May 1 2014 11:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 1)

Name of the Wind trading card box Patrick Rothfuss My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

This time, we’re going to start talking about the Name of the Wind playing cards.

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! IID3Y = Is it Day Three Yet?

Useful links: The Sleeping Under the Wagon post. The reread index. The map. The timeline. Imaginary Linguistics.

Pat Rothfuss was deeply involved with Albino Dragon’s Kickstarter for the NW playing cards, and I mentioned it here at the time and I know a lot of us backed it. It was immensely successful, and now cards have been sent out, and I have mine. I just have the basic limited edition deck, without any of the additions. I’m sure some of you have all the bells and whistles, and feel free to comment on them!

I think we can consider that these cards are canonical, considering how involved Pat was in their creation.

Firstly, they’re beautiful things, with lovely drawings by Shane Tyree.

Secondly, when I looked at them I found that either I could instantly tell who and what they were, or I was completely puzzled. There wasn’t anything where I slowly figured out what something was supposed to be, it was either instant or I an still full of questions. I think that says something—not sure if it’s about the cards or about me!

And now, let’s start our over analysis with an entire post about the box, to be followed in succeeding weeks with posts about the cards themselves.

The box first—the cover painting is of a single wagon on a road that curves towards a stone arched bridge across a river, with a stone town in the distance. There are trees and green grass and clouds in the sky—it’s a very pastoral image. The rode is cobbled, and not crazy-cobbled but flat cobbled, to make a proper smooth surface. This is a stone road if ever there was one. Is it the road to Tinue? Could be. The town as we see it has one tower and lots of slate-roofed houses. (I’m saying slate because they’re grey, tiles are usually reddish.) The road is definitely going to the town, over the arch of the bridge, and so is the wagon.

There are no human figures, and I think that’s significant. There must be somebody driving the wagon, but I can’t see them. The wagon is drawn by two white horses. This means it is not Carter’s cart—Carter had one horse, which the scrael killed. It’s also a single wagon and not a whole troupe. Nor is it Ben’s wagon—it isn’t a caravan, it’s a cart, like a horse-era equivalent of a pickup, with a flat bed covered in items. I can see bundles of various kinds and a single chest—could it be the thrice-locked chest? Could this be Kvothe coming to Newarre?

The river doesn’t seem very wide or deep, there are visible stones in it. Yet it has this very impressive bridge, with a definite stone arch. It’s not the bridge between Imre and the University, it isn’t a high arch and this is farmland. But I suppose it might be anyway, because that tower could be the Archives, maybe? I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like the University to me, it doesn’t feel arcane at all.

Earth is visible all around—in the little escarpment at the side of the river, the rocks in the river, and underlying all the green pastoral quiet countryside.

The wind is represented by the swirls on the letters of the word “wind” in the title, and by one red leaf—the only red thing in the picture—drifting downwards. The trees don’t seem to be moving and the clouds seem fairly static too. It’s not obvious where the red leaf is coming from—it’s above the tops of the trees we can see, which are all green and summery while it is red and autumnal. And the red leaf, together with the flame-coloured letters of the words, are all we have for fire, or Kvothe... unless you count the fact that it’s evidently a sunny day.

Also, the perspective is such that we’re looking slightly downwards at all this, as if we’re on an elevation.

Overanalysis is what we do here, and yet, this is just the front of the box!

On one side, we can see, looking down from the top, blue sky, a white cumulus cloud, green trees, green grass, and a grey waystone! It’s a sarcen, a menhir with a flat lintel, like Stonehenge, or like the stone Kvothe and Denna climb up onto when the draccus comes. This is clearly part of the same picture as the wagon, bridge and etc, but it’s mysteriously hidden around the corner of the box. It’s hard to assess how tall it is, because it’s up a little rise, and there is perspective, but it’s at least twice the size of the wagon. If those are big horses, it’s probably more than ten feet tall.

This connects to the front, but not at all to the back.

On the back of the box, we have fire—it’s all reds. Red-headed Kvothe is on the top of a roof, in a sea of rooftops lit by a distant sunset while another red leaf floats by. These are slates too, but tinged red by the light. This has to be Tarbean, and a leggy young boy Kvothe looking down from his perch. Water is represented by the distant river, into which the sun is sinking, and on which there are ships. Wind can be seen in the leaf, in the smoke trails which are visibly trending southwards, and in the dark clouds, also clearly moving here. It’s earth that’s missing—we’re high above it and everything in sight but river and sky is man-made. And here we’re looking up at the roof, and at Kvothe on the top.

(See what I mean? Instant recognition of the scene, unlike the front.)

A word about the leaf. It’s bigger here, and at a different angle, but clearly the same leaf. Anyone have any idea what kind of tree it’s from? It’s red (for Kvothe?) and it clearly connects to the leaves in the courtyard and all of that—what else?

The other side is the most interesting of all. It’s a twilight scene that seems to connect to both front and back.

Again looking down the stripe, there’s the moon. And behind the moon there are clouds. Behind it! I mean that! There’s a crescent moon, and we can clearly see clouds behind it, straight across behind it, as if that crescent is all that’s there and blocking just a stripe of cloud. Also, it’s between us and the clouds. That’s different and fantastical and interesting! I’d regard it as well worth my $11 (plus shipping to Canada) just for this image of the moon. Seriously. Even if clouds could be behind the moon, if the moon were inside the atmosphere, they’d go behind the whole circle of the moon even when we can only see a crescent. But here, the crescent is all that’s in whatever world we’re looking at, and the rest is in the other world. And that’s so cool!

Below this amazing moon there’s a twilight sky, there’s a hill, there are trees, there are houses which seem to connect to Tarbean on the back, and trees and slopes which seem to connect to the pastoral scene on the front. The stone road is there, joining on, and the wooden fence. This is very clever.

It’s a twilight transition phase, with the moon. Is it Fae? Is it an allegorical representation of the Faem realm? Is it the bit where Felurian lives? Is it just a bit of somewhere in twilight—after all, we don’t see Fae, or even the moon being weird, in NW, not until WMF.

It’s reasonable to see the pastoral and Tarbean as opposites in many ways—opposite sides of the box, countryside vs city, day vs night, light vs dark, man-made vs natural, with a figure vs without, angled up vs down.

So how about the two narrow sides? One has sunlight and a waystone, the other has the moon and a road, a house with lit windows. Could it be the Waystone? The inn? It totally could, but then again, maybe not. The wagon is going away from it. It’s twilight and liminal and maybe what’s opposed is the moon and the stone.

I’m not done—the box also has a top and a bottom! On the top is blue sky and clouds with manufacturing information about Albino dragon. There are three flaps. On the big flap is an awesome black and white swag, with a coin with a wreathed head, holly leaves, a key and a candle. Coin, key, candle—sounding familiar? On the two little flaps are two more black and white bits—a white cameo dragon (draccus?) head, in a black circle (could it be Albino Dragon’s albinio dragon?), and an eight spoked wheel. The bottom just has manufacturing info, and it’s glued down, and I don’t quite believe there’d be a clue if I took the box apart, and besides, I’d have nowhere to keep the cards if I did that.

