cultures (as you demonstrated in your timeline so I wont elborate!). In his story Aleph is God (or at least a supreme leader of a more spiritual/magic sense rather than martial). It seems that Aelph makes his offer of trancendance (if you will) to Selitos iniatially, or at least as primary. This makes sense upon reflection of Scapi's previous story as Selitos is the most powerful surviving Namer (excluding Lanre/Haliax for obvious reason). The offer is one of great power, to enable the user to punish bad and reward good as they whitness it. Selitos refuses in favour of vengence (in his eye the greater good). Some Ruarch follow him.

The offer is clearly an open one as Tehlu then steps forward, joining Selitos in his awknowledgement of Aelph as their leader/God by also kneeling. Selitos out of respect dispite his refusal, Tehlu as a sign of acceptance, his open hands.

The others join in the acceptance of this offer and they all become singers.

In contrast the Tehlin belief is that Tehlu is God, there is no Aelph. The others that are named (Kirel et al) are Angels, of a lesser rank than Tehlu. He became mortal (ish) to sort out the dark world. He bashed people on the heads, got rid of demons, and set people on the right path. Then he sacrificed himself in an attempt to destroy Encanis. Trapis is unsure of when is story takes place. We know that the book of Path is written in Temic not Tema. This version of the story coincides with the rise of the Arturan Empire/ Tehlin Church/Amyr. The Arturan Empire also waged many wars on cultures that have knowledge of the Chandrian/Rhinta (Adem), the Faen (Ceald, Yll). In fact you could view setting people on the 'right path' as killing them if they didnt conform with the new ideologies.

Both stories indicate that whilst the Amyr and singer/angels have different ideologies (vengence/justice) they are both against evil (chandrian/bad do-ers/demons). This allows them to sit comfortaby together (for awhile anyway).

Now, what lends credence to Scapi's version is the reaction of the priests. It's very over the top reaction to a lie, they treat it as blasphemy (consider what we whitness and whitness priests whitnessing in Tarbean at the same time, which doesnt seem to bother them at all, and actually seem to help them procure children-I'm still wondering what for on that score!). Almost as if they know the truth, and wish to surpress it, ensuring their version remains the dominant knowledge, the commonly percieved truth. This is compacted by the general representation of the Tehlin priests as corrupt.
Alf Bishai
104. greyhood
About the numbers not adding up.

If the angels idea is a PR spin (so to speak) by the Chandrian (did I get that right?) then it makes sense that the numbers don't add up. If there were seven of each, the parallel would be too immediately inviting and the conspiracy would be blown. Perhaps the name Chandrian is even part of their ploy to dismiss the connection based on the numbers. That means there are two that were made up.

I must confess not quite understanding what I am saying.
Steven Halter
105. stevenhalter
Jezydynamite@102:I added an entry for Eld Vintic.
106. DEL
I do think the structure of changing stories, groups hiding knowledge from other groups, wild outside parties(like Kvothe..maybe). are devices that change stories. All origin stories take a slice of what actually happened and spin a story that plays into the audience.

I do take Skarpi at face value, in fact, he might be Tehlu for all I know. We are assuming singers=angels, but I'm not so sure. Illien and other singers spin stories to a beat and become peoples new realities, their new narratives. Much like the legend of Kvothe and the Maers idea of granted power. The power of the singers is they can reach behind to the sleeping mind and change your view. This is why the Chandrian fear them, because its changes the being/seeming and that plays a large role in their names. Other than their knacks, they don't seem to be using much magic, just good old fashioned death and destruction.

Trapis: "After he was done, Tehlu did not speak to the six who did not cross, nor did he kneel to embrace them and ease their wounds."

If you, like I, think Haliax inspired the story of Encanis, then do not the six who stayed back fit into the narrative of the listeners as stand-ins for the Chandrians? Could this not be a relatively recent incarnation of their aims?

We are meant to see the connection between Andan and the Angry, Bloody-Handed Ciradae on the urn, and the one who protected Tinue. It seems Andan is a central player, and his symbols, anger, bloody hands, Auri's nickname for Kvothe, "for the greater good" have all been evoked in Kvothe while simultaneously his "story" has been lost from all but Trapis' origin tale.

Seems to me that Andan met Cthaeh, turned to the dark path, met Ordal, remembered the Lethani, saved Tinue, rejected Selitos, joined Tehlu, and later on died. How he died and why he died probably has a great deal to do why Auri is living in the Underthing.

By connecting Andan and Ordal, and imagining the new balance of power between Tehlu and the angels(seven of them now with Auri/Ordal in the underthing) versus the Chandrian, their seems to be a mirror of each on opposing sides...or even the same people switching sides. It is an interesting structure.
George Brell
107. gbrell

To quote Scott Lynch: "It seems to me that if I accept your argument then the self-evident truth of any legitimate thing could be taken as grounds for its falseness."

If you're busy waiting for Rothfuss to finish, I'd recommend Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies and then you can wait with the rest of us for another third book.

7 does not equal 9. D3 could certainly change my opinion.
thistle pong
108. thistlepong
A Fox@103
I mean I have nothing invested in a reading wherein Selitos and the other nine are the Amyr, particularly since JohnPointe gave us the tools to locate Selitos elesewhere in the text. I still wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be the case, mind you, but Tehlu & Pals being the Singers Haliax mentions is a solid fit.
thistle pong
110. thistlepong
gbrell, I'm still not sure this is the proper forum for the discussion, but I'll give it another shot. I dunno if you've chanced upon the controversy regarding race in the Hunger Games movie. The bones of it are that some viewers were unhappy, to put it generously, that the black characters were cast as black actors.

