Apr 5 2012 2:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: The Wise Man’s Fear, Part 25: I Forgot Who I Was

The Patrick Rothfuss Reread on Tor.comWelcome to my ridiculously detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This week’s post covers chapters 133-137 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 ted in WMF, none of them really came up explicitly in NW. The first is the Amtheories. The re-read index. The map. The timeline. Imaginary Linguistics.


And first, a philosophical thought.

We’ve had three philosophies or ways of living contrasted in WMF, none of them really came up explicitly in NW. The first is the Amyr doing things “for the greater good”. The second is Bredon’s “beautiful game”. The third is the Lethani, right action.

Kvothe acting on instinct always seems to go with the Amyr way — hang the means, the end justifies them. But he also always seems to believe he knows what is right — and when he puts his mind into Spinning Leaf and lets his sleeping mind/subconscious answer, he gets good answers about the Lethani. As for the beautiful game, all means no end, he isn’t interested when he’s away from the Tak board and Bredon.


Chapter 133 (135) is Homecoming

An ironic title in a way, because it reminds us that homecoming just isn’t an option for Kvothe. But he’s taking Krin and Ellie home to Levinshir.

Levinshir isn’t a big town, two or three hundred people. That’s barely big enough to be a town even by medieval standards. Kvothe hoped to get the girls home unnoticed, but a woman notices them and a large number of women rush out and cluster around the girls, which Kvothe hopes will help them. Their men stand around. He sends a boy for the mayor (Ellie’s father) and another to ride the roan to Krin’s farm.

The men are suspicious of Kvothe and suspect him of being one of the men who took the girls — they say his eyes look Ruh, which Thistlepong pointed out last week is interesting, as he says elsewhere that he got his eyes from his mother, who was a Lackless and a Ruh by choice.  You wouldn’t expect an “immigrant” to have a physical characteristic that’s recognisable.

The men keep on being suspicious until Krin explains Kvothe saved them and then turns on the men asking why they didn’t save them. The men explain they tried and the bandits won, wounding several of them. Then Krin says if they were proper men like Kvothe, they’d have rescued them, and Jason, clearly stung, says it wouldn’t have been necessary except for the girls actuing like Ruh whores, and Kvothe breaks his arm and curses him without an instant thought or consideration. It’s really hard to see this as a good thing to do, even in defence of girls who have been raped, even considering that Kvothe either was or was not raped himself. It’s the kind of thing people do, but it isn’t a sensible impulse, and the Adem have given him the skills. The fact that the mayor gives him a ha’penny for it and Gran agrees doesn’t really help me feel happy with this. Jason was provoked by an insult (from Krin) and was insulting back, it was all words until Kvothe broke bones.

I think there’s no question that this arm breaking isn’t of the Lethani. It resembles what Vashet does to him to teach him about “control”, and does he have control of himself here? He does not.

Jason apologises. Ellie’s father shows up. Kvothe addresses the reader in an aside to explain that you have two kinds of mayor, the useless ones who wring their hands a lot and the hardworking ones, and this is the latter kind. Nevertheless, Kvothe makes a mess of explaining the situation — the troupers weren’t Ruh, he is, he rescued them... and Ellie says “Don’t say anything to make him angry”. She has just seen him break her boyfriend’s arm, not to mention kill all the troupers. Krin tells them he killed them. The mayor decides on reflection that this is a good thing.

What strikes me as strange here is that Kvothe’s timing is so bad on telling what happened, as again later with the Maer. Normally he’s very good at telling stories and putting things over, but with this incident he really isn’t. Guilt?

Kvothe goes with Jason to see Gran, the local healer, who turns out to be an excellent healer and a good psychologist too. She explains about arrowroot not working. She says he did the right thing. He cries. She gives him brandy and says that what he did is like being a doctor and making the hard choice to cut off a rotting leg to save the patient. This episode is definitely cathartic for Kvothe, and I’m glad to see he is still guilty whatever he said about Alleg. And Gran is probably right in the difficult moral calculus that is this episode.

Kvothe says goodbye to Krin, who again reminds him of D. He asks the mayor to lock him up for the authorities to investigate, so apparently there is a system by which this could be done even in Vintas, even here. The mayor tells him to leave now while nobody is looking.

Presumably if he had had a trial, with the girls there, he’s have been cleared of wrongdoing, whereas as it is he has it hanging over him. OK, he recently had one trial for malfeasance — that can’t be all that long ago in time measured as days passing and not counting time in Fae.

Anyway, he leaves, And he leaves his horse for Bill, the guy with the broken leg, who had his horse shot under him pursuing the bandits — and here Kvothe is being remarkably unselfish. Then he says goodbye to the mayor with “Remember it was bandits whio took them and one of the Edema Ruh who brought them back.” That’s what’s important to him, the good name of his people.


Chapter 134 (136) is Interlude: Close to Forgetting

K, close to forgetting who he is... yes, well. Who is he, eh?

K pauses the story at a natural pause. It has grown dark and he lights the lamps. Chronicler asks why people haven’t come for dinner. K says it’s because of Shep’s funeral. He says Bast should go and take a bottle of brand. K offers Bast pretty girls dancing. Bast goes just for half an hour while K makes dinner. K says to Chronicler after he has gone that Bast was getting too caught up in the story and needed a break for perspective.

Let’s consider that for a moment, A break for perspective, After that incident at Levinshir? Hmm. Bast? Not K, not Chronicler, Bast? Do we feel we need one?

Then Chronicler asks for a clean cloth and K gets some wood alcohol. K offers ink, Chronicler says he can grind more ink and K says he has Aruean ink, which surprises Chronicler. It might surprise me if I knew what it was.

Then Chronicler asks K an “unofficial” question about his description of Caesura not matching the “Folly” sword on the wall. K laughs, really laughs, “a warm rich laugh”. So I think whatever there is about this sword exchange it isn’t a tragedy. And then he says this isn’t “Kaysera the poet-killer”. He doesn’t say “Caesura”. But he smiles again when he says it. K says what fun is it telling a story if nobody’s listening, and he’s glad Chronicler is paying attention. He seems happy and eager as he asks about dinner — cold mutton and sharp cheese and tomatoes and olives. He says Bast would have eaten the olives if he knew they had them. He hums as he prepares the food — hums! It really does seem as if telling the story is doing what Bast says he wants and making K into Kvothe again.

But what is the other difference here? Bast isn’t there. We’ve suggested the Evil Chronicler theory, but have we considered the Gaolor Bast theory? Anyone think it would be productive to really think about Bast, and separate out what we’ve seen him do and what he has said?

Bast and his motivations then come into even more question as the two soldiers come in out of the storm, because we know now Bast sent them. They ask if K can break a gold royal. When he says he can, they demand his purse. K offers it to them and K hits one in the jaw as he takes it. The beginning of the fight goes just as one would expect from what we’ve heard of Kvothe training with the Adem, he’s using the soldiers’ strength against them. It changes when the big man jerks his hand out of K’s grip. K “looks startled” and starts to get beaten up. This doesn’t read like K’s choice to me. It is his hand that fails him. He tries to break away, his “eyes half-focused and dull with confusion”, he tries break lion and it doesn’t work. They beat K up and kick him on the floor.

The soldier asks him who he thinks he is, and K laughs, from the floor “as if the red-haired man had heard a joke that only he could understand”. When he sits up after they’ve gone, he says “I forgot who I was there for a minute.” This is why I think K has changed his name. Even at that this confuses me. I can believe forgetting magic, losing it, but physical skills?

When Bast comes back, K says he and Chronicler got into a fight about the proper use of the subjunctive. Bast believes this, clearly, because Chronicler backs away from him and tells him the truth about the soldiers. It’s amazing K can joke about it when he needs stitches and has been kicked. Bast asks if they were possessed like the one the night before, and when K explains he says “Why did you let them do this?” K says yes, two ordinary soldiers did this, and Bast looks panicked. We, of course, know now that he has set them up, and that’s why he’s reacting this way, but even for that this is excessive. K says “Quit expecting me to be something I’m not!” He asks Bast “God’s mother, why can’t you just leave me alone!” Then he apologises and says he’s in pain. But he was joking... hmm.

Bast says he killed five scrael, what was different, K says he chose the time and place for that carefully — and he doesn’t say so, but it wasn’t in the Inn, for our Inn & silence theory. Bast blames K’s losing on the wounds from the scrael. K starts to say something and then sighs and lets Bast go on believing this. K says he has four broken ribs, a loose tooth and he needs stitches on his scalp, but they should just have dinner. He says he should thank them for reminding him of something he was close to forgetting. He does not say what. Is it that he is no longer Kvothe, despite the story? Or something we cannot know yet? Damn I want D3 already!

Bast goes to get medical supplies and K and Chronicler actually start arguing about the subjunctive, which I think is hilarious.

Bast does something weird with milk and blood and healing. It doesn’t resemble any magic we have seen. K says he shouldn’t, and Bast says he didn’t ask for his opinion. He tells K he is an idiot. Then he tells Chronicler to bring the food and K to tell the story, he commands them “Entertain me!” with blood visible on his teeth from what he has just done.

This piece of Interlude is one of the oddest, and I’m not sure of what to make of it. I think the only solid fact we have here is that Folly isn’t Caesura, everything else is problematic and doesn’t bear much examination.


Chapter 135 (137) is Questions

So, the last episode in WMF. Straight back into the story. And the questions that drive people.

Kvothe knows he’s guilty of offences against the Iron Law and that everyone in Levinshir knows his name and description, so he makes good time back to Severen to explain to the Maer. He walked for two days and then caught a coach heading south. Three days later he got back to the Maer’s estate and sent a ring to Stapes, who shows up even before Kvothe can wash. Stapes tells him he has missed the wedding of the Maer and Meluan. Stapes also says the matter of Caudicus was tended to properly, which is unexpectedly brisk for something of that significance. They caught him my setting fire to the place, it cost Dagon an eye, and now it’s over. But who sent him and why — nothing. I’m not sure whether that is really over, and I suspect not.

Stapes says the Maer wants to see him in the garden in ten minutes, Kvothe says he’s smelly and needs a bath first, and will see him in an hour, this of course leads to him hanging around indefinitely waiting for the Maer to summon him again. He sends the lockbox with Stapes. Bredon comes over and tells him the cream of the gossip — the Prince Regent of Vintas has been killed in a duel, bringing Ambrose a little nearer to the throne. Bredon says Kvothe’s playing is much improved.

Eventually, the Maer sends for him. He reproves him for being armed. Kvothe says in Renere everyone goes armed, the Maer says it’s not a good custom and Kvothe shouldn’t do it again. They have a ritual conversation about trivialities and flowers. Then the Maer says everyone has a question that drives them, and Kvothe agrees. The Maer asks what Kvothe’s is, and again Kvothe doesn’t ask about the Chandrian but about the Amyr, just as with the CTH. The Maer says he loved stories about the Amyr and espectally Atreyon, which is a bit bloody for Kvothe, who likes Sir Savien. Then they talk about the disappearance not of the Amyr but of all the information about them, and Kvothe asks for his help investigating this, anf the Maer says he’d like to know too and invites Kvothe to his rooms in the evening.


Chapter 136 (138) is Notes

Notes following from Questions to be sure, but actually message type notes.

Kvothe has five hours free, he goes to Severen Low to look for D and doesn’t find her, to nobody’s surprise. The innkeeper says she left a note, but when he gets it it is his own note of apology which he sent by the tinker and which she never received.

He goes to Alveron, who asks for the truth about the bandits and finds it hard to believe — 27 bandits and a fortified camp defeasted by five. But he does believe it when Kvothe confirms it. Then Meluan arrives, bringing a question.

The bandits seem like a long time ago to me, so much had happened in between.


Chapter 137 (139) is Lockless

Meluan comes in with two boys carrying a wooden chest. He calls her “my lady” not knowing her title and she says that’s fine, they don’t need formalities. The chest weighed ten stone, which is around 140 pounds or 65 kilos, which is a lot. Meluan thanks him for his part in bringing them together. She says she’s only showing him the puzzle because the Maer vouches for him. He swears by his hand (again!) not to reveal anything about it.

In the chest is a box, and in the box another box about the size of a thick book. At first the wood seems smooth as polished stone, but then Kvothe realises the sides are carved subtly and readably only by fingers. Meluan says he’s like a boy with a present, Alveron says he has a mind like an iron hammer. Something shifts inside the box. Kvothe says it feels like a box and like something that wants to be opened. He asks how, they say they don’t know, and they don’t know what is inside.

The wood is like roah but with a red grain. They ask him what he guesses, and he guesses that it’s an heirloom and about three thousand years old. Neither of them can feel the carving. Kvothe suggests it might be an Yllish story knot, but he can’t read it. He guesses what’s inside is metal, then amends it to glass or stone. (We have surmised that it might be the mountain glass with which Selitos put out his eye, along with his blood for summoning etc. Do we have any other guesses? A key for the Four Plate door? Her husband’s rocks?) Alveron says it must be something precious, and Kvothe says or maybe something dangerous — precious or dangerous and something that can’t be destroyed. The child’s skipping rhyme is in his head, and mine too, both of them.

Then the Maer dismisses him, but he asks to bring up another matter — the dead troupe, and very clumsily handled, in front of Meluan who he knows hates Edema Ruh, but he insists on clarifying everything more than it needs. The Maer is horrified he killed them even knowing they were rapists, because the Maer is horrified at him taking the law into his own hands. He says Kvothe’s honesty is like a felling axe when he adds that not all of them were men. Then Kvothe gets pushed and admits he is Ruh, and Meluan walks out. And he makes everything worse by saying that a trouper’s tongue has got her into bed more quickly than her sister — which really is the worst possible thing he could have said. The Maer dismisses him.


And we’ll go on from there 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.

Justin Levitt
1. TyranAmiros
I think we get the key to this box earlier in WMF, in the story about Jax and the moon--Kvothe just needs to ask the box to open.
Justin Levitt
2. TyranAmiros
Sorry for the double post! I clicked once, don't know what happened.
Mike Dorr
3. Westmarch
I took the magic that Bast used to reset K's tooth to be straight up sympathy, which we believe K's been teaching him.

He adds K's blood to the bowl of milk, and they each swallow hold in their mouths. He makes a binding between the calcium in the milk and K's jawbone and teeth to set it, and repairs the tissue with a binding between the blood in K's mouth and his. Bast bleeds instead of K, but is otherwise okay.
Katy Maziarz
4. ArtfulMagpie
"I think the only solid fact we have here is that Folly isn’t Caesura, everything else is problematic and doesn’t bear much examination."

I don't know how solid that fact is, really. K does NOT come right out and say, "No, this isn't Caesura." He says that it's not "Kaysera the Poet-Killer." Even if it actually is Caesura/Saicere on the wall (but with a new guard, maybe?) it is undeniably a fact that Caesura is not named Kaysera. So he didn't lie, but he didn't necessarily tell the whole truth, either....

Anybody else wonder why they hid the relatively small Lockless box inside a whole nest of boxes that together weighed so much? I mean, it seems like overkill, no? I guess it's a good way to hide the size and shape of what you're actually protecting--like how at Christmas my mom would sometimes wrap a tie for my dad in a really big box so he'd have no idea what was in it--but still...140 pounds of box to hide something the size of a book seems like a lot....
Dave DeLong
5. davedelong
A 140 pound box is a heck of a lot harder to steal than a box the size and weight of a book.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
Kvothe's story telling ability fails him in Levinshir and then again with the Maer/Meluan. I can't point to whether this is a simple case of guilt causing an unconscious (sleeping) failure or from a more pernicious cause (like the CTH). The arm breaking incident is really another "word" failure. In the rest of the books, it seems like Kvothe would have made some cutting remark rather than a breaking action. I agree that this was an overreaction on his part.
Now, he is acting first and speaking (poorly) later.
Someone else pointed out a few episodes ago that after Kvothe leaves the Adem he has a series of at least questionable actions if not outright failures.
Katy Maziarz
7. ArtfulMagpie
"A 140 pound box is a heck of a lot harder to steal than a box the size and weight of a book."

True, which would be a good way to store it when you're not looking at it. But when she was bringing it to show to Kvothe, couldn't Meluan have just tucked it away in her clothing somewhere? The way she went about it, bringing boys to carry the chest, seems like it would make it even more obvious that there was something interesting in there...bringing just the book itself would have been much more discreet and would have excited far less gossip in the court than that big heavy chest would, I'd think. We already know that people in that court will gossip about ANYTHING; you'd think Meluan would want to hide her family treasure a bit more and make it less obvious that she was showing it to Kvothe....
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
ArtfulMagpie@7:It could be that she wanted someone to notice this for some reason. Or she wants to look imposing to Kvothe.
Or, it could be that she is a really spoiled noble who doesn't think about such things as inconveniencing others or attracting attention. "That's all just SO beneath her."
Dave DeLong
9. davedelong
It is also to hide the true nature of the thing in the box. It's the same principle as hiding a tie in really big box. By making the box huge and heavy, you naturally assume the thing it contains is huge and heavy. However, if you were to see Meluan walking around with the box hiding under her cloak or something, you could draw some different conclusions. Since we know that the box is actually small and contains something that rattles, we're able to guess what it might be (the glass Selitos used, etc). Other court members would have no such information, and the mystery as the contents of the Lackless box is one that is pervasive in the 4C world (such that even children sing about it).
Daniel Smith
10. Smittyphi
First post here in the re-read. I just finished both books for the 2nd time and have spent the last couple of days on the re-read for both books and have had my eyes opened in many aspects.

He's had the Lethani drilled into his head that past (roughly) 70 days but now that he's left the Adem, it seems like he abandons it and regresses in his mental and moral capacity from when he went with Tempi. Seems like all he took was the fighting ability and not the thinking one.

Regarding the Box, I like TyranAmiros suggestion of asking it but I wonder if he needs to ask in a certain language, like Yllish, thus, he learns how to read it once he gets back.
George Brell
11. gbrell

I'm not sure what binding could possibly set and heal a jaw (and apparently transfer part of that injury to Bast since he has blood in his mouth afterwards, more than could be accounted for by a couple drops of Kvothe's blood).

This is grammarie, one of the two Fae arts. How it relates to naming/sympathy is unclear, but the text seems to suggest that it is wholly unrelated.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
12. maestro23
So here's a sort-of interesting thing: In the chapters where the Maer is introduced, I thought there was a very very clear subtext that Alveron is gay and Stapes is his lover. The Maer is a bachelor in his forties, with no experience courting women and no real idea where to start, who needs a politically-expedient match to preserve his power and his legacy, and Meluan is a calculated choice. Stapes' devotion to him, and his gratitude to Kvothe for saving his life, feels like it goes beyond the bounds of even a dedicated servant, and even the business with replacing the dead birds feels, for lack of a better word, a little domestic.

But when we get back to Severen there's nothing to really support that reading; Alveron and Meluan seem to have a very genuine affection (even discounting the rumors of how in love they are) and there's nothing in Stapes' attitude to suggest he's even the slightest bit jealous or wistful about the Maer's marriage. So much for my clever interpretation, then.

No real point here, except perhaps to note how easy it is to see something hidden in the text that may not have been intended, even in a book that hides so much in plain sight.

(I still half-suspect there's something more about Stapes and the Maer than is on the surface, even if it's not a romantic connection; the fact that Stapes underlines this with insisting Kvothe keep his ring suggests a little more than just a steward's devotion to his king. Could it have something to do with the Amyr? Or is it nothing more significant than Stapes is Alfred to Alveron's Bruce Wayne? It's always possible we'll never know.)
John Graham
13. JohnPoint
RE Kvothe losing his fighting skills, and Jo's comment that, "Even at that this confuses me. I can believe forgetting magic, losing it, but physical skills?"

A few weeks ago (comment 18 of part 22), I proposed that perhaps the concept of a single perfect step is a type of "Naming" magic. Essentially, I proposed that we have several different types of Naming: a verbal type (what we call Naming), a musical type (what Kvothe does when he play "Single Leaf Falling" or whatever, on his lute), possible a separate singing type (perhaps what Kvothe does when he controls Felurian, and potentially what the Singers are able to do). I also extended that idea to include a physical/kinesthetic aspect of naming, where you physically "name" something -- like a step or cartwheel -- and it thus becomes a step or cartwheel. We could also have a pictoral naming (Yllish knots? Denna's question about writing magic? etc.), and perhaps other types or categories of Naming.

Anyway, I think that's more or less what Ademic fighting and the Lethani are all about. By following the Lethani and learning the Ademic arts, you learn to kinesthetically Name an action, and it becomes so. A movement becomes a break lion. (or any of the other grips/positions/forms that the Adem teach). A step becomes a perfect step. Etc.

Under this theory, what happened to Kvothe to cause him to lose his magic (whether he changed his name, locked part of it in the thrice-locked chest, or something else) also applies to his physical "naming" ability. It's the same type of magic as regular Naming, but it's a different way of expressing it.
Mike Dorr
14. Westmarch

Kvothe indicates that he knew what Bast was doing, saying "it's more than you should do". I took that as meaning it's a magic he understood, namely sympathy.

The milk is a clue as well - if the calcium in milk did not help create a stronger sympathetic link between bone, then why not just use water?

That Bast has to concentrate very hard (breaking his mind, setting his Alar?) to perform the magic also points to sympathy. Fae magic (grammarie/glamourie) appears to be second nature to Bast - when he waves away K's exhaustion immediately after, I think that's grammarie. Fixing a loose tooth seemed to be a measured purposeful effort on his part, which makes me think sympathy.
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
When K says, “I forgot who I was there for a minute.” I took it as he had forgotten to maintain his Kote identity. This would imply that the skills are still there--he is doing something semi-active to keep them not at hand. This could be something like when he broke his mind into pieces and hid something from one half.
There are possibly multiple things going on to supress Kvothe's various skills. Maybe most (or all) of our guesses are right. His name is altered, his hands are cursed, his mind is blocked, the Inn is blocking him and something dear is locked in the box.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
The alternative reading of what's in the box is that it is a glass block enscribed with the true name of the Lackless husband - one of the major historical figures no doubt.
Daniel Goss
17. Beren
@15 Shalter

I like that idea, and would even take it a step further. When Kvothe makes use of his Alar, he describes it as splitting his mind into several pieces. Well, what if he were to find a way to trap his 'mind' outside of himself. And what if he were terrified of what would happen if all of the parts of himself were to be reunited and he were to be 'himself' again. It raises an interesting mental exercise -- given the existence of magic, and the need to trap himself, how would he do it? Well, he would need to split different pieces of his consciousness off from himself, and then he would need to seperate the pieces in such a way that they were inaccessible to himself, no matter how he tried. The only way to do this would be to lock the knowledge of how to access those pieces within one of the pieces. I see his tasks as:

1) Make a box that only he (or his hands) can open
2) Split away the piece of the knowledge of how to make the box (and therefore how to reverse-engineer it without the key)
3) Split away a portion of his name that gives him power.
4) Split away the piece of him that knows how to use his power to unlock his name.
5) Curse his hands to be unable to open the box.
6) Lock a piece in the box, another piece somewhere else (in the 'name' of the Inn?) etc.
7) . . . profit?

Anyway, I'm sure I missed something, or split a task that can be combined, but my point is that it seems like a task that one could split up, then perform in a certain order where each piece is dependant on the next, and the final piece invalidates the ability to perform the first link in the chain of events that would be required to unlock everything in reverse order. I'm not even certain I'm making sense, but I am starting to see it as a logic puzzle that I could solve if only I were smart enough (and knew all of the pieces, obviously.

Anyway, it makes sense to me . . .

Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Beren@17:Yes, the key to the piece of "himself" that is able to unlock the box is locked in the box.
Daniel Goss
19. Beren
@18 Shalter
I agree in principle, it just seems like it would be more complex than that. Yes, the piece that knows how to unlock the box could be locked within the box, but then how did he lock the box?

I think of it like this. If I wanted to lock thing away an object of apocalyptic power forever and make sure that I never knew where it was or how to get to it, I would do it like this. I would find someone to help me. I would instruct my helper to find someone else to hide the object. Then I would instruct my helper to kill that person. Then I would kill my helper. My point is, simply closing a box with the key inside seems too simplistic for the level of damage that has been done to his abilities and his utter inability to access them, especially considering how badly he seems to need them back at times.

And yes, I am aware that he could have constructed the box in such a way that it would lock when closed, but it seems like that would be a less-secure way of locking it than if he could:
Close it, securing a piece of his power, then use a different piece to lock that box, then lock that piece away somewhere that would require the first piece of knowledge to access.

Anyway, that's all I'm saying -- that it seems like it should be more complex than "I locked it with the key inside."

George Brell
20. gbrell

Kvothe indicates that he knew what Bast was doing, saying "it's more than you should do".

I took that as meaning it's a magic he understood, namely sympathy.

Understanding or being knowledgeable about something doesn't mean one can replicate it. Kvothe can understand Bast's abilities (or at least a portion of them) without being able himself to do them.

The milk is a clue as well - if the calcium in milk did not help create a stronger sympathetic link between bone, then why not just use water?

But he did use water, and many other things:

“Bring me water,” Bast said imperiously to Chronicler. “Fresh from the rain barrel, not from the pump.

Then I need milk from the icebox, some warmed honey, and a broad bowl."

If it was sympathy, why does the water's origin matter? What is the purpose of the "warmed honey"? Why does he need a bowl if he was going to mix them in the first place.

Indeed, there is an air of ritual around Bast's actions:

Chronicler returned with a bottle of milk. Bast sniffed it, then poured a splash into a wide pottery bowl.

He added a dollop of honey and swirled it around to mix it. Finally, he dipped his finger into the glass of bloody water, drew it out, and let a single drop fall into the bowl.

Re: Kvothe's understanding. Note that his reaction to this is "curio," not anger or acceptance. He doesn't appear to know the exact mechanism by which Bast is performing his healing.

Sympathy also has the following problems: What binding would allow you to reset a tooth in its place? The injury that Bast is adamant Kvothe will not suffer is losing his tooth, not a broken bone. If he's repairing anything, it's tissue, which doesn't have significant amounts of calcium in it.

How did the milk in Kvothe's mouth lose its blood? When he spits it out its "a perfect, creamy white." Bast's milk on the other hand, which only had a single drop of his blood in it, comes out "a frothy pink."

Then there is Kvothe's reaction to the result, he is surprised and aghast. If it was sympathy, why would he be shocked and why would he react as if Bast did something costly. Sympathy never costs anything but energy (at least so far as we've seen). What Bast did appears to have transferred the injury from Kvothe to Bast (a form of mystical healing that has a name which escapes me at the moment).

Finally, why is Bast's mouth bloody at the end? He just washed it out with milk, which clearly picked up some of the blood (its color). The presence of significant amounts of blood indicates that Bast is bleeding, most likely as a result of his actions. How does sympathy accomplish this?

That Bast has to concentrate very hard (breaking his mind, setting his Alar?) to perform the magic also points to sympathy. Fae magic (grammarie/glamourie) appears to be second nature to Bast - when he waves away K's exhaustion immediately after, I think that's grammarie. Fixing a loose tooth seemed to be a measured purposeful effort on his part, which makes me think sympathy.

I would imagine the extra concentration is reflected in the greater difficulty of the act. Sympathy also doesn't always require preparation; Kvothe (in story) is able to perform sympathy almost without thinking (indeed, his destruction of the strawberry wine suggests he can act without conscious thought or control).
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
Beren@19:Yeah, the piece in the box (part of his name?) is just a part of the whole. His hands and the Inn are also interlocking parts.
Mike Dorr
22. Westmarch
@20 gbrell

I certainly cannot disagree with any of your arguments, but what if truly advanced sympathy worked at a molecular level? The binding would have to be near perfect (bone,blood,milk,honey?), but Bast could "sew" K's tooth back into place by moving blood cells, calcium molecules, etc. in his own mouth (causing blood) and pulling K's blood/tooth/etc back into place. The energy exchange would all be kinetic, but at the microscopic level.

Still, I do agree that the less scientific Faen magic has equal support in the text. If it is sympathy, we have certainly not encountered its like in D1 or D2.
Rob Munnelly
23. RobMRobM
I thought it was clear from text that Bast used Faen magic rather than sympathy. He took K's injury onto himself, not what we've seen from sympathy so far.

I thought K acted perfectly in the town. He and the girls survived an experience out of the pits of hell and this little sh*t insults both girls and the Ruh at the same time. K responds without conscious thought - in approved Lethani style - andcleanly breaks his arm. It stops the insults, which would have traumatized the girls, and gains universal approval of the adults present and, later, the nearby healer.

What else should he have done? Ignore the idiot and let the girls go to pieces screaming at him? Get into a lengthy debate with a kid lacking such evident sense and humanity, bringing more pain onto the girls?