Next week, spades and hearts, and then the week after clubs and diamonds!

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published three poetry collections and nine novels, including the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. She has just published a collection of her posts, What Makes This Book So Great. She has a new novel My Real Children coming out in May. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here irregularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

Merchanter Pride
1. MerchanterPride
Jo! What an unbelievable observation! I studied the box giddily when I got it but somehow it didn't even occur to me to notice the physical relationship between the moon and the clouds! As you say that completely validates the money I spent on the Kickstarter. Man, the Reread is the best thing going. IID3Y for the love of god
Deana Whitney
2. Braid_Tug
I was at JordanCon with Pat.
You all probably know this, but I was new to him and his work.

The man "Obsessively Revises." Like over 300 times will he write Day 3. So it's going to take some time. He said that one revision was to look at every instance he used the word “that.” He removed three pages of “that”.

With that level of obsession, and wanting to make it “perfect”, he needs intervention. He needs a Brandon Sanderson’s Peter to tell him “Stop!”

He also asked a linguist fan in the audience if she did macramé, so it makes me want to know how much of that would show up in his story knots.
Lauren Hartman
3. naupathia
@2 - Yea I vote for some intervention. I love the detail in his books but seriously, overusing the word "that" is not going to make me throw the books down in disgust.

As for the picture: I immediately thought the wagon was the one Kvothe road to Tarbean with the farmer and son, after his parents died. It would make sense since the other scene is Kvothe in Tarbean. However I don't remember the book as vividly, so I don't know how many horses the cart had, etc.
Richard C.
4. Richard C.
Haven't read the rest, but from the hangout -> The cart is Ben, believe he can be seen in larger versions. The mules are alpha and beta of course! I'll finish reading the rest throughout the day.
Richard C.
5. Richard C.
Nevermind. I believe the other Kickstarter art showed the back of Ben with Kvothe on the cart.
thistle pong
6. thistlepong
From the hangouts during the Kickstarter campaign... The Kvothe-side is Tarbean. The wagon-side is toward the University. The road runs from one to the other. The grey block in the background of the wagon-side is the archives. The bridge spans the Omethi. Scale and, um, I guess continuity, were less of a concern than iconic imagery.

Around the time Shane left Albino Dragon, the videos were taken down. I have some notes and jumbles posted some as well. I'll try to share those when they're relevant.
A word about the leaf. It’s bigger here, and at a different angle, but clearly the same leaf. Anyone have any idea what kind of tree it’s from? (Jo's OP)
Ash. Probably, anyway. Hard to see too clearly and my box isn't handy, but elm would have a serrated edge.
But here, the crescent is all that’s in whatever world we’re looking at, and the rest is in the other world. (Jo's OP)
Great catch. This was also mentioned in the hangouts. He's apparently been very careful about that in sanctioned interpretations. Lee Moyer's Felurian from the 2013 squicky calendar depicts stars in the empty hollow of the crescent moon.

Albino dragon also made three coins available, one of which ( is a door-post with a crescent moon behind it and stars in the hollow and Elodin's questionaround the circumference.
On the two little flaps are two more black and white bits—a white cameo dragon (draccus?) head, in a black circle (could it be Albino Dragon’s albinio dragon?), and an eight spoked wheel. (Jo's OP)
The dragon is Albino Dragon's logo. (see

Shane did an albino draccus available as a magnet (see or a print. It's shape and appearance is similar to the print that's been available at the Tinker's Packs for awhile now.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
On the twilight side (in addition to the wonderful moon) there is something like a pushcart next to the house.

Scaling the image out, you can just make out a grayish figure as the driver of the "sunlight" cart.

If you go from the D towards the twilight there is something that could be a leaf or a bird caught between day and twilight.

On the back, some of the things in the sky look bird-like and somewhat large.

The moon is wonderful indeed. I hadn't ever pictured that it is within the atmosphere--very interesting and totally magical.
Jo Walton
8. bluejo
Naupathia -- I want him to get "that" right.

If you want fast sloppy work, there's a lot of it available. I think that's just fine. But I also think it's wonderful that there's meticulous craftsmanship available too, and that when we look at every use of the word "that" we know that we can trust that.

(Disclosure, I do this with the word "very" which would otherwise appear several times on every page. I have a special day in revision of every book for very-checking, in which every use of the word "very" gets examined -- sometimes left, sometimes cut, and sometimes changed to "red and gold with an intricate design of owls". And that's the one that needs it.)
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
My guess on the leaf is ash also. I've got one in the back yard.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
10. Lisamarie
That is amazing detail (and astute observation)...the thing with the moon is especially neat!!!

Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
11. Lisamarie
Wow, that is a huge level of detail, and very astute observation! I love the thing with the moon in front of the clouds!!

This is the first I've heard of this project but...why cards? Is the fact that cards were made in and of itself significant?
Robert Dickinson
12. ChocolateRob
Aaaghg... still waiting for my cards. Got the dispatch email on the 14th but no sign of them since (tracking not available for international orders).
I've ordered 'All the things' and a few extras.
Ross Newberry
13. rossnewberry
Braid_Tug @2: Peter said at JCon that most writers aren't lucky enough to have a Peter. Well, he didn't say lucky, because he's too modest, but I'm leaving it that way.

Love the moon detail, Jo. That one would likely have slipped past me.
Richard C.
14. Valyrian
It's incredible to find out that the moon is in front of the clouds. It's always been, and we just haven't found out because it's completely natural to everyone in the 4C world.

The twilight side is fascinating in general, in the way it connects the two other scenes. We have the tree from the cart scene reaching into the twilight scene, same with one of the houses from the Tarbean scene. The large cloud spans all three of them. It has a very Escheresque feel to it.

I also feel myself reminded of the unfolding house because the box is literally foldable scenery of the 4C world.

I don't think he needs an intervention, more like an encouraging handshake or something.

"That" can be used in so many ways in the English language that it's easy to overuse. There's nothing more jarring than awkward prose because of unintentional repetition. It's like hitting a bump on the road. I appreciate that he takes the time to craft the beautiful prose we've all come to like from his previous books.

(Maybe we can even take this comment as a good sign because he's already at this polishing state, and the D3 plot isn't a big mess or anything.)
Richard C.
15. Angela B
Shane Tyree wanted everyone to see the bigger version of the tuck box image, It can be found here:
and even downloaded if you'd like! There's even the option of buying a print on Albino Dragons website. Enjoy!
Richard C.
16. Emontie Purth
Don't forget about the person with flaming red hair standing dead center on the bridge, walking toward the university.
james loyd
17. gaijin
I was about to point out that there are actually several red leaves, but Angela B's link to the full version made that obvious. Thanks. At least four are visible on the box.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Thanks Angela B@15. The larger image makes a lot of details more clear. It is now clearly a person on the middle of the bridge and there is a cat a roof in Tarbean.
Jo Walton
19. bluejo
An ash leaf, hmm? Interesting.