I suspect that the same would be true when Kilvin, Wil, Roent, and Rita were cast thus. It wouldn't even be surprising since it takes a rabid fan and secondary sources to say confidently what should have been obvious from "the dark skin of his forehead." Disappointing, but not surprising.

I called whitewashing a valid criticism because it's true of the text but also because I'm uncomfortable with the notion that ignoring diversity absolves the text of responsibility. Something Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote last week puts it eloquently:
White, then, is not simply color, but privilege — not necessarily in the sense of wealth, but rather in the sense of having one’s personhood and individuality respected, a privilege so basic I doubt it registers with many whites as privilege at all. We’re talking about the privilege of being seen, of having your worth presumed, of receiving the benefit of the doubt and some human compassion, of being treated as if you matter.
If it's difficult to see color in the text, I'd argue this is why. If there is color in the text, I wonder why it's not more overt.

At that point I have to infer reasons. Pat's a fairly liberal fellow with nine years of university under his belt, a former advisor to local college feminists, and a fan of frankly Marxist literary scholars. So the best fit inference is an attempt to normalize color from a white perspective; evinced by the infrequent use of dark, the lack of common referents like chocolate or coffee, and the variously visible ruddy.

I actually meant to delete "Kind of a failed effort," from that earlier post because I didn't want to inflame any passions. But as it stands, it had already been responded to. So, in the spirit of honesty, I meant iff the idea was to present a colorblind world with hints that color still existed then leveling the majority of the slurs and mistrust at the darkest folks was a mis-step.

We have no trouble at all understanding what Kvothe means the first time he says "getting shimmed on the deal." By the time we learn that the filthy shims are actually the money lenders of the world who covet hard coin above all else, we've already fit them into a familiar sterotypes. Essentially it's cafteria racism, grabbing a slur here and slathering it over a race there to make something different, but not novel.

"Ancillary to the text" is apt phrasing. In order to shorthand the the Ruh, they're patterned after the Romani; the same with the pseudo-Jewish Cealds. These were authorial decisions, as was splicing dark skin and avarice together.

There was no inherent contradiction between "Depictions of race are always problematic," and the bit about critiques being of varying utility. That was either a failure of clarity on my part or disingenuousness on yours. And yah, as soon as any artist makes hir work publuc ze offers it up for a various critical analyses.
Jeremy Raiz
111. Jezdynamite
It doesn't seem like a good fit to pseudo-equate the Ceald and Jewish people (in terms of money habits). From my recollection, I don't think Jewish people invented currency. Though there are plenty of links in our societies (and historically) of linking some Jewish people with being money-lenders (similar to gatessors/gaelets in the text).
George Brell
112. gbrell

I have been reading about the Hunger Games racism issue and agree that something very similar could happen with the Cealds if NotW were made into a movie.

I acknowledge white privilege and I think that the quote you bring forward is a strong encapsulation of the idea. I'm also willing to admit at this point that my reaction was almost certainly influenced by it.

The more I've thought about the issue (and it has been a fair amount, there were at least four versions of my earlier post, each a little less knee-jerk than the last), the more I'm willing to concede most of the points. I've actually started to think that I'd be a lot more willing to defend Rothfuss at this point if he hadn't included a Gypsy-analogue or a Pseudo-Jewish-analogue (@111.Jezdynamite: They may not have invented currency, but there are plenty of cultural stereotypes out there about Jews that match well with the Cealds), because Rothfuss has chosen to enter into racial politics, even though his story isn't about them.

What I think frustrates me generally is that if Rothfuss hadn't used those analogues, but had just made up racial-neutral characteristics for the Ruh, the Cealds, etc. (if such things exists), I think we'd probably believe the world less. So an author has to choose whether to make a statement about race (and any construction of race is going to make a statement as you noted) or to write weaker worlds. And perhaps that frustration is just me expressing white privilege.

On an interesting aside, Scott Lynch actually talked about inadvertently white-washing Lies of Locke Lamora today:

*Quick question about gender-neutral pronouns. I've always thought it was ze/zer, but you seem to mix hir/ze. Your thoughts?
Jeremy Raiz
113. Jezdynamite
Sorry, but I don't see any matching cultural stereotypes (other than a tenuous moneylender link). I could be convinced, but at the moment, I can't see it.
Ashley Fox
114. A Fox
A curious discussion on race. I had never pictured anyone in the books as black (perhaps the Tahl to come-desserts and jungles and all that natural geography). In my mind the races had ranged from a Celtic paleness a deep tan, Italian/Turkish like colouring-Fela/Modegans. And Modegans were darker in my mind than Cealds who I had imagined to have similar complexions to say, to (southern) eastern europe. The sort who have to merely look at the sun to get a deep tan.

And I feel obliged to draw your attenion to Ch.36 & 37 of WMF has these are the sections where PR most directly deals with race and racial tropes in his world. (There are also quite a lot of colour implicating descriptors).

Its worth noting that each race has negative associations-based on cultural stereotypes, not the colour of their skin. Others have implied that it is the darker folk of the world that a most persecuted and I have to disagree. The Ruh are the most persecuted, and the Adem before them, both known for being of a paler complexion. Though saying that we see at the end of the story that the Ruh are the least racist/biased as they accept anyone suitable to their family despite their origins. "Sceop looked up at the circle faces and saw what Terris said was true" Indicating that it would be the varying colour of the faces that demonstrated the mixed heritage of the family.