I do find it interesting that K seems to lose his usual fluid speaking style following these traumatic circumstances. We could argue for application of the Tarbean hypothesis. Or, alternatively, one could look at it in another way. K is a namer, through and through. When faced with horrible circumstances, he "sees"the evil people to their essences even more than a normal person would. Understandably, he has - for him - an abnormally severe emotional reaction that puts him out of sorts for quite some time.
Hero Canton
24. HeroineOfCanton
"The men are suspicious of Kvothe and suspect him of being one of the menwho took the girls — they say his eyes look Ruh, which Thistlepong
pointed out last week is interesting, as he says elsewhere that he got
his eyes from his mother, who was a Lackless and a Ruh by choice. You
wouldn’t expect an “immigrant” to have a physical characteristic that’s

Who's to say Kvothe's mom was the first Lackless to dabble with a Ruh, if I may put it that way? Perhaps she was getting back to her roots. Or perhaps I watched too many daytime soaps as a kid.
Alice Arneson
25. Wetlandernw
Jo - Not that it's a big deal, but the "Useful links" paragraph seems to have inadvertently collected a line out of the "philosophies" paragraph...

RobM @23 - It's a good thing forkroot & Freelancer aren't here. They'd ding you but good for that "loose." ;)

And... I have some theories or questions (not sure which yet) that I want to trot out tonight, but I'll have to come back to that. RL calls.
thistle pong
26. thistlepong
We’ve had three philosophies or ways of living contrasted in WMF, none of them really came up explicitly in NW.
I'd say four. The other is a simple philosphy, and one Kvothe basically ignores, but all the same it's more conscientious than all the rest.
Kilvin let out a deep sigh. “Before, when you made your thief ’s lamp, you made a bad thing in a good way. That I do not like.” He looked down at the schema. “This time you have made a good thing in a bad way. That is better, but not entirely. Best is to make a good thing in a good way. Agreed?”
And we do get a glimpse of another important code of conduct in NW from Lorren:
“You mean?” he said. “I care nothing for your intentions, E’lir Kvothe, deceived or otherwise. All that matters is the reality of your actions. Your hand held the fire. Yours is the blame. That is the lesson all adults must learn.”
It's at least something he's coming to terms with here. Unlike a lot of folks, the Lethani never struck me as more profound than any of the other ways of being presented. "Doing right things," is always in the context of what benefits Ademre.

Life as a game, no matter how complexy beautiful , is callous and empty. For the greater good could just as easily be for the lesser evil; or more appropriately for my side. Kilvin's and Lorren's fit together harmoniously. Responsibility in the first and last instance.

At this point, Kvothe is Abenthy's worst nightmare: a thoughtless seventeen year-old Re'lar with a sword, Adem training, and a restless sleeping mind. The Iron Law's the same everywhere, but it's noted that a Tehlinism is still prevalent in Vintas. Presumably he could beat any charges if he could mount a successful defense against malfeasance. Heck, maybe the Hempen Verse is a real thing. He offers himself to the mayor of Levinshir secure in that knowledge.

I took what bast was doing to be grammarie, but sympathy's an interesting take on it. It just doesn't seem to follow. So far there's been no indication that anyone understands the physical world on the level of nanoparticles (or would that be femto-scale?) And Bast doesn't appear to have a viable energy source. We do have another example of strange healing magic in the Lyra/Lanre case, though.

It might be a perfectly accurate interpretation. Alveron is, at least now, nothing except responsibility. He'd never wed Meluan without the intention of performing that role well. I believe Stapes would understand. We never do discover why Stapes met with Caudicus. And Stapes preemtively offering that he's been dealt with properly effectively derails further inquiry. Along the same lines, A Fox found some hoyay between Savoy and Simmon. Given what we know about the northwest, and Modeg in particular, maybe Savoy was only half joking. And to be honest, I kind of thought the reason Kvothe couldn't fathom ravaging Fela even in thrall of plum bob was that he didn't swing that way. The rest of the book sets him, er, straight, as it were.

Just to be clear, you're suggesting all of that is still capital-n Naming, yah?
the Prince Regent of Vintas has been killed in a duel, bringing Ambrose a little nearer to the throne.
When Simmon details the Vintic peerage he mentions prince regents. Given the southern farrel's in chaos as a result of Alaitis's death, I'd guess there's one for at least each of the mentioned farrels: southern, western, and northern. Still more interesting, this death actually moves Alveron and Meluan closer to the throne.
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@23:While the guy was most certainly out of line and being a complete ass, breaking someone's arm for such behavior isn't the usual reaction. In the past, Kvothe most certainly would have said something very insulting and clever to the guy and the girls would have approved. As it was, the girls seemed a bit afraid -- "Don't make him mad."
As Jo said, the Lethani is about having control. He could have even imobolized the guy and made a cutting remark. Breaking his arm shows unthinking anger and loss of control.
28. Kvodin
Does anyone think judging by Elodin's comment in WMF that rings on the left hand are for naming, the right for shaping? He says something along the lines of. "Rings on your right hand are for something else entirely" when he was talking to his Naming class after Fela made her ring of stone. Could this something else entirely be shaping? That's what came to my mind during my first reread.

Sorry for the randomness of this but I've only recently caught up to Jo's reread. Although I find a lot Jo's interpretations of Kvothe's actions hyper critical (I had no problem with him breaking that little shits arm), I am enjoying it very much.
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
Shalter - I don't see how "insulting and clever" would work in this context. The girls are a wreck, he's a wreck, he's surrounded by nervous strangers, etc. I guess he could have slugged him in the jaw as an alternative....

I'm actually not sure I agree that the Lethani means being in control. It is acting instictively and correctly. I'm not convinced he acted incorrectly here, but I can see YMMV.

Wet - I don't see the word loose in my post. Must have been your imagination. *winks*
Alice Arneson
30. Wetlandernw
RobM - Oh, you know my imagination. It gets hyperactive sometimes. Odd how that works. ;)
Ryan Reich
31. ryanreich
Bast's magic has a definite similarity with sympathy, but it is also quite different. Like gbrell@20 said, it feels ritual; on the other hand, sympathy (and even more so sygaldry) also relies on very precisely formulated materials for a better link. The effect is sympathetic: Bast swaps Kvothe's injury with his own healthy mouth. But we have never seen a form of sympathy that actually transfers an effect from one side of the link to the other; instead, it always reproduces the effect in the target. They become more alike. Bast's magic (which I take to be grammarie also) feels more like something of which sympathy is a distillation, just like it feels like a distillation of Naming.

Your comment about forgetting a physical skill being less plausible than forgetting magic reminds me of some thoughts I've had about how magic would fit in with other, real skills that I have or could have. For example, I'm a mathematician, which means that I have the skill of working in a world where all my senses are mental constructs. I can do geometry without writing it down, and I can decide the answer to some problems based on a feeling that would require lots of algebra to justify. These are learned skills, and there are much more talented mathematicians whose abilities in these areas are so much greater as to seem like magic -- yet I know how they do it, so it's not magic.

This sounds like I'm talking about Clarke's Third Law, but it's more than that. I've sometimes wondered (since I'm a geek) what the activity of, say, making a weave in Robert Jordan's world would be like, or performing sympathy. These are well-described activites but since they are "magic", one also thinks that they are instinctive, because they come from a skill based in a sense that we (as real people) don't have and can't really imagine. But the mental hands that weave the Power or hide the stone from each other must be just like physical hands or, perhaps, like the mental hands that I do math with.

I have definitely forgotten how to do math from a field that I never practice. I always forget how to play the piano well in the months between visits to my mother, where our piano is. It's the same loss: I remember how to do all the individual parts of playing the piano, but I am clumsy at putting them together. And I don't forget what math is, just what are the tricks and strategies that make it work. I can easily pick them up again given a few days and something to work on.

The last part is the important part of having a skill. I "know" math because I can learn any given piece of math, and that would be just as true even if I didn't do it for ten years; doing math is learning. Doing sympathy and, even more so, naming, is learning. Performing the Adem arts is learning: learning the shape of the fight and your opponent, and also learning the Lethani, which we are told can never be understood anyway. So maybe Kvothe is all thumbs, but he knew what he should have been doing, same as his abortive attempt to ignite the skinchanger with sympathy. If you were ever expert in anything, you will always have the skill, but you will also always need practice to be able to perform it.
M Linden
32. mlinden
One thing this section of the book does, in my mind, is cements the fact that Patrick Rothfuss is a huge Terry Pratchett fan. When Kvothe has his cathartic break-down over the false troupe, and needs to be talked back down from the edge, it's not insignificant that Rothfuss has Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld books be the one that does it.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
33. maestro23
thistlepong @26: Good points regarding how much the Maer's match might still be a marriage of convenience. The only thing that itches at me is that Kvothe never picks up anything to indicate that the Maer is insincere in his affection for Meluan, and by his own account he should be able to tell when someone's acting. (We must not disregard, of course, the possibility that Kvothe is full of shit in this respect. Among others.)

And, of course, Stapes would genuinely not have any misgivings if the arrangement is keeping Alveron out of scandal, as we might assume Vintas may be less relaxed and groovy about such things than the Commonwealth. There's every possibility, indeed, that Stapes had a hand in the matchmaking himself.

On other matters, I'm now wondering if there's a significance to K's "more than you should do" to Bast that has to do with being inside the Waystone. Given the possibility that K has un-named or re-named himself so he won't use his magic, maybe the important thing is not using magic within the Inn - is it located in a place that sympathy would get the attention of something he's not ready to confront? (And if so, is that for the greater good, a right action, or part of a beautiful game?)
Jeremy Raiz
34. Jezdynamite
Other than Super-powerful-Selitos' curse on Haliax/the Chandrian/ Lanre's descendants; have there been any other people who have been cursed in the books?

We've talked about K having a busted left hand since NW - perhaps as a result of a magical curse resulting from him breaking one or more of his sworn oaths (related to Master Ash and/or the Loeclos box).

I'm not sure how breaking a sworn oath turns into a curse in the 4Cs. I always thought K's oaths at various stages were simply sworn promises to keep his word (without being magical). Lots of people "swear" things throughout both books, but nothing about those oaths (whether serious oaths or tongue in cheek) indicate any of them are magical. They just sound like promises (or tongue in cheek jokes) to me.

And Selitos curse on Haliax (someone cursing someone else) is very different to Kvothe being cursed (someone being inflicted by a curse for breaking one of their own oaths).

FYI - If the oath he made to Meluan is not broken in D3, he has just broken the oath he made to Meluan Lackless by dictating details of the Loeclos box in the frame story to the Chronicler.

Also, K's lack of music (playing the lute) and his failed attempt at defeating the soldiers could simply be a result of his injured left hand, which could be injured/crippled in lots of different ways without him needing to be cursed. He hasn't lost his ability to hum (in this reread section) or to sing (to Mary's boy when she comes into the inn).
George Brell
35. gbrell

Those thoughts align with a theory I posted a nmber of posts ago. Here's a link:


Perhaps coincidentally, the term that I had forgotten which describes healing by taking on the injuries of another is called sympathetic magic. Chuckle.
36. Zizoz
For some reason, this post isn't showing up on the index, nor is it linked from last week's.
Alice Arneson
37. Wetlandernw
And... this is the time, I think, to bring up some things I've been thinking about for a while, regarding the Loeclos Box and the Lackless Door.

First, I've come to the conclusion that we're getting successive revelation, and we won't even see some pieces of the riddle solution until D3. I'm still pretty sure the "ring unworn/not for wearing" is the ring-shaped key Meluan uses to open the second chest, and the "word forsworn/not for swearing" is the Yllish word carved on the box. (I think it needs to be read aloud, in the right language, to open the box.) While it's possible that the "blacklight candle" might be the one associated with Alaxel (?) on the Trebon pot, it's also possible that it's an artifact we haven't seen yet. Likewise, I think the details of the right time, the son/blood, the door that holds the flood, and the thing tight-held are all things we don't have enough information to be sure of yet. In other words, I'm pretty sure the candle Auri gave him is not relevant to the Loeclos box, nor any other rings. My primary reason is that I don't see PR being given to the idea of Kvothe just accidentally somehow collecting all the right bits - it reminds me too much of the old King's Quest games, where you picked up everything you could get your hands on and somehow, miraculously, you ended up with all the right obscure bits in your bag. (At least, if you went back over things enough times to make sure you got them all...) I think every item will have its own link, however subtle, to the Loeclos family. Anyway... bit of a rabbit trail there.

The other thing I've been wondering about is the Lackless door, box and all. The rhymes seem to tell how to open the door, which seems in turn to indicate that it's meant to be opened. What does that mean? Is it something that needs to happen at a certain point in history, or when a certain other event occurs? Is there something that will need to be loosed to protect the FC (presumably) from something else that's locked up? Perhaps one of those enemies who's locked behind the doors of stone will be released, and then the Lackless door will need to be opened to defend against it.

Alternatively, are the rhymes a twisted version of the original, which was to tell the Lackless family all the things they must guard to make sure the door doesn't get opened? Is it, as Kvothe doesn't quite suggest here, that all of this rigamarole is for the purpose of locking away something too dangerous to be loose, but too needed to destroy? I’m still leaning toward the assumption (or theory, if you will) that what’s in the Loeclos box forms some kind of key to the Lackless door, but to what end? Is it a key to close, or a key to open?

I guess what’s got me is that I, at least, have been set up to expect that the rhymes are a solvable riddle by which Kvothe will open the Lackless door, but which will not turn out “right” for some reason. It’s a fantasy thing – go on a quest, solve the riddles, collect the bits, open the door… for good or ill. Now I’m wondering if PR is going to turn it upside down – the very worst thing Kvothe can do is to solve the riddles and open the door. Or if he’ll decide that opening the door is the wrong thing and make it impossible, when really he should have opened it. Or if he’ll manage to get it open at the wrong time, or get the box open and then destroy the key he needed to safely open the door, or if his antagonism with Meluan will prevent the door being opened at the right time, or… I can imagine far too many scenarios for this.

What do you think? Is the whole thing cosmically set up so that the door can/will be opened at the right time? Or is it an extremely convoluted way of guarding something in the hopes that what can’t be destroyed can at least be contained? Is it a larger-scale version of Beren’s stepwise locking until the seventh step locks away the key to the first step?

Loosely related, I’m guessing D3 will give us a third version of the rhyme, this time the one that’s been passed down through the Lackless family; hopefully it will also enable us to figure out whether the door is meant to be opened or guarded against opening.
38. Xylus
About the sword. I think it's not an Adem sword, and folly was acquired elsewhere. Kvothe promises to return the Adem sword to Admere when he dies, so if he fakes his own death, he should make arrangements to return the Adem sword. I mean, if everyone thinks he is dead and he keeps the sword, won't there be a whole bunch of Adem (with a Namer at their back) out there looking for ways to re-acquire the sword?
Jo Walton
39. bluejo
He could also have renamed the sword, as well as given it a new guard?

And I think we've been very clearly told without being told directly that Kvothe cleverly opened something he really should have left locked. This is one of the few things I'm really absolutely sure of from the space into which D3 will go.

I do wonder about the key to the moon.
thistle pong
40. thistlepong
I don't think Alveron would be/is acting in that case. He wouldn't buy a woman, nor would he impress one with his power and title, well, as much as the latter is possible anyway. He's considered this match well. He calls Meluan "worthy of love." Were he to enter into marriage under the circumstances you suggest, he'd do so sincerely. And, Kvothe can't see love when it's right in front of him. Heck, Denna had to tell his entire cohort Stanchion and Deoch were together.

We've had plenty of hints about Kvothe opening something he shouldn't. He has a knack for opening locks, knots, and doors and he frequently adds something like, "more's the pity," when he brings it up. It'd be pretty funny if he opens his chest and learns that he should have left that closed, too, but just couldn't help himself.

Has anyone brought up that the key around Meluan's neck would fit the four plate door? It's got four copper plates with holes in theor centers...
Steven Halter
41. stevenhalter
Yeah, I think that it is fairly clear that Kvothe will be opening something that he really shouldn't. I would even say that he is going to open either the 4 plate door or the Lackless door (or both) if they aren't indeed the same thing. Probably the Lackless box also.
Katy Maziarz
42. ArtfulMagpie
"I'm actually not sure I agree that the Lethani means being in control. It is acting instictively and correctly."

The thing is, though, that Vashet actually TELLS HIM that what he's learning from the Adem--the Ketan, the fighting skills, the Lethani--are not about being able to hurt people, as he seems to think, but about control.

Her exact quote: "The purpose of all of this is control. First you must have control of yourself. Then you can gain control of your surroundings. Then you gain control of whoever stands against you. This is the Lethani." (emphasis mine)
44. CarlosSkullsplitter
I know it's been brought up before, but with regards to Bast's ritual: Rothfuss was originally trained as a chemist. We know the underpinnings of his world allow chemistry -- atomic theory, the mechanical theory of heat, distinct chemical elements, etc -- and we know Rothfuss uses that knowledge in his worldbuilding.

I make no judgments where Bast's ritual fits in the typology you folks have come up with, but I strongly suspect it's much more concrete than it looks.
thistle pong
45. thistlepong
This comes a little late, but touches on some stuff coming up as well. A fan of the series nonetheless takes a sobering look at the representation of women. Goes well with gbrell's final post from Part 23.
"Sadly, the anti-feminist dystopia of the Adem is not the worst part of the book."
John Graham
46. JohnPoint
Thistlepong @26: yes, I'm saying that these are all ways of capital-N Naming. They are just different methods of doing it (or perhaps slightly different types/applications of Naming). I don't really see anything that would indicate that Naming has to be done via words. My original post in WMF Part 22 detailed my thoughts a little more thoroughly.

Ryanreich@31: great post about practice. Yes, physical skills may stay with you, but you have to practice them frequently to stay at peak. Otherwise, why would the Adem practice the Ketan daily? Why not just stop practicing once you've learned the Ademic fighting arts? Since K (presumably) isn't doing the Ketan daily, he would be out of practice, and it's not too surprising that he can't beat the mercinaries.

Maestro @12: I read the relationship between Stapes and the Maer as being an old, platonic, friendship, along with a lifelong bond of servitude. In other words, Stapes is Samwise to the Maer's Frodo.
Rob Munnelly
47. RobMRobM
@42 - Ha! Actually relying to PR's text to make a point that rebuts mine. Da noive of you. LOL.

I'm actually intrigued by Vashet's point because while the goal of Lethani is to be in control, you exercise it by yielding control and acting instinctively. K has been well schooled in the goals of the Lethani, and here acts instinctively in a way that ends a potentially troublesome situation in a manner that gains approval from a tough audience (except for the speaker, of course). I don't see K as acting out of control here - I see him acting instinctively. I still see him as acting in a manner consistent with the Lethani.

As a broader matter, as I have stated in prior posts, I see a very close linkage between the instinctiveness in Lethani and the instinctiveness used by the Undermind in naming. The fact that Elodin is schooled in the Aden culture provides indirect support for the thought that this linkage may make sense. I just had the thought that just as accessing the undermind is facilitated by placing the potential namer off balance or at an edge area, that is precisely what happened with K here - he was at the end of his physical and mental rope and applied the Lethani instinctively.

Dan Layman-Kennedy
48. maestro23
JohnPoint, it's entirely possible that your reading of Alveron/Stapes is exactly what was intended. And also that my initial interpretation was too much influenced by my initial delight that Rothfuss has not created yetanother World With No Queer People In It.

thistlepong @45: The post at your link brings up some interesting issues, but I have to see its reading of the text as unfortunately shallow. From my own feminist perspective, it feels a little too much Dworkin and not enough Bright.
Steven Halter
49. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@47:We'll probably have to agree to disagree on this, but, while Vashet is telling Kvothe about control she has him in an unbreabable hold from which she could have inflicted harm upon him in a number of ways. Instead, she makes her point and then lets Kvothe go.
Kvothe could have done the same thing--had he been in control. Instead he picks (yes, unconsciously) the easy path of just breaking the arm to shut the guy up.
There's a difference between those two examples.
Katy Maziarz
50. ArtfulMagpie
"I'm actually intrigued by Vashet's point because while the goal of Lethani is to be in control, you exercise it by yielding control and acting instinctively."

It's very much like the philosophy behind karate, actually. My husband makes me watch lot of Kung-Fu Theater type movies and is friends with a guy who's pretty much literally a ninja, so I have at least a passing familiarity with some of these priciples. But here is a relevant quote I pulled from a karate school's website to illustrate the point:

"True karate is based on Bushido. In true karate, the body, mind and spirit — the whole person—must be developed simultaneously. Through kihon, kumite and kata we learn to control our movements. But more importantly, we learn to give up control too. We can perform the techniques without thinking about them, and remain focused without having to concentrate on any one thing. In essence, the body remembers how to move and the mind remembers how to be still.

The result of true karate is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body." (emphasis mine, again)
Rob Munnelly
51. RobMRobM
shalter - I just give a lot of credit to K's unconscious mind. He thinks he's giving total BS instinctive answers to Sheyhn in Ademre and it turns out he is giving the correct answers. He's facing an unstable and emotionally and potentially physically dangerous situation in the town and he acts instinctively and it shuts the situation down immediately. I'm been trying to play out how different alternatives could have worked - would the other townspeople been freaked out if he put the kid in a submission hold? Would the kid have screamed vituperative, incendiary cr*p when released? Would debating the issue openly caused real harm to the psyche of the girls? And I'm having trouble seeing an alternative that would have worked better than K's immediate, instinctive reaction which made clear his full support of the girls, shut down the stupid statements, and made unambiguously clear that K was not someone to be trifled with while they were working out the true story. So..., almost counterintuitively, I'm back to the Lethani and that K actually seemed to do ok. Does that make sense? Alternatively, one could look at it in the Vorkosigan principle (from the Vor Game) - not necessarily the best of all possible actions but a right one nonetheless.

50 - I've read the same type of things in the "Inner game" books (e.g, Inner Game of Tennis) that were popular in the 1980s (?). Clear that Lethani is intended to share elements of these approaches. You prepare yourself and then are able to act instinctively when needed. It works for K both in Ademre and with Elodin at University.

Steven Halter
52. stevenhalter
thistlepong @45:Interesting link. The one part of disagreement I would have is if the parthenogenesis theory proves correct, it stands the Adem sexism trope somewhat on end. The Adem men really are irrelevant from their species point of view in that case.
Vashet's relationship with Kvothe is questionable from both ways, as the poster mentions.
We'll have to see what D3 does in these respects, also.
George Brell
53. gbrell

I think I agree with @48.maestro23 that her piece seems to read the text rather shallowly. However, the fact that we've already had discussions about the lack of development in female characters are in the story as a rule, that the text itself mocks Kvothe for identifying all the women in the story as beautiful and the reality of Denna's relationship with Kvothe/her patron/her lifeview all bring up questions and issues of gender.

With that said, I think the article has some valid complaints mixed amongst some arguments that don't get all the way there.

Re: Fela's comments
The point that I feel she misses is that Rothfuss places the burden of choice on men to look/look. She appears to be arguing that the statement justifies objectification. But this extrapolation ad absurdum goes a bit too far, in my opinion. That paragraph makes me think that under her overarching theory, you simply can't/shouldn't appreciate a female (or male) body. I don't think feminism requires us to go that far, nor do I think it should.

Re: the Adem
I agree that I found the "Kvothe can't pay attention because he has a boner" section to be one of my least favorite of the books and her points are completely valid. I do , however, also remember being a male teenager. I think that Rothfuss was trying to both make a cultural point and a humorous scene and I think it's one of a couple points in the novel where he falls flat.

I have more problems with her characterization of Adem society if only because she grafts contemporary feminist theory onto a world that is clearly fundamentally different from our own. Complaining about the orgasm gap seems to miss the forest for the trees if that gap favors men in a society that intensely disfavors them in all other respects.

This is more of a problem in her arguments about pregnancy where she makes this statement: But it also creates an entire nation of single mothers. No social support for mothers is mentioned. What a horrible situation for women. Ignoring the fact that the entire community appears to exist as a social support vehicle (group lessons for children, work placement for disabled fighters, large communal facilities - also, we never see a diseased Adem or an impoverished one, so by the same logic poverty appears not to exist for the Adem), there is nothing inherently wrong with being a single mothers. Many feminists are actually fighting against stigmatizing single mothers. If we saw evidence of abuse or neglect, I'd have concerns, but we don't. The only "abuse" we see is a culture-wide devaluation of men.

I agree with her that the "anger" concept frustrates me and always has.

Her second post re: Felurian hits most of the same notes we tripped over in the Losi fiasco and I have no problem seeing her argument, even if I think she reads the text more critically than I would. Felurian is problematic from a feminist perspective, although I think there is a reading of the scene where she tries and fails to comfort Kvothe as a critique of the seductress trope.

What I disliked about her review (and what I think was at the root of my issues in our earlier discussions) was this line: So the mere inclusion of this trope is in itself an issue. What’s even worse is the way the character deals with it.

I disagree very strongly with this. If the trope is employed in a way that criticizes its gendered nature or that subverts gendered expectations, the inclusion of the trope is not automatically an issue. I can't willingly recognize a feminism that says there are tropes/ideas that are off limits. The criticism lies in how one uses them and Rothfuss has opened himself up to such criticisms, even if I choose to be more charitable in my assessment that she has been.
54. Helanna

I had some serious issues with that review. I couldn't take it at all seriously when the author complained that a society where sex isn't a big deal is anti-feminist. I'm realllly gonna need a citation for "it probably leads to more rape". Then she forces our cultural values onto the Adem ("It's unfair because women usually prefer long-term relationships more than men" - this may or may not be true for them, but in any case, if the woman is making a choice then why is it an issue?) and then complains that it's sexist that women don't get as much pleasure. I can only assume that the author thinks no women can be a feminist *and* enjoy one-night stands.

Then the author states that the idea that men can't function once aroused leads to rape culture. I'm honestly not sure where s/he's getting that from, but if anything that idea is more sexist towards men - like much of the Adem culture.

As gbrell pointed out, if anything it's sexist of the author to stigmatize single mothers.

Finally, the author flipped at the explanation of 'anger', saying it's incredibly offensive to say that men have more passion for life than women. (S/he also says it brings to mind domestic violence, which . . . just what?) I think the author COMPLETELY missed the entire point of that segment. I always read it as showing how very sexist the Adem culture is against *men* - they're viewed as angry and destructive, and generally of no use to the culture. Finally, I read the entire scene as being a deliberate flaw in the Adem culture - certainly not what Rothfuss thinks. (Also, referring to Penthe as 'a fresh Adem conquest'? Didn't Penthe *initiate* that encounter? If the author thinks that any time a woman has sex with a guy she becomes a 'conquest', that's the author being sexist.)

Overall, I thought that she was just reading waaaaay too much into the entire book. In general rebuttal? I'm a female and a feminist, and I never once felt alienated, and I've never felt that the books were 'catered to and are about men' any more than most fantasy books.
Jeremy Raiz
55. Jezdynamite
Thanks for posting the link. I started to read both articles, but I found myself skim reading the mereader posts after the first two or three paragraphs.

PR could be putting forward his own views, or someone else's, or they're made up views. I'm not bothered whichever way it sits; even if the point being discussed were feminism or a different, important, real life concern.

It involves the kind of analyzing that I don't go for when reading an enjoyable fantasy novel. If I found the content in a fantasy novel truly disturbing and not enjoyable, I would stop reading the book.

Similar to linking races/religions in our world to the 4Cs or the Mary-Sue parallels on other sites: I wont really delve into these discussion points either.
John Graham
56. JohnPoint
@48 maestro, @53 gbrell, and @54 Helanna -- ::strong agreement::

I also felt the review was -- overall -- a very shallow reading of WMF. I'm not going into a point by point counter to the arguments presented (and both gbrell and helanna have already done so quite well, I'd say), but I do want to mention the "women are music" issue again... In the review (and on this board a few weeks ago), there is a lot of discussion about Kvothe comparing women to music/instruments. The review author states that:
"The problem with that metaphor is that it gives all the power to the man, the musician or listener. The man is active and the woman is passive. The woman is just a song to be selected and then played. It doesn’t give room for a woman to have similar variety of appetites. Each woman has only one tune. The man is encouraged to collect women like a bard collects songs, or like any collector collects objects, one for every mood or season, regardless of whether women prefer to be part of a collection, or a single showcase piece."
I definitely don't read Kvothe's statements that way -- to assume that he doesn't give room to others (i.e., women) the have the same sexual latitude is trite. Kvothe is a man, and he (obviously) comments from his own, male, perspective. In reality, people make statements from their own points of view; he is interested in women, so his statements about sexuality are about women.