Thanks, Angela B. Seeing it big and flat really shows how it wraps, which is cool. And seeing all the leaves. I wish I'd found that when I was writing this, but I only had the box and my own lying eyes...

It's really clear there are clouds here both in front of and behind the slice of moon. So cool! Also, I see the cart beside the building, and I more and more think it's the Waystone, symbolically anyway, because in reality Tarbean isn't next to the University, though of course a waystone is... the one where they sat when they had the conversation about sleeping under the wagon.

Valyrian, great call on the box being like the unfolding house. That's a really insightful thought, and I think you should be promoted to Re'lar.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Master Ash fluttering by on the wind playing a beautiful game.
Richard C.
21. mutantalbinocrocodile
I too vote that PR can revise excessive use of "that" out of his prose for as long as he wants, if it eventually gives us a doorstopper-sized epic written entirely in prose that pleases Ursula Le Guin. Seriously, no one has EVER achieved that before in long-form fantasy. We just all need to be really, really patient and feel superior to the GRRM fans j/k.
Richard C.
22. fyiad
It's probably not related, but during Shane's first solo kickstarter he ran an ARC. The clues that were worth paying attention to all incorporated a leaf. I'm wondering if the work he did on these cards stuck in his head and carried over into his next project. It'll be worth seeing if any of the pairs cards continue the leaf theme.
John Graham
23. JohnPoint
Ok, I have to chip in with two comments right away, and more to come later:

1) I think the moon observation is a really great catch. The moon is definitely in front of the clouds (and behind or in the cloud at the bottom, as fits with the hermit's comment that the moon is visible most nights, weather permitting), but it is definitely a crescent, not a whole circle with pieces unlit.

2) The botanical pedant in me has to chip in on the leaf issue (and this grates on me everytime I read NotW...) -- that is definitely not an ash leaf. It could be an ash leaflet, though even that I'm not sure. Ash have compound leaves, such that each piece that we think of as a leaf (each lanceolate bit that is green and contiguous) is actually part of one single, biological leaf. I also can't think of any ash leaves leaves that have lobed leaflets (like the large one on the Tarbean side). However, I can set that aside and say that it's supposed to represent an ash leaflet...

Edit to add: in the larger version, you can also clearly see that there is indeed a driver on the cart, but not really any details about the person. The red-haired Kvothe on the bridge is a nice catch!
thistle pong
24. thistlepong

At the moment, only the Amyr card (see has leaves. Looking at it, and respecting JohnPoint's post, Shane may just use that shape to represent leaves.

I hadn't looked at them for awhile. I'm trying not to let the Royals card (see, with the King (Pat) in red and gold, get to me.
Eric McCabe
25. Zizoz
Unless I've miscounted, that wheel has six spokes, not eight.
Jo Walton
26. bluejo
I said the leaf was representing Kvothe, and I wonder if all the leaves in this picture do, as in the swirling leaves in the courtyard. Or if not him, and if they are intended to be ash leaves, whether they represent the hidden presence of Master Ash, watching.
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
JohnPoint@23:True, they're leaflets. The bigger picture does make the Tarbean leaf look less like an ash leaflet as it looks like it has multiple lobes.

(Whether they are leaflets or leaves, they all end up annoying me by falling into our pool.) :-)
Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
Jo@26:They could be both.
Also, in the big picture it looks much more like it is donkeys or mules pulling the cart instead of horses. Maybe it is a two-donkeyed tinker.
Richard C.
29. Thurule
Jo, do yourself a favor and browse through the three pairs decks relevant to NotW. Standard, Modegan, and Faen. Get an eyeful of the C'thaeh...
John Graham
30. JohnPoint
Steven@27 -- give it a few years for the Emerald Ash Borer to hit Minnesota, and you won't have to worry about ash leaflets falling into your pool anymore... ;) (Not that this is a good thing.)
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
John@30:They have crossed the Mississippi and made their way somewhat into MN. This past winter may have set them back, we'll see. The city arborists have been preparing for the great ash die off.
Richard C.
32. Marco.
First, thanks to @15 for the picture.

When you save it down to your desktop and blow it up, the driver of the wagon is visable. Bald head, grey hair around the back.

The person with flame red hair on the bridge has to be Kvothe, so maybe it's "big Kvothe side" and "little Kvothe side".

Richard C.
33. Marco.
Brown robe too.

It's a tinker.
Richard C.
34. slemay
one wheel has 6 spokes the other has 8....
Richard C.
35. RaceBannon42
I learned not to order them unless you want 357 emails.
David Goldfarb
36. David_Goldfarb
In the larger version on DeviantArt that Angela just linked to, you can see that someone's crossing the bridge -- you can't tell much about them, except that they have red hair.

In the box-art version above, it's easy to see that there's nothing printed on the flaps that are glued over, so no point in taking apart the box to look at them. This is only one side, I suppose there might be something printed on the other side (which becomes the inside when the box is folded).

(I called up the post, had to go out, and came back without refreshing -- I see that several people have already made the same observations.)
37. aethel
Holy crap Thurule. Leaves.. Cthaeh tree.. why didn't I see it before? That's brilliant.
Merchanter Pride
38. MerchanterPride
Assessing Pat's writing process in reference to Brandon Sanderson's... I would say rather misses the point. Brandon's books are certainly fun but the prose is of course dreck. Pat is doing something different here.
Richard C.
39. Thurule
You also get to ogle Felurian in the Pairs deck. :)
Stefan Raets
40. Stefan
@38 - I'm not a big Sanderson fan, but calling his prose "dreck" may be a bit strongly worded. I'd say he writes very competent, self-effacing prose - the kind of writing that doesn't draw attention to itself and allows the reader to just sink into the story. It may not be as artful and stylized as what Rothfuss writes (or Valente, Kay, Wurts...), but I do believe it requires a different kind of skill to achieve that type of "transparent" prose.
Richard C.
41. Angela B
You're welcome! It was at the request of the artist so everyone could see more amazing details. I hadn't looked at the work that closely and even in the hangouts where Shane and Pat were creating the art we didn't get this in depth so this discussion is great!
Richard C.
42. Valyrian
Re'lar? I'm as surprised as I am honored. Thanks Jo!

The leaves reminded me of something but I couldn't say what it was at the time of my previous post. Now I know it's the orange-brown leaves from the UK cover of WMF ( The shape doesn't seem to match though.
Richard C.
43. Mndrew
You mention the cards, but surely one as obsessed as you prove to be will also cover the dice, poker chips, and tee-shirt? :-D
Eric McCabe
44. Zizoz
slemay @34: I was referring to the wheel on the top left flap, which there's only one of. Were you talking about the wheels on the wagon?
Richard C.
45. Marco.
Interestingly enough, the wagon wheels seem to have different numbers of spokes. 8 on the front wheel, 6 on the back.
Richard C.
46. BigVik
I can count up to nine leaves. They seem to be traveling from right to left in the direction of the wind and away from us, leaving the tree that produced them in front and to the right of the frame. I wonder if they are somehow related to the leaves of the Sword Tree of Adem. I say this because these leafs are presented from all different sides and they look like they are spinning in the air -- a possible reference to the Spinning Leaf state of mind. This also because of the fact that they most clearly represent the workings of the wind, which was all important in the Sword Tree Spinning Leaf chapter.