Oh! Actually, the Sceop/(Scarpi) of Faeriniel has nothing, not even a hat! In the story of Jax, he took everything from the Tinker..including his hat! Just saying.

We also get a barrow draug as an alternative to what is possesing the dead soldier/bandit in the frame.

On Andan as the Amyr/Ciridae. "She'd painted the Amyr so the words Anadan and Ordal rested directly over his shoulders, one on each side. Almost as if she hoped the names would weigh him down, or trap him." Another example of diffentation between characters, why would his own name invoked protect folk from....himself. Nah.

@greyhood ::hearty agreement:: I wish artwork for books would stop being reused, I had a madwoman moment as I was sure I had seen the third book on the shelf (before I had seen what it looked like). Turns out its also on a Moorecock (?) book with a diff bg! Argh.
115. Trollfot
The skindancer could very well ask Kote if he's of the Rhinta. It wouldn't be the first one to think there's a new Chandrian, his hair as red etc etc.

Unrelated: I would like to compare translations of the book, for instance Denna's letter with random letters in versals. Is anyone else interested, perhaps we could start a thread?
thistle pong
116. thistlepong
A Fox@114
The Ruh are the most persecuted, and the Adem before them, both known for being of a paler complexion. Though saying that we see at the end of the story that the Ruh are the least racist/biased as they accept anyone suitable to their family despite their origins.
It's romantic to view the Ruh as most persecuted, but it doesn't bear out. The Aturan Empire definitely gave them a hard time. They apparently get some crap for the behaviors other traveling troupes get up to. Meluan hates them and Ambrose seems to have a low opinion of them, though really Kvothe is a provocative little jerk so that might be personal. However, we don't see a single Edema Ruh after the massacre that's not our less than humble narrator.

The Cealdish, on the other hand, are slurred in Chapter one and it just keeps up. It's normalized almost everywhere. In fact, Kvothe's story is full of sterotypes, assumptions, and racial and national caricatures. So I'd deny the notion that they're egalitarian idols as well. The most that can be said from the information we have is that they're willing to cheat or cherish folks as individuals on an individual basis.

(The tinker->sceop thing ended up being a slippery slope for me...)
Ashley Fox
117. A Fox
Have to disagree with you. Ravel. A slur pertaining to a time when the Ruh were hunted and murdered becuase of who they were. This is real, literal persecution. There is a genera pervading sense of the attitude concerning the Ruh through out the books, from the interactions of the troupe early on, to the reaction of the Masters when K is called a ravel. Then there is also the red hair, a common trait of the Ruh and Yll which was labeled a demon sign, and those with it historically, subsequently murdered.

The Cealds? I do not believe they a persecuted at all. They are envied. It is much more to do with class than colour. They are the bankers of the 4c's. They control the flow of wealth, they rose up from a nomadic people and cleverly caught power. They are not old blood, not Noble , so do not carry the weight of respectability. Yet the cut they take from transactions makes them wealthy (we never, to my knowledge, see a poor Ceald), which in turn sets them apart from the lower, working class echelons. They are an equivilant of nevue riche. Neither fish nor fowl. But they are also necessary. I view the shim comments as much the same as 'Wanker Banker', shimming you on a deal, as protesting the outrageous bonus's bankers take whilst our society goes through the credit cruch/general average poverty.

People may say these slurs/complaints with no real hostility, but a bitterness, or even wryness. They same people would also say that the Ruh would steal babies or rape women. I think it is clear which is worse, and which is founded on truth.

Ruh slurs are offered with vicousness, Ruh are not allowed to truely be involved in the various strata of society, they are at best tolerated/used. The Cealds are seen in all places/strata, accepted, aspects of their culture even prized, the slurs are used in front of Will, and other Cealds who view them with no reaction, or amusement.

The Cealds' slurs are about what they represent, the power they have- not becuase they are Cealds. The Ruh are persecuted for being Ruh, not for what they do. (Though the Ruh's original persecution may have come about from the stories they tell, the old ones of the CW and before which the Arturan Empire/Tehlin church as suppressed in favour of it's 'truth'' but that is spec).
Jeremy Raiz
118. Jezdynamite
A Fox@117
Well written. I agree with most of your comments.
Bruce Wilson
119. Aesculapius
I wondered how long it would take before the somewhat vehement discussion of the Hunger Games spilled over into the Four Corners.

There is one very crucial difference between the two however which we really should bear in mind: the Hunger Games trilogy maybe set in a dystopian future but it's very much intended to be on Earth - and therefore is tied to our cultural and ethnic history. I don't know the trilogy all that well but I welcome the casting of black actors. Indeed, I thought the text was pretty unequivocal about the ethnic origins of these characters anyway, not to mention that the author herself was involved in writing and producing the movie - and that should be a pretty big clue that the casting was correct! Some of the small-minded negative comments made about this on the web beggar belief!

The Kingkiller Chronicles, however, have no such pre-existing historic limitations; PR can people these lands however he chooses and define the cultural and ethnic traits of these peoples, including their prejudices, weaknesses and failings, in a similar manner. He has certainly not, however, avoided the negative role that cultural and ethnic stereotyping and prejudice can have in any society.