Don't we all (regardless of our gender or sexuality) want to be physically attractive? Don't we all -- on occasion, and within limits -- want to lusted after? The question isn't whether you have lecherous thoughts regarding someone that you're attracted to: rather, the question is whether you view and treat them as a human in the rest of your life. It's certianly possible to be both a sex object and an equal. To state that one precludes the other is sexist, sex-negative, and slut-shaming.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
57. maestro23
gbrell, you echo my thoughts pretty closely, though I don't have an issue with the Mind-Clouding Erection scene. (I, too, remember being male and 16; and the matter of Kvothe's age is a thing that's easy to miss or gloss over, but I don't think it's controversial to say that these things are different when you get past the storm of adolescence. If Kvothe were 30, I'd be much more on the side of "learn to cope and move on.") And I don't think I'm reading too much into the text to say that it's clear to me that Vashet wouldn't have propositioned him if she weren't interested herself, or that scene would've been "go take care of that and come back when you're ready to focus." (We can, of course, reasonably take issue with the choice to write a protagonist that so many women want to shag, but that bothers me a lot less here than it would in another sort of book.)

The bit about "a society of single mothers with no support system" was the point where my jaw dropped. It seems glaringly obvious to me that the Adem are so communally-focused that this is nonsensical, but maybe I'm assuming too much. (And I should note that I like me some feminist deconstruction, but this really felt like a case of ignoring the text to make a point.) In any case, I take issue with the notion that you can't write a culture where women have sexual agency and multiple partners - which I shouldn't need to point out are things that go unnoticed when men have them - without fielding the accusation that it's Slutty Rapey Porn-O-Topia. Nor should we confuse the Adem's ideas with Rothfuss' any more than we should Kvothe's; Adem society isn't idyllic (whatever else they are, they're isolationist and gender-essentialist, and think nothing of mutilating a musician's hand in order to preserve their cultural purity) - they have good ideas about some things and questionable ideas about others, just like everyone else in the 4Cverse.

It seemed to me that Fela put very nicely the difference between admiring and leering; and I'll second the notion that if we can't be feminists and enjoy admiring (or being admired) then I'm a dracchus. It would be one thing if Fela's only purpose in the story was to be another hot girl, but she's a gifted sympathist and Namer and utterly competent in her own right. (And PR, I would pay good cash money for The Tale of Fela, should you ever wish to write it.)

Felurian is definitely a tangle of problematic stuff, but I don't think the mere presence of the Siren in this world or story is a deal-breaker. One of the things I appreciated, though, was that Kvothe doesn't actually become a God of Sex everywhere he goes after Felurian's tutelage - Vashet is pretty unimpressed when he tries the Faery Sutra stuff with her. Hey, women like different things in bed! I thought the acknowledgement of that was a very nice touch, and even the lessons of the Primal Lust Goddess won't give you the power to make every one of your partners fall to her knees and weep just because you know how to do that thing with your little finger.

And I think one of Rothfuss' excellent qualities as a writer is that nothing is simple or straightforward, and whatever idea comes into play, it's always more complicated than it appears, gender issues very much included.
58. jam
My apologies if someone has mentioned this already, but one thing that stood out in my last read of the book - during K's fight with the mercenaries he seemed to be winning until he tried a move with his hands. I don't have the book in front of me, but if I remember correctly Rothfuss details the 'moves' K uses and his opponents responses and K is winning until he tries a hold with his hands that the mercenary breaks. Can someone post the relevant passage from the text?

This seems to fit with the idea that there is something wrong with K's hands.
George Brell
59. gbrell

The turning point occurs here:

He snapped out a quick punch, but Kvothe stepped aside and kicked out sharply, hitting the soldier just above the knee. The bearded man grunted in surprise, stumbling slightly. Then Kvothe stepped close,
caught the bearded man’s shoulder, gripped his wrist, and twisted his outstretched arm at an awkward angle.

The big man was forced to bend over, grimacing in pain. Then he jerked his arm roughly out of the innkeeper’s grip. Kvothe had half a moment to look startled before the soldier’s elbow caught him in the temple.


Kvothe managed to keep his feet by grabbing a nearby table for support. Blinking, he threw a wild punch to keep the bearded man at a distance. But the solider merely brushed it aside and caught hold of the innkeeper’s wrist in one huge hand, easy as a father might grab hold of a wayward child in the street.

Blood running down the side of his face, Kvothe struggled to free his wrist. Dazed, he made a quick motion with both hands, then repeated it, trying to pull away. His eyes half-focused and dull with confusion, he looked down at his wrist and made the motion again, but his hands merely scrabbled uselessly at the soldier’s scarred fist.

I've always believed Kvothe was trying to perform Celean's two-handed variant of "Break Lion."
60. Daedalus
When speaking of Bast's, might he believe the inn is causing part of Kote's lack of talent? Kote says in the first book something along the lines of what makes the Chronicler think he would still be at the inn after three days? We don't know if Kote still plans to pick up and leave after, which would not be completely out of line with his Ruh roots. But if he does, it will be by his choice, with the knowledge and build up of the story plus the encounters Bast has set up. Either way, it could end with Kote leaving the inn. Either because the story has changed him and made him remember his life as Kvothe, or in an attempt to remain obscure. Either way, he has seperated from the inn and it's silence.
61. Tox
I wanted to post this earlier when it hit me the first time or when he gets back to the univ. So how far is Ambrose to the throne and is the Maer closer... Did Ambrose or his father set up the ship wreck of the noble before K. even left the univ. Did Ambrose somehow bribe Caudicus when he went to visit Ambrose's family...
Nisheeth Pandey
62. Nisheeth
Reading Kvothes comment,
Forgot who I was there for a minute
reminded me of what Haliax said in NOTW,
Perhaps if not for these remindings, it would be I who would forget.
@Tox: Here's the quote from NOTW:
royal family, the prince regents, Maer Alveron, Duchess Samista, Aculeusand Meluan Lackless...
Ambrose was 16th in the line at that time.
63. Xylus
@59 bgrell
I felt something here looked strange
The big man was forced to bend over, grimacing in pain. Then he jerked his arm roughly out of the innkeeper’s grip. Kvothe had half a moment to look startled before the soldier’s elbow caught him in the temple.

In NW we know that K is very strong. He held back Bast when he tried to attack Chronicler with one hand around the wrist, leaving a mark afterwards, in the inn. If he has that kind of strength, he shouldn't let the mercenary just "jerk his arm out of his grip". Is there any speculation on that?
thistle pong
64. thistlepong

Here's the Vintic peerage

1. King Roderic Calanthis
2. (Queen)
3. (Heir - underage/unavailable)
4. Prince Regent Alaitis (deceased)
5. Prince Regent (name unknown)
6. Prince Regent (name unknown0
7. Maershon Lerand Alveron
8. Duchess Samista
9. Aculeus Lackless
10. Meluan Lackless
11. Surthen patriarch (deceased)
12. Surthen matriarch (deceased)
13. Surthen heir (deceased)
14. (missing info)
15. Baron Jakis
16. Ambrose Jakis

Post WMF
1. King Roderic Calanthis
2. (Queen)
3. (Heir - underage/unavailable)
4. Prince Regent (name unknown) up 1
5. Prince Regent (name unknown0 up 1
6. Maershon Lerand Alveron up 1
7. Meluan Lackless-Alveron up 3!
8. Duchess Samista no relative change
9. Aculeus Lackless no relative change
10. (missing info) up 4
11. Baron Jakis up 4
12. Ambrose Jakis up 4
65. old aggie

"her husband's rocks"

This phrase, and the fact that K thought the Lackless box might contain stones, came back to me later in WMF, when Kilvin was talking about old, mysterious arcane artifacts that exist but they no longer understand or have the ability to re-create.

I wondered if the stones in the box weren't another set of things like the 2 stones Kilvin demonstrated for him.

But I also like the theory about part of the Moon's name, etc.

I'm just starting my 2nd read of the books now, & will be following along with these posts as I go this time.
66. Trollfot
Hey, it's me, your humble neighbourhood Scandinavian ;)

Enjoying the feminist analysis of the books, I don't have much to add atm except sharing my view that Felurian is not a siren as much as our own Nordic Huldra:
The difference is perhaps subtle, but it is there, especially when it comes to the motivation and personality of the creature, methinks.

Having grown up with this mythology, I guess am biased to accept Felurian. She's just the type of chick you'd expect to meet in the woods ;). Beautiful on a first glance, yet deadly. Perhaps it makes things easier to know that PRothz did not make her up all by himself?
Camilo Caceres
68. DoomDuck
Out of curiosity, do we have any proof or ties suggesting that the original Lockless could have been Lanre's Lyra? I'm posting from a restaurant bar, so I'm afraid I've got next to nothing available, but she seems like the only important female mentioned in Way Back When stories, and when reading the line about "husband's rocks" it made me wonder who originated the rhyme. Is it an old ditty, perhaps? Or have we seen evidence that it relates to a Lockless who exists contemporaneously to Kvothe?

69. Xylus
Does Selitos have a wife? He appears to be the one who has any connection to rocks, the mountain glass which he used to take out the eye
In that case the original Lockless would be the wife to the original Amyr, and the whole Lockless family line will be working with the Amyr, interesting
In the box is Selitos's blood, the only thing that can hurt Selitos? "Don't let a symphist get a hold of your blood, let alone a namer like Haliax?"
Camilo Caceres
70. DoomDuck
A secondary Lanre comment (relatively unrelated to the current conversation).

It strikes me that he's not truly evil or a "bad guy.". He's a good/ great man who lost the wife that helped make him great. Full of hubris he delved into areas best left undisturbed and sacrificed TOO much, and to no avail. Life held no joy for him, and in his arrogance decided it could not hold joy for *anyone*. So, he decided to end the world. Not to cause pain but to spare it from suffering. He chastises Cinder for causing unnecessary pain to his victims (Kvothe and family) and reminded them of their "mutual" goal.

Described that way, I can definitely see Kvothe's lack of hope as an almost direct parallel to Lanre, and his stay in the inn at Newarre merely a different way of dealing with the loss of joy and hope. I wonder if he may lose Denna, make an enormous sacrifice to bring her back, and despite bringing her back... lose her anyways.

Is this also what has happened to the rest of the Chandrian? Is this why legends tell of a red-haired Chandrian? While Lanre's curse involved a hame of shadow, could Kvothe's involve a pall of silence and a bum left hand? Are both their names a curse? Is Kvothe's curse self-imposed?

71. DEL
I viewed the Kvothe getting hisass kicked as the culmination of the changing stories, the shift of granted power, and the interplay of grammarie/glamorie.

He is viewed by the guards as "just some innkeeper" innkeepers aren't Adem trained mercenaries, therefore, "breaking Lion" won't work. His reputation as Kvothe grants him enormous latitude for action, Kote doesn't.

Naming and stories are fundamental to the way Four Corners work.
thistle pong
72. thistlepong
re: 45
I mentioned the article went well with gbrell's link in Part 23: "How to be a Fan of Problematic Things." Stripped of all elaboration:
Firstly, acknowledge that the thing you like is problematic and do not attempt to make excuses for it.
Secondly, do not gloss over the issues or derail conversations about the problematic elements.
Thirdly you must acknowledge other, even less favourable, interpretations of the media you like.
This was an example of the third. I sorta feel like, since many of your comments were adressed to me, that I should weigh in. The series fails the Bechdel Test, Fela validating the male gaze is insidious, Felurian is a tired trope, and Kvothe's little music/women metaphor is objectifying. I wouldn't say she does a bang up job of being concise or convincing about most of that, but calling it a shallow read doesn't make it go away. I found the Adem stuff amusing, scattershot, and careless. I quoted it because the hyperbole was as delicious as it was mistaken.

maestro23@48 - I assume you appreciate the irony of dismissing an argument as shallow with two sentences. I found your choice of poles provocative but limited.
gbrell@53 - I knew all about Felurian on page 58 of NW. The trope is neither inverted nor interrogated. If anything she's a distillation of all femme fatale and sex fairy traditions. Our memetic sex god not only resists her, but defeats her and humanizes her.
Helanna@54 - ::complete agreement:: Some folks feel alienated, though.
JezDynamite@55 - A perfectly acceptable position, just not one I'm able to inhabit. I do hope our divergences don't inhibit your enjoyment.
JohnPointe@56 - See, I think Rothfuss wants us to acknowledge Kvothe's attitude toward women. Kvothe's a young man; hardly more than a boy, really. He doesn't understand women and continually underestimates them. At least I hope this is what he's going for. To present persons, in this case women, as literal instruments toward sexual pleasure, the textbook definition of objectification, without irony would be kinda tragic.
maestro23@57 - The tumescence issue is ridiculous. I assure you it's possible to train throughout adolescence under such baleful encumbrance and to excel within one's school even when paired with women or using weapons. Now, this is a fantasy novel. And that is certainly a fantasy.

Off topic, can anyone recommend well written sex scenes by cis-male authors?
Ashley Fox
73. A Fox
Mmmmmm. Whilst I would never sit on a fence (far too uncomfortable!) I can see from the perpective of each argument. However, ultimately I cannot support the notion the the KKCs are fraught with sexism, of either variety.

And variety of representation is the key. We see a range of women, in different roles, or different 'strengths', personalities etc. As we do men. We also see both sexes subdigated, raped, abused, violent etc.

It is irksome that men are so prevalent, in sheer amount, page time, power and prevalence in culture. There does certainly seem to be a lack of women in the 4C...or maybe K just has some serious mother issues (Ahem Auri, good ole Auri will saught him out). But then PR does balance this traditional form with the Adem.

And honestly what that blog had to say about the Adem being sexist ...toward Honestly their comments of breeding rapists was just silly (and the oposite of most studies about such subjects), not mention the 'shallow' or indeed completely blinkered approach to their culture! Women are, after all , revered.

Speaking of revering women...Felurian. Undeniably problematic. The danger of this trope is that it demonises a womans sexuality, confines her within the limits of her genetalia, that her evil lust leads to harm and destruction. Which is a far cry from the origins of such myths before they were corrupted with christianity...but anywho. She does not destroy K, she gifts him, teaches him how to physically rever a woman (Auri working on his heart), an initiation into manhood/power, the gift of knowledge and the advice of a peer. Yes, yes all sounds like she is an enabler purely for K. And in a way she is....but she is her own self, with a personality and great skills beyound her sexuality. She chooses, and even leads, her interactions with K. In fact whilst she is extremely sexual in a fundamental natural way, this part of her she sates with humans. In faen-outside of her kinky hobby-she has a home, a life, and knowledge and skill. She chooses to be a loner, to seperate herself from the Sithe court. To deny herself, her history, her abilities in to fall in line with the CTH.

And yes Felurian is kinda ridiculous, a young males fantasy, and Ive always had the impression that this initial representation of her, and her myths, was tongue in cheek. When we meet her, we see a real woman not a raging vagina.

Instruments. Meh, yawn, its such a cliched metaphor! but K does not lump all women together, he awknowledges each woman has her own song (retrospectively as we almost literally see him start to learn this with Vashet!). Individual perspective blah..dont really like this little bit but I dont seeing it being outrageously sexist, just a bit naff for one of the Ruh.

I also think that the lack of women in he frame is also telling, I belive we only have two fleeting apprearanses-a mother and a trader. K doesnt jump either, or show any sexual inclination really. So he has learnt, or at least changed, from his newly sexually awakened self. This contrasts with Bast...who is pretty much doing (ahem) what K is at the end of this book. Oh, hey look, Bast is Fae...Felurian is Fae...Felurian trained K as her sex bitch...K returns to the 4c and has a casual attitude toward sex (not women) reinforced. He then pokes around Imre and Uni. His friends point out how his actions and attidude could/perhaps are hurting the women (not being Fae & embracing their nature or having the casual cultural attitude of the Adem) he is having sex with.

He is learning, changing, adapting.....he is also very impressionable.

So I guess my view comes from the distinction bewtween K's perspective/actions/development (which indeed is unintentionally sexist) and the general representation of women. (I havent spoken of D becuase we have gone into diff views before, and mine own, and I think we just need to wait for D3 for that resolution).

AND (I know im running on) I cant help but make comparisons to other fantasy works. Like Tigana. Grrrrr. Lovely prose etc etc but the representation of women is horrendous. I havent read anymore of Kays work yet for fear of more, and wost (as far as I know) people just arent bothered by it! Everywoman in the bloody book are completely defined by the sexuality in subserviance to the men! Argh. Even GRR Martin (only just finished Feast of Crows so shhhh). The early books are dubious at best, and only coast through on his believable world building and Arya....though this rapidly improves, so Im happy to awknowledge his development as a writer etc. Coz, you know...he's a bit convoluted/genius :)
74. kvodin
@35. gbrell - Thanks man what an awesome post!

It seems pretty obvious to me Kvothe is not sexist he's young...
75. kvodin
@35. gbrell - Thanks man what an awesome post!

It seems pretty obvious to me Kvothe is not sexist he's young...
Jeremy Raiz
76. Jezdynamite
I'm still enjoying the threads/book discussion. I just skim over the points I'm not so keen on. Thanks for asking. ::appreciation::

Back to speculation:

(1) Has anyone heard whether Rothfuss has indicated that he is going to introduce any/many new characters in book 3?

(2) Does anyone think the double ring of graystones that K dreams about (after his parents and their troupe are killed) will play a significant part in D3?

(3) I wonder if the complex sailor's knot (story knot?) that Abenthy showed K in his dream had a magical effect on K's sleeping mind? I think you only need to look at a story knot (without being able to read it) for it to have an effect on you (e.g. Denna's "lovely" knot in her hair). I'm still not sure if a story knot has an impact on someone once the knot is no longer in their presence. Like an illusion.

(4) Considering the content of K's dreams after his parents died (survival techniques, hundreds of herbs/roots and their purposes, discussions about safe roads and graystones, a vision of the two rings of graystones and the arch, Abenthy teaching him knots in the dream for the first time), they seem to me to be divine intervention. Does anyone agree?
George Brell
77. gbrell

I didn't address the Bechdel test only because the first person male perspective makes it inherently difficult to pass the test (not impossible, though). Depending on how one chooses to define the test, I think there are a couple conversations that almost pass/arguably do pass:
-Devi, Mola and Fela's conversation before Kvothe burgles Ambrose's room. It occasionally references Ambrose, but portions of it are less specific to one man.
-Denna's conversation with the rescued girl. (I'm aware that it's ironic to argue that a conversation about the economics of prostitution is pro-feminism.)
I would agree, however, that none of these pass the Bechdel test with flying colors and do concede that her argument (for failing the test) is the stronger of the interpretations.

Re: Felurian

I don't actually think the trope is inverted/subverted. I do think, however, that Rothfuss' attempt to "humanize" the trope does demonstrate, to some extent, how thin the archetype is. She is almost literally nothing more than sexual desire. That is shown to be, like many absolutes, absolutely boring. None of this eliminates the huge volume of baggage that comes along with the trope.

Re: Women as Instruments

I'm going to say a) that I've never considered Rothfuss to be writing your interpretation and b) that I didn't really object to the statement on my first (or subsequent) readings, which is almost certainly a manifestation of privilege.

I do think Kvothe's view of women/interaction with them is important. Looking at his relationships in the book, it's peculiar that he's actually the passive agent in almost every one of them (never moves on Denna - waiting for her signal, blatantly misses Fela's come hither looks, almost misses Devi's prostitution offer, is approached and startled by Losi on the way to the Eld, is taken advatange of by Felurian, has both Vashet and Penthe make a move on him, doesn't sleep with a girl post-Felurian because she is not obviously telling him to).

For all his talk about instruments and music, it seems that he is the instrument and the women the players.

Re: Sex scenes

I think we're going to have problems agreeing to a definition of "well-written."

Based on your question, do you have examples of what you would consider "well-written" from female or trans-male authors? That might be helpful.
George Brell
78. gbrell

Thanks for the appreciation.

While I don't view the books as sexist, I think it's important to recognize that the original post makes some valid points about parts of the text that can be read as sexist. I'm a white cis-male, so it's pretty easy for me to not see sexism. Makes it pretty important to step back and be charitable when assessing other arguments.
Alice Arneson
79. Wetlandernw
I think I buried my real question @37 in too much thinking-out-loud earlier. Rephrased and parsed:

Are the Lackless box & door meant to be opened? Or are the Lacklesses supposed to be guarding their toys so that it can't be opened? Given that we all assume Kvothe will likely solve the riddle, open the box, open the door and initiate disaster, will it be a case of a) the wrong person; b) the wrong time or c) something that should have been left closed forever and ever and ever?

And... if anyone believes that it was never intended to be opened, why does Meluan have a key to start the process? Why would they not destroy the key, at least, to make it harder/impossible to get at the contents of the box?

I'm so staying out of the sexism discussion; the whole thing irritates me no end. The "why did Kvothe fail to do Breaking Lion" question, on the other hand, is one to which I can only wish, at the moment, that I had something to contribute. We've hypothesized a lot about what makes K Kote instead of Kvothe, and I think there have been some very cool ideas that come close, but I don't think we've really got hold of it yet. Or else I'm just waffling. That could happen. FWIW, I do think that things involving his left hand seem to fail more often... But it will take more thinking and rereading with that in mind. Also, a mind.
thistle pong
80. thistlepong
(apologies for misspelling your handle over and over)
And... if anyone believes that it was never intended to be opened, why does Meluan have a key to start the process? Why would they not destroy the key, at least, to make it harder/impossible to get at the contents of the box?
Well, if the continued existence of the box is required to keep something or someone in place rather than free in the world, then entrusting it to safekeeping is better than losing or forgetting it. The scrollwork has worn away from handling, but exposure could have destroyed it over three millenia. devedelong pretty much covers it in @9. It's in those larger containers to disguise its true nature from nosey observers.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
81. maestro23
O hai, thistlepong! If I were to take your responses @me in 72 in the spirit of friendly banter, as I hope very much I may, would I be wrong?

Only because if your intent was a more serious sort of engagement, I'm afraid I lack the spoons for it, and must, with apologies, withdraw.
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
thistlepong @80 - The next obvious question is, "Why are there riddle rhymes floating around to tell our clever boy how to get in?" Are they inversions of a rhyme that used to remind the Lacklesses of what to hide? And why is Meluan trying to figure out how to get in, if her job is to make sure it never gets opened?

(No worries about the name; I only added the nw because Wetlander was already taken by someone who doesn't use it. On the WoT reread, most people don't bother typing it out and just use the first syllable. ::shrug:: I've been called worse.)
thistle pong
83. thistlepong
maestro@81, sure. To be honest I should thatnk you. We've been moving crap out of one study and I ended up reading an old Bright interview before heading to bed.

I'm not sure it's clear from the passage that Meluan wants in. Alveron seemed to be running the show and interested in keeping Kvothe completely in the dark. I couldn't parse Meluan's motivations. She seemed to want to give a preamble and maybe offer another bit at the beginning, only to be cut off.

That was quite a post about the rings.
Steven Halter
84. stevenhalter
gbrell@77: I'd tend to say that Denna's conversation with the rescued girl does pass Bechdel test. The conversation isn't about pleasant topics but it is about the two women involved in the conversation. It also starts to show some depth to Denna outside of Kvothe.
If (assuming they are still alive) we had the Kingkiller story narrated by the women of the story, it would be interesting how that matched up to Kvothe's version.
thistle pong
85. thistlepong

Initially I was thinking of the variant where the two women must have names. The scene you're referring to, though, is all about men: the girl's father, the eldest son who took advantage of her, the dangerous men she's selling to, the ragged prince she wishes for, and the husband she'll have difficulty landing. The only part not explicitly concerning men is about what she can't do.

He's mentioned that the only reason he'd revisit the story after D3 would be to show it from Denna's perspective. But he follows that with a keen preference for writing new things.
Steven Halter
86. stevenhalter
thistlepong@85:It is interesting that PR hints that Denna's point of view would have enough to carry a story. That does imply that what she is doing is much more complex that Kvothe imagines.
This aids the idea that her journey (and song) are of equal validity as Kvothe's--just mostly off screen.
thistle pong
87. thistlepong
I'd love to read it. At the same time I hope he avoids it. I also worry I weight her words and her presence too heavily knowing he said that. Still, Kvothe continually reminds us that he's not, or wasn't, living in a story. But that's exactly where Denna lives.
Steven Halter
88. stevenhalter
That's a good point. Everything we see about Denna is filtered by Kvothe. When he got a bit of her real story (in the conversation), it enraged him and he basically threw a hissy fit.
I doubt PR would actually write it, but it is interesting to think about the shape it might take.
thistle pong
89. thistlepong
Monday's crackpot theory is that Denna's on a perfect Hero's Journey that we only get glimpses of through Kvothe's perspective, assumptions, and prejudices. She's driven, goal-oriented, and willing to make sacrifices. Within the story, hers is the plucky rebel position.
Steven Halter
90. stevenhalter
thistlepong@89:I think we've touched on that theory a bit in some post. At this point (prior to D3) it would be a quite possible story for Denna to be completely correct (and be the hero) and for Kvothe to essentially end up being at best very much mistaken and at worst the actual villain of the piece.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
91. maestro23
Thanks, thistlepong. I was actually tempted to go into more detail in my initial reaction to mereader's posts, but a Wall-O-Text on the persistent influence of Second Wave reading protocols on uncharitable critiques of sexual content in pop culture felt like a derail even by my standards. :) I was glad to see some other folks engage in more detail downthread, though, and give me an excuse to do the same.

I certainly didn't mean to be as dismissive as I may have sounded, nor to gloss over that I think the points raised are worth raising and discussing; I think mereader is right about some things, wrong about others, and has-a-point-but-only-if-you-squint-a-little about a few. Just like, yanno, the rest of us.

I'm more than happy to agree to disagree on the Matter of Kvothe's Hardon, though of course you're comepletely right that it's more than possible to physically engage in martial arts without that being an obstacle. What I took as the real issue in that scene was that he couldn't quit thinking about it; the best response might have been to teach him to clear his mind and ignore it, but presumably Vashet had a good enough sense of her student to see that this was the longer and more difficult path, and an immediate solution would be more of the Lethani. ;D

(But the point is well made that this is also an authorial choice, and that there's a certain amount of baggage attached to stacking the deck so your super-cool protag gets laid a lot. It's not the kind of thing that really gets under my skin, but I can certainly see how other readers might have less patience with it.)

I think your crackpot theory @89 has some legs, though. If nothing else, Kvothe seems to be on a somewhat inverted version of the Hero's Journey; the elixir he brings back from wherever it is he goes in his final descent (or, possibly, ascendance!) is pretty clearly not something that heals the world. If it turns out D is the real hero who has the key to stopping or undoing the harm he's caused, that could end up being a very satisfying twist.
Steven Halter
92. stevenhalter
maestro23@91:Yes, it would seem that Vashet could have eliminated the problem in a whole bunch of ways (1 well placed kick would pretty much have done it;-) ) but , I guess, PR wanted to emphasize that aspect of Adem culture along with Kvothe's immaturity.
Actually, thinking about it, I wonder just how much of an unreliable narrator K is. The story does have a certain oddness about it.
93. Peaceman
Was it meantioned that the box smells like the Cthaeh?I can remember that a familiar smell atracks Kvoths attention.This is discribed like the smell of the CHT wood .Maybe a connection to the lyra/landre -lackless theory?the one who treated the CTH so bad?the key to release the CHT?
Nathan Love
94. n8love
Congrats Jo! That's a Really Big Deal. Best of luck.
neil Hackman
95. NeilH
To me, Kvothe seems to always be on the wrong end of it, in most of the arguements he has with the females in the story.
I can't think of a time, where he dominates any female in an arguement, in a dismissive way that would constitute as sexist.
At worst he is a careless 17 year old, and doesnt fully understand the implications of what he is saying, and when he is re-telling the story, he is orating a harsher view of the story, becuase he is ashamed/embarrassed of what he has said.

Definitely intrigued, by the Necklace that ML wore, that is a 4plate necklace, being in the same room as a box which is so obviously central to the story aswell as the having huge connotations to the other massive mystery in the book, Velaritas!
Skip Ives
96. Skip
I would argue that “Close to Forgetting” is about K forgetting he is supposed to be Kote and not forgetting all of the things he can do as Kvothe. K insists he is telling a tragedy, so of course he isn’t following the hero’s story. He knows how to tell a story and he is telling it in a way that sets him up for the fall.

He may have gotten beaten up not because his move didn’t work, but he reacted without thinking and once he remembered that he was supposed to be Kote the innkeeper and wouldn’t be able to explain two incapacitated or dead soldiers, he had to take the beating. If he had remembered and just paid up, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt. That could be why he says “Well that was embarrassing,” ”Forgot who I was there for a minute.” to the Chronicler, and yelled “Quit expecting me to be something I am not” ”God’s mother, why can’t you just leave me alone?” That’s kind of an odd thing to say to your student.