That said, three tiny winged creatures can be observed above the city on the dark side. It's a bit more of a stretch than the Sword Tree, but could those be red butterflies and those "leafs" are instead wings of red butterflies that Cthaeh is slicing in half? I know it's an anatomical stretch, but hey we're looking at the Moon obscuring the clouds here, why not have a leaf-like butterflies?

As for the identity of the two towns, I think they could both be the same, at least when you look at the chimneys. If both are Tarbean, than the cart would likely be the farmer. But these are just wild guesses.

Finally, can anyone with better eyes than mine tell me what the heck is that enormous Zigurat like structure at the horizon of the dark city? Considering that it is 2 times taller than the farthest of the chimneys and by far situated farther than any of them (at the horizon, maybe even outside of the city), it must be enormous. I can't remember any mention of any such large structures in the story of Tarbean.

This just occured to me: 9 leaves could also mean 9 Tehlin angels watching over Kvothe on his travels and lending their help on the wings of fire in Tarbean.
jum bles
47. jumbles
I assumed the structure in the distance was a lighthouse.

EDIT: The positioning and shape are about right, as is the location of Tarbean. Also the top of the structure is brighter than everything around it.

Also, as thistlepong@6 said, the two sides were explicitly said to be the University and Tarbean.
Steven Halter
48. stevenhalter
BigVik@46:In the enlarged picture, the flying things over Tarbean appear not to be so tiny but rather quite large.

I count 9 distinct leaf images also. The leaves across the top half of the picture (7) could be one leaf beeing blown by the wind through the timeframe of the picture or 7 different leaves. The shape of the 7 leaves is similar enough that it could be one leaf with deformations from the wind.

The two bottom frame leaves appear dissimilar in shape and so are probably distinct leaves. The Tarbean side leaf has lobes while the University side leaf doesn't, but it does appear wider than the top leaves. Seven leaves dancing over two leaves seperated by night and day does bring up various conotations, doesn't it?

The structure in the distance in Tarbean does look like a lighthouse to me.

Since daylight is the University, the large flat topped building must be the Library. I was kind of hoping there would be a hint of the Rookery off in the distance, but I don't see one.

I also note that the sun is almost but not quite there in the top right corner of the University side. That's rather like the sun in the books. It would have been nice to see if the sun was above the atmosphere.

With the knowledge that the moon is an in atmosphere object, I'm pondering its lighting. In the picture, there is a diffuse glow about the moon. This makes sense for an in atmosphere object as the air would diffuse the light. Looking at the light, it seems to come from all sides of the moon rather than one side being lit by the sun. I'm going to conjecture that the moon here is glowing by itself and isn't being lit by the sun like our moon. This also makes sense for an in atmosphere object.
Richard C.
49. kingkillerthriller
Thurule @ 29 - This is the 1st time I have been able to look at all the decks and their sketches. OMG, they leave me with so many questions, but I'm full of excitement!

In the one Faen Deck it definitely looks like Kvothe....but who is he with?? Is that Denna, Deanna?? Are those Amyr performing rights among waystones?? Does that mean they were in the Fae...i know Felurian says there never were any mortal Amyr.
thistle pong
50. thistlepong

Key to Nate's Faen deck:

1. Felurian
2. Remmen
Totally not Kvothe
3. Bastas
4. Sithe (White Riders)
5. Double Ring of Greystones
6. Tehlin Priests
Not Amyr. One appears to be a Penitent.
This is the biggest surprise. I don't even.
7. Mortal Guests
Hank Green (Internet Guy)
Tinker (Ben?)
Veronica Belmont (from The Sword & Laser)
8. Faerie Revel
9. not shown
10. Cthaeh's Tree
Richard C.
51. Valyrian
Having Tehlin priests in the Faen deck is indeed a surprise. I fear we're getting ahead of ourselves because I'm sure Jo will cover this in her next posts, so just two quick thoughts:

1. We see them in front of some greystones. Maybe they're guarding the entrance to the Fae? It makes sense if the Fae are demons according to Tehlin beliefs.

2. "There were never any human Amyr." Maybe there were never any human Tehlins? Tehlu and pals weren't human, but Ruach. What if the Tehlin church had been corrupted by human political interests in the same way as the Amyr?
Richard C.
52. Rogerdodge
Well, There goes my theory about the moon. If it's an atmosphere level I need to figure out an entirely new moon system....WHY ROTHFUSS, WHY!?!?!?!?.. The space that the Fean realm occupies can actually be a lot smaller than I thought....
John Graham
53. JohnPoint
On the commentary accompanying the regular NotW Pairs deck, it says something that I find very interesting, with respect to the extra "calamities" cards:
The full-frame cards, not including the Tinker, are the "Calamities" on the 7's: Death, Sickness, Storm, etc.
Anyone else think that these calamities and bear any relationship to the Chandrian and their signs? Maybe the Chandrian are the KKC version of the "4 horsemen of the apocalypse". I don't think I've seen any speculation on that idea before, but it seems to fit -- seven immortal beings who are attempting to bring about the end of the world, each of which has a specific sign of their approach...
Richard C.
54. kingkillerthriller
@ Thistlepong, thanks - I belive I got carried away, but it does make me wonder about Tehlin Priests....

I believe we are going to have to dissect each card set, because each has some interesting content in each card. Modegan, nothw, and Faen....
Andrew Mason
55. AnotherAndrew
JohnPoint@53: I believe someone suggested to PR that he include the Chandrian in the game, and he said no, these cards are supposed to be from the 4C, and no one in the 4C would ever do that, but he would put in seven calamities instead. So some oblique reference to the Chandrian, at least, seems to be intended.
Andrew Mason
56. AnotherAndrew
Rogerdodge@52: The atmosphere may be a lot bigger than we imagine.
John Graham
57. JohnPoint
Andrew @55 -- Yes, I agree that it's an oblique reference to the Chandrian, and here are Pat's comments about it from the blog:
Early on in the kickstarter, people asked if the seven card in the main deck would be the Chandrian. It’s a sensible question. Chaen does mean seven after all….

That said, the answer is a resounding “no.” These are decks of cards *from* the four corners. A deck of cards like that simply wouldn’t exist. If it ever did exist, it would have been burnt down to the waterline long, long ago.

But this suggestion gave me an idea. So I had many secret talks with Shane and James. The end result is the Calamities.
However, I'm wondering if it's actually not an *oblique* refernce at all, but rather, a *direct* reference to the Chandrian and their signs (and as such, to their role in the world), but no one in the 4C world would actually know that. In particular, look at the Calamities card with the broken cart wheel -- it looks similar to how I picture the effect of the Chandrian on the cart wheels when Kvothe returns to find his troupe slaughtered.