We simply have no idea how much of the totality of this world is represented by the Four Corners but it may be entirely reasonable that a broad diversity of ethnic origins simply isn't applicable in this georaphical area at the time of these stories. PR certainly alludes to a variety of typical physical traits, including varying descriptions of skin tone, but race, as we understand it, is never overtly described. As this is an entirely different world than ours we do not, for that matter, have any real idea if *any* significant ethnic variation exists among the peoples of the mortal realm in the way that we would be given to understand it from our own cultural and historical perspective.
thistle pong
120. thistlepong
Thanks, both for encouraging me to step back and consider and for doing so yourself. The internet looked a shade brighter this morning. I got my pronouns from Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw in 1995, though I recently saw ze/hir in "Neurocomics" by Timothy Leary and Matt Damon's dad from 1979. Because so many folks deny the need for them, there's no real standardization. Most of the larger media producers have settled on they/their and I've read a couple grammar blogs that cite the OED for historical usage and justification. Through habitual use, ze/hir has become comfortable.

It's not really spillover, friend. The subject's been circled and avoided for awhile. You'll note gbrell's reference to part 20 and if you look back I'm sure you can find earlier examples. The HG issue just provided a way in other than the verbal pugilism we were on the verge of.

A Fox@118
Though I doubt it'll convince you, I disagree. Ravel comes up a total of five times across both books and is used as a serious attack in only two of them. Shim is used by ten different characters across both books, in the frame and the narrative, as a noun and a verb, and almost every time as an ethnic slur. The one time it's used playfully, Wil, given shalter's work, probably tells Sim to eat sh*t in response.

In any case, absent speculation about why they're deployed, one is more common.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
121. maestro23
I have my doubts that counting occurences of one term or another provides any real insight to how the people they refer to are seen in contemporary 4C culture(s).

"Shim" is almost exactly equivalent to "gyp"; it's offensive and based in a caricature, but it's also passed into casual usage without any real thought as to its meaning. Either the Cealds don't have the social currency to raise real objections when it's used, or they don't consider it a fight worth having. I suspect that, while they probably find it objectionable - and rightly so - they're also integrated enough into society (at least in the more cosmopolitan Commonwealth) that raising a fuss about it could do more harm than good. And if you called the average ethnically-Aturan Commonwealth citizen out on it, you'd get a clueless but generally benevolent reaction: What are you talking about? It's not a slur! I have lots of Cealdish friends, and they're not offended by it. It's just a word, jeeze.

"Ravel," on the other hand, is the n-word. At least if you're Edema Ruh, it's the tactical nuke of racially offensive put-downs. You don't develop a reaction like that to a word unless it's been used as a curse, to imply that who you are is the most worthless, wretched sub-human filth in all creation. It may not occur that much in the text, but we're given the full measure of understanding of its weight. (And, of course, people who have no contact with Ruh don't get it. Which is why someone like Hemme or Alveron can use it casually, in much the same way that white people of a certain class and generation are prone to saying "n****r-rigged" or similar. That's how everyone you know refers to Those People, who you may not have ever met and don't think much of in any case.)
122. wickedkinetic
In PR's defense, I think having lived the overwhelming majority of his life in small-town Wisconsin, where there is more diversity in cheese than in people - he may not have the multi-cultural/racially-diverse experience required to write it well. And perhaps he's too good a writer to try to fake what he doesn't know? Also considering this entire world was built while he was much younger (in the 90's, when he was a 20-something college student with much less experience and wisdom than he freely displays now.....) - when someone lives their whole life in a fairly monochrome American midwest world - its hard to blame them for writing a world that resembles the world they know....

I highly doubt PR could be convicted of any sort of racism or racist intent in his writing. Also as mentioned before, if 4C roughly maps to the classic fantasy building set of western medeival europe - the whitewash is a match as well. and non-caucasian people are rumors and stories from places little known and far away.....

at any rate, I'd rather discuss the story and look for hints at whats to come than see these wonderful articles turn into racial-focused deconstructions...
123. Trollfot
I think (as I've said before, sorry) that it's way more fair to compare 4C to medeival Europe than, say, today's America. An ethnic mix like you have over there does not happen "naturally" by "natural migration", instead (iirc), your continent was aggressively colonized by white people, the natives were displaced and black people of large quantities kidnapped and brought there by force. In a couple of decades you probably had an ethnical mix that Europe does not have even today. 60 years ago, there was basically no non-Europan immigrants at all in my country, as far as I understand. 120 years ago, people were shown caged black people at carnivals (according to my friend who says her grandmother went to such an event. Imagine that, or don't, it's extremely disturbing). What I'm trying to say is that I don't think the books are white-washed (if I understand that term correctly), in opposite I don't think it would be believable if the society was mixed because the books have a certain "300 years ago" or medeival feeling and back then, things were totally different everywhere but in America, and even over there, things have changed a lot.

If black people exist in PR's world, they need to live far away or the different colouring would not have developed. I think? Fair skin is recessive and if people of all colours were to interbreed randomly for, say, a thousand years or whenever the Creation war was, there wouldn't be any red-headed Ruhs. I think it's logical.

Of course, all white people IS getting old in fantasy. PR could have made everybody darker or blackhaired. But, well, he didn't. To me, it makes sense that roughly everybody in "medeival times" is more or less of the same ethnical background. That's not to say there couldn't be a black/brown/red/yellow adventurer, exploring the mythical 4C, or perhaps a merchant from far away with exotic features. But those have to be the exceptions. Books set in "medeival times" need to pick a "race" or come up with a world history that explains why people first lived apart for so long they developed different features, then started living together. I wouldn't mind reading that, and it would be great to read about none-white people in non-ninja medeival times, but that's not what we're getting this time.