The comment about the scrael can also be taken in that context. Kvothe made sure to face them well outside of town where he was unlikely to be found out, which also explains why he is so upset in Chapter 4 of TNotW when the Chronicler stumbles into him “Tehlu, anyway, have you had bad luck all your life, or have you been saving it all up for tonight?”

One other point, the key to the inner chest is a ring kept around Meluan’s neck. This is very likely the “One of them a ring unworn” (or “One a ring that’s not for wearing”) part of the seven things before the Lockless door. Given Kvothe’s interest in the song earlier and the ring in this chapter, I doubt he missed that. We still don’t know if he realizes that Meluan is his aunt. Given his attitude in the chapter and his particular blind spots, it is possible he doesn’t realize it.

So for those keeping track of the things to open the door, Kvothe knows where the ring is, two is a sharp or forsworn word, not swearing (not known unless it is the name of the wind), three is the right time (only mentioned in the WMF version), fourth a candle (phallus reference in the NtoW, but definitely not something for lighting in WMF as well), five is her husband’s rocks or son of the blood (likely Kvothe himself), six is a door with no handle that holds back the flood (unknown, a lock like in a canal?), and lastly a thing held tight in keeping or a secret kept (by definition not known). The door apparently opens into a dream, what kind of isn’t clear though.
97. old aggie
Skip @ 96 - That is exactly how I took K's fight with the soldiers: that he "forgot" for a few minutes that he is supposed to be a weak innkeeper, and almost blew his cover.

And @ many, re: future volumes from Denna's PoV - what we're thinking is a "Zoe's Tale" for KKC. Hey, Scalzi did it; why not PR?
Adam Shekerjian
98. adamshekerjian
Not sure if this was mentioned before, but Vashet says that "Silence and stillness are the heart of Ademre."
The first three "A silence of three parts" are caused by things that are lacking. In the fourth he makes the perfect step.
Obviously the perfect step has been mentioned, but I just wanted to point out how important silence is to the Adem.
Felipe Martins
99. felipem
I'm not gonna enter the sexism discussion either, mainly because I couldn't even finish reading the text, but anyway, some speculations now...

@Xylus 69
Hmmmm, at first I liked your theory about Selito's blood but there's a problem with that. I'm assuming that whatever is in the box is just another piece to a bigger puzzle. Maybe a way in the4p door.
If the contents of the box do refer to "her husband's rocks" (in your interpretation, the rock Selitos used to pierce his eye) that realy makes my point: That's just one of the things one has to have to... well, we don't know yet, probably cause havoc upon the world.

@wetlandernw (79, 82)
I'm also on the "Lackless are guarding things that can't be opened" team, and the obvious answer to your obvious question is that the Lackless forgot what they were guarding! The rhymes could come from an old sworn the Lackless made, bound to protect whatever they're protecting, but at some point, probably when they split (or even before that) the tradition disapeared. Poor Meluan doesn't have a clue that her job is to keep that thing shut and protected, she's just curious.
100. VermilionCoyote
Hello, first post here. Just got caught up on all of the re-read posts although not all the comments!

thistlepong@89 I think that this is the type of lateral thinking that is necessary to predict what type of twist PR is going to spring on us in D3. Felurian not withstanding he definately has a knack for trope subversion, and I think that it would be interesting to take a look at the whole narative from Denna's perspective. I don't want to re-hash what has already been said in a previous comment thread as shalter@90 mentioned this has already been gone over.

That in mind, I do want to throw out a few ideas about the theory.

1. Her version of Lanre's tale is more based on the conventional wisdom of his being a hero. Unless we are looking at double subversion, I don't think that this lends it much credence as being the true version of the tale.

2. She is definately on a tragic arc. Her mentor beats her, and the man she loves is an utter blockhead who doesn't understand her at all. I am really drawn to the idea that she does something heroic and sacrifices herself, and that Kvothe's action that leads to the world as it is today is similar to Lanre's downfall.

3. Crazy thought: maybe we will get a third different interpretation of Lanre that paints Lyra a the real hero? If this is true Kvothe/Denna could be repeating history.

I don't love the last theory because I think there should be more evidence for it in NW and WMF, but maybe there is and I just haven't seen it?

Maybe I am being affected by all this talk of feminism, but it would be a great subversion of the whole story was an unreliable male narrator talking to a male audiance, while in the "real version" the heros are women.

Could anyone direct me to where this has been discussed before?
Steven Halter
101. stevenhalter
VermilionCoyote@100:I didn't mean to supress any conversation. I think we have just briefly touched on Denna as the hero in the past. We've talked a bit more about Kvothe being the villain--intentional or unintentional.
We talked about point #2 when the Cthaeh implied to Kvothe that Denna was being beaten. It is still quite up for debate on whether she is actually being beaten or the beating is part of an (admittedly harsh) training regime. The Cthaeh certainly seems to want Kvothe to dislike Denna's mentor. Anything the Cthaeh wants is automatically suspect in my book.
Vashet certainly beats Kvothe black and blue during his Adem training and someone telling the story of that could easily twist it to make out that Kvothe was being abused. Kvothe doesn't seem to feel that he was being abused and Denna may not feel that she is being abused. The price of whatever training she is receiving may seem well worth it to her.
Of course we don't know for certain that any of that is true--or false.
thistle pong
102. thistlepong
Denna pretty easily calls into question Kvothe's treatment by the University. The Adem would be even easier. Lured back to Heart, Kvothe is threatened with maiming and/or death if he doesn't perform to their satisfaction. During this time he's beaten and routinely humiliated. And, er, the corruption of a minor thing. Now, before y'all bring out the pitchforks, understand that's just an exercise in other points of view.

(1) I'd take Kvothe's conversation with Abenthy to be the conventional wisdom.
“Lanre was a prince,” I said. “Or a king. Someone important. He wanted to be more powerful than anyone else in the world. He sold his soul for power but then something went wrong and afterward I think he went crazy, or he couldn’t ever sleep again, or…”
And that's dogging Arliden's first year of research. It might not be productive to assert the primacy of one version over the other, but Denna's put more work into hers.

(2) I got stuck on this one for awhile. Are you familiar with "The Magic Flute?" I've got nothing except an exceptionally clever fellow who saw all the alchemical symbolism in KKC and inadvertently lead my to some edifying reading. No conclusions, though.

(3) That'd be great, and appropriate. A third Lackless rhyme, a third hint about Lanre, a third attack on Kvothe at the Waystone, his third and final departure from the University, a third time "saving" Denna...
Ashley Fox
104. A Fox
Lacless Door. (Tieing in with current discussion and subversion, though ive posted extensively on my ideas of D's previously so will only incorporate what is relevent).

There is a lot of assumption that whatever is behind the Door is Bad. Im not entirely convinced of this. First we have the greystones and the four plate door. Are they related? Seperate? Either way I suspect they have the same origins (Lackless as masons theory*).

In the frame K seems most concerned with the Penitant King and (civil?) war. He blames himself for it and has no love of the King (will not drink in his name, says folk would join the fight if they knew what it was really about). Now the opening of the Door may, and likely does, have something to do with this-but how directly?

If the flood that is behind the doors is the Fae (and magic) ((ahem genocidal segregaton!)) would it really be a bad thing if the two worlds were once more brought into balance? (Essentially destroying the world to recreate it, getting rid of the weedy in favour of strong full blooms (ones who arent cut). Analogy for strength in power there ha). Sure it would cause some chaos whilst there was an adjustment period, but if the world was returned to what it was supposed to be, before a crucial part was ripped away, isnt this good?

Maer, Vint, strong Tehlin beliefs, anti magic users/demons(fae). K opens Door, relaeases Flood. Maer becomes PK (likely tied in with the Jakiss extermination programme). Maer is Penitant for providing K with wealth he used to pursue intersts resulting in flood, then becomes anti-demon(fae) and wants to lock them back up again.

The rebels representing an alternative faction-those who are allied with the Fae, which to establish a balance. Likely Yll, Adem perhaps Ceald. The uni? A split I imagine...mmm. (Bredon? and so D)

Here we have an alternate history for Lanre, he realised what the war was doing-cutting off the tides of magic from mortal except for a trickle, weeds- and wanted to reverse this, to destroy the known world to recreate what was meant to be-whole.

K presents is story with many typical hero elements, but says it is a tragedy. If he realises flood cahos flows, but the chaos is necessary for balance to follow. He is seemingly the villain. Or perhaps he tries to close the door after its opened, becuase he cant just, you know, listen to D.

Quite like all this jumbled up morality-consequences. It would also tie in the two storylines, Kingkiller and Creation war, Lanre & Lyra, K&D,Past&Present, Fae&Mortal, and over them all the moon.

*Im not sure how necessary the artifacts are in actuality for opening the door. The Door is Lockless, why would there be a key? Bu rather as bits of the story, of knowledge, to enable Knowing. K already seems to have an innate ability-that is even described as a knack- with unlocking locks:Elodin's classroom, Ambrose's window etc
Felipe Martins
105. felipem
@104 AFox
I gotta disagree with you there. No one can tell how "the world was suposed to be", that's just a poor excuse for doing bad things and expecting a "good" end. Besides, are Scrael and Skin Dancers suposed to be set free on the world destroying everything they touch? That's not just chaos that predicts balance, it sounds like it predicts the apocalypse or something like that.

Even if you're right, and eventualy after some time the world comes to a better era, there's absolutely no way Kvothe could imagine that. From his perspective what he sees is that he caused demons overrun, (civil?) war, etc. IMHO, by your theory he is realy the one to blame.
Ashley Fox
106. A Fox
@105 ooh errr grrrr. (GREY)

How the world WAS, then :) Do you see how it was meant to be? As it evolved naturally.

There once was a world. Iax came along and used it too Shape another. Out of 'whole cloth'. Before this 'magic'/power was rife. After this the world was broken, the land and sky changed.

War ensued. The enemy was set beyound doors of stone. Related or not Faen was also locked (mostly) from the mortal, inc Fae such as Felurian who had wondered freely previously. Fae were then iterally demonised.

The mortal world then became a much less magical/powerful place. Tech was lost, those born with power were rare and became legendary such as Tarbolin, or are remnets before the Split/CW. Whereas Faen is inherently magical, 'reality' inc time as far less an effect on it.

The 'Whole-cloth' is power, is magic, is that third world the soul/consiousness (ref back to our philosophcal/religious discussons durng the Ademre section).

Floral scents are assocated with Fae, with magic. K is a cut flower in the frame, once powerful but now cut off from his power, Lanre refers to whats left in mortal as weeds, less powerful.

My point is that Iax did bad, but the folks fighting Iax, Selitos, Aleph, Lanre et al did worse by ensuring that the damage he started was made fast. Lanre realised this at the last, or maybe Lyra did and the betrayel does not concern her but Seltos-it is him, after all, that Lanre goes to after and makes whitness his destruction.

If by opening the doors, reunting the two worlds K causes strife but undoes a grave millenia old mistake, is this then better? Is this the greater good? Is this the right thing, even if it is hard? What is correct? Or is it better to forever segregate the worlds/the people/the power, perpetuating the wrong? Is the shifting of power and persecution a beautiful game? Its too late to do the right thing the right way, appropros Kilvin. K/D/we have to deal with the descions others have made, the consequences.

(If power is distrubuted evenly there is less to fight over. an ideal of equality)

Demons are not real. The Jakiss plotting will inevitably lead to some battles at the least as they are, essentialy, plotting an overtake of the throne, regardless of Ks actions. Fae have always been able to slip through the doors and vice versa hence all the fairy tales. We do not know that scrael come from Fae-though its seems likely that they at least are grown from Fae magic (and likey to be used by the rebels as the are traveling toward Vint).

(oh, also, on presumptions of bad and good, is something bad for following its nature, like a skin dancer...or a gnat. Gnats bite you, suck your blood and pass n malaria, are they then evil? The consequences are definately negative, but they are only following a survial instinct. Do the skin dancers percieve their actions/consequences as bad? Or are they just surviving with their natural tools. Could tie in vegatarinaism vs teh slaughter of grass with this...but Robert Plant is screaming Ramble On at me...and I need to pay attenion ;)
107. old aggie
Re: D's version of the Lanre story

Maybe her mentor told her a story that would *not* draw the ire of the Chandrian, to keep her safe, realizing it was not true.

She has said that Master Ash has knowledge she "needs" - we are all wondering what this is & why she needs it. Is she a mirror image of K?

So many good ideas in these posts!

I just hope that, when D3 is published and all is revealed, that it doesn't turn out to be another "Shadows-vs-Vorlons" or "Dark Crystal" theme. I'm hoping that PR will come up with a new twist.
Felipe Martins
108. felipem
I see your point but I still don't agree with it. Fae is everything but natural, the world itself was (probably) made by Shapers, along with many of the beings that live there. The world was not suposed to have influence of shaped things, Selitos and the others realized that and shut Iax and at least some of his (not only his I imagine) creations. The world didn't stay as powerful as it was before because the war brought a Dark Age. 4c was getting better, people were getting used to "magic" again, recovering takes time.

By demons i meant "evil" (I'll talk about this definition in the next paragraph) Fae. The Jakkis were plotting taking the throne, yes, but probably every single noble on the throne line was too, doesn't mean they'd start a war. Poisoning, assassinating, wrecking ships, that's more like them. Fae have been able to slip through but powerless, having then lose in the world all powerful and reckless doesn't sound a good idea.

About the "evil" thing... I don't think Gnats, Bees, even Scraels, and things like that are evil simply because they don't have any idea of what they're doing, it's just basic instinct. Something can't have an alignment if it's not intelligent. However, that doesn't change the fact that we perceive those things as evil. Seriously, who likes wasps? So, we "fight" them the best way we can.
Jo Walton
109. bluejo
Shalter, n8love: Thank you. Yes, it is a huge deal and you wouldn't believe how excited I am about it. (I've been at Eastercon and am only just catching up with this thread and writing this week's. I can't believe it's Wednesday!)
110. Zelucifer
All of these incongruent actions have started to make me wonder, has Kvothe split his mind, first unknowingly and than later intentionally. First we have the explanation of splitting one's Alar, by seperating ones mind. We've seen how this can lead to madness in the academy. Well, what if his gradual and somewhat erractic "unreasonableness" is a result of his mind splitting and forming multiple personalities.

Consider his name change and his most recent actions. What if the reason his name changed, is that he split his mind and created a new innkeeper dominant personality. This would explain how he could "forget himself" and regain his physical skills temporarily, as his repressed "Kvothe" personality takes over.
Ashley Fox
111. A Fox
I dont mind disagreement (would be rather boring otherwise ). But I think you are missing my point. How is Faen not natural? If anything it seem to by hyper-natutral. Fae are traditonally assosiated with nauture/forces of nature and this is held true for this text also. All descriptors of Fae/n are of natural origins; flowers, the accepted nature of an individual etc.

We have Felurians 'whole cloth' indicating that Faen was shaped out of something whole-not bits and bobs. We are also repeatedly told that no energy is wasted or created. Its all there and merely used/transered/exchanged. So Faen could not have been made out of nothing, or imagined into existance, it would have had to use energy from the mortal world. Then we also have a culture with paralels to one of are own world in which there is a 'notion' of three worlds:one, nous, world soul. The world soul is arguably on a parralel with what Namers access, that internal, pervading and interconnected essence of being. This idea is reinforced by K and Devi's, albeit brief, discussion on Malcaf re perception of an active force and the snippits of Teccam's Theophany

In the text there is an undeniable separtion of abilities after the creation of Faen, that goes beyound the ensuing dark age. Even in K's story it is mentioned how folk simply do not have the ability/power/knowledge that they had of old. Even Elodin who is arguable the most powerful Namer we encounter comes nowhere near those during the CW. Kilvins pursuit of an everburning lamp etc. And its worth noting just how powerful K became in Faen; powerful enough to Name extremely complex name, Names of people would arguably be the most complicted Names. And someone that had lived millenia? Well.

It is my arguent that Faen was created out of the world soul (by which I mean the over-all force of Names etc but WS is quicker to type!), Felurian's whole-clothe, where each thread is a different 'Name' woven into a whole. The power and magic of the world seperated and Shaped into a world of itself. The two worlds would have to overlap, as they are actually one. IMO Iax did not steal the Name of the Moon 'cos it was pretty but becuase Faen needed a counterweight (the Moon's nature tied with tides, a counter pull to earths own etc) something to stop Faen unraveling and merging with the 'motals' WS once more. This is why, with only part, the phases of the Moon have the effect they do. The cunterweight is unsteady, penduluum like.

When Lanre, Selitos 'n' crew 'shut the enemy behind the doors of stone' the essetially cut themselves off from the WS that was taken rather than attempting to restore it. Also: Felurian fears creatures in the dark, so there are some scary things in Faen inc the CTH. Faen seems to have been used as a dumping ground for all that was unwanted in 'mortal' before they attempted to lock it up. If there is terror waiting there to spill out t is the fault of those who put it there. IMO the 'flood' does not just apply to people/creatures of Faen, but of the WS, the whole-clothe, the power itself that would come flooding back. Floods, tides, the Moon. then we go into the above morality issues.

And here I must say, to truely examine the text the polarity of 'good' and 'evil'must be abandoned in favour of exploring various philosophical paths of thought. Such extreme deliniation fades to grey.

Um, Bees?!?!?! They are the cornerstones of most eco-systems (inc our abilty to, you know, eat!). So no, I dont believe they are evil, or annoying. Neither to I believe gnats are evil, annoying yes, but evil? Thats an extremely arrogant point of view, implying that the desires, wishes and comforts of humans should be sought over all the survival of another species. How can somethng not have an alignment if its not intelligent? Aware of its algnment. Surely if good and evil exist something is one, or the other regardless of awareness. Sociopaths that turn to killing ramapages do not percieve their actions as wrong-they simply cannot-but we certainly would. Are they then excused? Of course not. You cannot accept a context of polarised morality then state the variable of awareness. By stating that something is either good or evil you deny variables, shades of grey. And so Fae becomes a demon or remains Fae depending on an individuals perspective irregardless of the Fae's species/origins. And each indicidual as a varying perspective (as we've seen in these discussions regarding K's actions etc). But how can that be is good and evil are absolutes?

@110 Im still fond of this theory

Muhahaha Im making a fort out of my walls of text. Snigger.
Felipe Martins
112. felipem
Indeed, I like this kind of discussion. I gotta say, you realy have some big walls of text, I'm getting intimidated xD.

About the "Fae are/aren't natural" thing, I've been thinking and I don't think we can realy have a conclusion on that. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as we know, the "natural" was not either Fae nor Human, or if they were one of these, the name changed (Ruach? I don't remember, actualy). But that goes back to my point of we not knowing what's natural and what's not, and K wouldn't know either.

About your paragraph concerning the Dark Age, that's exactly my point, but with different conclusion. The lack of powerful people, technology, and so many other things on the current age, compared to what was before indicates precisely a Dark Age, IMO.

Nah, I like bees, but wasps are just mean! I'm not saying they're useless. Being evil does not mean you can't be productive, useful or even good sometimes.

I disagree when you say there must be an absolute definition for good/evil, it's realy hard to tell, sometimes. If you're trying to do something realy good, let's say cure cancer, but screw up and suddenly all hell breaks lose and you plague mankind, are you good or evil? And what about the opposite way? If you could go back in time, would you kill baby Hittler? It'd (probably) save lots of peoples lives, but is it a good action, or evil?
Steven Halter
113. stevenhalter
A Fox@111:The expression from the "whole cloth" usually means something made completely new. The base world of Fae was entirely constructed by the Shapers. Many of the plants/animals seem to also be either new creations or reshapings of things that existed in the world(s?) from which the Shapers/Namers originated. How much the sentient inhabitants of Fae were Shaped is a quite interesting question.
Felipe Martins
114. felipem
That's exactly what I meant, thanks for supporting my argument, I still have some troubles with the language xD.
Ashley Fox
115. A Fox
mmmm. So I looked up whole cloth. And its a bit interesting.
'Whole cloth' refers to a piece of cloth as it is after manufacture, being complete and not cut into usable sections. Clothiers would claim a, say, peice of clothing was made of WC-this meant that the peice reprsented somthing special (quality, wealth etc). The item was not speciaing in and of itself, or because it was new (though indeed it was) but becuase of the manner of its production.
However untruthful clothiers would then use various means to pretend that an item was made of WC, when it was
Common modern usage denotes a lie.

When applied to Faen, Felurian either means a) Faen was created by, threads shaped into a whole-cloth then shaped into Faen or b) it was created out of a lie or c) both.

Whole cloth indicating a new creation, special because of the manner of its creation, and my theory of that cloth being manufactered out of the 'world soul', threads of the power of Names etc can both be true.

The lie bit is very intersting specially in conjunction with the CTH and Iax's interactions-did Iax then create Faen out of the beief of a lie? Or is the lie, like the clothier's, that it was whole cloth and not just parts of the word soul cut away and shaped into Faen? Or both??

(Note how im ending it here, although I have more points lol. I blame it on my not being able to comment on a couple of postings and tying the discussion themes with present discussions/overarcing themes :P)
thistle pong
116. thistlepong
@bluejo Congratulations! ::sheepish awe::

Just thought I'd drop in the bit about the Loeclos Box likely being made from the wood of the rhinna tree which Cthaeh cannot leave. This is the section where we actually see the box after all.

The scent of the rhinna:
It was like smoke and spice and leather and lemon.
The scent of the Loeclos Box:
What’s more, it seemed to be a spicewood. It smelled faintly of . . . something.A familiar smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I lowered my face to its surface and breathed in deeply through my nose, something almost like lemon.

The KKC isn't exactly full of scents. They're here and there, but this is altogether different. To focus on his effort to remember and note both times that it makes him want to place it in his mouth must be significant.
George Brell
117. gbrell

This equivalence is also supported by the language that follows the description of the scent of the rhinna (I prefer Cthaeh's tree, since only the flower is explicitly called a rhinna by Bast, but "when in Rome"):

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

A scent that inspires curiosity. Like his curiosity upon handling the Loeclos box?
118. mereader
I'm the author of the blog posts that thistlepong directed you all to. I've only been blogging since the beginning of the year, and you all probably gave me the most traffic I've ever received! I really appreciate you all taking the time to read my ideas.

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come here to respond to your comments. After thistlepong commented on my blog, I came to Jo's re-read project and started at the beginning. It's taken me this long to work my way to here! I've enjoyed what I've read here in this community.

As I was going through the re-read, and the comments on the posts covering the parts of the book I was most interested in (Felurian and the Adem) I was surprised at how little discussion there was of the feminist issues raised by the book. I'm glad my post drew some attention to these problems and directed the conversation that way for a while.

Here are some of my responses to your comments on my post. I'm going to try to go through all of them today.

Thistlepong @ 45: Thanks for the original post!

maestro23 @ 48 sees my reading as "unfortunately shallow." I don't agree with Dworkin that all heterosexual sex is necessarily coercive and degrading to women. That's a very extreme view that I don't think is expressed anywhere in my post. It seems like basically your problem was that I wasn't sex-positive enough, right?

shalter @ 52: You're right that the parthenogenesis theory would undercut my analysis of the Adem, but I don't see much in-text evidence for it. Perhaps one thing that made several readers see my interpretation as "shallow" is that I stuck pretty closely to the text and didn't indulge in a lot of speculation outside of it. Occam's Razor would say that parthenogenesis is a lot more complex and unlikely of an explanation than Kvothe's conviction that the Adem are culturally unaware of how reproduction works, so I went from there. Kvothe seems pretty certain that the Adem reproduce normally, and I take his word for it until told otherwise in the text. I know it's a pet theory, but I just don't buy it as of right now.
Mary Cramb
119. mereader
gbrell @ 53: Thanks so much for the in-depth response!

Re: Fela: The male gaze is an area where feminist theory and everyday-reality-as-we-experience-it diverge. Occasional visual objectification is hard to avoid; it happens on the subconscious level. Perhaps it is possible to appreciate someone else's body without objectifying them, but I still think it's somewhat dangerous ground and it's best for all parties to be aware of that. To me it seems like the difference is that an objectifying gaze does not recognize that a person is inside the body (like when a guy stares at a girl's chest and she has to wave and say, "hello, I'm up here!"), and a non-objectifying gaze would take in and accept the whole person, body and mind/soul, perhaps appreciating a less-than-perfect body because of a unique, beautiful spirit that shines through. We can speak out against the male gaze without outlawing that kind of positive interaction. What bothered me most about the passage was that it was put into Fela's mouth so insidiously, a male author using a female character to say it's ok for men to stare at women.

Re: The Adem: Thanks for agreeing with me about the scene with Kvothe's boner and the "anger" concept. I agree that you're probably right that the Adem have some kind of alternative social arrangement for caring for children. However, the particulars of that arrangement are not explained explicitly in the text (probably because we're getting everything through Kvothe's privileged male filter and he doesn't think to ask). Without an explicit in-text explanation for how the society supports mothers and deals with children, I guess I assumed the worst, and that might have been off base. I don't mean to stigmatize single mothers, just to say that obviously having a child and no one to help you with it is not an ideal situation, and based on what is explicitly in the text, that seemed to be at least a possibility for all Adem women.

Re: Felurian: I said, "the mere inclusion of this trope (evil demon seductress) is an issue." I meant, it's a potential problem; it's something we need to talk about. I don't mean that the book is automatically sexist just because the trope is there. I don't think the trope (or any trope) is off-limits, but that we need to discuss it; that's what I meant when I said it's "an issue." I agree that it's possible to incorporate an offensive trope in a way that deconstructs, undermines, or subverts the trope or exposes the sexism in it. Like you said @ 77, I don't think that's what Rothfuss is doing here. This trope is played straight, and that does make it sexist.
Felipe Martins
120. felipem
@mereader I respect, but since I do not agree with your point of view, I'm not gonna start an argument here by replying your answers, like I said I do respect them. That being said, I'm just gonna try to clarify what I understood about the Adem society.

IIRC, the text is explicit enough on how things work: Mothers, non-mothers, crippled, elders, pretty much everyone gets the same treatment on the Adem; there's no rich and poor, almost every money they get on the mercenary work is sent back to Ademre so that they can grow as a whole, it's almost a "communism done-right". Adem women despite men, which are often treated as inferior on everything they do (and nevertheless, they have the same rights as everyone on their society), and probably don't even want men helping raise their childs (no explicit reference here, just my interpretation based on the dialogue about parthenogenesis) . If anything the Adem can be called feminist (but I don't realy think that, just pointing it out).
Ashley Fox
121. A Fox
Re. The Adem. There are things stated explicitly in the text regarding children. I sorry but I do not have the book handy so cannot give direct qoutes.

When Tempi and K are discusiing the Adem in the Eld, Tempi talks of how children are not expected to control their expressions etc becuase all children are barbarians. He goes on to say how in a family smiles etc are used, are accepted. Like how farting is rude in public but amusing amognst your family. A mother teaches her child how to be civilised.

Later Vashet (I think) speaks of how a family may hire a musician to play to them beyound a screen, that singing is acceptable in such an intimate setting.

K see's an Adem couple having a tiff in the eating hall.

Vashet talks of the school/town she was raised in, and how later, as an adult she choose to study at other schools. Celean (sp? a happy child) is the Sheyn's daughter and studies in the school/town she was born in. Caceret lives/studies/works in the same school/town as her mother did.

The buildings K describes are small houses and communal buildings such as the eating hall, baths, and offices (possible also living accomadations) of the Sheyn and Keeper of swords/records (sorry have forgotten her name! M-something). Then there are functional buildings ie smithy.

So. Firstly the Adem do have family units, in which children are raised-and in which a man may be present if the mother is in a relationship. This man will have a relationship with the child in much the same way a father would (except less responsibility in teaching the child how to be civilised as he also must look to the woman for this).There are bonds of love. Women are the head of households, as well as the school/town. It is also implied that families live together beyound the nuclear family image, with several generations. This would also cover child care if the mother is a mercenary-the other non-mercenary women, or mercenary women who have retired would care for the child.

The second point: The adem do not have personal wealth.(80% to school/town and 20% personal. Or a similar division.) The live in a communal/marxist manner. All wealth is gathered into the wealth of the school/town. From this money is taken for communal food and other such necessities then shared out evenly, or at least the luxuries purchased are shared out evenly/accounted for in the 20%. All are provided for.

We see an example of a man who is disabled by the loss of a hand, he can no longer be a warrior so he helps serve food and is provided for. We see a (happy) child minding goats, too young to be a warrior or for greater responsibilty he nevertheless contributes to his community. And is provided for.