Edit to add: the Pat/Oot and Sarah/CutieSnoo "Royal" card is quite interesting -- Red and Gold clad "king" and Ivory and sapphire clad "queen". I'm thinking they might represent the Calanthis and Alveron families, based on their colors. Which would confirm Thistle's predictions about the Calanthis colors and the killed-king...
Richard C.
58. kingkillerthriller

Who are the couple shown in this card?
John Graham
59. JohnPoint
kingkillerthriller @58. Kvothe and a Fae. We don't know who she is (as far as I know anyway.) Kvothe is a "Mortal Guest" at the Fae revel.
Richard C.
60. BigVik
No comments on my Spinning Leaf theory of leaves? Oh well...

I have one more theory/observation and to that I have to thank all of you who pointed out that if the Moon is to be found within the 4C atmosphere then it can't be illuminated by the Sun, therefore...

Therefore the only conclusion I can draw from it is that it is a self-illuminated object. It's been shining for over 5000 years now, and that reminds me a lot of Master Kilvin's quest for an ever-burning lamp.

Could that seemingly quirky academic obsession by an obscure artifact actually be a major clue to the nature of the Moon? It would be typical of PR to do something like that.

He went to an insane amount of detail to talk about those lamps on several occasions, and as we continually see he's anything but verbose in his prose. This leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, Moon could hold the key to the ever-burning lamp mystery. Which by implication than has to have an intricate connection with the rest of the story.

Any ideas? Any ever-burning lamp scholars out there who can shed some light (no pun intended) on this topic? How do those lamps fit with the rest of the story? Any Kindle word-searches discovering more than stohastic congruence of certain words in the chapters mentioning the lamps, with other chapters mentioning say the Moon?
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
BigVik@60: I went in a different direction @48 with the leaves. I also noted that the moon must be sel illuminated, but didn't connect it to the ever-burning lamps. It has to be the same tech/magic as the lamps!
John Graham
62. JohnPoint
BigVik@60 - the ever burning lamp is an intriguing possibility. The moon being self-illuminated raises the question of Auri having a piece of the moon (her greenish light source that Kvothe never actually sees but wonders what it is).

I also wonder about the luminescent fish and butterflies that we see in the Fae (along with the silver tree from Murella). Connections there?
thistle pong
63. thistlepong

Don't forget Felurian's "eyes shining in the dark." Perhaps the organs of Faen sight are manufactured to the same standards as the legendary lamp. Or, alternatively, the lamps themselves might have provided their lasting illumination via Faen eyes.
Fred Breese
64. Silvanus
Seems like the moon is going to be a bit like the Ministry of Truth in the Elder Scrolls Morrowind. Lets just hope that it doesn't fall back down to earth at the end of the series...
Carl Banks
65. robocarp
Ok, I know I've posted some very outlandish theories here before, theories such as the one that the war caused by the theft of the moon was not the Creation War, or the one where Iax and friends stole a perfect circle out of a whole continent to use to construct the Faen realm and only left the four corners. It's a hobby of mine; back in the day I proposed that Tom Bombadil was the Dark Matter making up 90% of the mass of the universe (according to older cosmological models). I don't believe them for the most part.

But now, having closely examined the cover of this pack of cards, I saw a detail that led me to a theory crazier than all of them combined, and I actually think it could be true.


The Ruach, and all creatures shaped from Ruach (i.e., Faeries), are dogs.

The Ruach, the Fae, the (old) Amyr, the Sithe, Tehlu's Angels, Feluruian, Bast, Selitos, Aleph, Lyra, Lanre, Iax. Literal dogs. They wear a glamour to appear human, but they're dogs.

So where does this come from. If you notice, there is a picture of an white-colored animal (it looks like the body of a dog and tail of a cat) standing on a roof in Tarbean. Now, this seems like a superfluous detail: it's not needed to fill in empty space, it's colored so as to stand out, and, as far as I could remember, there was not a single specific dog or cat that appeared in the narrative. Since superfluous details tend to be clues, I wondered what this animal represented. My first thought was that it was one of Kvothe's girl friends tracking him in the form of a cat. So I did keyword searches for 'cat' and 'dog' on my Kindle to see how those animals appear in the two novels.

As I guessed, cats and dogs are only talked about, they never appear. Also, they are mostly talked about in general; specific cats or dogs are rarely mentioned. Of note, I saw that Kvothe once compared Devi's motion to that of a cat. "Ah ha!", I thought, "That white cat is Devi!" But of course that's not it: what would Devi be doing in Tarbean tracking Kvothe's movements in the form of a cat years before she ever met him?

The search for 'dog' revealed that two specific dogs were talked about. One was the "Comptess DeFerre's nastly little dog"; Stapes wondered why Kvothe didn't use that dog to test Caudicus's potions. Amusing but unhelpful. The other mention is signficant: Nina tells Kvothe that she saw a person (one of the Chandrian) on the wedding party vase whose leg was being bitten by a dog.

Hmm. Who is Chandrian afraid of? According to Haliax: the Amyr, the Singers, and the Sithe. Who are the Amyr? Ruach. (We'll presume Haliax refers to the Ruach who follow Selitos, not the human Amyr in later years.) Who are the Sithe? A group of Faeries, which are probably Ruach living in Faen realm. Who are the singers? Not known, but evidence suggests that it could refer to Tehlu's Angels, so Ruach. Point is, the Chandrian admit they're afraid of certain Ruach, and, according to the vase, they're afraid of dogs. As anyone who's ever taken the LSAT or GRE knows, this is not a formal proof that Ruach are dogs, but it does raise the question.

For some evidence, we turn to young children. It's a pretty big cliche that young children, being innocent, can perceive truths that us jaded adults, teenagers, and pre-teens can't. So what does Little Ben, the baby son of Hap and Mary (who come to seek Chronicler's services as a scribe) say after Bast tries to pick him up? "Dog." The baby perceives that Bast is a dog.

There are some points of evidence against this (Bast's feet are descibed as hooves), but there are many points this would explain. What do people do to appease Faeries? They leave out milk. As if they were feeding a dog. Faerie eyes are big and single-colored, like dog eyes. Faeries can be said to act like dogs: their strange morality can be like dogs. Bast's devotion to Kvothe resembles a dog's devotion to its master a lot. Felurian can be said to be a wild dog that Kvothe tamed; even after the taming she was still suspicious like a newly-tamed wild dog would be.

Also, remember how the Cthaeh said Kvothe would laugh when the Maer led him to the Amyr? What if the Maer actually led Kvothe to the Comptess LeFerre's little nasty dog? That would make me laugh. (This paragraph has been revised.)

Anyway, the dog on the roof of Tarbean is probably an Amyr whose job is to track Kvothe. It may be Skarpi himself.
Steven Halter
66. stevenhalter
The creature on the roof looks more like a cat than a dog to me. It does have a curiously twisted tail.
It quite possibly be a Fae or other creature going about in the form of a cat like they are won't to do as mules with Tinkers.
I would tend towards them wearing various skins rather than actually being dogs.
Richard C.
67. Valyrian
If anything, dogs = mortals and wolves = fae. Of course not in any literal sense, but the imagery comes up, especially in Bredon's case.