(Pardon my clumsy and perhaps insensitive phrasing, English is not my first language. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Also sorry for abusing the word "medeival".)
thistle pong
124. thistlepong
I think the take home is that Cealds are black. You know, just so folks aren't surprised if a screen adaptation chooses to depict that.
125. Herelle
@123 Trollfoot
That was my first impression too, a european-like setting with no means to cover great distances in short time and affordable for everyone, where people are born, live their whole life and die in the same village. PR could have invented a wide spread world where different skin colours would make sense, but that is his decision. I don´t picture the Cealds as dark skinned, rather with curly black hair and a skin, that reddens visibly(ruddy? at least that is what the word sounds like to me and what my online dictionary says). Kilvin was working hard at the hot kiln, wasn´t he? I imagine him a little like this:
or this:

On the other hand, Tarbean or Severen were harbors and there you could meet people from all over the world, even in medieval Europe. Maybe if we would have got the pirate episode? Those wouldn´t have been major characters though. But we haven´t met the Tahl people yet.
Steven Halter
126. stevenhalter
It would be quite surprising if the phenotypic/morphological variations of the inhabitants of the 4C bore much resemblance to our own world.
1) There is no evidence that the world of the 4C is a planet orbiting a sun. There are indications that it is some variant of a non-spherical geometry.
2) The Creation War appears to have killed off a very large percentage of the population.
3) The existence of Shapers could have had an extreme impact upon the inhabitants, even at a genetic level. Kvothe's comment about Fae and non-Fae being as different as water and alcohol is probably quite true.

Then, differing historical development would have produced differing mechanisms by which people discriminated against each other. Economic/cultural discriminations would be likely and seem to be the type of which we see the most evidence.
127. Herelle
There seem to be ethnical archetypes though: Kvothe is mistaken for Yllish because of his red hair, Deoch is described as Yllish, the Adem all have the same features and the Cealds are described by their typical physical characteristics.
I really understand the whitewashing and white by default concepts and agree that it is necessary to raise the awareness for hidden discrimination, though the focus strangely lies exclusively on people with dark skin colour, though Muslims, Roma and other groups probably face similar discrimination. I don´t know if anyone in the US knows about fantasy authors Sapkowski (Polish) or Lukianenko (Russian), but if you do, would you set the same standards with them?

I think Rothfuss included discrimination believably in his story (Hemme and his attitude towards women, Ruh being discriminated, poverty in the whole Tarbean chapters, even something different: men being discriminated in Adem society). And hey, Deoch and Stanchion not being discriminated.

Oh, that reminds me, I´ve always wanted to post the link to a maroccan lute player who can actually play the lute with only one hand:
128. Herelle
There seem to be ethnical archetypes though: Kvothe is mistaken for Yllish because of his red hair, Deoch is described as Yllish, the Adem all have the same features and the Cealds are described by their typical physical characteristics.
I really understand the whitewashing and white by default concepts and agree that it is necessary to raise the awareness for hidden discrimination, though the focus strangely lies exclusively on people with dark skin colour, though Muslims, Roma and other groups probably face similar discrimination. I don´t know if anyone in the US knows about fantasy authors Sapkowski (Polish) or Lukianenko (Russian), but if you do, would you set the same standards with them?

I think Rothfuss included discrimination believably in his story (Hemme and his attitude towards women, Ruh being discriminated, poverty in the whole Tarbean chapters, even something different: men being discriminated in Adem society). And hey, Deoch and Stanchion not being discriminated.
129. Herelle
Mention of muslims reminded me, I´ve always wanted to post the link to a maroccan lute player who can actually play the lute with only one hand:

I hope my last two posts are not displayed twice. I assume my first try was considered possible spam because of the youtube link ?
That´s why I´m trying it again.
130. flamingo
@maestro23, 121 -- I definitely agree with you. But even more than that, "Ruh" itself is used as a slur. Wil is never called a dirty Ceald, but Kvothe is more than once called a "filthy, thieving ruh" or a "ruh bastard," and no one seems surprised. It hasn't yet become socially unacceptable to say those things since the time of Ruh-hunt.

I would definitely say that the Ruh are more discriminated against, even ignoring the church -- Kvothe has stated that he's been beaten multiple times just for being Ruh (I can't find the exact place, as I don't have an electronic version and my copy isn't handy, but I think it's when Nina comes to talk to him about the vase). There's an STD named after the Ruh -- the Edema Drip -- and again, nobody thinks that's weird. Sim doesn't even fully believe Kvothe's Ruh until they're drunk in WMF because Kvothe doesn't fit the wild stereotypes.
131. Herelle
I agree. That´s like calling the Swiss people being discriminated or being even more discriminated than the Roma people.
thistle pong
132. thistlepong
With sincere apologies to folks who'd prefer this didn't dominate the discussion, I gotta say I'm a little disgusted that folks are clearly ignoring previous comments to throw in their impressions. Phenotypically expressed racial traits, in particular skin tone, exist in the KC. The Cealdish are dark skinned. Those very words are used to describe Kilvin.

Nathan Taylor is basically Pat's artist in residence. The Princess and Mr. Wiffle, most of the cartoons you see on his blog, the drawing of the Amyr, and the hypothetical movie poster are all his work. That movie poster ( shows what's probably the range of Cealdish skin tone with Kilvin at bottom right and will middle far left.