The Adem work as a whole. They have the Lethani. Women are revered and hold the highest places in society. Ther culture is in no way deragotory of women, castigating or abandoning 'single mothers'-single mothers do not even exist in their beliefs, they are simply mothers, and more than capable of loving, caring, teaching and providing for thier children. An enviroment that lives in such a manner and holds women in esteem in this way does not breed rapists. Sex is not seen as an important thing at all, it is put on a par with the need to eat. As food is provided for, so does their attitude toward sex provide it if it is desired. Note also that Tempi views it as a compliment that someone would want to pa his mother for sex.

IMo if you want to really examine the text you cannot pick and choose which parts to pay attention to, you have to seek to understand the culture you are critising rather than view in through western eyes.

And even with western eyes implying that a single mother is not enough for a child is a sexist point of view. A woman can only raise a child correctly if a man is providing/present in her life? please.
Ashley Fox
122. A Fox
Sorry for double post, when this discussion has faded Il post some intersting bits ive found in the Fae section re the creation of Faen/world soul etc etc
Mary Cramb
123. mereader
felipem @12o and A Fox @121 Re: The Adem

I believe you that there are things in the text about children and how they're cared for. I guess I must have missed them because they seemed so nonspecific. The descriptions of Adem families that you site are so vague that it's unclear how these families are made up and who is responsible for children. I didn't see my reading as picking and choosing, but I guess I did zero in on the things that were specific more than the things that were vague. There are so many explicit explanations of so many other things that I guess I jumped to a conclusion because of the strange vagueness on this issue. You're right that Ademrae is communal and no one is in poverty; that's in the text. I guess if I'd thought to compare the Ademrae to European welfare states instead of the US then the plight of women and single mothers wouldn't have freaked me out as much. Thanks for helping me make that connection.

My comments about single mothers meant only this: being a single mother is an especially hard job. Is acknowledging that fact the same as stigmatizing them or saying that they're incapable of raising a child correctly?
Mary Cramb
124. mereader
Now to open a real can of worms.

Helanna @ 54:
I do think a society where casual sex abounds is better for men than for women. My statement that casual sex probably leads to more rape comes from an analogy to college hook-up culture. Here's just one recent example of an article that shows a causal relationship between hook-up culture and rape culture: I do believe that some women can be feminists and enjoy one-night-stands. I think it's possible to be sex-positive and at the same time admit that sexual motivations and rewards for men and women differ, and sex is not a wise or smart choice for all women all the time. I don't think that casual sex is intrinsically wrong, unhealthy, or dangerous, but people sometimes go about in ways that are not in their own best interest. When there is an orgasm gap, women just don't get as much out of casual sex as men do, so it's not an even playing field. Maybe it was wrong of me to think that there might be an orgasm gap among the Adem, but we don't hear explicitly that there's not one. I did hedge that idea when I said that the cultural roots of the orgasm gap might not exist in a culture as different as the Adem, but there are physiological reasons for an orgasm gap as well.

The problem with many instances of casual sex is that there is not enough communication between partners. Increasing communication would ensure mutual consent and increase pleasure, but people are often too lazy to talk to someone they aren't emotionally invested in, so they're selfish in bed and don't care as much as they should about the other person's pleasure, and sometimes not even their consent. This lack of communication sets up the sexual encounter to favor the man, and so women are wise to try to avoid these kinds of encounters when they can't be sure they'll be treated fairly and respectfully. (This is the main problem I have with casual sex as it works in reality, as opposed to theory. I don't think bringing this up and talking this way is slut-shaming. This isn't the same as blaming a woman for what happens to her.) Kvothe brags that his Adem partners enjoyed sleeping with him, but we don't hear that the Adem make a point of communicating to ensure reciprocity or anything like that. PR could have easily written in a ritual or method of communicating that the Adem use to make sure that all the sex they're having is mutually pleasurable, but he doesn't. He could have also written in some quick ritual they might do to ensure consent before sex, but he doesn't, though it would have fit well into the scenes since he does take the time to bring up STDs. Rituals like that would be necessary to ensure consent and reciprocity and make a society full of casual sex a safer and more equal place for women. If I'd seen a ritual like that in the text, I probably wouldn't have had the same reaction to the Adem culture that I did. I hope this explanation makes my argument clearer and less objectionable.

You disagree that the idea that men can't function while arroused leads to rape culture. I stand firm on this, and I agree that this idea may be "more sexist towards men" because it's predicated on a presumption of weakness in men, on their inability to resist their own desires. Think of a date rape: a couple is making out and the man gets arroused, but the woman wants to end the date there. However, he complains that he won't be able to sleep or do anything else until/unless she helps him "take care of" his erection. She feels pressured and coerced, and if she resists or refuses, he might feel entitled to use her to "take care of" it without her consent. That's rape, no? Don't you see how his entitled attitude and his assumption that once he's arroused he NEEDS sex leads to rape?

I don't think it's a stretch at all to think of domestic violence when the text talks about sex in which a woman "takes anger." The phrasing in the text is what brought it to mind. I didn't think that Kvothe literally beat Penthe or that they had unusually violent sex; I just thought about domestic violence when I saw that phrase.

I called Penthe a "conquest" because to my mind, Kvothe seemed to see her and treat her that way, even though she initiated. It wasn't a word chosen with great care, I admit. I certainly don't think women are always "conquests," even in casual sex.

I believe that as a female reader you didn't feel alienated. Women readers are so used to reading male books that we have had to internalize a male viewpoint, and sometimes it takes as much consciousness-raising for us to see the problems with this viewpoint as it does for men. My reaction of feeling alienated is just as valid as your reaction of not feeling alienated.
Ashley Fox
125. A Fox
I feel that, again, you are picking and choosing what you pay attention to in the text.

"Maybe it was wrong of me to think that there might be an orgasm gap
among the Adem, but we don't hear explicitly that there's not one. I did
hedge that idea when I said that the cultural roots of the orgasm gap
might not exist in a culture as different as the Adem, but there are
physiological reasons for an orgasm gap as well."

"Kvothe brags that his Adem partners enjoyed sleeping with him, but we don't hear that the Adem make a point of communicating to ensure
reciprocity or anything like that."

Both of these things are covered. K talks about how he tries to use the skills Felurian taught him with Vashet-but she does not want that much foreplay. Something along the lines of having no patience for a thousand hands..more like ten hands. Later he says how Penthe tastes are different and how curious she is to experiment with these techniques and her own experiances. This is an explicit example of how different women have different sexual tastes, and of how he is seeking to pleasure women-not just take pleasure. It is a clearly mutual experiance.

Also when K stumbles across other lovers it is clear that they are both enjoying themselves.

I think your perspective is inherently flawed: you are putting a gravitas on sex that simply does not exist in their culture. Their attitude is not casual in the way you tal of it, with students etc*, becuase that casual attitude still puts an ephasis on the importance of sex, of sex as a goal. The adem view sex as simply a bodily function. If they feel desirous they have sex. If they are hungry they eat. If they have sex they ensure they do not pass on STD's. If they eat they ensure they do not eat rotten food. They take pleasure in sex as they would take pleasure in a well prepared meal. This is clearly demonstrated in their regards to singing: our perspective is literally reversed.

Sex does not dictate their actions or motivations, it is something people do. They pusue greater things such as the Lethani and wellbeing of Ademre: these are the things that are important, that are viewed as goals.

And as I stated earlier: Just becuase the Adem to not lay social weight, or have a casual attitude toward sex does not mean they are nymphos!

K's Boner: Vashet was not simply having sex becuase he couldnt function. She was teaching hip how to be civilised. He was aroused, embarrassed of his arousal and didnt know how to deal with it. She taught him the Adem perspective, that it is not a big deal, or needs to get in the way. He can simply have sex and resume what is important. If he needed to deficate during training it would have been perfectly acceptable if she showed him where the toilet was. To the Adem they are both necessary parts of life and dealt with pragmatically. And this attitude is not explicitly for men. One of the women, im sorry I cant remeber which one, makes a joke of how she never would have made first stone if she had been celibate. Penthe I think. The ensuing frustration, and subsequent distraction of denial would have impeded her learning.

*this is not a very good comparison as the example you gave is commonly held as a rebellion toward a culture that places great weight of personal gratification, demonising and denying of sexuality.

On 'anger'. Penthe does not speak, er, English (lol) /common tongue well. K is helping her improve, whilst his grasp of Adem is also imperfect. When this is mentioned there is an uncertainty in translation. It is also based around ideas of Tantric sexual rituals and flows of energy etc. It may be worth your while reading the post of that section here, as there is lots of good stuff in it.

And again. Women are revred in the Adem society. I find it very hard to imagine that violence toward women would be accepted. Even if an Adem man went against his culture, the civilisation his mother had imparted on him, and was violent toward a woman I imagine it would be swiftly stopped. We know they are not squemish about using harsh punishments. This also applies to rape, the Adem make it clear what they would do if someone passed on an STD (shouting from the hill tops so all would know of their crime, shunning them, and stoping any possibility of further sexual partners) its logical that the punishment for rape would be very severe.

You really need to examine your points within the cultural context of the Adem: not your own.
Mary Cramb
126. mereader
Jezdynamite @ 55:
I did enjoy the book, which is why I wanted to engage with the parts of the book that I found less appealing. My reviews (links: and were generally positive, and I do plan on reading D3. Also, these disturbing elements didn't come up until halfway through the 1000-page sequel. I had quite an investment already.

JohnPoint @ 56: Your apology for the "women as music" passage misses the point. Just because Kvothe has a male point of view doesn't mean it has to be one that objectifies women. Thistlepong's response @ 72 is right on: "To present persons, in this case women, as literal instruments toward sexual pleasure, the textbook definition of objectification, without irony would be kinda tragic." I agree that it's theoretically possible to be a sex object and an equal (my discussion of the male gaze @ 119 is related and might clarify). I don't see how slut-shaming is related to this issue.

maestro23 @ 57:
My response @ 123 shows that my mind has somewhat changed about the Adem.
My response @ 124 explains my objections to a society of rampant casual sex. I agree with you that Rothfuss isn't presenting Ademrae as a uptopia; it is xenophobic and has other issues that make it not ideal.
My response @ 119 addresses the issue of Fela and the male gaze. Like you, I was also relieved when Vashet was unimpressed with Kvothe's super sex moves. It would have been really groan-worthy if business-like Vashet's reserve melted thanks to our hero's fairy-lovin' skillz.

Trollfot @ 66:Thanks for the reference to the Nordic Huldra! It's always great to learn new things. Felurian seems a bit more one-note than the Huldra though. Based on the wikipedia article, the Huldra does all kinds of stuff, but Felurian seems to do nothing but seduce men.

thistlepong @ 72: Thanks for defending me! The article on "How to be a fan of problematic things" is awesome. I surely hope that in attacking the sexism I found in this series no one has felt that I'm personally attacking fans of the series. I like some things that are problematic too. We all have multiple critical lenses we can use to view any book or movie, and we can take them off and put them on like glasses. Sometimes I want to simply enjoy a book, and I put on my popcorn-and-soda lens. But when I come across something that alienates me as a woman or that I find racist or something, I feel like that set of glasses just got knocked off my head. I'm forced to put on my critical feminist glasses and articulate why I'm offended before I can move on and put the funtime lenses back on. I view this writing and this conversation as participating in the steps of the process outlined here.
Re: well-written sex scenes by cis-male authors: I just reviewed A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (link to my review: ) and I found the sex scenes hot and cliche-free in that book.

kvodin @ 74 I think Kvothe is both sexist and young; his youth perhaps means he hasn't had the experience he might need to make him rethink his sexism.
Mary Cramb
127. mereader
A Fox @ 125: I understand your main criticism to be that I'm not taking the Adem on their own terms, but imposing my terms on them. They see sex as just another bodily function; you compare it to eating and defecating. I guess my response to that would be that this view of sex is not in women's best interests. Since women are the ones bearing children and the consequences of sex (how often do women die in childbirth in this world?), it's in our best interest to take it seriously. The only thing that can mitigate this fact of life and make this level of extreme casual sex compatible with women's interests is widespread reliable birth control. The only discussion of birth control is when Kvothe, the outsider, talks about the herbs he chews. Penthe talks about babies as if they just fall out of the sky, conveniently and without fuss; she doesn't seem to have birth control on her radar. We've discussed how the Adem mercenary women may not be menstruating because they may have almost 0% body fat. Still, I don't think that covers enough of the women or is systematic enough to make a society with such a casual view of sex a good place for women. Thinking this way, I see that the Adem view on reproduction is essential to their sexual practices; if they thought that men had anything to do with making babies, they'd have to take sex more seriously.

In my original post, I acknowledged that Penthe is translating poorly when she uses the word "anger," to stand for some Adem concept that probably means something closer to "passion." I didn't miss that; she discusses it at length with Kvothe. Either way, PR chose the word, and the domestic violence image comes naturally when you have a woman "taking" or receiving anger from a man in the context of sex. I don't think that domestic violence is rampant in the Adem at all. That's not what I meant when I said that domestic violence "comes to mind." It's just a phrase that makes the reader think about spousal abuse, a free association.

You've said that I'm "picking and choosing." I don't think I'm consciously setting out to ignore elements that undermine my ideas. I will admit that I read this book by listening to it (for 40 hours!) on audio while I did things like exercise and drive and cook and fold laundry. Memory retention for things you read is higher than for things you hear. The things that stuck out to me the most are the things that surprised me the most, and those were the things I ended up writing about. It was easy for things that were more vague or nonspecific to slip under my radar as I split my attention between the book and the road or my chores. That's why I've conceded some of the points you and others made like in my post @ 123.

I will admit that this reaction I had to the Adem is kind of personal, if you couldn't tell. In my personal life, I take sex seriously. I respect the power of sex to bond a couple and create life, and can barely conceive of it as "just another bodily function." I have an almost visceral reaction to the idea of conducting my sex life the way the Adem do. To me, the thought of sex with a stranger (indeed, anyone who's not my husband) is nauseating and terrifying. Given all that, my reaction to the Adem might be more understandable. This is something that goes so deep to a person's core that it's hard to shut that off and ignore it when reading something that presents such a radically different view. Maybe I should strive for greater objectivity or imaginative sympathy with the worlds and characters I read about. I definitely view this whole exchange as a learning experience and will keep this conversation in mind if I ever have such a strong gut reaction about a book again (and I hope I do).
Ashley Fox
128. A Fox
Oh aye its clear you are bringing a whole host of your own issues, creating a wall of a lense from which you hide behind.

If you are to offer a valid critism of a book (etc), specially when you are making allusions to the author being chauvanist, you have to be objective, and you have to read to book properly! To view points whithin their context.

::severe exasperation::

You also have to bear in mind that this is a story. Not a list of facts about certain people events. To write a good story you have to skillfully weave in info, descriptions, with interactions between the characters, and all this as cushioning fr the plot. You keep saying how you have dismissed 'vague' aspects-which is ridiculous. This is world building, subtle, woven with the plot, a great progression in literature is the abandonment of huge chunks of factoid bearing footnotes!

Again just becuase the Adem do not view sex as important, does not mean they are nymphos, or have sex with strangers, or have multiple partners. This would be down to the individual, as demonstrated in the text...and much like our own world. A casual attitude to sex does not necesseitate a slut, which you do imply, and which others have picked up upon.

Women cannot benefit from a casual attidude of sex? Honestly I dont know where to start on this one, or if I should even bother as its clear you have a LOT of strong personal bias. You are assuming, and putting the weight upon MALE fulfillment, you are refusing to see how a woman can embrace such an attitude and interpret it in ways that benefit her, or owning her sexuality without shame or pressure to conform, or endless guilt. This does not mean a woman would have to have sex with anyone who wanted it ( -in fact thats the subsurviant attidude that western societies/advertising et al give out, that a woman is a object of sexual gratifcation for the male gaze, by associations of guilt, repressed desire and a patriarchal society. Im aware that there are at least a dozen refs in that loaded sentance!ha)-by not placing a greater value on sex it frees up the woman to embrace her natural inclinations, free from associated norms and values. If she is inclined, as you are, to be in a monogomous relationship, this is her choice, if she wishes to remain single and occaisionally take lovers a la Vashet that is her choice, if she is quite a lusty lady and wishes to have regualr sex with a steady partner, or not, that is her choice, a la Penthe.

Penthe also implies that children are welcome, and I do find your negative associations with bearing children...well, biazarre. Being a mother isnt that hard (exhausting certainly!lol), and having the communal support that the Adem do would make it even easy, it would also eradicate some of the pressure we face: that of baancing the roles of mother, career woman and individual. Our society at once puts pressure on a woman to be fully capable, without help, or emboding all these things, and also expects them to conform to the former. Feminisms backlash. The Adem to not have this perspective, children come, are welcome, a mother fulfills her role, has the support of her community and can still choose the path of her life-if it is within the Lethani.

You do have a valid concern with mortality rates during birth. These are not adressed in the text. However it is clearly stated that the Adem have acces to the best healthcare in this world: the Tahl (the Medica being second, they do not heal with magic, and they are teaching mistakes re some herbs etc). So its logical to follow that this would eliminate common problems during pregnancy/birth.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
129. tnh
Peace, all. You're arguing focal distance and latitude of interpretation: a commendable thing. Just bear in mind that different styles of reading are not necessarily wrong. They might or might not be. They can certainly have different strengths. But what you have to address first is that they're different.

"That's an interesting reading" covers ever so many circumstances.
thistle pong
130. thistlepong
A Fox @128
Your ::severe exasperation:: is pretty clear:
Oh aye its clear you are bringing a whole host of your own issues, creating a wall of a lense from which you hide behind.
I hope we're all civil enough not to slip into personal attacks.

there's no rich and poor, almost every money they get on the mercenary work is sent back to Ademre so that they can grow as a whole, it's almost a "communism done-right".
We're clearly meant to infer this, but again all we have is Kvothe's limited pov and some sparse text. It did strike me as a somewhat functional soviet whose product was mercenaries, but it wasn't clear who precisely appropriated and ditributed the wealth returned to Haert. Nor do we have any idea how other Adem towns and schools operate. Economic analyis is probably as contentious as gender and even more alienating, though. Folks seem happy enough in a watery BF Skinner kind of way.

Thanks for engaging with the thread so civilly and openly. It's become clear to me that you're not attacking Adem women in particular, but questioning what's unsaid about them and the implications of what is said. That's far more fun to read than endless iterations of Moff's Law; which is why I wass glad gbrell threw up the Social Justice League link.
Mary Cramb
131. mereader
Wow, I really wasn't expecting to be personally insulted on this thread. Maybe I wouldn't have been so open and honest about my personal views on sex if I thought it was asking for a personal attack. I thought we were among friends here. I appreciate thistlepong and tnh for calling out your uncalled-for rude tone.

I feel like I've tried to put forward my views without slut-shaming. My problem with the Adem isn't that they're slutty or having orgies. I still think there are aspects of their attitude toward sex that are not set up in women's best interests, though my thoughts have somewhat changed in the course of this conversation.

I still think premenopausal women don't typically benefit from living in a society with a casual view of sex unless they have access to reliable birth control. If they have birth control and the benefit of choosing for themselves when to become pregnant, then I totally agree with you that casual sex can be a valid and fulfilling choice for some women. I don't think of all children as burdens, but unplanned ones can disrupt a woman's life. Again, my personal filter might be coloring my view on unplanned pregnancy as a burden, but many women share that view. Adem women do seem pretty career-focused themselves, and they obviously can't be traveling and doing mercenary work with a baby along. I have a hard time believing that an Adem woman discovering she's pregnant just before she leaves for a prestigious mercenary assignment wouldn't feel disappointed and anxious. There is also no mention of abortion in the book. The social support that the Adem have in child-rearing is clearly helpful, and allows them to be so accepting of children. The fact that I don't have that communal social support in the US may make it hard for me to grasp their attitude. You say the Adem have access to the best healthcare in the world--the Tahl. I thought I remembered a passage where Penthe talks about traveling for miles to take care of an STD. Is that the Tahl? That didn't sound like great healthcare to me. I'm glad you acknowledge that death and disability in childbirth are issues that aren't covered. That's an issue that makes casual sex potentially dangerous for women.

Surely you know there's no such thing as true objectivity. Reader response criticism teaches that we are all always embedded in our own point of view, which we can never fully escape. It encourages us to become aware of and acknowledge where we're coming from as readers, including our own limitations. That's what I was doing when I made personal revelations about my views on sex and how they are so opposite from what happens in the Adem, as well as how my method of reading (audiobook) may have led me to unintentionally skip over key "world-building" passages. Being a responsible critic means being self-aware of these things, and that's what I was trying to do, since acknowledging our biases is the closest we flawed humans can come to objectivity. I don't think I'm "hiding behind" my critical lens--I was open about revealing it. Isn't that the opposite of hiding? Admitting my biases isn't saying "I'm right because these are my biases and they're true." It's saying, "This is one of the reasons why I'm coming to the conclusion I am. These biases may be coloring the way I see this issue, so I'm going to put that on the table and see if it makes things any clearer for all of us." My admission of my biases is not an invitation to completely dismiss my point of view.

You say that objectivity is particularly important when one is accusing an author of misogyny or chauvinism. I'm not sure whether I want to accuse Rothfuss personally of those things, but I stand on the fact that KKC is a man-centered series with several misogynistic scenes and passages. People here have mostly stopped arguing with me on several things, which may mean they think I'm right, that we've all become distracted by this argument over the Adem and casual sex, or that they haven't been back to such an old thread in a few days. It seems clear that there's general agreement that:
- the "women as instruments" passage is objectifying (this is the worst offense in the whole book in my opinion).
- Felurian is at least problematic, and at most a reiteration of a sexist trope.
-the scene where Kvothe gets an erection and Vashet helps him take care of it displays attitudes related to rape culture.
- the scene where Penthe explains the Adem concept of "anger," while confused with translation issues that create perhaps unintended allusions to domestic violence, states that men are more passionate than women, which is misogynistic.
- the books barely squeak by the Bechdel test, and are populated overwhelmingly with male characters.

I'd like to direct the conversation to these issues, because these are the ones that will tell whether or not the book is misogynist. Maybe these are issues that we can all discuss more dispassionately, with awareness of how our personal biases color our view of the text.
Mary Cramb
132. mereader
Speaking of the Bechdel test:

gbrell @ 77, shalter @ 84, and thistlepong @ 85:
Re: Bechdel

Thanks for acknowledging that WMF doesn't pass Bechdel "with flying colors." When I wrote the review in my blog, I'd forgotten the scene in the tavern, and I wrote a correction in a comment to that post. If WMF does pass, it's on a technicality. Here are some mitigating reasons why the scene shouldn't really count:
1) second girl is not named,
2) we never hear second girl speak,
3) the conversation is about prostitution, which you could argue means the conversation is, at root, about men, because the girls discuss strategies to make a living from men’s desires, and
4) Kvothe is a creepy stalker eavesdropping on Denna.
Felipe Martins
133. felipem
@A Fox
Well said, I'm almost going back to our previous discussion on this thread to agree with you there just because I like your arguments on this matter, lol, I'm joking of course.

I don't see @A Fox response as an insult, just a valid critic, maybe a bit rude yes, but still valid. She's right, you gotta be careful when you make some accusations.
About other arguments, I'm not saying anything because it's been so hard to make you understand the clearest point, that the Adem is, if anything, Feminist that I don't even want to start an argument on more complicated things, but since you asked, I'll try to make quick answers:
- Women as instruments: instruments are K's life! It's one of the most valueable things to him, much more valuable then a song, each musician usualy plays just one instrument, which are commonly called "lovers". I do recognize some people might find it offending, but I read it as a compliment.
-Agreed on Felurian
-If anyone was raped on that scene, it was K, not Vashet. Anyway, others have already made their points on this matter.
-You asked for explicit textual evidence on previous points, but now you just get from a badly translated "anger" to domestical violence? IMO it's a HUGE leap.
-I usually post here from work and unfortunatly do not have access to videos here so I couldn't watch he Bechdel test, but based on others comments, the book realy does not pass it. Anyway, I don't have an opinion on this.

This should be my last post on this matter, since it's getting tiresome. I'll leave A Fox to discuss xD
thistle pong
134. thistlepong
I'm curious about why you choose to define something you admit is a rude statement about a person rather than an argument as something other than an insult, but shouting down the person offended prolly isn't the best strategy. Catherynne Valente recently made a relevant post at Anyway, what "accusations" are you referring to?

On feminism:
I'd point to the Valente post again. However, the Adem aren't feminist simply because Haert is structured matriarchally. Nor are they feminist because women are better fighters. Nor are they feminist because they might reproduce asexually. In fact, because this dicussion is possible, I don't think they're feminist at all. They might be a decent attempt with some problems, or they might be intended to be problematic by an author that wrote a lot of other imperfect social organizations. Regarding the former, Jesse Bullington has some relevant words in the comment section at
On women as instruments:
"Sexual objectification refers to the practice of regarding or treating another person merely as an instrument (object) towards one's sexual pleasure"
Sound familiar? Sure, Kvothe means it as a compliment. But Rothfuss placed it there and left it there, with the defense that it was specifically not what it emphatically is, after 200 revisions. We're all terribly fascinated with his wordplay elsewhere. He himself talks about shades of menaing between slim and slender. This isn't a mistake and it's not innocent. Perhaps we shouldn't ignore it?

On Kvothe and Vashet:
Technically I'd agree with you. Vashet, according Wisconsin law (Pat's native environment) is guilty of statutory rape. However, you're missing the point. It's not about one individual raping another, but how a permissive attitude might contribute to culture dangerous to women. I don't necessarily agree in this particular context, but I understand the premise.

On anger:
Again I believe you're missing the point. mereader isn't suggesting the Adem are domestically violent, but that the textual comparrison between anger and sex is fraught in itself. Calling it badly translated within the text is a cop out. Pat chose those words, chose anger specifically, and that has repercussions for readers. And he chose them in the context of a culture of violence. Why is that?

Reading your final words, I want to encourage you to follow some of those links, doubly so the Valente. I hope you were referring to your own exhaustion rather than the discussion itself.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
135. tnh
Felipe, let's refer to things we say about characters in books as observations, not accusations. And it's okay to say you think someone's made a valid point, but one doesn't excuse rudeness on that account.

It's not going to make Mereader less defensive to have you in effect saying it's all right to be rude to her. I'll say the same if anyone speaks rudely to you.

There will be civility. You can count on it.
Ashley Fox
136. A Fox
Right. First off I will apologise for any percieved insult. It was certainly not intended that way. My intenion was to embrace a metaphor (analogy? urgh brain soup) and points/personal issues that mereader had made to underline my main concerns/points on obectivity and context. Perhaps instead of 'hiding behind' I should have said 'struggling to remove', or 'entrenched beyound'.

Mereader made a point of saying how she doffed her popcorn lense and put upon her critical lense. Then directly contradicted this by admiting how she struggles to seperate from her own personal beliefs and actions in comparison with the book. She then goes on to say how she has not even listened/read the text properly, as she was being distracted at the time. She has repeatedly ignored much textual evidence that disputes her opinions.

One thing that I value about this reread is the attenion to the text, textual evidence, and viewing things within context. Even our wildest speculation is founded in fact, and even when that founding is very loose indeed we are always happy to apply the 'wild spec' label. This is what makes this so much fun.

This also ties in with opinion. If textual evidence is awknowledged within an argument, but people have differing oponions, this is fine: indeed good as such frictions often lead to interesting insights. However if a person does not awknowledge text/context, then quite frankly they do not have a leg to stand on.

And yes I do find it very frustrating when someone has such firm opinions, goes out of their way to write a blog about them, throws weighty accustations at the author* , and makes a lot of assumptions without truely analysing the text. How could this be a valid critique?

*Both in the original blog and here. IE PR's vile way in which he apparently justifies the male gaze through Fela, and objectifying women through the 'instruments' para'. Mereader has implied that PR is presenting his own views via the text, and her version of these are very negative, and honestly nasty. It would also pay to read the above comments and actually consider the point of view that he is presenting how the above can affect women, and men, how they are perpetuated and how K may have learned and grown away from these things. That he is indeed presenting an analysis of such issues. But no he's just another wicked man-beast. Grrr. (Note that is humour not an impassioned insult, raa raa)

Now if we were to discuss whether or not PR has succeeded in the intentions of having a female empowered society, or representing gender issues within the context of the narrative then this would be quite interesting and also, by defaut, place a greater weight on opinion (as long as the text is awknowledged, of course).

I am happy to go to to discuss this, and the other points you have made, but wished to make this post to clarify the intenions behind my previous comments, and to explain my frustrations. Honestly I did not appreciate the backlash or accusations of what is essentially spite. I am not a spiteful person. However I can understand how tnh, mereader and thistlepng misinterpreted my comment (hence the apology) and sought to stop any potencial nastiness. Much as Felipem supported some of my points (oh and lol @133).
Steven Halter
137. stevenhalter
mereader@132:The tavern scene is indeed problematical. But, as you observed with the parthenogenesis, we've been doing a lot of subtextual probing here. If it is really Denna on the hero's journey, then the scene would be an important one for her. Your observation that Kvothe is being stalkery may be closer to the truth than the story lets on at this point. Denna is doing the active saving of the girl while Kvothe looks haplessly on.
We'll have to see what is exposed in D3, but I'm beginning to suspect that PR is telling a few tales here. Kvothe's tale centers on Kvothe but may not be the most important one that is being told. I remarked a bit ago that we may get a eucatastrophy by proxy and, in a way, the tavern scene is Bechdel by proxy.
It's a tale with three acts, we're in the second intermission and our hero is somewhat tarnished and dinged. What will the third act bring? Are the lights dimming? No, no call back to the final act just yet--we have time to chat and create theories to our hearts content.
Steven Halter
138. stevenhalter
By the way, I'm currently sitting in Atur--maybe I'll find an inscription.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
139. tnh
A Fox, close reading is not the only way to read. Forgive me if you already know that.
Ashley Fox
140. A Fox
Forgiven. But the points I raised are not particularily close reading, they are simply paying attention to the whole of the text inc the world building. If you are going to attempt to construct highly critical argument it is essential that you pay attention to the whole text, not just the parts that could be percieved to support your argument.

Examplified in my post 121, which mereader has awknowledged.
Mary Cramb
141. mereader
Thistlepong, thanks for showing felipem how he was missing the point in @134. I could not have said it better. I enjoyed the Valente article. This seemed apt: "And if you want to see the ugliest fandom has to offer, all you have to do is be a woman and say something negative about a popular SFF property. Bonus if it’s male-authored and male-directed."

A Fox @ 136:
My comment about a popcorn lens and a critical lens was in response to another poster's comment that seemed to say something like, "If it pissed you off so much, why did you keep reading?" I never claimed that either the popcorn lens or the critical lens were objective. Both of those lens are colored by the fact that I'm the one looking through them. We always read through the lens of our experiences and identities, which we can never fully escape. So I don't think that my two posts contradict each other at all. I can read for pleasure, then switch to reading more critically when I get offended, and all the time be myself reading, with my personal beliefs coloring all I read. All that reader response stuff is covered in my post @131.

I agree that the re-read project is valuable for its attention to detail; that's why I read the whole thing instead of just the part where people were talking about me. I have pointed straight to the text in my strongest arguments, and acknowledged some sloppiness and not paying full attention in my weaker ones. What else would you like me to do at this point?

Sometimes authors write unreliable narrators who say things that the authors themselves do not believe, and sometimes authors use characters to say things that they truly think themselves. I wrote one review where I mostly excused some rape culture rhetoric for the former reason ( and one where I called out a dead writer for the latter, after reading a biography to try to figure him out ( Too much speculation over which one we're dealing with in any situation is probably pointless. You're right that it's best to focus on the book and its characters rather than personally attacking an author. The thing I said that came closest to directly attacking Rothfuss was after a discussion of the women-as-instruments passage:

"I just hope that Rothfuss has some distance from his narrator here, that these are Kvothe’s ideas and not his, that he’s saying this to show that Kvothe and the society he comes from are sexist. Because I wouldn’t want to say Rothfuss doesn’t understand women, sex or writing. That would be insulting."

My phrasing here is careful and tongue-in-cheek, and I'm only insulting Rothfuss if he truly believes the words he put in Kvothe's mouth. If he's using them as characterization, that's perfectly acceptable, and we can only hope that in D3 K learns how wrong this attitude was.

The other comment of mine about Rothfuss that you address is when I said it's "insidious" for a male author to use a female character to justify the male gaze. Insidious: Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects: "the insidious effects of stress". Treacherous; crafty: "an insidious alliance." Insidious =/= vile. Rothfuss's action in writing this passage may have been insidious, but I wasn't calling him personally vile.

I'd also be interested in the discussion you propose at the end of your post @136 about whether or not Rothfuss created a female empowered society in the Adem. I've conceded several points about their society, but I still believe that since there is no reliable birth control (and the rate of maternal death in childbirth is unknown), the rampant casual sex makes it a problematic place for women. I'm still waiting for you and the other original posters I've responded to to address the points I made in the bottom of my post @ 131.
Brandon Lammers
142. wickedkinetic

#1 - I think you're first and biggest mistake is that you presume to judge an author based on his characters. Kvothe is a very flawed teenage boy - he has had no parents, grew up as a homeless beggar, has been beaten/raped and is on a path of vengeance which will destroy civilization as he knows it. And you're upset because he's not some politically correct feminist? PR was a leader of the college feminist group at the university he attended for many years while collecting degrees and eventually getting a job there. He is not Kvothe, nowhere has he indicated that Kvothe is a role model or a heroic figure - he is an anti-hero, who makes many mistakes, and repeatedly does reckless stupid violent things without weighing the consequence or considering the damage he might do to innocent bystanders or people he cares about.

#2 - you can't judge a fantasy book the same way you'd judge 'proper literature'. the whole 'fantasy' element indicates that it will explore areas of the human psyche that lead to politically incorrect territory, the sex-god or sex-demon trope, etc. Kvothe is a rockstar-type, and he sleeps with his groupies, and he pines for his muse, and he is a protagonist in a meta-fantasy that plays fun with and undermines a multitude of common fantasy tropes. If said tropes are 'inherently anti-women, pro-rape' or the like, that is a genre issue.

#3 and most importantly. PR is a lover of stories, which I think is what makes these books so brilliant - there are stories within stories within stories, conflicting versions of legends and mythologies, fables and poems and songs. He will do whatever best sells his stories. Even if Kvothe is based on the young college-student-aged Patrick Rothfuss, and the tale in some small way shows his education and maturity from an ignorant mysoginist to a proper feminist according to your scales and standards - it would require that he show this character arc and indicate his immaturity, ignorance, etc....

#4 Like in all great speculative fiction, the Adem culture is a very deeply developed what-if in a genre that is all about the 'what-if'. Its raison-d'etre is What-If. So 'what if' there was a matriarchal warrior culture vaguely reminiscent of the Tao/Zen/Buddha beliefs and some of the Asian martial-art traditions. What would that look like? Would it be proper for the women to use their sexual power in addition to their political and cultural power to control or subdue or 'keep men in their place'? Or would it be a liberated sexually-free culture where women were never pressured into sex (because they were all trained martial artists) but the population were free to have consensual sex whenever it was mutually desired....

I think what bothers me most about your 'critiques' is they are not mind-expanding what-if explorations of the text, the culture, the story, or the characters, but snap-judgements and talking-down to the characters and the author. You repeatedly setup straw-men and knock them down, which is clever and appropriate for popular journalism but doesn't add anything to the discussion. example- you say 'I hope author has sufficient distance from his character' or 'I think relating sex to anger leads to rape culture' or what have you.

These are truly great stories, magnificent fantasies with untold depth and complexities. PR in these stories has written the anti-Harry-Potter, not the boy-who-lived-and-accidentally-saved-the-world-every-year-from-grades-5-through-12 but the boy who didn't know what he was getting into, and went and truly mucked everything up - everything including the culture and balance of society, the 'peace' of the kingdom, his doomed relationship with his one true love, his academic career, his friendships, etc.

Also, Fela's remark rings true to me. While you can accuse such women of being victims or ignorant of their cultural subjugation, there are plenty of women who dress in certain styles because they want to be looked at. Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry because people care how they 'look', and it makes no sense to care how you 'look' if you don't care about being 'looked at'. I think saying 'every time a man looks at a women its dirty/wrong/objectifying' is absurd. And I like the distinction PR draws between a look that conveys :polite admiration: and the look that says :lecherous leer: or :rapes with eyes:

regardless - I think its unfortunate that one little link brought so much attention to a few flawed articles. I enjoy fiction where characters are 'real', and I have yet to meet a human being that is 'perfect' and I find fiction where the characters are perfect to be flawed and boring....

you want to write some real exciting feminist analysis of fantasy fiction - take a look at anybody in the Game of Thrones..... all very very flawed characters based loosely on very very real historical figures... not sure if that makes it worse?
Ashley Fox
143. A Fox
EDIT: I had not seen Wickedkinentic's rather well put, well thought out and generally better than mine post, before posting this. :)

Sigh. Now who is being rude. 'Im still waiting'. Check out Felipem' & shalter's responses.

Also I strongly urge you to check out:

"To add further clarification on what is meant by thinking critically,
Richard Paul (1995) articulated critical thinking as either weak or
strong. The weak-sense critical thinker is a highly skilled but
selfishly motivated pseudo-intellectual who works to advance one’s
personal agenda without seriously considering the ethical consequences and implications. Conceived as such, the weak-sense critical thinker is often highly skilled but uses those skills selectively so as to pursue unjust and selfish ends (Paul, 1995). Conversely, the strong-sense critical thinker skillfully enters into the logic of problems and issues
to see the problem for what it is without egocentric and/or
socio-centric bias. Thus conceived, the strong-sense mind seeks to
actively, systematically, reflectively, and fair-mindedly construct
insight with sensitivity to expose and address the many obstacles that
compromise high quality thought and learning. Using strong critical
thinking we might evaluate an argument, for example, as worthy of
acceptance because it is valid and based on true premises. Upon
reflection, a speaker may be evaluated as a credible source of knowledge on a given topic."

Please do not victemise yourself re Valente's blog. Nobody is launching a personal attack at you. Certainly nobody is saying something as disgusting as you should be raped. It is sexist of you to note the 'male-directed' then make a point of gender association with Felipem, implying that becuase he is male (or the earlier male posters) and disagreeing with you they fall into the category set out by Valente. I do not know if you have made an assumption about my gender and I do not care. If you are interested I am female, does ths lend me more validity? Personally I do not think your gender makes any negative difference to your arguments: they are inherently flawed. And this is why I am presenting contrasting evidence, not becuase you are female.

Sorry but Ally G just popped into my head "Is it coz i is black?"

PR has commented on representing empowered women. He is also cagey about saying too much re certain characters so has not to give D3 away. So yes we can asertain that the author is not a misogynist (and it is insulting to imply that he is, if you do not view it as an insult then you are demonstrating an acceptance/lack of negativity associated with/ of misogynistic views, and are a misyoginist yourself (which I do not believe you are even if I question the fundalmentalism of some of your views))

Now the, boys and girls, shall we focus on the text, engage in some critical thinking, and have some fun?

(Well maybe tomo for me, its rather late here and my bed is a-calling)

Peace & Fucking (thats a ref btw)
Dan Layman-Kennedy
144. maestro23
Hi, mereader!

Sorry I've missed this the last couple of days; I don't want you to think I was ignoring your responses.

I will say that "shallow" was not the best-chosen word I've ever tossed into the Internets, and if it caused you any pain or distress, I'm very sorry for it.

I will also say - without wading into a point-by-point that is unlikely to satisfy either of us - that some of your observations felt like a visceral reaction on your part, which I would not have wanted to accuse you of, nor even publicly speculate on prior to your own description of it in those terms. I hesitate to say that I would have preferred a more sex-positive approach, because boy is that a loaded term and it's not my business to tell you how to feel about sex; nor do I want to stray into the territory of "you didn't write the critique I wanted to read." I would assert, though, that some of your readings - especially where you make the case that Adem society reinforces rape culture - seemed to rest on assumptions about men, women, and sexuality that are far from universal. (FWIW, I didn't think you were saying that all M/F sex is unavoidably coercive; and yeah, I know that even Andrea Dworkin didn't actually say that either.)

I depart from your reading of the Fela scene in part because she echoes almost exactly the distinction I've heard and read other feminists make between objectification and non-creepy admiring, which leads me to suspect PR was drawing on the same kinds of sources. I get that there's a slippery slope there, but I'm just not on board with the theory that this in an underhanded way of justifying the male gaze by defending it through a female speaker. OTOH, I could well be having my own visceral reaction here, which is a phenomenon damn few of us readers are entirely immune to.

In any case, thank you for dropping in and joining this discussion, which can hardly be easy to do when you're on record with an unpopular viewpoint. I for one hope you stick around; the issues you've brought up, even when we don't all reach the same conclusions, make this discussion richer and better.
Mary Cramb
145. mereader

You accuse me of making straw men, but your post @ 142 is one big mischaracterization of my words.

#1-- I addressed the issue of whether or not I'm judging an author by his characters in @ 141. I don't expect Kvothe to be a super feminist, and hopefully he'll learn to change these attitudes in D3.

#2 -- Are you're saying fantasy is allowed to be misogynistic because it's fantasy? What? If so, then I'm allowed to read it and call it what it is. Do others on this board share this view of the nature of fantasy?

#3 -- This point isn't very unified or well-developed, so what I think you're saying here is that there's a story arc and Kvothe is going to grow and develop. No disagreement here, I hope so too.

#4 -- You say the Adem is the result of Rothfuss asking himself "what if?" I totally support him in asking that question and I'm glad he did. Can't I then look at what he imagined and react to it and say "I don't think that's so great for women because..."

You say I'm not adding anything to the conversation. You prefer discussions that speculate and make theories about the imagined world rather than critiques of the way that world or its characters treat women. It's ok if you prefer that, we all have preferences. It's true that I'm not seeing epileptic trees. Epileptic trees can be fun for some people. Others see epileptic trees as distractions from issues of power and privilege. Power and privilege are certainly less comfortable to discuss than what's in the Lackless box or who is Master Ash. But discussions of power and privilege can open your eyes to what's really going on in your own world in addition to the world of a book. They can change the way you read a book or understand a character. When I read Heart of Darkness in grad school, we also had to read Chinua Achebe's essay about how the book and its author are racist. I couldn't read Heart of Darkness or anything else that exoticizes other races and romanticizes colonialism the same way again, and I took that critical point of view with me into later reading, and I can recognize the racism I saw in Heart of Darkness in other books when I come across it. That's an example of an essay that engaged with power and privilege and that definitely added something to the conversation, but not without pissing some people off. I know I'm no Achebe, but that's the kind of conversation I'm aiming at.

Re: Fela
I responded to someone else who disagreed with me on this quote way back @ 119 (I know, all the scrolling back and forth gets tiresome for me too). I don't think that every time a man looks at a woman it must necessarily be objectifying. Here's my main point: "To me it seems like the difference is that an objectifying gaze does not recognize that a person is inside the body (like when a guy stares at a girl's chest and she has to wave and say, "hello, I'm up here!"), and a non-objectifying gaze would take in and accept the whole person, body and mind/soul, perhaps appreciating a less-than-perfect body because of a unique, beautiful spirit that shines through." It's possible that when Fela talks about a creepy stare that makes her want to take a bath, and a nice gaze that lets you know you're beautiful, she draws the line exactly where I do, but I'm not inside her head to know that for sure. It's also possible that I'm setting the bar a little higher than she is, and she's actually saying she likes being objectified as long as the man staring at her isn't that creepy. I couldn't tell, so I thought it was worth discussing.

You think it's unfortunate that thistlepong's link drew readers to my blog? Wow, if you hated my blog that much, I'd love to know why so that I can improve, especially if you read more than the two articles that you were always going to disagree with anyway.

I also enjoy "real" characters and expect perfection from no one, character, author, or reader. I don't know where you got the idea I expected perfection.

I am (slowly) reading Game of Thrones, enjoying it so far, agree there are definite issues to discuss there too.
Mary Cramb
146. mereader
A Fox,

I'm sorry if you thought "I'm still waiting" was rude. I was drawing attention to the fact that the valid points I listed at the end of @ 131 hadn't been addressed by my most vocal detractor, though you had the time for a long post that was mostly about beating dead horses.

I'm sorry that you think I need to brush up on critical thinking. What are the "unjust and selfish ends" you think I'm pursuing with the criticisms I've posted here? You still haven't really engaged with what I said in @ 131 about never being able to escape our biases (can I say that without being rude?) and your critical thinking quote also pretends that there is such a thing as objectivity. The quote seems focused again on that I have not been systematic enough, have missed things and made mistakes in parts of my reading. In response to that idea, I posed a question in @ 141: What else do you want from me?

I chose the small quote from that article that fit this situation best. I do think it's a possibility that my gender and my feminist flag-waving have caused some people here to dismiss me, which was the mail point I took from the article. Maybe if I were a dude people would give my ideas a chance. Is mentioning that as a possibility sexist? I wouldn't have even thought of this as a possible explanation for what's going on here underneath the surface if thistlepong (my champion!) hadn't sent us to that link. I think I saw someone call you "she" a while ago, so I guessed you were a woman. Not too surprising. Patriarchy thrives on dissent among women. I know that no one here has said anything as disgusting as "you should be raped," which I appreciate of course. When I texted my husband today that there was a shitstorm on this thread, he checked it out and this was his response: "Tame, I say! I have seen flame wars the equivalent of the war at Troy's gates. This argument has the air of two monocled gentlemen with top hats and fine mustaches threatening to engage in fisticuffs at later day in the year, when their busy schedules relent for the summer but before they go on Holiday with their families." It makes me glad I don't frequent his message boards, where the kinds of gendered insults Valente is talking about must abound. I'm glad this board is relatively civil; the internet is a scary place sometimes.

We've all gotten somewhat frustrated today, I agree it's best to pick up tomorrow. Let's start with the list I made in @ 131.

Thanks for your response, maestro23! Maybe we don't actually disagree all that much after all. Thanks for your kind welcoming words. I'm glad you think this discussion is worth having.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
147. maestro23
You're welcome, mereader. In more than one sense, I hope.

Your husband is very funny. This is a mercifully well-moderated site; it's also fortunate to have TNH as one of its mods, who has all but written the book on successfully non-toxic online communities.

(OTOH, if you want to get a sense of what passes for a real Feminism Thrash around these parts, check out the Stop Taking This Picture thread currently in progress, which touches on matters about which I suspect you may have useful things to say.)
Felipe Martins
148. felipem
I didn't mean the topic itself isn't worth, but it seems clear to me arguing over this here is pointless, some people are too stubborn and just won't let go of their "arguments". Just now I began writing a post but gave up because I realized I was just gonna try to explain again what many people said on previous posts and others fail to understand. I'll keep checking this thread to see if any progress is made, but until then I'll stick with the "more confortable" theories, to quote mereader.
Go A Fox!

P.S.: mereader, have some patience, sometimes it takes days to get an answer even on a "hot" topic, and today part 27 of the reread should go out, people will be busy there ^^.
thistle pong
149. thistlepong
You should see some of those folks relatively unmoderated at Westeros. Pardon the following observation as I don't mean to simplify you. Your comments on the other thread seem quite different from those here. Is it possible you'd prefer the KKC were not fraught and are therefore unwilling to bring the same critical tools to bear?

Perhaps the reason people won't let go of their "aruguments" (your quotes) and why you find yourself despairing of explaining again (your empahsis) what others just cannot understand is that you don't actually have a point. Shout forever that the Adem are Feminist (your caps) without attending to the the rest of the thread or making an effort to back it up and you'll see what you want to see: a pointless thread making no progress (your words.) I'm kinda shocked at how obvious it is that both you and wickedkinetic are attempting to silence the opposing viewpoint without even reading it.
Dan Layman-Kennedy
150. maestro23
thistlepong, I certainly won't rule out that possibility; see visceral reactions, lack of immunity from (q.v.). But with as much self-awareness as I can muster, I really and truly believe that it's just that I've reached different conclusions about the issues raised about the KKC, that most of the critiques don't hold up from my perspective, and that, by and large, Patrick Rothfuss is Doin It Rite. I hope that I've been clear enough in acknowledging that I can see where differing opinions are coming from, even where I don't agree with 'em, and that the discussion is worth having.

Nor do I think my opinions are actually inconsistent. I am, yanno, a Sex-Positive Feminist; I think the prevalence of come-hither heroines in media publicity is a contributor to a toxic culture that privileges male dignity and agency over that of women, and I think the portrayal of the Adem isn't. I am large, I contain multitudes; and while the hammer of feminist critique swings comfortably in my hand, I'm not convinced everything is a nail.

But I'm not in the least shocked to hear that the Westeros boards are a bad neighborhood in the absence of firm guidance. I love and admire GRRM's work, but you wanna talk problematic, oh boy.
thistle pong
151. thistlepong
In the weeks leading up to and following the release of WMF they were the only real game in town. I avoided the ASoIaF portion until I was familiar with the text. And then ended up just avoiding it.

Thanks for the clarity and candor. I only asked 'cause I feel I was maybe too forgiving for awhile, despite the concerns of a lot of the women around me. I wonder if, even now, my willingness to consider the intentionality of some of it isn't a little wishy washy, particularly in light of Pat's 2-19 blog post.

I have heard women say the same things Fela does as well. I just feel it's open to interpretation given the broader context of the other 1800 pages. I sort of fall back to questioning what it means there, from her, at that time.

I'm plenty comfortable reading from multiple perspectives. You certainly don't need to be validated for that, but I applaud both your willingness and ability to do so.
Ashley Fox
152. A Fox
Ok. I feel that you need to take a step back. Some of your comments are becoming increasingly rude/antagonistic:

"You say I'm not adding anything to the conversation. You prefer
discussions that speculate and make theories about the imagined world
rather than critiques of the way that world or its characters treat
women. It's ok if you prefer that, we all have preferences. It's true
that I'm not seeing epileptic trees. Epileptic trees can be fun for some
people. Others see epileptic trees as distractions from issues of power
and privilege. Power and privilege are certainly less comfortable to
discuss than what's in the Lackless box or who is Master Ash"

-Theres a lot that is wrong here. One point I will respond to is the assumption that until you came along we did not have discussions regarding power and privilage. This is not the case, as you know as you have read through the comments. There is also a deragotory approach to the fact that we also discuss the plot.

"you had the time for a long post that was mostly about beating dead horses." in many posts you have stated how you are responding to such and such. Here you relagate my response to an insult, a tacitly ungraceful way to awknowledge an apology and explanation.

"I guessed you were a woman. Not too surprising. Patriarchy thrives on dissent among women."
-Again much here, but I will respond too: The awareness that we live in a patriarchal society in undeniable. But we are having an academic discussion. A form of machro society. It only becomes patriarchal if such norms and values are embraced between those involved. You are infering that this is the case, that this situation and within that, our disagreement, as two women, has been set up/overseen by/or controlled by men like two muddy bikini clad bimbos. It has not. There are men and women involved in this discussion, folk who are seeking some objectivity to discuss the gender issues, contextually. Our own genders are irrelevent unless we decide to provide some personal, anecdotal evidence. We can make a concious choice to put equality in practise.

I do find it amusingly ironic that soon after saying this, you go on to :
"When I texted my husband today that there was a shitstorm on this thread". However I am a femninist, and believe in gender equality so though I may be amused I do not mind. Your husband seems an intelliegent and amusing man, his words have value.

Re the critcal thinking link. You could read it becuase it is interesting and a subject worthy of thought. The answers to your questions lay in the conjunction of the qoute and the overall themes of my previous posts, and other's critisms both in the latter discussion and the initial.

And indeed contextual: Listen, See and Know the Shape of the (KKCs) world. ;)

Ever onwards...

Womens Rights are bases of feminism, the core principles, expectations. Obviously there are many flavours of feminism and evolvement from these bases, but they are assuredly held in common. How does Adem society fare in regard to these?

bodily integrity and autonomy*-Adem women can go where they wish as demonstrated by Vashet's changing schools, and mercenary women traveling all over the 4C
vote-We see an example of a discussion/vote when the Adem mercenarys meet Tempi in the Eld
to hold public office-Sheyn holds the highest office in Adem society, when the other Sheyn's visit Haert they are both genders.
to work; fair wages or equal pay-we see both genders in different work roles inc Mercenary. Both genders are treated equally in the distributio of thier pay.
to own property-. Women certainly have thier own living acomodations, but whether they own them or they are communaly own is uncertain. We do see women owning personal items/indicators of wealth
Education-both genders are enrolled in the schools, women are the educators, the keepers of knowledge/history.
to serve in the military or be conscripted-Mercenarys for betterment of Ademre
to enter into legal contracts-Each mercenary, regardless of gender, enters into a contract when hired in that role.
to have marital, parental and religious rights-Choice to become mercenaries, judiciary powers, women have sole parental rights, all have access to the Lethani-women teach the Lethani.

So Adem society does very well in this regard, except perhaps: *The issue that you have raised of birth control, has validity here.

Personally I do not think it is as simple, or polerized as voluntary feminism vs birth control.

The Adem do not believe that men play a role in reproduction, they believe that it is something solely accomplished by themselves, by their own bodies, by women. This belief and practise eliminates the role of men, and the idea that a womans lack of control/choice are a sign of their subdigation in a patriarchal society. Their society is matricarchal, bith and conception are firmly held as a function/abilty of women. Whilst the matter of choice seems to be taken away, with in their beliefs system it has been taken away in much the same way as they did not get to choose which gender they were born as. (IMO the book has transgender issues re K's and Will's prank on ambrose., as the single negative referance).

Now if we make the assumption that the Adem belief of procreation is a false belief, then it does seem to be quite naive and underlines the choice issue. But if this is a false belief it is engendered by women, not by men as for of suppression, nor by women unintentionally perpetuating a patriarchal society as they are not living in one. And this is an assumption. K does not believe that it is true, but he also did not believe in faeries until he was met Felurian. He also then goes on to study comparative female anatomy indicating that he is not certain, and the concept bears further investigation. Considering that this is a genre strory, in which such beliefs could very well be true, I believe that we must also take this lesson.

Within the book we are also presented a clearly patriarchal society-that of the 4C. This is the society that K and most of the characters we see have grown up in, raised with the associated norms and values through social interaction, experiances etc and stories. As WickedKinentic's point #3 explains: is an important factor.

I think we are all aware of, and in general agreement on, the ways in which such a society is sexist, and these ways/norms etc are present in the 4c. The condenced and worst aspects are represented in Ambrose; his treatment of women, sexual expectations, abuse, attitude and general ass-holery. He is not portrayed in a positive light at all, in fact he is set up as the villain of the story, and so doing as villainised the aspects of a patriarchal socitety that are mst dangerous to women.

We must also examine how women are represented, when we do see women. imo the female charcters, as characters, are well defined; they have faults, weaknesses, strengths and individual personalities, much as the male chracters do. Fela (I think we are all familiar with the different opinions on that comments of hers, so I will not go into that again here) and Mola are the women we know best from the Uni, though other women are named. They have diverse personalities. They have clear intelligence and strengths, some of which excel those of the male characters. Devi can also be described as thus, and she also has the benefit of qualities that are often presented as male: her dark edge, unlawfulness, sexual apetites-the bad boy stereotype. It is also a strong possibility that she has s tronger Alar then oh-so-powerful and powerful K. (A retrospective self depreciating joke from frame K to young K?) We have discussed Adem women, but in general they are represented as strong, diverse etc.

Auri. Auri is interesting. K shows his assimilated patriarchal N/Vs here. He views Auri as a woman in need of rescuing, who is less capable of looking after/providing for herself, he is always surprised when she does. This is the classic damsel in distress that form the backbone of many classic fairy stories, such stories that played a great part in his life as a Ruh. Outside of K's perspective Auri is not presented as this stereotype, she is a subversion of it. She provides for herself, she as shown that she is wiser than K, that she chooses her lifestyle becuase of her past, the above wisdom indicates that she has made this choice becuase it gives her protection, enables her to save herself. (From what we do not know). Even her seeming maddness is presented as a positive; it is strongly hinted that she is a Knower. She can also choose to be rational 'galvanic'.

D. So much of D is a msytery, this makes it more difficult to analysise her until after D3. However it is clear that she is a woman who has lived in and been hurt by pat' n/v's. She struggles still within damaging constraints. And yet, she has autonomy, and makes desicions to hold onto it. She makes her own desicions, and accepts responsibility for those desicions, and she does so in a way which takes advantage of the n/v's that could hurt her, and when she feels like the maniuplated situation may turn against her, she leaves. She uses these n/v's rather than conforms to them.

From this we can see how sexism in its various manifestations through societies, to myth peretuating and stereotyping are explored, and often subverted. The negative aspects are representational and fully exposed for their negativity. As there is still another book to go, we cannot fully judge where the protagonist feature re these themes, though there are indicators that the differences between frame K and young Kvothe, are mapping out a progression of awareness and reconciliation via his journey.

It is also worth noting that women in the 4c have access to contraception regardless of social class. (We do not know where the Tehlin Church stands on this).
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
153. tnh
Thank you, Maestro, though I have to give the readers and my fellow bloggers the lion's share of the credit these days. They like their non-toxic environment, and they've gotten very good at making it happen.
thistle pong
154. thistlepong
I actually ended up reading about you for nearly an hour last night. You desrve all the props you get.
Mary Cramb
155. mereader
Maestro23: You're right that I should be patient. We all have lives and jobs outside internet forums. I think I was getting impatient because it seemed like people weren't responding to the issues I had specifically tried to direct them to. C'est la vie.

Thanks for directing me to that great post on movie posters and objectifying poses! I hope to get involved in that discussion as well when I have time.

Love the Whitman quote!

felipem, if the conversation isn't worth having because no one's going to change their mind, does that mean we should all give up and say that there's nothing we can do about patriarchy? Wait for the chauvinists to die off? I agree these conversations can get frustrating when it seems like no one is open to really changing their mind, but that doesn't mean we should give up.

A Fox:
I certainly didn't mean to imply that I'm some savior bringing elevated discourse to the thread; I decided to jump into this discussion not only to defend my ideas but also to participate in the good, strong conversation that was already happening. What I was trying to convey in that paragraph you cited was that the poster and I seemed to have different preferences about what type of discussions we want to have, and that both preferences are valid, before arguing why my preferred discussion is important.

Dissent among women can be caused by and productive of patriarchy without positing an invisible godlike man pitting them against each other. What complicates this particular instance of dissent is that I think we're both sincere feminists, perhaps with slightly different angles. At root, we probably agree on a lot more than we disagree on.

I agree with you that in the Adem society women do have all of the rights that we all take for granted: voting, property, education, jobs, etc. I don't think I ever disputed those things. My objection to the Adem society is that its attitude toward sex was not in women's best interests because there does not seem to be any birth control (and I would prefer a custom of explicit communication about sex as well, ideally. People are making fun of college campuses that are requiring students to follow a sort of script to say they consent to sex in an effort to fight date rape, but I think it's a great idea). You seem to have conceded the point about how birth control is necessary for free love to be good for women, am I correct?

Re: critical thinking. My best guess at the first question I asked, the selfish and unjust ends you think I'm going for, is that you think I'm accusing Rothfuss personally of misogyny and that's not fair. I discussed the line between attacking an author and attacking his work @ 141. I think I've tried to stay on the right side of that line here, and if not, I'm chastened and repentant. When I mentioned "beating dead horses," I was talking about the fact that you were continuing to harp on the fact that you felt my reading wasn't careful enough, even after I made many concessions to your viewpoint. Since I had already made those concessions, I didn't know what else you wanted me to say, and that's why I asked. The critical thinking site didn't clarify this for me. The site was bound up in notions of bias and objectivity that I deconstructed in post 131, touched on again in @141 and that you haven't chosen to engage with.

You're right that 4C society is patriarchal, and I don't think PR is necesarily endorsing those attitudes by setting his story in such a society. I agree that several female characters are well-rounded: of these Devi is my personal favorite, but Fela, Auri, and Mola also qualify.

In addition to responses to the points I listed on @ 131, I'm interested in everyone's response to the question I posed in @145: Do you agree with the view of fantasy that wickedkinetic puts forth in his point #2 on post @ 142? He says: "you can't judge a fantasy book the same way you'd judge 'proper literature'. the whole 'fantasy' element indicates that it will explore areas of the human psyche that lead to politically incorrect territory."
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
156. tnh
Thistlepong, I love good conversation.
Felipe Martins
157. felipem
@149. Wow, i'm offended and insulted by yur comme.... nah, just joking. I'm once again sorry if I didn't make myself clear earlier: I meant the discussion was pointless to me, but not in a general context. Maybe pointless isn't the best word here, if you'd excuse me, as I said before English is not my primary language.
If I though the topic isn't worth it, I wouldn't keep reading it. Among some minor flame wars, it is getting somewhere. Slowly.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
158. tnh
I'm glad you're sticking with it, Felipe. Issues this nuanced take time to sort out, and need the kind of careful, collaborative work that doesn't stand up well to flames.
Ashley Fox
159. A Fox
@tnh that is quite amusing/poignant considering the part of K's name: Flame.

"I would prefer a custom of explicit communication about sex as well,
ideally. People are making fun of college campuses that are requiring
students to follow a sort of script to say they consent to sex in an
effort to fight date rape, but I think it's a great idea)." A contextual counter argument has been previously given. It saddens me that you keep trying to force this mold on the Adem, the foundations of this perspective simply do not match their culture. The argument in regards to our world is valid, and so is a good mirror to hold up to the society of the 4c's, and specially the Uni. This is why I considered this view whilst analyising these parts of the text @152

"You seem to have conceded the point about how birth control is necessary for free love to be good for women, am I correct?" No. concession implies that it is grudging: I have always held that this particular idea was valid and worth consideration.* As long as there is awareness and choice, this doesnt necessitate polerised options of birth control or abstininace. Re the text see *@152 If you feel you, or anyone else, feels that they have a counter argument, or intersting perspective that differs/ or otherwise, I would enjoy reading it.

"The critical thinking site didn't clarify this for me. The site was
bound up in notions of bias and objectivity that I deconstructed in post
131, touched on again in @141 and that you haven't chosen to engage
with."-There was need for further 'engagement', your blog/replies presented a better personification of the counter argument then I would have written.

@138? Any luck yet? ;)
Brandon Lammers
160. wickedkinetic
@152 - THANKS! That was the sort of well thought-out, contextual, even-handed analysis that adds value and enlightens the reader, enabling fruitful discussion etc. I wish I had the patience and wisdom to have done as well.

@155 - question, since i'm not sure of the answer on this one - is any male sexual fantasy necessarily misoginyst? is being sex-positive denying the healthy fantasy life of mature responsible adults? popular fiction is about all sorts of fantasies, fears, dreams and nightmares, and all the funky id-stuff that comes from diverse creative minds. as everyone has different tastes, different versions of 'normal', and different reactions to visceral, graphic writing (in a sex or violence context, or both....) is a male writer writing about sex from a male characters perspective always a misoginyst?

your need to bring up birth control as necessary for sexual freedom is another example of you bringing a very 21st-century feminist look at an imaginary culture in a primitive world that hasn't yet discovered antibiotics.... I think its absurd to even bring to this discussion. this is perhaps the best example of your straw-man arguments. Upon reflection I really value the parthogenisis concept and all that they add to his story (analyzing my initial reaction to this, my reaction to some of the discussion on the thread, and my current admiration of it) I think it would be less of a story without it. Its just one of many clever cultural oddities that reminds the reader that even though these seem like regular human beings in a world much like ours - they all have their own wacky beliefs and phobias, and sometimes they are right to do so. To have to remove this to satisfy some 21st century feminist-101 belief that 'birth-control is a right and a need for women to have sexual equality' is absurd. His story has multiple references to birth control - the weed Kvothe makes it a point to consume daily, and I believe there is reference to condoms appropriate to the tech level (sheep-gut was common in the middle ages) - but I'm not 100% sure.

@131 - since you seem intent to keep expecting the thread to focus on your points - I reject your primary assertion -
"I stand on the fact that KKC is a man-centered series with several misogynistic scenes and passages"

yes it is man-centered because the entire meta-story centers around K telling his biography, which just happens to be about his life experience, so he is found in every scene. the Bechdel test is a nice tool, particularly for evaluating TV and film, and calling attention to the short-shrift female characters so often get in popular entertainment. but in a book that tells the story of a male character through his own eyes, he's going to be in every scene.... this also seems absurd to hold against it....

I understand why the women as instruments could be seen as problematic, objectifying, or offensive. I also think it is important to the story in that it shows K's oblivious narcissism, and if taken in context - a character that values his lute more than his health or well-being and worries about maintaining his sanity without it - I dont read it as misogynistic. IIRC - the end of that passage I think is the wonderfully phrased 'know nothing or women, or music, or me' again I think it adds to the story, shows the drastic change in character from awkward virgin to james bond (or pick your male-lead in a series where he ends up sleeping with anybody he wants to because he is the ur-man). and it also rings true - there are loads of awkward young men that learn to play a guitar and sing a little and find themselves having a great deal more luck with the ladies... not that I'd advocate or justify or promote this as a good thing, but only as another 'real' story moment. Dire Straits may have said it best....

Felurian can be deconstructed and simplified and written off as a misogynist trope - but I think that is also a cheap and unfair read of the text. I think we have to give this the what-if analysis again, and I think PR does a very compelling job of developing a character that would be the real (fantasy) world version of the succubus/sex-demon/lady-in-the-woods etc.. she has feelings, she has a personality, their sex, and all of K's sex, is described as mutually pleasurable, if your expectation is that PR should have gotten literal and pornographic to make sure there was no confusion and no interpretation about this 'orgasm gap' I think that is absurd as well. I wasn't crazy about the Felu section, I wanted PR to do more to move the plot forward in the way I wanted it to go, I felt the over 100 chapters of WMF moved the plot less than the more reasonably sized first book, but after thinking about it - I think this section is very key because PR need K to spend time in Fae, growing up without growing up, and he needed him to meet the Chthaeh (now there's an epilectic tree!) - and he needed him to get the Taborlin cloak, etc. Felurian was a useful plot device to accomplish all of that and take Kvothe from virgin to irrestibile/virile/austin-powers envy of men and desired by women etc etc..... its worth analyzing, there's definitely some red flags, but I think it comes down to that it is a very useful way to move the story forward and evolve the character while doing some necessary exposition of Fae.

Vash and the erection incident - I think you are over-reading this as well. I didn't read the text as 'the man must be satisfied before he can concentrate' but in context as K is a perhaps repressed member of a culture where it is impolite to wander around in public with a visible erection, it is also not really common/acceptable for grown men to wrestle with women in martial training, but it would be particularly embarassing and/or poor-form for a man with an erection to wrestle with a women in the name of combat training... I also felt it was presented as a minor distraction, just enough to annoy the teacher, not preventing all progress and learning. again PR shows us cultural beliefs similar to ours in the protagonist, and slaps us in the face with a culture that is wholely different and unexpected. a reminder that 'this ain't Kansas', and showing that this is a sex-positive and sexually-free matriarchal culture, where mutually pleasurable sex is ok by all. and implying this is somehow pro-rape is making more mountains out of mole-hills.

as far as the 'anger' passage - I didn't take it as sexist or misogynist in any way. while people are diverse and varied in an endless and delightful number of ways, it should not be offensive to acknowledge some basic things that are physicall true of human beings, notable that the male of the species (or at least the vast majority of the healthy males of the species) suffer the life-long abuse of a drug named testosterone. this makes men more competitive, more athletic, increases libido, etc. again I think PR does a clever job here of referencing the physiological differences of men and women in a culture that does not have modern science. it never says that men have more passion than women, but more 'anger', and IF 'anger' is some conglomeration of libido and competitiveness and some spiritual component that ties in to those, it is true and accurate to say that men have more on average.

if you want an honest critique of your work, and telling me I 'would never like them anyway' is a bit belittling and judgemental, it would be to be more aware of your box. for me, I think it would take away the joy of reading to try to judge everything I read against some current politically correct feminist filter and try to figure out if a crime against women has been committed - but if that is your blogs purpose, try to read the material more than once, and put your analysis in the context of the story, of the culture and environment, and critique it as an integrated part of the whole, not taking a few sentences here and there and inferring a great deal that is non-contextual.
Ashley Fox
161. A Fox
On anger. A section that is often over looked, which is in relation to combat rather than sex, and does indeed support tantric concepts, testosterone. p. 763 WMF

Vashet :" They are young, and both boys. They are full of anger and imaptience. Women have less trouble with these things. It's part of what makes them better fighters."

onwards to;

"...but after taking the red, the key is knowing when to fight. Men are full of anger, so they have trouble with this. Women less so.".

K's boner. Rereading the Adem section, specifically K' interactions with Vashet there is a lot more set up then as been talked about, a mutual attraction between the two grows as they get to know and respect one another, as well as Vashet being his teacher inc civilising him.
Steven Halter
162. stevenhalter
A Fox@159:No relevant inscriptions but the thought has occured to me that there is a lot of history that is not covered very much. The stretch between the Creation Wars and the Aturan Empire is pretty sketchy.
John Graham
163. JohnPoint
Yikes, last time I looked at this thread it had around 60 comments. Now it's over 160... that will teach me to not look at old threads!

Anyway, mereader: welcome.

Wickedkinetic and A Fox have done a much more thorough job of responding to your points that I probably ever could, so I won't reiterate what they said. Instead I will indicate that I strongly agree with their observations, particularly @152, @159, and @160.

I will, however, reiterate one thing that I feel we all need to remember: the Four Corners are not our world. The only things that we know about the 4C are what Pat tells us in the text, so we have to be particularly careful about making assumptions based on our world. That is why it is especially important to look at the entire text when making critiques: pulling one or two sentences out and using them to make sweeping judgements against (or for) the story is particularly risky, since there may be many other parts of the story that mitigate, alter, or even invert them. I believe that most of the critiques posed in this thread, for example Fela's comment re gaze and Kvothe's comment about music, women, and sex are examples of this -- we have to look at the whole text to determine what they acually mean, and not just have a visceral reaction to them based on our society.
164. marcon89
I still disagree with the idea of Kvothe not being able to defeat the two soldiers, even if that goes against most of the discussions I've read. My take is that his confusion stems from his reacting as Kvothe would, when in fact he should be acting as the innkeeper Kote, who would not have resisted. And so he proceeds to let the soldiers beat the crap out of him. Basts plan was sound in trying to draw him out, but he was mistaken in that he didn't expect his Reshi to let the soldiers beat him up.
The difference to the situation with the Scrael is also clear. That happened in secrecy and couldn't be aborted, when Chronicler suddenly appeared. He wouldn't have been able to explain two dead soldiers in the middle of the village. It just wouldn't work for his disguise to kill them. But he expected the soldiers to behave exactly as they did, beat him up a little and then leave.
This ties in with my opinion that even with something as crude as an iron cudgel, his killing of five Scrael was in fact no mean feat and required all his training. It is enough to impress Bast, after all.
In fact, he very skillfully convinced the soldiers that he knew enough fighting to get into trouble, but not to defeat them. By continuing in the same fighting style, but doing it just incompetently enough, he could convince them that his initial success was pure luck.
Mary Cramb
165. mereader
I'm sorry for the delay in responding. I had a busy weekend, driving out of state for a family party.

It seems like generally, the criticisms I'm getting are rooted in the idea that I'm not taking the Adem or the entire KKC on their own terms and am imposing my terms upon them. This was an idea that came up earlier in our discussions, and that we're not done with. I responded somewhat to this idea in @ 131, but here is an elaboration of that response. We're really getting to the root of our disagreements here, and it's taken us to the level of theory, the ideas that underpin why we think it's valid or not valid to say what we say about literature.

We can't ever escape from our perspectives. To some extent, what you're asking of me is impossible--to forget everything I've ever known and read in order to have fresh, virgin eyes for this book, to accept what I read without having any reaction that is informed by what I know of this world. Indeed, if I were able to do that, the bigger problem would be making any sense of the book at all, since there is a lot of assumed knowledge that an earth reader has that allows her/him to make sense of the 4C world. Since we can't ever be truly objective, the next best thing is to acknowledge the biases that we do inevitably have, and I feel I've tried to do that. And this book can't escape the fact that it's on earth, written by an earth author for an earth readership. That imposes certain constraints on the reactions that people will have to it. It also means that the book has to be responsible for the way it relates to earth society.

Fantasy worlds are in dialog with our world. They are defined in terms of how they're different from our world, and we understand them in relation with our world. Sometimes the relationship between the story-world and our world is obvious and the author is blatantly using it to make a point about our world. Examples of this might be The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Left Hand of Darkness. In some of these books, it's pretty clear that the author is trying to say something specific about a troubling trend he/she sees in our world; they wear their politics on their sleeves. With books like this, it's clear that they're in dialog with our society because they're yelling their message so loud. (I don't mean any of that as criticisms of those particular books, which I enjoy.) Other times, like with KKC, the relationship between our world and the story-world is more vague and subtle. The author doesn't have a particular ax to grind and may be just exploring new ideas. Nonetheless, even these authors have perspectives that are formed in relation to everything they know in our world, and create their worlds in response to their experiences in this world.

Readers are also constantly making comparisons with our world as they learn about fantasy worlds. Sometimes the fantasy world makes our world look like a great place to live in comparison, and sometimes it makes our world look worse. Readers get ideas and attitudes from books and take them into this world, no matter how fantastical the book-world is. Sometimes it's clear that the ideas don't translate to our world at all because they relate to things that don't exist in our world or something, and you get people trying to do the Jedi mind trick on each other. And sometimes an idea presented in a fantasy world is totally acceptable in the bounds of the fantasy world, but in the dialog with our world it creates problems and issues. I don't simply mean someone trying to physically do something they read about, like 'monkey see, monkey do,' but attitudes and subtle values that are insidious. In its dialog with our world, the fantasy world may say something that in its own language is inoffensive, but sounds a lot like a string of curses in our language. It's hard to tell if the fantasy world meant to cuss us out or not. And to some extent intent is irrelevant (death of the author, etc). It sounded to us like we got cussed out, and we react accordingly. That reaction is fair because the fantasy world always knew that it was in dialog with this world and it knew what the cuss-like language would sound like to us. (Language is an imperfect metaphor here, but I hope this analogy makes sense otherwise.)

A story written in our world, even though it's set in another world, doesn't get to have "its own terms" because it can never fully escape the terms of this world, just as we can never fully escape our own perspectives. I know that a good part of the appeal of fantasy is escapism, so this idea is a bit of a turn-off because in some way it seems to deny the promise of fantasy to do something entirely new and different. Fantasy can still say some really interesting and fascinating things in the dialog it's always having with our world, but it can't pretend not to have a relationship with our world, and it can't pretend this dialog isn't happening.

@A Fox
Re: communication @ 159:
I know you don't like me bringing up communication again because you explained pretty well a while ago that the Adem aren't lacking in communication about sex. They seem to function pretty well and no one is unhappy about the sex they're having. However, I don't think communication between sex partners is ever a bad thing. It's the kind of thing you can never have too much of. If bad or nonexistent communication causes or fails to prevent one date rape, it's too many. In fact, I remembered the way Tempi explained the Adem language to Kvothe, and how good Adem speakers try to pack as many meanings into a single sentence as possible. I tried to imagine what it would be like to flirt in a language like that and realized how easy it might be to be misunderstood. A speaker could say something that means yes and no at the same time (isn't that the essence of flirting?), and a listener could choose to hear whichever meaning he or she wants to hear (isn't that how date rapists justify to themselves that what they're doing isn't rape?). Just think of how many times we've all misunderstood each other on this board, and we're all fairly proficient English speakers who aren't expected to mean several things at the same time. With a language like Adem, the need for explicit communication might even be increased.

Re: critical thinking @159:
I'm sorry but I honestly don't understand what you mean when you say that my blog and replies "presented a better personification of the counter argument than you would have written." You're very concise here. Maybe I'm thick-headed, but you'll have to spell it out for me if you want to continue to dialog on this issue.

Re: anger @161
These other "anger" references are illuminating.

I agree with you to some extent that our sexual fantasies can't really have a politics imposed on them. They come from a deeper, older part of the brain, while feminism and other -isms come from a more modern and rational part of the brain. A woman can enjoy being submissive in the bedroom, while being an equal partner in her relationship and a leader in her workplace. Here's a decent article I read this week that makes this argument:
No, I don't think that every single male perspective or male sexual fantasy is necessarily misogynist. Lots of male and female sex fantasies involve connecting on some level with a human being, and lots of people are turned off by the idea of dehumanizing or objectifying a partner. I do think some fantasies and perspectives are misogynist, though, and when they're presented in public in books, movies, etc, we're allowed to call them what they are. Saying that a specific male fantasy is misogynist doesn't mean saying that all male fantasies are misogynist.

I appreciate you saying the women-as-instruments passage is problematic. If the entire purpose of the passage is to show K's character, to show that he's a narcissistic, self-centered asshole, I can accept that. As I've said before, I hope that K learns in D3 that this perspective is mistaken; that would probably redeem it for me. An issue I still have with it is that even if its purpose is to show K to have sexist attitudes, all readers won't necessarily be enlightened enough to see it like that. These sexist attitudes are present in our world, and on the surface, the passage is in support of them. A young guy who's never been exposed to feminist ideas, who's enjoying the story and thinks K is a bad ass, might take K's statement as a glorification of thinking of women this way. He might think that when you become a hero, treating women like this is your earned right, and there's nothing wrong with it. There's nothing in the text (yet) to make him think this is wrong, especially if he's not a very critical reader. This is part of what I mean about the fantasy participating in a dialog with our world in a problematic way.

I'm glad you agree Felurian has some red flags. I agree that Felurian is used as a plot device for exposition to impart some information about Fae, give him the cloak, etc. She does have a personality, if a one-dimensional one. I still don't see why it was necessary in the story for Kvothe to go from "virgin to irresistible/virile/Austin Powers, envy of men and desired by women etc." Can't he be just as great a hero without having women fall all over him? I don't see why his development and growth as a character and a powerful arcanist had to include his sexual initiation. A guy losing his virginity doesn't gain any mystical power; seeing male virgins as necessarily immature is sexist. Presenting losing his virginity as a vital step in Kvothe's becoming a man is problematic. It makes the sex all about him, with the woman a mere vehicle for his growth. This is the male version of the virgin/whore dichotomy that's so sexist when we apply it to women. It says that a male virgin is naive, clueless, inept, and once he's had sex he instantly becomes worldly, sophisticated, a stud. If Kvothe's going to have sex, that's fine, but it doesn't have to be part of this big narrative of him growing up and taking control of his world. He can have sex without playing into this sexist trope of the clueless male virgin making discoveries about the world and himself through sex and becoming all worldly.

I agree somewhat that the erection incident is mostly there to demonstrate the Adem attitude toward sex, that it's a simple thing like going to the bathroom. If this ideology--the idea that men need sexual release once aroused and can't function without it--didn't already exist in our world, I would agree that I'm reading too much into it. Since it does, though, the scene implicitly supports this idea. The book knows that this attitude is out there in our world, and in the dialog it's having with our world, it said something in support of it, something that sounded to me like a slur, to go back to my metaphor from above.

I read "anger" somewhat differently, which I think is why we disagree on it. I don't think it's just about physiological differences, libido and competitiveness and the effects of testosterone. Here's Penthe's quote explaining anger: "It is a desire. It is a making. It is a wanting of life….All things that live have anger. It is the fire in them that makes them want to move and grow and do and make." To me, that sounded deeper and more vital to what it means to be human than the effects of testosterone. I thought "passion" would be a better translation than anger, and that's why I didn't like the passage. To say that one sex is more passionate than the other is sexist.

I'm sorry if you felt judged and belittled when I said you were never going to like posts that criticized this series. I was reacting to what felt like a mean statement on your part that you were sorry my blog got traffic. Given how hard it is to build up a blog and get readers, it felt like you were vindictively condemning the whole enterprise, and there was no need for that. You say I should be more aware of my box. I take that to mean I should be aware of how my perspective limits me. I thought I tried to do that when I admitted some of my personal hang-ups regarding sex that might have colored the way I read the Adem passage. Putting that on the table was a risk, but I did it because I thought intellectual honesty required it. If my reading was influenced by my view of sex (and I felt sure that it was, since these things cannot be escaped) then I thought it was only fair to admit that. That my reading is influenced by my personal beliefs doesn't make it any less valid, it just makes it my reading as opposed to someone else's. Reading critically like this might take away the joy for you, but it doesn't for me. What I've said in this post about how we can never fully escape our perspectives means that to some degree, you're expecting me to do something impossible by getting out of this box. Feminist critiques are not the blog's only purpose; it's mostly reviews of books, but if a book inspires a feminist reaction in me I'll write about it. Also, I shouldn't take quotes out of context. Thanks for the constructive criticism, I'll try to keep it in mind.
John Graham
166. JohnPoint
Mereader: I agree that we can't ever set aside our culture and viewpoints entirely -- as you said, the key is to recognize them, so that we can strive for objectivity.

Re anger: the passages that A Fox added are pretty important, and imo definitely relate to the idea behind how we should read "anger" and what it actually mean in the text. I'm not sure if I'd agree with the reading of it as "passion" -- and it's important to note what Penthe says about the anger that women have. Here's most of the scene:
It was pleasantly distracting. "Does this mean women have no anger of their own?"

She laughed again. "No. All things have anger. But women have many uses for their anger. And men have more anger than they can use, too much for their own good."

"How can one have too much of the desire to live and grow and make?" I asked. "It seems more would be better."

Penthe shook her head, brushing her hair back with one hand. "No. It is like food. One meal is good. Two meals is not better." She frowned again "No. It is more like wind. One cup of wine is good, two is sometimes better, but ten..." She nodded seriously. "That is very much like anger. A man grows full of it, it is like a poison in him. He wants toomany things. He wants all things. He becomes strange and wrong in his head, violent."

She nodded to herself. "Yes. That is why anger is the right word, I think. You can tell a man who has been keeping all his anger to himself. It grows sour in him. It turns against itself and drives him to breaking rather than making." And it goes on from there for a few more paragraphs.
A couple of things to note -- 1) Penthe says that women have more uses for "anger." If you're going to read it as "passion" what this is essentially saying women have a lot more to do with their passion -- more then men. I'd read that as a compliment to women, myself...

2) They specifically discuss why "anger" is the best term: because in men, it turns against itself. That doesn't sound all that good for men...

re women and instruments:

Maybe it's just my own (male) bias, but I'm still not convinced that the passage is objectifying of women, and don't interpret it as Kvothe being a narcissistic, self-centered asshole. Let's remember that in the textbook definition of objectification, as quoted by thistlepong @134, "Sexual objectification refers to the practice of regarding or treating another person merely as an instrument (object) towards one's sexual pleasure." I'm changing thistlepong's emphasis to the "merely" and "towards" instead of the "instrument" because I think those are the key parts that indicate objectification -- I don't think that Kvothe views women as merely an instrument of his sexual pleasure.

Let's look at the whole passage:
Ch 107, p 701. I managed very little sleep that night, and Losi came closer to killing me than Feulrian ever had. She was a delightful partner, every bit as wonderful as Felurian had been.

But how could that be? I hear you ask. How could any mortal woman compare with Felurian?

It is easier to understand if you think of it in terms of music. Sometimes a man enjoys a symphony. Elsetimes he finds a jig more suited to his taste. The same holds true for lovemaking. One type is suited to the deep cushions of a twilight forest glade. Another comes quite naturally tangled in the sheets of narrow beds upstairs in inns. Each woman is like an instrument, waiting to be learned, loved, and finely played, to have at last her own true music made.

Some might take offense at this way of seeing things, not understanding how a trouper views his music. They might think I degrade women. They might consider me callous, or boorish, or crude.

But these people do not understand love, or music, or me.
Several things to note here:

1) The whole passage is an answer to his initial question of how a mortal woman could compare to Felurian. In contrast, Kvothe indicates that Losi is "every bit as wonderful as Felurian had ever been." The implication of this is that all women are unique, and wonderful in their own way. Losi, a normal human, is just as fantastic as the fantasy faerie woman.

2) I definitely don't interpret the passage as Kvothe saying, "all women are merely instruments of my sexual pleasure" or anything like that (which definitely would be objectification). Rather, he is making an analogy about sex itself. Sex is like music (and we have to remember what music means to Kvothe). Sometime you're interested in hearing one type of music, othertimes another. Similarly, sometimes you're interested in one type of sex with one partner, othertimes another.

3) Now we get to the actual instrument comparison. "Each woman is like an instrument, waiting to be learned, loved, and finely played, to have at least her own true music made." Notice the "like" -- this is a simile. How I interpret this is that each woman is different, unique, and special in her own right, (remember how Kvothe feels about music and instruments: they are literally worth more to him than his own life.) That doesn't sound objectifying to me. My interpretation of this line is NOT "women are instruments of my pleasure." Rather, it's a somewhat unfortunate analogy, but must be taken in context of the character. In my opinion, the toughest part of this is actually the end of the quote where Kvothe implies that women need him to let their music out. However, I think this can be seen as the age and immaturity of his character as a 17 year old boy.

The passage is obviously up to interpretation, but I think it's vital to look at the whole passage, and not just the "each woman is like an instrument..." part of it, and see what Kvothe is actually saying. It's also vital to remember what music and instruments mean to the narrator (particularly given that his music and instruments are lost to him in frame, when he's relating the story).

If, instead of a musician, Kvothe were a poet and said something like, "each woman is like a poem, waiting to be spoken and have hear own true rhyme released" (or something like that), would we interpret that as objectification?

EDIT to summarize: I read the passage as a question and answer.
Q: How could any mortal woman compare to Felurian?
A: As with music where every instrument has its own internal music and every type of music is wonderful in its own right, every woman has her own internal "music." Every woman is unique and wonderful in her own right, according to her own desires and wishes.

Which doesn't seem objectifying to me.
thistle pong
167. thistlepong

Regarding the one weird thread running through the discussion, we should totally hold genre fiction subject to the same critical toolbox we'd bring to any other section of the bookstore.
Mary Cramb
168. mereader
@ JohnPoint:
I'm glad you can accept my underlying theory, that we can't escape our own perspectives. It's kind of hard to have a productive debate when those basic terms are not agreed upon, when arguments are thrown out as invalid because both sides have unstated assumptions and theories that contradict each other. Since you accept at least that I have the right to offer the criticisms I've stated, then we can have a more interesting conversation about our individual interpretations. This will be mostly opinion, but with support and evidence of course.

Re: anger
I agree the passages A Fox posted are relevant to the definition of anger we're still trying to figure out. "Passion" might not fully cover it, but I still don't think it's about the effects of testosterone, as wickedkinetic suggested in 160, and it doesn't seem like you do either. Maybe "ambition" would be closer? It's definitely possible to have too much ambition, and for it to become poisonous in excess, so it fits the quote you pointed out in 168.

Taking "ambition" as a new working hypothesis for the translation of "anger," I still find it sexist. If one sex has more ambition than the other, it's because they're socialized to, and the other sex is told they're not capable, so they become less ambitious.

Even if this situation works against the men because they have more ambition than they can handle, that situation could still be sexist. Just as our present construction of masculinity is limiting and destructive to men at the same time as it grants men power over women, so an Adem society that appears to favor women may create corresponding limitations for its men. That's still sexism. And if the women have more that they can do with their ambition, then maybe that's because they have too much to do and they're overworked. That's not necessarily a good situation for the women either.

See, these discussions about competing interpretations can be very productive. I wouldn't have thought of this other potential translation for 'anger' if you hadn't pushed my thinking.

Re: the infamous women as music passage.
We disagree here on the level of opinion and interpretation, but at least we agree on each others' methods and underlying assumptions.

I guess I see the very premise of the passage as problematic: comparing two sex partners. I know it's a natural thing to do, and we've probably all been there, but the urge to compare comes from a natural tendency to objectify others in order to simplify them so that we can understand them and deal with them, and sometimes, more insidiously, rank and categorize them. I guess it would be possible to compare sex partners without objectifying them if you focused on feelings and mental connections and things like that, but that's not what K does here.

You're right that a simile is less offensive here than a metaphor would have been, but it's still offensive.

I agree, the passage's presentation of K as actor and the women as acted-upon, the fact that they need him to make their music for them, is the worst thing about the passage. That alone is enough to call it sexist. You're right that he's immature, but I'm not sure that's an excuse, because he's pretty mature in other ways. But I'll throw "immature" into the way this passage characterized Kvothe for me: he's an immature, narcissistic, self-centered asshole (like most 17 year old boys, you're right--but just because something is typical of 17 year old boys doesn't mean it's not misogynist. It's typical because misogyny is that prevalent). I've said before that I hope this is the 'before' picture for some enlightenment that happens in D3.

I think the fact that K is a musician and associates music so strongly with love is what makes the comparison come to him, and it makes sense with the rest of his character for that reason. Putting it in context of his character and his love for music doesn't make it any less sexist for me; it's no excuse. I think if he were a poet comparing women to poems the sexism wouldn't be so obvious because he wouldn't be using the exact same word that's in the definition of objectification, but it would still be objectifying and it would still make K the active one and the women passive.

Your final summary of the passage, that it means that K thinks that 'every woman is unique and beautiful in her own right,' is fairly innocuous, you're right. This is something that should be taken for granted, but clearly isn't, or K wouldn't need to create this big metaphor to explain why it's true. If he thought that 'every woman is unique and beautiful' when he first went to bed with Losi, and if he thought that his audience took this idea for granted, then he wouldn't have bothered making these comparisons (both Losi to Felurian and women to instruments). He comments on it because it's something he learns through bedding Losi and comparing the two women, something that surprised him, it seems, and because he thinks that his audience has anticipated that he will be disappointed with all mortal women after Felurian. I guess it's good that he learns that all women are unique and beautiful in their own way--he's better off knowing this than thinking all women are inferior to Felurian--but by presenting this idea as a revelation and an unexpected discovery he kind of undercuts the compliment he intends to give to Losi: "I thought you'd suck in bed, since you're just a human and everything, but you were pretty good after all."

These are my opinions; you're right, the passage is up for interpretation.

@ thistlepong
Did you have a longer post earlier and then edit it? I thought I saw you offer some arguments to JohnPoint, but they're gone now.
thistle pong
169. thistlepong
I did. I'd actually posted something about why I removed it, but it looks like it fell victim to one of the wacky formatting oddities of Tor's comment system. Essentially I went for brevity and found terseness, which wasn't polite.

JohnPointe takes the text's explanations on their own terms. So anger and instrument go uninterrogated in his reading. Or rather, they're allowed to answer and leave. I think this is mostly how it works for the average fan involved in the reread. I think it's a mistake. That Pat anticipates the question and provides an answer is a testament to his storytelling abilities. It is not, however, the end of the discussion.

A few of your points are generally obvious, and should be obvious to someone with Pat's background. One does not advise feminists and miss entirely the nature and definition of objectification or the significance of male anger. Nor should the sex fairy be anything but a tired genre trope. It's disappointing the discussion can't move beyond that because folks desperately need to believe the work is both flawless and noble.

So, sex or sexual energy as anger could be something more than a comicly arch translation error. It could be an acknowledgement that male anger is dangerous to women. Or even to other men; we see plenty petty male on male violence in the story. It could be a tacit comment on how societies see fit to engage the male libido. It could even be a nightmarishly backward take on the misogynist argument that women hold all the power in society via their ability to grant or withhold sex: the persmissive culture of the Adem as a means of control where women rob men of their primal power or some nonsense. We'll never get there, though, cause there's allegedly nothing to worrry about regarding the word choice.

And, of course, despite Kvothe using the standard definition for objectification, it's fine since he acknowledges that this might seem sexist, but says, "nah, man, you don't know me." The fact is we do know him. We know how he views women before Losi. We know Fela's breasts are far more interesting than her mind. We no Auri's doe eyes and virginal innocence are more important than her mystery. We know Denna is so hot that no amount of wicked troubled past makes any difference.

But the truth is we know nothing about Losi, even after his soliloquy. He doesn't say a word about her. He drops into the objectification speech where he's Cassanova sent to bring the sexually ignorant women of the world alive to the delights of the flesh. And I'm right there with him. I get it. I get what he's saying. And yet, out of the moment it's still a description of how one woman is different from the vampire sex fairy that includes nothing about the woman or the sex fairy. So yah, pretty much objectification.

This is Kvothe, not Pat. And this is a reread of the work, not a discussion of the author. And we're all fans. I linked your blog because it was new and because it was relatively tame just to see what kind of analysis folks were willing to entertain. Turns out not much.

The real reason Felurian is different from the standard issue sex fairy is that she's an honest to gods rapist and murderer. She lures mean to their deaths via the magical equivalent of Rohypnol and Viagra. But that's cool 'cause she's the most beautiful woman who ever lived. And, y'know, guys can't possibly be raped, right? If she'd been a he, Kvothe would have been obligated by his twisted moral code to kill her and rescue Hespe from hir filthy clutches. Instead, he feels sorry for her 'cause she can't help herself?

And we get a fancy infodump while she occupies the sleazy yet demure seuxal fantasy. But we know it's all just fine because Kvothe could have and probably still can kill her, so he's got all the real power. All that says nothing about what a first sexual encounter of that magnitude would do to a fifteen year old, either. Yet Kvothe walks away unharmed, mentally sound, without the slightest separation anxiety.

I sort of doubt folks can sincerely accuse me of failing to read closely or attend to what's in the text. I kind of feel I've established my bona fides as a fan and as a reader over the course of this exercise. I seriously disagree with the notion that because a character, or even an author, says they're pro one thing or anti another that represents the final word.

I can't for example, go into the world and say I'm a mathematician and derive any tangible benefit therefrom without demonstrating proof thereof. My knowledge, ability, and actions will determine whether I'm a mathematician or not. So, too, Kvothe will prove himself and the text itself.
Brandon Lammers
170. wickedkinetic
@169 - I'm not even sure how to respond to that. I think the majority of the comments (including mine own) are along the lines that the link you brought us and the discussion that followed are not a fair, reasonable evaluation of the text, but a sort of knee-jerk response to a few hand-picked moments.

It is fair, and probably accurate, that the vast majority of us that love these stories enough to follow a re-read that amounts to a few thousand words a week plus 10,000 words of comments are going to be defensive, are going to have high expectations that someone critical of the text has made a deep, insightful case for their position, and my opinion (and apparently the opinion of a few others) is that this hasn't occurred.

I'd say the last 100+ posts (and long posts at that) indicate we are willing to have this discussion, and a good discussion will have people arguing both sides.

More to the point, I try to consider the authors perspective and give him the benefit of the doubt. None of the issues raised in this thread pass the benefit-of-the-doubt test for me. I consider that Pat has been writing these books for over 20-years now. That when he started, he was a very young and perhaps innocent/inexperienced college student. I'm willing to bet that he was a veteran of a multitude of D&D campaigns, primarily as dungeon-master, and that alot of the story he has told in these books got their beginning there. This is all pure assumption and projection on my part, but I feel it rings true. Particularly in his 'adventures' away from University, his 'random encounters' while travelling, even so much as his 'levelling up' and 'gaining experience'. Particularly when K and his small party of adventurers that hunt down the bandits in the wilderness.

I think Pat was probably the greatest DM that ever lived, and it probably allowed him to practice his story-telling before he decided to spend his time writing instead of gaming but I do consider that this story, and the characters and their story-arcs, were not written by the mature, educated, late-30 or 40-something Pat we all know and love, but by a younger more immature version. He's on record as writing a book about all the stuff he doesn't want to see in fantasy stories anymore, no more dragons, etc-etc. If he chooses to include the sex-faerie-trope and put his subversive spin on it I think that's fair, but I understand and respect that for some, any such creature is an offense against humanity and just shouldn't ever be mentioned or used in fiction. imho - like the dragons - if it is an overused and ridiculous trope then it almost must be included in this meta-story that is designed to examine, demystify, or turn-on-head every possible overused and/or ridiculous trope.

at any rate, I'm sorry you are dissappointed. I welcome deeper analysis, but it seems that both sides have gotten redundant at this point. Rothfuss isn't perfect, but I dont' see any harm from the textual elements that have been beaten like a dead horse, and I also prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt, because until we see day-three, we don't know his reasons for including these scenes, and what significance they may have in what is to come.
thistle pong
171. thistlepong

Your post is exactly what I'm disappointed by. I can't actually tell if you bothered to read through @169 or not. I don't find the majority of @170 redundant. You've presented your perspective in a new and perfectly coherent manner. I take issue with your use of dead horse as a means of silencing those of us still interested. It may be the most repeated phrase in the thread. I hope you can appreciate the irony.

I'm truly curious why your responses frequently ignore the questions brought up in mereader's blogs or in the more citical posts here in favor of talking about the author. None of us has gone so far as to impugn Pat's morality or intentions. In fact, my post is pretty heavy on apologia. Yet many of my concerns and questions stem directly from what he's expressed about his life: from roleplaying to academia to advising campus clubs, even coming up in the Midwest through the seventies and eighties.

I understand that you're not representative of all the posters here. I don't want to make the mistake that English is your first language; given the range of age on the internet and mental agility of folks who participate in discussions in other languages, it's often a blurry line. However, if you truly welcomed deeper discussion, I'd think that mereaders attempts to bend over backwards expressing her understanding of counter-arguments would impress you. I'd think that swinging the discussion into your territory - Pat's life - would be welcome. I'd think that analyzing what's truly messed up about Felurian isn't necessarily that she's a tired trope, but that she represents an inconsitency in Kvothe's reaction to sexual assault would be interesting.

Wicked, I understand exactly where you're coming from. I really do. Some of your hyperbole goes a bit further than I ever did, but I my first read of both books was basically a D&D read. I can see how taking a bildungsroman to task for portraying a immature callow youth appears silly at first glance. I know how easy it is to react negatively to criticism of a cherished work. It can feel like an attack on the work, on the author, even on oneself as a fan.

It's not. It's a means of gaining a better understanding of the text before us. Isolated here or elsewhere in a womb of fandom, we tend to miss or dismiss an overwhelming reaction to the book. As fans, we might benefit from exploring that. As fans willing to participate in this aspect of the discussion, you among us, we sort of should explore it. I wouldn't expect everyone to, of course. Jezdynamite mentioned he was interested, but never tried to shut us up. I respect and appreciate that more and more.

Maybe the discussion here can't move forward. C'est la vie.
Steven Halter
172. stevenhalter
histlepong@169&171:That is an interesting observation about Felurian. Other than Kvothe every man she "meets" either dies or goes insane. The evicence at the begining seems to be that she fully intends for Kvothe to go down that same path. Given the amount of time she has been doing this, it seems very likely that she has resulted in far more death and destruction than the bandits that Kvothe slaughtered.
So, why doesn't Kvothe go into "avenging Kvothe" mode? He dominates her through Naming and thus some part of him (sleeping) must understand every portion of her. That could be part of it. Kvothe seems wont to make uninformed snap decisions and in this case he becomes at least metaphorically informed.
John Graham
173. JohnPoint
Several points, then I will retire from this debate:

1) I am a relativist (definitely cultural-, also moral- though perhaps slightly less-so). As such, I believe that different cultures have to be interpreted based on their own standards, not on ours. That is what I attempt to do with my interpretations of the anger and instrument passages. (And, yes, I am aware that the story is a product of our culture, so it's somewhat tricky to attempt to judge it based on the imaginary cultures presented. However, I'm wary about judging Kvothe, the Adem, or the 4C in general with the lens of my culture because I think it's a risky precedent -- it's a tough line to walk but at least I'm trying to be aware of the concerns) I'm uncomfortable with the idea of looking at another culture (whether real or imagined), and saying something along the lines of, "since X means Y in our culture, then it must mean the same in yours too."

2) I disagree that objectification is always and inherently wrong. As I alluded to @56 (and as thistlepong's definition of objectification directly states), objectification is a problem when it's the only way that someone is viewing another person (that's where the "merely" comes into play).

I believe that it's possible to be the object of someone's sexual pleasure (i.e., objectified by them) AND their equal. It comes down to consent, respect, and mutual-desire. In order to determine whether that's the case or not, we have to examine how someone treats their sexual partners outside of the bedroom, not just look at how they talk about sex. Which this discussion really isn't doing -- with one or two exceptions (e.g., Thistlepong @169), all the critique is based on two or three passages, and not on the rest of Kvothe's actions.

I also don't necessarily agree that Kvothe is using the standard definition for objectification: rather he is making an analogy that means something specific to him -- I think that Pat is (to some extent) subverting the standard definition, and wrote it exactly how he did in order to provoke us and make us think about whether it's objectification or not. I answer that question with a qualified "no." Not because I'm taking "the text's explanations on their own terms" and failing to interrogate "anger" and "instrument," but rather because I'm (trying) to look at the whole picture and critique the cultures/story based on their own rules, not mine. Failing, perhaps, but I am trying to analyze and critique the text objectively.

I realize that this point is in contrast to several branches of main-stream feminism, but so be it. While I do consider myself as a feminist, I also don't believe that everything that has been labeled as "feminist" is necessarily and intrinsicly correct. On the point of whether objectification is always inherently wrong, we may just have to disagree.

3) I definitely don't believe that the work is either "flawless" or "noble." However, I'm particularly interested in examining the passages from multiple directions, and not just having a gut reaction toward the words used.

4) Thistlepong @171: just a fyi, the phrase "dead horse" only came up three times in this thread prior to Wickedkinetic's comment @170. The first was in @146 by mereader, who used it to discredit several comments by A Fox in earlier threads. The second was A Fox @152, quoting mereader. The third was mereader @155, again in reference to the earlier comments. In contrast, "shallow" comes up 9 times, "objectification" 17, "instruments" 21, and "feminist/feminism" comes up 51 times. To claim that "dead horse" is the most oft repeated phrase in the thread and that wickedkinetic was using it to silence those who are still interested in the discussion is disingenuous.

5) I agree that the fact that Kvothe didn't go into avenging mode with Felurian is interesting. It's also important to note that he began to do so (he mentioned that he would NOT be raped, referenced what happened in Tarbean when a group of boys caught him -- which provides strong evidence that he actually wasn't ever raped, since he attacked them and may have killed one -- and became furious. That was likely what allowed his sleeping mind to see the name of the wind and of Felurian, and have power over her.) I think that Shalter's reason @172 might be a good one.
Ashley Fox
174. A Fox
Anger. I think a lot of the supposed trouble with the word choice comes from the fact that some read 'anger' and translate it to violence, whther it be physical, verbal, or general behaviour. But this is not anger, this is a consequence of anger. An action based upon an emotion. Anger is a feeling, it wells up within, without a persons control or descision. Its responsive. Anger requires an outlet, some of the above are outlets, there are obviously better options, including control, acceptance, or healthy diffusing. Anger in itself is not bad, it is the descions made out of it that can be negative. Ive always read the Adem's anger as refering to the nature of anger, not its potencial negative consequences. The nature of anger as a word fits the concept they are explaining.

So I wondered what are the cultural roots of this concept? What do we know of the Adem, what do they know, you know?

Procreation beliefs-testosterone (a part of the concept of anger, not its whole imo) the drive/competitive motivations to mate, to pass on genetic material-these drives have no place in Adem belief, as is reflected in Penthes explanations. A lack ( ;P ) of use for anger, in men.

Whilst Adem men lack natural outlets for their anger (unlike women who can procreate) their culture is intensive in supplying outlets; male mercenaries (men with a higher average of anger?) can turn their anger to something that is productive (and arguably highly competitive from training to the market), supporting their community, all Adem have a valuble role in their community and this can also offer a sense of productivity. And of course, over arching all, is the Lethani; offering control of oneself, ones anger, and guiding one to the right path.

Their knowledge, history woud also have an impact. In the tal of Aethe and Rethe it is demonstrated how the male's anger led to folly, whilst the female used hers to create the Lethani. This reinforces Adem beliefs, and offers a possible source to what led to them. If we go further back the story of the seven is arguably a story of how men were corrupted by their anger. I wonder if they tell tales of Lyra? In that story Iax is refered to but not explored, as his is a story for another time. This shows that the Adem know of Iax, I will assume that the bones of it are the same as what we know. Penthe comments on how a great amount of anger, with no outlet can twist/corrupt a man to foul deeds-like Iax?

Iax is not necessarily (tho possibly) a broken branch, like Adem men, but his story a warning to the Adem. Penthes comment shows that, even if the specific story is not known, the lesson is common.

The concept makes sense within the framework of history (of corrupted men having massive, negative influences on the world, inc expulsion from their original land), observation of genders (moods & hormones etc), and reinforced by the pivitol birth of the Lethani. It was a woman that changed the path of the Adem, and women that keep it there.

Felurian. Have to say she always reminds me of Keat's La Belle Dame Sans Merci :)

Thistlepng point- shalter intereseting-acting with Knowledge. also;

willingness. Men are not forced to follow felurian, yes magic pull but we whitness men able to resist if they want to-and we know that she could make them come, as she almost succeeds in this with K in Faen, but her initial lure is open enough to allow resistance. So although sex is the method of murder, it is not rape. This somewhat detours K's strong reactions to rape. It could also be said that a man who willingly goes to Felurian is choosing his fate, all know who/what she is. So perhaps sucide rather than murder. There is always a price to pay, unless it is a gift freely given, no let, or lien.
Ashley Fox
175. A Fox
John, nice post. You must have posted whilst I was writing, wrestling my son, and enduring general madness. You have picked up on a lot of points I wanted to respond to. I choose not to as the antagonism was getting to me somewhat, and I did'nt want to reply in kind. You, however, have expressed much of what I was feeling in a very reasonable manner.
Mary Cramb
176. mereader
I agree with everything thistlepong says in @169. I don't think it's right to allow the book to offer an answer to these questions and to take that answer as unquestionable gospel. We should be allowed to question and discuss these answers and whether we agree, as we have, at length. For example, we've probably all met or read about people who don't think they're racist, but say really racist things (sometimes just after saying, "I'm not racist, but...). We should totally be allowed to call those people racist, right?

I have also gotten the impression that some on this board seemed to have the "desperate need to believe the work is both flawless and noble," though definitely not everyone. I understand that reaction somewhat; it's hard to get critical distance from stories we love intensely. (I'd much prefer to believe this is the motivation, rather than the more conscious urge to suppress feminist viewpoints, actually.) This is why I think that article that thistlepong posted so long ago is valuable: "How to be a fan of problematic things" or something like that. We are all so deeply embedded in our own viewpoints that it's sometimes hard to see another's, and I include myself in that. But that's how we learn the most, by trying on others' points of view.

What a great explanation of how the sexism is not just in the instruments passage, but throughout the book (@169). I agree that the fact that Kvothe doesn't tell us anything about Losi's character except that she was good in bed means that she is objectified in fact, as well as in metaphor. I agree with JohnPoint's ideas about objectification (that it's ok among equals), but given thistlepong's evidence about how Losi is treated in the text, I don't see any proof that she is treated as an equal.

I'm not familiar with what wickedkinetic says about D&D and its influence on KKC. I didn't know that "he's on record as writing a book about all the stuff he doesn't want to see in fantasy stories anymore, no more dragons, etc-etc." This seems a potentially productive avenue for inquiry: are these tired, sexist fantasy tropes subverted? How are they subverted?

Great question, shalter! I think you, JohnPoint and A Fox have good reasons why he doesn't treat her like the fake Ruh clan. Men go willingly to her, he knows her deeply since he Names her and maybe it's hard to kill someone you know so personally like that, and he establishes his power over her pretty early. My original post said why I felt it was problematic that Kvothe "wins" their conflict: "Because of the trope, the only power Felurian has is erotic power. Kvothe takes even that away through outsmarting her, proving that his intellectual power is greater than her legendary sexual power. She becomes yet another example of a hot and sexy female who’s vain and not too bright." I think at that point he doesn't kill her because she's harmless to him. I'm not sure how he justifies to himself the men she'll sex to death in the future. Does he say at some point that the world is more interesting with Felurian in it, or some other similar idea? Maybe I'm imagining I remember that.

Thanks for the detailed discussion of anger, A Fox. You're right that it is important to separate the feeling of anger from its consequences. The way anger needs an outlet does fit the discussion we quoted many posts ago. Anger does fit the concept, but so do ambition and passion, other potential meanings for this possibly-mistranslated word. Ambition and passion are also feelings that need outlets, feelings that are separate from their consequences, that could potentially go wrong if they build up inside or are frustrated. Compared to anger, they are more likely to have positive consequences.We usually think of anger as having outward expressions, and our traditional outlets for anger are physical actions that are much more active than growing a baby. It's strange to think of procreation and gestation as an outlet for anger. But then, the Adem are strange. *shrug

I'm really interested in where the conversation seems to be moving now, wondering how these portrayals could possibly be read as subversions of genre tropes. Thistlepong gestures toward a reading of "anger" as a commentary on male anger and its effects in society. Way back in the thread, we seemed to agree that Felurian was not a subversion of the sex fairy trope, but played straight. Do we want to stick to that interpretation, or are there valid reasons in the text to think the trope is subverted? Or will we have to wait for D3 to see the subversion?
Steven Halter
177. stevenhalter
mereader@176:I suspect that the subversions will become more apparent in D3. Right now, many are balanced to go either way. Just a bit of a push will send them sailing.
David C
178. David_C
I've been busy and away too long.

I want to comment in a meta way on the A Fox / mereader point/counter-point.

It seems that one way of coming at a book is to grok being in it, and to relate how that experience feels to the rest of our knowledge. Whence the commentary that the Adem seem to have healthy responsible child-rearing, regardless of whatever their sexuality and reproduction are. It’s also an “inside-the-book” kind of question to wonder whether Kvothe may be wrong about Adem reproduction.

Another way of coming at a book is to look at all of the other texts that the author could have written (The Unbearable Heaviness of Criticism as it were), and try to ferret meaning out of the path chosen.

In the latter approach, we might ask why the priapic Kvothe doesn’t learn to concentrate on what is important through Vashet nearly maiming his hands due to his lack of focus. Or as mereader points out, why we only learn of Penthe’s attempt to learn the rituals of non-Adem courtship, and not of how the Adem communicate interest and arousal.

I think that some of the discussions both here and in other threads where the heat-to-light goes up, it is because one side is most comfortable being in-the-book and the other wants to explore the authorial multi-verse.

To give an example from a different thread, I find the rape-and-rescue sequence very troubling, and I find myself wanting to get sucked into the did-K-make-the-right-moral-choice debates. However, this is very much a an in-the-book form of analysis, and my real unease is with putting a justified revenge story here, which is much more of an authorial multiverse kind of concern.

thistle pong
179. thistlepong
David, your example is probably more difficult than most of those mulled over here. Without reading the text closely, one could easily remember Kvothe deciding to murder some rapists when the actual sequence of events insists that he poisons them before he even knows the girls are kidnapped. In the text, he basically obscures one fact of the incident or another depending on his audience and to an indivdual, reacting characters ultimately justify his actions and reify his morality; including the average reader. However, with such unstable narrative loci, those same readers are invited in to wonder how other characters might react and indeed how they react themselves.

Rothfuss is unusual in that he actively avoids commenting directly on the text itself while pretty much insisting other points come across clearly. The work was edited over two hundred times. Words are chosen with care and pride. Stories change over space and time depending on the prejudice and intent of the teller. The work is itself a metacommentary.

You seem to conclude that it's a bit difficult to separate your two propositional interlocutions. I'd have to agree.
180. L_u_k_a_s
I find it peculiar that there are actually people who can honestly claim that they don't find The Wise Man's Fear to be a book that contains, at the very least, some rather sexist characters and scenes.

I'm a programmer. I work in an office full of men who aren't exactly known for being particularly feminist (by which I mean that they are pretty much the opposite of feminists). We often read the same fantasy novels and discuss them, and even here, people commented on how blatant the "male wish fulfillment" parts of the book were.

Rothfuss really didn't leave a lot of wiggle room for arguing this stuff away.

Don't get me wrong, the books are entertaining, but geez.
181. Silver
everything else is problematic and doesn’t bear much examination.

Which probably means it carries something of deep importance that will be clear at the end.
As for Kayseara, could that be a deliberate misprnonciation of Ceasura, given I think K says "No its not Kaysera the poet killer"
182. Wittgen
In your mind, telling someone that they got raped because they acted like a whore is on the same level as telling someone that they weren't as manly as the dude who singlehandedly rescued you? Seriously? You think her anger justifies his victim blaming?

It might all be words, but telling women who were kidnapped and repeatedly raped that it was their fault for acting like whores is truly awful. Like, mind bendingly awful. Words can be violent too, and that boy was layering on trauma. A painful but not permanently debilitating physical injury is 100% just punishment for that.
George Bracken
184. jorgybear
@ 1. TyranAmiros, it just occurred to me that in the story of Jax, the hermit asks the knot to open, and that this box (possibly) has a Yllish story knot carved on it. The knot could be the password that opens the box.
185. KateH
Very, very late to this discussion, but...I had a thought about the marriage of Meluan and the Maer. As far as we know, Meluan is the Lackless heir. The fact that she's brought the Lackless box with her to the Maer's home suggests this. It's possible she has a brother, but none is ever mentioned. Nor do we know if a younger brother would be the heir in preference to her. What's going to happen to the Lackless line in the future? Alveron's children, I expect, would not be Lacklesses by name. So is this ancient familiy heirloom going to pass out of House Lackless' control? Is Meluan the very last of her line? If not, if there's a branch with a male heir somewhere (K visited relatives once as a very young child), why does the box not pass to him and his future Lackless children? Maybe we just don't understand how inheritance and surnames work among the nobility.

It's worth pondering that K is *not* a Lackless, but neither does he have any other name. "Son of Arliden" is as much of a family name as we ever get for him. Most people seem to get by with just one name. Only the nobles seem to have given names plus family names.
186. Sari
I know I'm pretty late, but I was just wondering, does anyone else think it strange that right after the Maer realized the Amyr might still be active, his father died, pulling him away from his research? It may be possible that the Amyr were actually behind his father's death to protect their secrecy, and now that Kvothe has come up with the same theory, they might somehow be involved with Kvothe being forced from the university, thus halting his research as well. It sounds a little far-fetched, but I think that it may be what happened.

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