Sometimes a dog is just a dog. Or in this case, a dog is just a cat is just a cat.
Pamela Adams
68. Pam Adams

Could this also be where the Fairy Wog-Dog comes from?
Richard C.
69. BigVik

So then I guess Haliax and his coterie must be cats, sneaking around and being afraid of Ruach dogs? I have to say Cinder is a great name for a cat!

Now if Lanre was a Ruach before, does that make him Lord Halibarks now?
Igor Bugaenko
70. BioLogIn
Awesome catch about the moon.

But as far as I understand, it implies that the 4C world is almost flat (which has been suspected before). Or not =) See below.

For Earth, clouds mostly end in troposphere, about 15km from surface. If our Moon were to be somewhere on clouds' height, it could be seen only at a region size of Madagascar (600 sq. km). That's due to curvature of the Earth.

Which leaves 3 4 possibilities:
- 4C world is significantly less curved, i.e. almost flat. Which allows most of the world to see the moon hanging just at 15 km height.
- or 4C moon travels at much greater speed (through the atmosphere, mind you) so over the night it travels over significant part of the 4C world (but it never mentioned in the book).
- or 4C world has much larger mass / gravity force, and thus _much_ more athmosphere, which "allows" higher moon. VERY unlikely, since that increase of gravity would lead to many complications in human and life existance.
- 4C world is spherical, but VERY small, so the moon is still seen in a significant part of it. Also unlikely, as smaller world = less mass = less gravity.

Of these, I'd bet my money on the first one =)

Which, in turn, means that 4C moon doesn't have significant mass either... Otherwise it would have greatly affected things by it's mass...
Igor Bugaenko
71. BioLogIn
Well, it still cannot be totally flat - 'horizon' is mentioned multiple times in both books.

Not only that, but "moon was peering in from the horizon" in the end of D1. And "sun slowly sank into the horizon" in Haert. So that kinda implies that they both rotate around 4C world...

So maybe just a slightly curved world, not a flat one? Dunno what to think about it =( I hope mr. Rothfuss thought this through...

upd: well, this is frustrating. 4C map is even more confusing than I though it to be. It is not of any scale at all. If Tarbean is 40 miles from Imre, then the entire map is about 1600 miles wide... but travelling from Eld to Ademre takes about 3000 miles? Screw this map...
Ryan Murray
72. TheYllest

This makes it a little better:
We finished the trip in fifteen days. At my best guess, we covered almost three hundred miles in that time
3000 miles would take months and months to traverse on foot. That would have been a very boring story, hah.

Depending on where Kvothe and Tempi departed from and the location of Haert, ~300 miles is a resonable estimate given a distance of 40 miles from Tarbean to Imre. Scale holds.

This, however, is slightly more problematic:
I need to get myself to Severen with fair speed. A thousand miles with some to spare.
Depending on the route the ship took and the location of Severen (which is still unknown), I can't come up with a way that distance is more than 3x greater than from the Eld to Haert.

Igor Bugaenko
73. BioLogIn
Ow, thanks. 300 miles, not 3000. Sure. That makes much more sense.

My apologies to the map, it seems to have a reasonable scale now.

Which means that it pictures an area about 1 728 000 sq. miles. Which is "only" a size of 2 Greenlands or 2/3 of Australia. Don't know what to make of it in terms of Moon, other than to repeat that it won't be able to be visible in entire area in a spherical world with curvature similar to the Earth. Not that we know that it is visible everywhere in 4C similtaneously... meh, still not enough data to draw any sensible conclusion =(
Steven Halter
74. stevenhalter
BioLogin@70&71:I lean heavily towards a basically flat 4C world (although some other interesting non-spherical shapes are possible). From ground level, the horizon would basically look the same for a flat or spherical world (where the sphere is much larger than the height of the person).
For tall objects or objects that are at some height (like the moon) you will see some differences as you mentioned. If the 4C is not an infinite plane, but has an edge somewhere, then the sun and moon could vanish over the edge. Depending on how far away the sun and moon can get, they would slowly shrink into the distance until they either became point sources or vanished over the edge.
I don't think Kvothe has mentioned looking out at the world from on top of a mountain. That would be interesting.
PR has said that the 4C isn't all of the world, so we don't really know how big it is.
Richard C.
75. Marco.
(a) I love observations of contradictions like this. Thank you.
(b) Given the care that Rothfuss puts into crafting his work, I bet things like this drive him nuts.
Richard C.
76. Valyrian
Did any fantasy writer after Tolkien ever manage to get their maps and travel speeds to work? (I'm usually fine with traveling at the speed of plot though.)

Considering the cosmology of the world, I also lean towards a flat 4C world. The fact that Kvothe is amazed by how you can walk straight ahead in the Fae and arrive where you started also points to this.

Most significant counterpoint to me is the Great Stone Road. Am I just misremembering, or is it said to be straight? Because then its curvature on the map would be the result of the projection of a curved planetary surface. Even if it isn't said to be straight in canon, the precise curvature of the road raises questions.
Andrew Mason
77. AnotherAndrew

- or 4C world has much larger mass / gravity force, and thus _much_ more
athmosphere, which "allows" higher moon. VERY unlikely, since that
increase of gravity would lead to many complications in human and life existance.

Or: the atmosphere in the 4C world is not held about the earth by gravity: it extends to the edge of the universe, which is a solid sphere. In which case it can be as large as you like.
Richard C.
78. BigVik
PR does have some basic education in physics and chemistry so I don't think that he would take these questions lightly. This is not to say that he's going to go out of his way to align 4C with known properties on Earth. Actually, some of what he write suggests that the properties of matter are somewhat different in 4C:

One example is the apparent difference in electro-magnetic properties of iron and copper in 4C from those observed on our home world. This would imply that either what they call iron in 4C is actually not iron here (I doubt that, it would make things very confusing and arbitrary); or that electricity and magnetism behaves differently in 4C.

Assuming that basic structure of the elements must be the same in order for them to preserve certain properties that are characteristic to them and make them say "iron" and "copper" in the books, not "blyron" and "cooper", then we must assume that something in the conditions of 4C makes those elements behave differently. Any ideas?

Maybe the magnetic field is different there somehow (this would definitely imply a different planetary structure)? Maybe the world is really small, but with the neutron star core that would give it required mass and produce an immense electro-magnetic field. Not sure this would be compatible with life, but at some point even the writer must give up on this.

An aside about the map: if it represents the whole world then it must be flat as the ends don't meet; alternatively it's only a portion of the world which renders any discussion of the world's size useless, unless PR somehow took curvature in consideration when he made his map. Considering that even Rand McNally doesn't do this for their garden-variety flat maps of the Earth (did you ever notice how Greenland looks to be the size of South America on those, even though it's ~10x smaller? It's all about different curvature not represented on those maps), I highly doubt that PR was able or willing to do this for his book series.
John Graham
79. JohnPoint

Here's the description that I think you're refering to regarding the Great Stone Road:
Stonebridge rose ahead of us: two hundred feet from end to end, with a high arch that peaked five stories above the river. It was part of the Great Stone Road, straight as a nail, flat as a table, and older than God. I knew it weighed more than a mountain. I knew it had a three-foot parapet running along both its edges.
However, in this description it appears that the "straight as a nail" refers to the bridge, not the GSR. Still, the precise curvature on the map seems a bit strange to me as well...
Andrew Mason
80. AnotherAndrew
I think that perhaps, rather than starting from present-day science and
changing some aspects, we should see Rothfuss's world as reflecting the
theories of an earlier age. So, since iron and copper have been known
for a long time, this world will contain substances called iron and
copper, and their ordinary everyday behaviour will be the same as in our
world; but their inner constitution may be quite different. (Are there
any substances mentioned that were discovered more recently - e.g.