I wish I hadn't delved into who was more discriminated against because it seems to have become the issue and subsumed my original intent. To whit, the KC isn't whitewashed but tends to retain the appearance thereof. Apparently a lot of fans have something invested in there being no black people in the story, which honestly scares the hell out of me.

Ultimately I agree with the folks saying there's plenty of prejudice to go around. Women, Cealds, Ruh, Modegans, Aturans, Vints, Arcanists, Tehlins, Adem, and men are all sterotyped by various individuals in the books. Kvothe's own casual prejudices help humanize him.

Finally, forgive me; I can't let this lie.
Wil is never called a dirty Ceald
You're right, flamingo. He's called a filthy shim and a shim bastard.
133. flamingo
Sorry, all I was trying to say was that the counting was off because Ruh is often used as a slur in place of ravel, while this doesn't happen with Cealds. The second paragraph was a bit separate, though still related, so I didn't distinguish much. I just don't think you can count racism based on number of insults used.
thistle pong
134. thistlepong
Agreed. I'd redact it entirely, but that would muddle the thread. So I'll just own it as an error in judgment posted thoughtlessly.
Steven Halter
135. stevenhalter
thistlepong@132:I would not be at all surprised if there were inhabitants in the 4C whom we might term "black" ie, having a greater concentration of melanin than other inhabitants. I also wouldn't be surprised if there were other skin tone shadings--like green or blue somewhere in the rest of the world or Fae. We really know essentially zero about the world outside of the map boundaries.
I would guess that PR is highlighting the myriad various other forms of discrimination people have devised.
Steven Halter
136. stevenhalter
Speaking of the Sun, I would really like to see a bit more description of what people in the 4C think the Sun is doing. The Sun doesn't seem to have nearly the popular grip on the imagination in the 4C that it does here. The moon seems to be referred to as a touchpoint much more often.
I woyuld guess that this is because the "stealing" of the moon left a very large mark in the cultures/mythology of the world. If a like event had happened a few thousand years in our past, it is interesting to speculate on what effects that would have had here. Luna Vulnerari, I guess at the least.
George Brell
137. gbrell

It's kind of awful, but that made me laugh.


I'm not trying to call Rothfuss a racist or say that these books are racist (nor do I think thistlepong is either). What we are saying is that this book either appears to fall into the tired trope identified by @123.Trollfot ("Of course, all white people IS getting old in fantasy.") with the exception of the Cealds (whose skin color is described as either "ruddy" or "dark") or people are sub-consciously white-washing the book.


I've only read Lukianenko's Nightwatch series and I would use a different standard there because he's writing in the "real" world, which has a history behind it that he did not author. If he wrote/has written a fantasy in a separate world, I would hold him to the same standard.


Whether there exist darker-skinned persons off-screen/beyond-the-pale (intentional use) is irrelevant, they aren't on-screen. And that's a choice Rothfuss made. Being aware of that and thinking critically about it does not demean the author or the book.

Considering that Rothfuss has chosen to write about discrimination in a number of forms (I will admit that I missed the repeated uses of shim, but he's also discussing sex, class, socioeconomic and ethnic discrimination), we should be thinking about the racial makeup of his world.
138. Trollfot
Doubt someone is still reading, but:

As I mentioned before, I'm Scandinavian. Black people did not really live here when my parents were kids, at least not outside of the big cities. In our older literature (that is, older than 50 years) "dark skin" usually means tanned (farm worker, Spanish person or something to that extent) and black people were simply called Negros.

So, I guess I'm whitewashing. However, I picture 4C as pre-20th century Europe when subtle differences in looks were noticed because it actually said a lot about where a person came from. Europe is still not the melting pot that the US is, for instance you can usually pick out the Finn in a group of Scandinavians. Something about the jaw and nose. When everybody looks more or less the same, "light" and "dark" does not mean "white" and "black".

Maybe I'm europe-izing the books?

(Funny story: A friend's brother went to Italy on a business trip to see some dude. They were to meet at a public place and the brother had described himself as "fairly dark haired". The Italian didn't find anyone matching that description and when they later called each other, it turned out that fairly dark Scandinavian hair equals blonde in Italy.)
George Brell
139. gbrell

I feel that this may encapsulate the entirety of our discussion:
140. HagbardCeline
Discussions like the one this devolved into a) perpetuate racial divides and b) take a lot of the fun out of reading books. The book owes NOTHING to anyone along these lines, and only needs to remain true to its internal logic. It's not PR's job to cater, to carry the torch, or fire a broadside in the fight for certain people's ideas of what diversity should be. He only needs to tell a compelling story that keeps the readers' eyes moving across the page. If you are obsessed with finding politics you can't deal with, I guarantee you will find them everywhere you look.
Jo Walton
141. bluejo
HagbardCeline: And if you're obsessed with ignoring real world issues, things will never improve in the real world. Ignoring them is a luxury.

All writers have to make decisions about this stuff. You can choose to have everybody white, or you can choose to try and do something different. That can be more or less successful, and looking at that is interesting.

I think it's interesting internally in terms of what it says about the 4C world.