As for the map, I think it's clear that it isn't the whole world,
because there are places mentioned in the text that are outside it -
notably the Tahlenwald, but I think also Lanett.
Richard C.
81. BigVik
Elements and their behavior are determined by the number of protons in their nucleus. An element that has 1 proton in its nucleus is called hydrogen, and it has certain physical characteristics that are dependent upon the conditions of the outside world (temperture, pressure, etc). But it will always behave the same under these conditions and the change in its internal structure would change the element itself (if it had two protons it would be helium not hydrogen anymore).

That said, number of neutrons in the nucleus determines the weight and the nuclear reactivity/stability of the element (I doubt this is a factor in PRs prose), and the composition and interactions of the electron orbitals around the nucleus determine the chemical properties as well as electro-magnetic interactions of the element which I think may be the case here.

In other words if elements are what he calls them, then it's the outside conditions that have to be changed in order for them to behave differently than what we can observe in our world. This doesn't have to be real change, it's fantasy novel after all, but knowing how PR likes to make those connections to real world sciences I think at least he may make a plausible effort at reconciling these facts with his 4C world physics.
Bruce Wilson
82. Aesculapius
Wow -- new stuff...!! :o)

@50 (Thistle) Do you have a source for your key to the Faen deck or are those just your guesses? The cavorting figures behind (2) make me wonder if this is a younger Bredon...? Doesn't he describe himself as having been something of a "power" in his youth? (and just exactly how long ago was his youth?!) I'm also intrigued by the cloak of red leaves and the cup he's holding.

So many things to think about -- but only time to comment on just this one tonight.

Carl Banks
83. robocarp
Minor data point in favor of flat world: in Skarpi's story, Selitos is able to look over the and see six plumes of smoke, one of which is known to be coming from Belen, which the best evidence suggests is in the area of Tarbean. This is something on the order of a thousand miles from Myr Tariniel. If the FC world is curved it wouldn't be visible.

The reason this is not a major data point is that Selitos is gifted with Sight, and quite possibly he would be able to see around the curvature of the planet.
Richard C.
84. Valyrian
@79. JohnPoint:

I think that's what I was remembering. Thanks to your great memory / kindle version :)

@81. BigVik:

The thing is though, all neutron/proton combinations are already "taken", they are our known chemical elements and their isotopes. So if stuff like "copper with magnetic properties" doesn't exist in our world, we cannot explain it for the 4C world without bending science somewhere.

And I'm pretty sure all metals are magnetizable, and that this is how the trifoil compass works. I'm actually more interested in why we are given clues about this at all, and how it relates to the rest of the story.
Patrick Stultz
85. Audion
I don't see the need to make the 4C anything other than a normal sized world. The moon could be much smaller than our moon, but I belive it's stated a few times that she wanders as she will.
It never says she's in a set pattern, other than being drawn into the fey in a 72 day cycle.
She could wander over the entire world as she wills and it would solve a lot of the mystery.
John Graham
86. JohnPoint
BigVik @81 --

I'm also curious why you say that the elements in the 4C world have different electromagnetic properties than in our world. Afaicr, the only time this comes up is when Denna speculates that a copper "lodenstone" would attract copper (or a brass lodenstone would attract either brass, or copper and tin). We don't actually see it happen, it's just speculation. Denna's speculation can't be taken as truth -- she's not saying that she has seen one, but rather a "what if". Am I missing something?
Steven Halter
87. stevenhalter
There are clearly different elementary rules in play in the 4C. Hence. the existence of the various forms of magic. I wonder if PR has thought through basic principles. For example, the world could be based off of alchemical properties rather than modern physics.
Since alchemy works, ...
Richard C.
88. BigVik

Copper can be magnetized in our world, it is just not a trivial thing to do at room temperature where only iron, cobalt and nickel are ferromagnetic.

Two ways to magnetize copper are:

1. Make a coil from it and let the electricity go through it.
2. Bring it below its Curie temperature (aka the temperature where it would switch to a ferromagnetic metal).

In other words, for copper to be ferromagnetic in PRs world copper would have to align with either 1 or 2 somehow, but it wouldn't have to be a "different" copper.
Richard C.
89. BigVik

I can't find it now, but I do remember a lengthy discussion here on this forum and me reading in the books something about the "galvanic properties" of copper. Also trefoil compass has cobalt (a definite ferromagnetic), platinum and gold -- neither of which are magnetic. So what kind of compass is that? Our compasses measure magnetic field, but in 4C we at least have 2 more fields to contend with (gold and platinum). Or does 4C have magnetic field at all? If it is a flat world or small world without a molten iron core, it shouldn't have a magnetic field to speak of. But I think it has to as otherwise the lethal UV rays would fry its surface, unless Sun in 4C is like the Moon -- different somehow.

Gah, I think my head is going to hurt from this! The more I think about it, the less sense it makes. I bet PR made a "fantastic" premise somewhere then build world around it using standard logic, kind of like psychopats do when they build their alternate reality around a wrong premisse but by using normal logical thinking. Problem is, I don't know what that premise is, and so the more I think the more insane all this sounds.

I think I'm ready for a long vaccation in the Crockery.
thistle pong
90. thistlepong
Which, in turn, means that 4C moon doesn't have significant mass either... Otherwise it would have greatly affected things by it's mass...
I reckon its mass is negligible or somehow has a negligible effect on the world of the Four Corners. I'm willing to accept that a wizard did it since, according to the text, that's what happened.

An aside about the map: if it represents the whole world then it must be flat as the ends don't meet
stevenhalter mentioned this in @74, but I guess it bears repeating. The Four Corners are only a portion of the world. We've sourced this a few time throughout the reread.

[quote](Are there any substances mentioned that were discovered more recently - e.g. alumin[i]um?)Off the top of my head, calcium. That's still consistent with a roughly Renaissance-ish setting.

(Thistle) Do you have a source for your key to the Faen deck or are those just your guesses?
I cobbled multiples sources together to form the key. Pat mentioned Remmen (2) in his cloak of autumn leaves and a loincloth on his blog. I referenced it a thread or two back. The only Faen card I can't easily source is the fifth (7), which nonetheless matches Skarpi's description. I should have marked it as such. It would be pointless for me to post up a bunch of guesses...