Pat answered the question about whether Kilvin and Wil would be played by black actors by saying that of course they would. Therefore we can see the attitudes to color in the 4C world -- distinct people seen as culturally distinct, visual cues a fairly minor part of this. Auri's disgust at the thought of second hand clothes has Mola saying "She doesn't look like a Shim" and we can read that as saying that Auri, who we know is blonde, could still be considered a Ceald because of a cultural thing. This reflects interestingly on what Lorren's giller says to Kvothe about being Yllish.
Steven Halter
142. stevenhalter
jo@141:Yes, very much ::strong agreement::.
In particular, as it relates to the 4C, the cultural cues being more important to the characters than the color based cues potentially tells us some things about the historical developments within the 4C.
The existence of skin tone differentation along with tropical plants (like, presumably, cacao) tells us that either in the 4C or some area they have access to, there exist tropical regions. The existence of tropical or at least warmer regions is interesting as we don't yet understand what shape of the world the 4C's is on has.
Unless the Shapers were having fun modifying all sorts of items in random ways and so we can't really extrapolate anything.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
143. tnh
"Art owes nothing to politics, and politics owes nothing to art" is (a.) a political statement; (b.) a novel and radically artificial reading protocol; (c.) a denial and/or exclusion of vast tracts of art, literature, history, and criticism; and (d.) a decidedly odd opinion to be coming from someone who calls himself Hagbard Celine.
144. DarrenJL
Speaking as a kendork, disassembling a sword is a very important part of its maintenance. The blade is only one aspect of the sword, and it says within the story that the fittings (hilt, wrappings, handguard, etc.) have been changed on Saicere. Someone probably mentioned that in the comments. I'm not certain that a certain that a sword which has lasted thousands of years would need to be oiled (tang as well as visible blade) but certainly the fittings would need to be maintained.

On his name, Maedre is an anagram of Ademre. I don't think this is accidental on Rothfuss's part, and that Vashet's reaction relates to that. The two names also share the ending "re". We can guess the meaning of it in Ademic; it either serves to make a noun a collective noun, or it marks the definitive. Ademre, after all, is either the collective Adem as a people or THE Adem.

I think it's the latter, because of how it is translated to Kvothe by Vashet: "flame, thunder and broken tree". She avoids any hint of plural or group, there.

I don't want to leap to wild conclusions (after all, it's possible Rothfuss was thinking of two roots, Mae and Dre, or Ma Edre, which relates to edro(!)), but I can't ignore the obvious similarities.
145. DarrenJL
Ah, I see 54 already mentioned the anagram. Still, seemed to skirt the issue. Hard to read all the comments before posting!
Steven Halter
146. stevenhalter
@144:Feel free to leap here. Maed re seems like a good composition. Yeah, the anagram seems to clever to be accidental.
147. JamesEdJones
Just wanted to chime in (a few months late) with an observation about man-mothers. I have to disagree with the idea that the Adem are a different species. This seems more like a simple development from the attitudes that the Ademere have towards sex. Primarily, the repulsion of having sex with barbarians, and the casual multitude of partners.

I also know a few, less responsible, friends who would be overjoyed at the society. As soon as I finished the chapter, and put my book down, I could envision several male Adem pulling Kvothe aside and threatening him within an inch of his life if he didn't shut up and stop threatening their idea of pefection. :P
148. Jskrn
I'm sorry but I can't resist. It's remarkable the amount of PC people on here who want this story to reflect their fairy tale delusion of egalitarianism. This story is written by a white man and influenced by medieval Europe. Since he's a white man and his books will be overwhelming purchased by other white people, it's simple logic that this story reflect both the author and target audience. Why do you find it necessary that the author write some contrived politically correct fable so no one feels left out? It's funny, because if this were a story entirely filled with black characters you would find not a one complaining about the lack of white people. Maybe someone who is non-white can write a fantasy story and stop all the crying.
thistle pong
149. thistlepong
How erudite! I recant!
Steven Halter
150. stevenhalter
@148:In various comments and pictures by PR and mentioned in the threads it is pretty conclusively stated and shown that the 4C does contain a variety of skin tones. So, I can't see that this thread or discussion in general has any sort of "fairy tale delusion of egalitatianism."
Kate Hunter
151. KateH
Collection of random bits...

@103 A Fox re:
The offer is one of great power, to enable the user to punish bad and reward good as they whitness it. Selitos refuses in favour of vengence (in his eye the greater good). Some Ruarch follow him.
I agree with many of your points, but on this one I would respectfully suggest a review of the text. Selitos refuses the task of vengeance/punishment/justice in favor of preventing/confounding the Chandrian's actions. He says he prefers to prevent wrongdoing rather than waiting and only punishing afterwards. It's Selitos and his group of ruach that become the Amyr, and Tehlu's group that apparently become singers/angels.

Another anagram of Maedre/Ademre: Reamde - just sayin'

About the Adem swords predating the creation war, possibly by centuries...I've seen speculations that the Shaping done around the creation of the Fae also tinkered with the very nature of iron and possibly copper too. This sort of makes sense if there was an effort to keep the two worlds separate. It could have been intended as a means of protecting the inhabitants of one realm from the other. So if the metal in these swords predates this change, or was somehow exempted from the Shaping that altered iron, perhaps they aren't subject to decay in the normal way of things ever after this Shaping took place.

It's just a theory. Has there been other speculation on the peculiar properties of the Adem swords?
Kate Hunter
152. KateH
One more thing that seems to fit on this thread: the word thrall. Stercus is in thrall of iron. This might be another instance of PR slipping a fast one past his readers. Thrall means slave, and to be in thrall of someone/-thing is to be in bondage to that person or thing. So if Stercus is in bondage to iron, I can't see how he's the one causing metals to rust. Being in thrall to iron is the very opposite of having dominion over it. I think we have to chalk metals rusting up to Usnea who "lives in nothing but decay." Usnea might then account for both rotted wood and rusted metals.

It occurs to me that in some sense all of Fae is also in thrall to iron. It's the very thing Chronicler uses to create a binding on Bast, and of course there are all the other references to Faen denizens disliking iron. Does this tell us anything? Could Stercus in particular have any connection with the Faen?
thistle pong
153. thistlepong
I agree with many of your points, but on this one I would respectfully suggest a review of the text. Selitos refuses the task of vengeance/punishment/justice in favor of preventing/confounding the Chandrian's actions. He says he prefers to prevent wrongdoing rather than waiting and only punishing afterwards.
You can shorthand the difference between the Amyr and Tehlu&Pals as one between vengeance and justice. Rather, that's what it's supposed to be. Selitos references vengeance and refuses when Aleph outlines his constraints.
“…Selitos One-Eye stood forward and said, “Lord, if I do this thing will I be given the power to avenge the loss of the shining city? Can I confound the plots of Lanre and his Chandrian who killed the innocent and burned my beloved Myr Tariniel?”
He essentially vows to hound and troll Lanre/Haliax while Tehlu&Pals accept Aleph's terms.
Kate Hunter
154. KateH
@thistlepong, 153

I agree that Selitos uses the word vengeance. It's a confusing story - another one of those Huh? moments when reading KKC. My takeaway though was that Selitos' goal was prevention of further harm the Chandrian would try to cause. I'm sorry if I implied that there wasn't ambiguity in this case.

Basically, PR has given us confusing stories-within-the-story at every turn. Some are less confusing than others when taken in isolation from the others. Trying to reconcile all of them is simply a nightmare. We're all bending our understanding and tying our theories into tortured knots trying for that reconciliation. I really hope D3 clears up the major points of confusion. I'd be okay with some unresolved minor issues, but no clarification on the big stuff will drive me mad.
155. Terrion
One thing that struck me as I was rereading Shehyn's story about the Chandrian that I haven't seen mentioned here: the reference to "songs of power". Given the Adem's attitude towards music it seems like a rather odd thing for them to say.
156. Mpark6288
Always late to the party. Since I didn't see it mentioned elsewhere, the Romans had commercial laundries that--among other things--used urine in I believe the bleaching process. Throwing in some Roman based social custom and idiom certainly makes sense to me, combined with the aforementioned middle classes we have seen and the old crumbled empires in the past.
157. DZTS
Have been reading through the reread and love it.

Just one thought (and may be more relevant a few parts back) regarding the Selitos is CTH theory:

I think it was mentioned by Bast (or Ferulian?) that CTH spoke to all the major characters of the (pre-)history of the world, including:

- Iax before he stole the moon, and
- Lanre before he betrayed the Seven cities.

Since Selitos only put out his eye after Lanre's betrayal (and long long after Iax stole the moon and sparked the Creation Wars), there is no way Selitos can be CTH.

Sorry to kill a very interesting theory though.
thistle pong
158. thistlepong
Don't worry. You didn't. It's addressed in the discussion of the theory in one thread or another. He doesn't have to be called Cthaeh through all of history. Just like Lanre.
Cindy Dombrowski
159. thunder
I am new (brand new!) and have only read the books once. I am addicted to them and to this reread. Something I have been thinking about is how disparaging Vashet is regarding Tempi -- is/was he not a personal student of Shehyn? And wouldn't that denote a certain privilege? Or perhaps I have misread that she is his teacher, and perhaps his reference to her as such is to imply she is the teacher of all at the school, not his direct teacher? I'll admit to having a soft spot for Tempi -- maybe I am reading more than is there. Also perhaps it is just a nod to his youth and inexperience in the world. None-the-less, it was mentioned more than once, and I can't think that is unintentional.

At any rate, I look forward to my own multiple rereadings and hope to, someday, be able to discuss the books as eloquently as you all.
160. Allanon
If the chandrian are being cursed in a way that makes it impossible for them to enjoy what they liked most in their lives, and Kvothe is rumored to be another chandrian, it would certainly explain the "of course there was no music" bit, probably leading to the problem with his hand as well.
161. Joe R
I just don't think that there is much to the asexual reproduction thing here.

Mostly because in Ademre women are more important than men. Women are the only ones allowed to teach at the school which is the most important part of their culture. Penthe say that only women can create so it is their cultural values that set women above men.

Women unlike in the 4C are the important people. Women make the decisions they are the leaders not the men. This feels like just a quirk. I mean we meet way more men in the rest of the world does that mean that men create babies. I mean we have not been exposed to a birth the only real mention is the giving birth through a vestigail penis.

It just seems like grasping at straw. Yes we meet more women because they are more important. There aren't as many men because what will they do if they return they can't have any of the real highly valued jobs so they stay with the barbairans until they are killed or injured enough to make fighting impossible. Women are just the more valued gender in Ademic society.
162. Jenny Smith
Cyphus is a name from Greek mythology. Derives from kyfos, which means "a hollow".
Latin stercus means, literally, shit.
ferrule is a thing used for binding, the word derives from the word ferrum, i.e. iron. Ferula is a name of a special staff the pope carries. -> Master Ash -> Bredon?
Usnea is some kind of lichen.
163. Jenny Smith
Felurians name, if she is indeed named after her song, like you suggested, could be not a name at all but just the first two words of the song mixed into one.

Fae lurian?

Also lurian is pretty close to Laurian.

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