For example, the world could be based off of alcemical properties rather than modern physics.
Since alchemy works, ...
It's a great "for example." But I can't stress enough that alchemical principles wouldn't account for the issues folks have with the 4C.
Steven Halter
91. stevenhalter
thistlepong@90:Yep, there are a number of systems at play here. As you mention, they know about calcium and that wasn't found over here until 1808. What they know and how everything works is a really interesting topic. PR is being pretty cadgy with details, but hopefully we'll get some background some day.
Richard C.
92. Valyrian
Aluminum and calcium are interesting, never thought about that. But the scientific method is clearly very well developed in the 4C world (or at least around the university), which is beyond Renaissance tech level. "Tech levels" are a rather narrow concept anyway, but except for the absence of gunpowder and steam engines it feels more like the 19th century to me.

I suppose it's easier to discover elements that exist mostly in compounds/salts in the real world if you have sympathy to easily exert energy to separate them. Alchemy could have been applied too. Speaking of which,

@90. thistlepong:

what issues with the 4C are you talking about? Geographical questions? Because if you are talking about elements and their properties I'd like to know how you can be so sure, considering that we know even less than Kvothe about alchemy.
Andrew Mason
93. AnotherAndrew
As far as I know there isn't actually any aluminium; I just raised that as an example of something there might be.

But my question wasn't actually about tech level, but about the fundamental structure of the world. I agree that the tech level is in many ways post-mediaeval; there are gas lamps, for instance. But my puzzle was rather whether the world reflects mediaeval science; and the presence of calcium suggests it doesn't; it must contain the kind of things we call elements, rather than being a world whose basic constituents are earth, air, fire and water, and in which there are just seven metals, etc.
Richard C.
94. BigVik
The nature of the problem we're facing is that PR is telling the story from a point of view of a narrator who lives in 4C. How's this a problem?

Let's imagine Master Lorren receives a book from a faraway land authored by Agatha Christie. Unfortunately, the last third of a book is badly burned so the ending is missing.

Master Lorren reads through the first two thirds of the book and is left itching for more and trying to figure out who is the killer and how the murders were commited. He's sure there are enough clues in the first two thirds of the book. After all, the little mustachioed detective just proclaimed "I am ready to announce what happened! Let's all gather in the study...", before the rest of the text went up in flames.

Now, in our world, anyone with the strong sense of logic and deduction, plus a good general knowledge should be able to figure things out from here. But would Master Lorren be able? I'm not so sure. What if arsenic was used for murder, but in 4C arsenic has different chemical properties? How would master Lorren know this? Agatha Christie didn't seem compelled to stop mid-sentence somewhere to write a treatise on the chemical properties of arsenic as she assumes here readers will know this. There are other problems Master Lorren would face as well, like unfamiliar cultural customs, technology that doesn't exist in 4C, etc.

Now, maybe he'd find out something about Agatha Christie's world by reading some innocuous passages in her book regarding the use of iron and copper objects that differ from 4C, thereby figuring out the general difference between the worlds and deducing the potenital toxic properties of arsenic. But more likely he wouldn't be able to.

So, I think we're kind of stuck here, but we do have two things working in our favor: PR is a man of this world pretending to write like someone from 4C so he may inadverently or deliberately give us hints; another thing is that we reasonably expect PR to eventually finish his work.

In any case, even if ultimately futile, I really love this mental exercise and I think people on this forum do too, so let's continue, shall we?
thistle pong
95. thistlepong
what issues with the 4C are you talking about? Geographical questions? Because if you are talking about elements and their properties I'd like to know how you can be so sure, considering that we know even less than Kvothe about alchemy.
I am talking about the physical/material/electromagnetic issues explored recently in this thread. I can be so sure because I know more about alchemy than you do, or Kvothe claims to, for that matter.

But my puzzle was rather whether the world reflects mediaeval science; and the presence of calcium suggests it doesn't; it must contain the kind of things we call elements, rather than being a world whose basic constituents are earth, air, fire and water, and in which there are just seven metals, etc.
My intention was not to derail your inquiry, but rather to affirm that, yes, 4C science is aware of Renaissance/Enlightenment elements and that, in fact, that is commensurate with other aspects of the setting - social, political, technological - and Pat's own description of same.

I plucked out calcium 'cause we discovered it after 1800, which should have, and apparently did, dispell any notion of Medieval-esque science.

On the other hand, alchemy persisted into the 1700s and a few of the first recorded observations and/or isolations of elements were made by alchemists.


Arsenic in the 4C appears to function just like Earth-616 Arsenic. I know you were just grabbing an example, but, y'know, it marks a point of similarity. Heck, I'm not even sure why you assert that iron and copper have different electromagnetic properties in the 4C.
Steven Halter
96. stevenhalter
thistlepong@95:While arsenic from Earth-616 is probably similar, I think
Earth-1218 Arsenic would be our basis. :-)
Bruce Wilson
97. Aesculapius

OK, cool -- thanks. I guess I must be a bit behind on some of Pat's blog and some posts here too. Interesting that he's been so up-front in introducing us to Remmen. No hooves to be seen but I guess that could just be glamour.

The backgound and the look still makes me think Bredon; I wonder if there'll turn out to be a link there...

Roll on D3 (!).
Richard C.
98. Valyrian
@93. AnotherAndrew:

I'm pretty sure Rothfuss tries to make his world respect modern science as much as possible while still allowing for its magical fairy-tale like properties. It's what makes the university's approach of using the scientific method for magic so fascinating.

And as far as I'm concerned, it works. Sure we'll reach a point of inconsistency and contradiction if we dig deep enough, but we can just choose not to :)

@94. BigVik:

But we also now that we are reading a story written by an author living in our world written for an audience living in our world. That means, if we see someone putting arsenic in someone's cup in the 4C world, we can legitimately suspect that there is a poisoning going on, unless there are other hints to the contrary (disregarding the canonical statements on the properties of arsenic for the sake of argument).

Rothfuss's not going to come out after the fact telling us that in the 4C world arsenic works as a love potion, for example. That'd be cheap. Unusual properties of iron are explicitly stated in the text, unusual properties of copper are hinted at.

I agree with you though that we have been deliberately given inconclusive information. This is not something we're meant to figure out.

@93. thistlepong:

"I'm so sure because I know more than you" as an answer is both obvious and evasive. Of course I was asking what it is that you know that I don't. Or is it something you cannot publicly tell?
Richard C.
99. Rogerdodge
@98 I suspect Thistlepong is refering to studies of historical alchemy in our world as his basis for knowing more about alchemy than we do. I seem to recall reading in one of Pat's blogs that he had studdied alchemy quite a bit.

@89 The trifoil compass uses sygaldry to point to specific points in the 4 corners, just like the dowsing compass that the thugs used to track Kvothe uses sygaldry. There is no need for exotic types of magnetic fields.
Richard C.
100. Valyrian
If that's the case it's surely an exaggeration to make it a statement of fact and knowledge instead of (possibly well-founded) speculation.
thistle pong
101. thistlepong

I just can't...

You might catch more flies with honey, darling.
Jo Walton
102. bluejo
Valyrian -- don't worry about it. All alchemists sound like that, it's an occupational hazard.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment