Thu
Feb 17 2011 10:00am

The Wise Man’s Fear (Excerpt)

Patrick Rothfuss

Please enjoy this excerpt from DAW Books, “Interesting Fact” from The Wise Man’s Fear, the feverishly anticipated second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss. The novel hits the shelves on March 1st.

 

Interesting Fact

ELODIN STRODE INTO THE lecture hall almost an hour late. His clothes were covered in grass stains, and there were dried leaves tangled in his hair. He was grinning.

Today there were only six of us waiting for him. Jarret hadn’t shown up for the last two classes. Given the scathing comments he’d made before disappearing, I doubted he’d be coming back.

“Now!” Elodin shouted without preamble. “Tell me things!”

This was his newest way to waste our time. At the beginning of every lecture he demanded an interesting fact he had never heard before. Of course, Elodin himself was the sole arbiter of what was interesting, and if the first fact you provided didn’t measure up, or if he already knew it, he would demand another, and another, until you finally came up with something that amused him.

He pointed at Brean. “Go!”

“Spiders can breathe underwater,” she said promptly.

Elodin nodded. “Good.” He looked at Fenton.

“There’s a river south of Vintas that flows the wrong way,” Fenton said. “It’s a saltwater river that runs inland from the Centhe sea.”

Elodin shook his head. “Already know about that.”

Fenton looked down at a piece of paper. “Emperor Ventoran once passed a law—”

“Boring,” Elodin interjected, cutting him off.

“If you drink more than two quarts of seawater you’ll throw up?” Fenton asked.

Elodin worked his mouth speculatively, as if he were trying to get a piece of gristle out of his teeth. Then he gave a satisfied nod. “That’s a good one.” He pointed to Uresh.

“You can divide infinity an infinite number of times, and the resulting pieces will still be infinitely large,” Uresh said in his odd Lenatti accent. “But if you divide a non-infinite number an infinite number of times the resulting pieces are non-infinitely small. Since they are non-infinitely small, but there are an infinite number of them, if you add them back together, their sum is infinite. This implies any number is, in fact, infinite.”

“Wow,” Elodin said after a long pause. He leveled a serious finger at the Lenatti man. “Uresh. Your next assignment is to have sex. If you do not know how to do this, see me after class.” He turned to look at Inyssa.

“The Yllish people never developed a written language,” she said.

“Not true,” Elodin said. “They used a system of woven knots.” He made a complex motion with his hands, as if braiding something. “And they were doing it long before we started scratching pictograms on the skins of sheep.”

“I didn’t say they lacked recorded language,” Inyssa muttered. “I said written language.”

Elodin managed to convey his vast boredom in a simple shrug.

Inyssa frowned at him. “Fine. There’s a type of dog in Sceria that gives birth through a vestigial penis,” she said.

“Wow,” Elodin said. “Okay. Yeah.” He pointed to Fela.

“Eighty years back the Medica discovered how to remove cataracts from eyes,” Fela said.

“I already know that,” Elodin said, waving his hand dismissively.

“Let me finish,” Fela said. “When they figured out how to do this, it meant they could restore sight to people who had never been able to see before. These people hadn’t gone blind, they had been born blind.”

Elodin cocked his head curiously.

Fela continued. “After they could see, they were shown objects. A ball, a cube, and a pyramid all sitting on a table.” Fela made the shapes with her hands as she spoke. “Then the physickers asked them which one of the three objects was round.”

Fela paused for effect, looking at all of us. “They couldn’t tell just by looking at them. They needed to touch them first. Only after they touched the ball did they realize it was the round one.”

Elodin threw his head back and laughed delightedly. “Really?” he asked her.

She nodded.

“Fela wins the prize!” Elodin shouted, throwing up his hands. He reached into his pocket and brought out something brown and oblong, pressing it into her hands.

She looked at it curiously. It was a milkweed pod.

“Kvothe hasn’t gone yet,” Brean said.

“Doesn’t matter,” Elodin said in an offhand way. “Kvothe is crap at Interesting Fact.”

I scowled as loudly as I could.

“Fine,” Elodin said. “Tell me what you have.”

“The Adem mercenaries have a secret art called the Lethani,” I said. “It is the key to what makes them such fierce warriors.”

Elodin cocked his head to one side. “Really?” he asked. “What is it?”

“I don’t know,” I said flippantly, hoping to irritate him. “Like I said, it’s secret.”

Elodin seemed to consider this for a moment, then shook his head. “No. Interesting, but not a fact. It’s like saying the Cealdish moneylenders have a secret art called Financia that makes them such fierce bankers. There’s no substance to it.” He looked at me again, expectantly.

I tried to think of something else, but I couldn’t. My head was full of faerie tales and dead-ended research into the Chandrian.

“See?” Elodin said to Brean. “He’s crap.”

“I just don’t know why we’re wasting our time with this,” I snapped.

“Do you have better things to do?” Elodin asked.

“Yes!” I exploded angrily. “I have a thousand more important things to do! Like learning about the name of the wind!”

Elodin held up a finger, attempting to strike a sage pose and failing because of the leaves in his hair. “Small facts lead to great knowing,” he intoned. “Just as small names lead to large names.”

He clapped his hands and rubbed them together eagerly. “Right! Fela! Open your prize and we can give Kvothe the lesson he so greatly desires.”

Fela cracked the dry husk of the milkweed pod. The white fluff of the floating seeds spilled out into her hands.

Master Namer motioned for her to toss it into the air. Fela threw it, and everyone watched the mass of white fluff sail toward the high ceiling of the lecture hall, then fall back heavily to the ground.

“Goddammit,” Elodin said. He stalked over to the bundle of seeds, picked it up, and waved it around vigorously until the air was full of gently floating puffs of milkweed seed.

Then Elodin started to chase the seeds wildly around the room, trying to snatch them out of the air with his hands. He clambered over chairs, ran across the lecturer’s dais, and jumped onto the table at the front of the room.

All the while he grabbed at the seeds. At first he did it one-handed, like you’d catch a ball. But he met with no success, and so he started clapping at them, the way you’d swat a fly. When this didn’t work either, he tried to catch them with both hands, the way a child might cup a firefly out of the air.

But he couldn’t get hold of one. The more he chased, the more frantic he became, the faster he ran, the wilder he grabbed. This went on for a full minute. Two minutes. Five minutes. Ten.

It might have gone on for the entire class period, but eventually he tripped over a chair and tumbled painfully to the stone floor, tearing open the leg of his pants and bloodying his knee.

Clutching his leg, he sat on the ground and let loose with a string of angry cursing the like of which I had never heard in my entire life. He shouted and snarled and spat. He moved through at least eight languages, and even when I couldn’t understand the words he used, the sound of it made my gut clench and the hair on my arms stand up. He said things that made me sweat. He said things that made me sick. He said things I didn’t know it was possible to say.

I expect this might have continued, but while drawing an angry breath, he sucked one of the floating milkweed seeds into his mouth and began to cough and choke violently.

Eventually he spat out the seed, caught his breath, got to his feet, and limped out of the lecture hall without saying another word.

This was not a particularly odd day’s class under Master Elodin.

 

The Wise Man’s Fear copyright © Patrick Rothfuss 2011

109 comments
Kerwin Miller
1. tamyrlink
MARCH 1ST!? i've been so wrapped up waiting for The Crippled God I forgot I was supposed to reread The Name of the Wind so I can read this one!
Ian Cyr
2. Ian Cyr
Man. I have the first in paperback, and I hate splitting copies. But man do I want this book. I wonder if it'd be worth it to re-buy the first in Hard Cover just to have a matching set...
Ian Cyr
3. Lindsay Ribar
Ahhh, this is one of my favorite scenes! I'm so glad you guys posted it!
Ian Cyr
4. CarlosSkullsplitter
You can tell Rothfuss went to the University of Wisconsin.
Ian Cyr
6. jharris22586
OMG. That was delightful.
Tricia Irish
8. Tektonica
I do hope Kvothe gets out of school in this book and we get on to his worldly adventures....

Looking forward to it!
T C
9. Freelancer
In San Diego last year, at the end of ComiCon, this segment was selected by Patrick to be read. There were three authors at this particular reading/signing event, and the promoters thought it would be a good idea to have them read EACH OTHER'S work, so it was Brent Weeks got the "pleasure". When reading about the unusual fact regarding the Scerian dogs, Brent turned to Patrick who was sitting to his right with his usual "I'm an evil bastard" grin on his face, and said, "I can't believe you just made me say that". In turn, Patrick read a segment from Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings, and Brandon read a segment from Brent's The Black Prism. The latter is an excellent work, the former a blockbuster foundation to a series which promises to keep me interested for many years. Now if Patrick would just pick up the pace a little...::duck::
Ian Cyr
10. Denari6
/agree with Tektonica @ 8. I just finished reading The Name of the Wind after I saw how well it did on this decades poll. I do think I will wait for paperback. I can only take so many references to arcane fantasy science and mathemics in a given quarter.

D
Ian Cyr
12. jec81
There's no questions Rothfuss can write a good scene. Maybe in this book he can include a plot.
Ian Cyr
13. g00dgulf
thght tht sckd.
Walker White
14. Walker
I had a professor like this is graduate school. He would make completely bizarre pronouncements that made no sense.

One day in class he declared that he would rather have his children addicted to heroin than dairy products, because at least heroin addiction is curable. And that he sometimes found himself wanting to go to Amsterdam to get some cheese.
Sim Tambem
15. Daedos
@14 - Now that is a comment. Unfortunately, now I need to go get some Munster...
Logan Garner
16. lunartic
I honestly think I've written better scenes.
Ian Cyr
17. Juhan R
Funny, how I find Pat Rotfuss to be an incredibly cool, funny charming and inspiring human being, yet every time I actually read The Name of the Wind I realise that the "realism" that he so strives for in his writing is completely lost it's purpose when you've got all sorts of different people in a (supposedly medieval/reneissance-ish) fantasy world, all talking to each other like Joss Whedon.

Or just using acutely modern vocabulary - feels anachronistic at best.

"Yeah." "Wow." and "Crap."

Et cetera.

I mean... somehow, I just don't buy it. Automatically, it takes me out of the fantastic/fantasy world he's created. "This. Is! POUGHKEEPSIE!!!" Maybe in the next book, he could throw in some "mayhap"s or "aye"s ? You know, just for a goof. Or credibility.
lake sidey
18. lakesidey
Verily, my parched eyes vainly scan the horizon for any sign of this mighty tome. Prithee tell me, good sir, how dost thou survive the waiting?

(Hope that's archaic enough for those who want archaic?)

But seriously, can't wait to get my paws on this one. Thank God this isn't a leap year, March 1st is that much closer!

~lakesidey
Ian Cyr
19. Picard2
this felt like a description of a cosplay gathering :D

not that I didn't like it tho
Ian Cyr
20. Barry O'Bumble
Another chapter where absolutely nothing happens. And this is what he chose as a promo?

Doesn't bode well.
Ian Cyr
21. Ailsa2
Squee! Thank you for posting this. I think Elodin is one of my favourite characters. So excited for this book. Soon... soon.
Ian Cyr
22. queerpoet
Yikes. Two weeks to reread Name of the Wind, because I've completely forgotten these characters. So happy this is finally coming out, though. Yay!
Kristoff Bergenholm
23. Magentawolf
Sadly, this scene does nothing except make me go: 'Wait, what?' ... And not in a 'that was bloody awesome!' manner, either.
Ian Cyr
24. Jmull
You, sir, are an artist! A true master of modern diction, and I am therefore greatful to be a practitioner of said modern dialects. I should make your works required reading. Thank you for existing Pat.

I hope Mr. Rothfuss doesn't mind if I use this as a guide for planning my next semester.
Ian Cyr
25. Alienist
This is lovely. There's quite a lot to think about here, including various commentaries on each of Elodin's students by how Kvothe presents the scene and by how Elodin reacts to it.

March 1st needs to get here faster, and even that response is perfectly in line with the point of the text. Bravo.
Ian Cyr
26. TheNewSun
Well. That was...a thing. I loved the original book, but I didn't find that to be particularly interesting or even clever. At one point I seriously thought that maybe it was a joke scene, not intended to be included.
Umm...anyway, I still have it pre-ordered, so...yeah.
Tricia Irish
27. Tektonica
jec81@12: LOL

There's no questions Rothfuss can write a good scene. Maybe in this book he can include a plot.

Exactly!
Justin Levitt
28. TyranAmiros
I remember this scene from Comicon and it's actually what made me pick up Name of the Wind. I wouldn't call the setting Medieval, I think the world has more of a late 18th/early 19th century vibe, particularly at the University.
Ian Cyr
29. clytemnestra215
There's definitely plot stuff going on. You saw the Adem info tucked in? Pretty sure that'll come up later. In the meantime, it's an amusing scene.

And honestly, this is Rothfuss's world and if he says they say "wow" and "crap" in it, they do. It's not a requirement that fantasy books must exist in a pre-enlightenment world with an aged vocabulary. Not every fantasy world uses "mayhap." Actually, that's pretty cliched. Qvothe's world knows about germs and advanced scientific principles (at least, the educated people do). And there's no such thing as an anacronysm in an entirely made-up world unless the author determines it so. This is not our world with our timeline.

Very excited to read the new book! Just finished my reread of The Name of the Wind.
T C
30. Freelancer
Funny, how I find Pat Rotfuss to be an incredibly cool, funny charming and inspiring human being, yet every time I actually read The Name of the Wind I realise that the "realism" that he so strives for in his writing is completely lost it's purpose when you've got all sorts of different people in a (supposedly medieval/reneissance-ish) fantasy world, all talking to each other like Joss Whedon.


So, not normally big on playing grammar police, but that is one amazing sentence to use in criticizing someone's writing. Seriously, that's one sentence. I will bypass the larger grammatical issues, and focus on is where the word should be has, and that the possessive form of it gets no apostrophe, to prevent confusion with the common contraction of "it is".

I can sympathize if the apparently anachronistic dialectic is jarring you out of immersion in the story, certainly nobody can deny the validity of that concern. I think that, to a small degree, Patrick intentionally makes his characters' dialogues unique, as a way to be sure his works are not so easily compared to others'.


TyranAmiros,

You were at the Borders in San Diego? Did you stay for the group photo with Pat? It was reachable from his FB page a couple days after the event, not sure how easy it would be to find now.
Beth Vanney
31. scoobin-n-groovin
Patrick went to UW-Stevens Point....growing up near there I can definitely see the influence of the area culture in his writing. There's a thoughtfulness and groundedness. As far as plot goes - a good story also has character development, a sense of place, and rhythm. The Name of the Wind has these by the boatload! I can't wait for the sequel! I would also highly recommend the audiobooks. The reader did an amazing job with the first one.
Alice Arneson
32. Wetlandernw
Okay, so that's the first Patrick Rothfuss I've ever read... I've gotta get my hands on Name of the Wind! (Should only be a matter of days... it's coming...) I like his style.
Ian Cyr
33. Bentorl
If Patrick Rothfuss went to Point, and he is SPASH kid, then the excerpt shows that very well. They have a massive team trivia contest up there every year, and he is probably infected.
Tsana Dolichva
34. Tsana_D
Forget including a plot. I hope this time he included some women that aren't cardboard cut-outs.
Ian Cyr
35. Azthegreat
All these people saying that there was no plot just makes me wonder if the word 'plot' really means what they think it means. Let me explain the plot just in case you weren't aware. Kvothe tells the tale of going to not-quite-Hogwarts to learn about magic and hilarity ensues.
I thoroughly enjoyed Name of the Wind and I hope The Wise Man's Fear turns out just as well!
Ian Cyr
36. Mrwideawake
First rule I adhere to whenever I read ANYTHING - be it fantasy, sci-fi, thriller or any other genre...does it / did it entertain me? Did I enjoy reading it? Forget whether the plot jolts along or jogs along, forget whether it's tongue in cheek or deadly serious, and forget whether the vernacular is Joss Whedon or Tolkein...did I finish reading the chapter / scene / book and think "I enjoyed that"?

And the answer with both The Name of the Wind and that excerpt is, "yes, I did". Honestly, some of the pretentious, high handed and, frankly, bitter comments above demonstrate the age old problem that writers face...people giving out negative criticism just for the sake of being a critic.

Patrick is an entertaining and exciting writer, and he knows how to entertain an audience.

As for those of you who claim to either have written, or be capable of writing, better scenes than the above - please, feel free to tell me what you've had published and when, and I will check it out and find out for myself...

Haters gonna hate.
Ian Cyr
37. Juhan R
@30 (Freelancer)

By saying my sentence is "amazing" I take it you mean it is... amazingly beautiful? :D

Yeah, English is not my mother-tongue. I knew something was amiss with that particular sentence right after I finished typing it, but I was too sleepy to give a damn just then.

But hey, thanks for the corrections!
Ian Cyr
38. Leo Cristea
Oh come on. They couldn't release too in-depth an excerpt, and hell; they don't need to! This book's sales are through the roof on Amazon pre-orders and for good reason: TnotW was amazing, and this will be amazing too.

I asbolutely cannot wait.
I salute you, Pat, with my sword poised and my hand at my heart. ;D
Ian Cyr
39. Destinal
>> Or just using acutely modern vocabulary - feels anachronistic
>> at best. "Yeah." "Wow." and "Crap."

You may be overlooking the fact that the story takes place presumably in another world and that the characters are not speaking English.

Your comment is much like calling the New Living Translation of the Bible anachronistic because it uses modern English idiom.

The author's goal in translating a work from one language to another would be to give the sense of the conversation without making us learn the other language it is spoken in, and to most accurately translate it into the language and idiom of those who will be reading it. Making it harder to read by translating it into words that would have been used by others in the past of our own language in our own world does not make it any better to read. (except where it is done for specific stylistic reasons to give the impression of something old or solemn as it would have been in the source material)
Ian Cyr
40. Apelz
Hello!
Normaly dont feel the need to make post on online forums, but some comments here made almost angry.

Those of you saying the first book lacks a "plot" should stick to read Harry Potter. Not all books need a definate evil "who needs to be stopped or else..."
Kvothe tells the tale of his life, and its not without a plot! We get to read how he is searching for those who assasinated his troup, and all the challenges he encounters while trying to do so.
And I for one felt like I was there, walking behind Kvothe taking part of his adventures. Few books make me feel that way, therfor I would say Patricks work is awesome!
And furthermore, this is not a tale of medival times in this world, so why the hell would they speak like the came out of medival England? Go read an old biografy or documentery, that would suit you people better!
- No, I'm not a native speaker, I'm from Norway. So I'm sorry if my gramatic errors offended you!
Ian Cyr
41. mijesther
I think that the name of the wind was more real than any other that I ever read because he needs to learn stuff to get revenge and not just discovers that he look at me i suddenly got some superpowers popping out of nothing
Ian Cyr
42. ben linus
i thought tnotw was ok not great, certainly not the best fantasy debut in 20 yrs.elodin was an interesting character.apelj i bet chandrian turn out to be great evil's minions.i like abercrombie more than rothfuss.but still if he improves he could be great.
Ian Cyr
43. jec81
"First rule I adhere to whenever I read ANYTHING - be it fantasy, sci-fi, thriller or any other genre...does it / did it entertain me? Did I enjoy reading it?"

1) For a while. 2) Not for the last 200 pages.

It's not just that NOTW has a thin plot for such a long book, it's that it is so repetative. There are numerous similar scenes of Kvothe running low on tuition and having to pull off some scheme to get through a few more weeks at school. This is not interesting. It provides a way to flesh out the world and show what a genius Kvothe is, but there are no stakes in it for the reader. I couldn't care less if he stays at the University, since nothing that happens there is of much interest anyway. I don't read a lot of fantasy (or 800-page books), so when I do, I would like the story to have some real stakes, please.

I won't even mention the last 150 pages (the entire "rescue from the dracchus" scene, including the bartering for a horse) since it was a total waste of pages in absolutely every sense.
Niki Grasern
44. kraefzke
I liked TNotW. It's not the best thing I read during the last few years, but I really enjoyed it and it really had me waiting for part II, so I'm glad it's now just beyond the horizon.

Oh, and as it seems to be fashionable to mention it: I'm not a native English speaker.
Ian Cyr
45. Juhan R
*in a Gerard Butler voice* THIS... IS !! POUGHKEEPSIE !!!

Here's what Ursula K. Le Guin has to say about language and style in relation to the fantasy genre. It's an fascinating read no matter where you stand on that issue or whether you like Rotfuss a little, a lot or not at all. Interestingly enough, she liked THE NAME OF THE WIND a lot more then I did, so maybe the problem of modern vocabulary in it really isn't as bad as I think it is.

(via Google Books) From Elfland to Poughkeepsie:

http://books.google.ee/books?id=-AR9FEgly9wC&pg=PA144&dq=from+elfland+to+poughkeepsie&hl=et&ei=-TFdTZ6aKM_d4gagqKiICw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CEMQ6AEwBQ
Ian Cyr
46. Catootes
Tease, that's just what this is.
Cannot wait and now have to go listen to Name of the Wind on Audio in anticipation.
Ian Cyr
47. JonPruitt
I really expected more out of this excerpt. I mean, I know it is just a part, but after waiting 2-3 years, I expected something that would feel more...polished. Name of the Wind was pretty incredible but all of a sudden I have doubts about the sequel, especially considering that this exerpt was designed to draw people in.
Ian Cyr
48. cmpalmer
First, I was so excited to see an excerpt from Wise Man's Fear.

Then I read it and I was even more excited because it reminded me how much I loved Name of the Wind (even though I find Kvothe's impetuousness realistically annoying).

Then I read the comments and decided that the world sucks.

Well, not fully, but didn't we have a discussion on here a few months ago about not writing things in comments that you wouldn't say to someone's face (particularly to the author of the book)?
Ian Cyr
49. evster
hark at ye gripers! NOTW was delightful to read. engaging, charming, fun, a bit wise, melancholy at times, teen angst ridden (in a non-annoying way), and exciting. that's the most important thing. the last 200 pages dragged a bit even for me- too many unnecessary descriptions- but even those were still head and shoulders above 99% of the fantasy genre. i generally read "snobby" stuff: last few include I Claudius (great), Claudius the God (good), Room with a View (sucked), The End of the Affair (amazing), Spring Torrents (good)...etc. so to find a fantasy author whose prose styling doesn't make me cringe is wonderful. i'd like an explanation of how what is essentially an autobiography might have a "plot"... or at least what some of you seem to think a plot is, eg it must fall in a strict story arc format with an easily delineated stopping point (at which we cheer the hero). unfortunately for you hatas, the story is linearly, and not thematically, arranged. what you gonna do except enjoy WMF?
Justin Levitt
50. TyranAmiros
Freelander @ 30--I was at the Borders, but I'm not in the picture. I'm a San Diego local who lives not far from downtown, so I braved the Comicon crowd and came to the event. I was on the wrong side of the reading, and I would have ended up way in the back of the line, so I decided to leave before any pictures happened.

Maybe he'll do another at this signing. I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy on the first to get WMF (and the signing there on the fifth).

You know, Pat never did answer the question about currencies in NotW...
Ian Cyr
51. Williamao5
Kvothe's need to support himself, and the inherent storytelling that ensues because of it, all of which stem from his orphaning and subsequent homelessness, is one of the MOST compelling parts of his story. Kvothe doesn't get a vault full of gold in a goblin bank, he doesn't all of sudden come under the wing of a Kelsier and have a band of people supporting him, doesn't hook up with the rebel alliance. Kvothe is beyond exceptional, his teachers see it, Threpe and Skarpi see it, everyone sees it, but they can't take him in. At best he gets a roof over his head and a meal at Anker's. No one out of the blue offers up limitless resources to support him so he can rush off to fight the great evil/darklord/empire/etc. He has to face continually the conditions of his life, and that resonates with me. Strongly. I can identify what its like having to time and time again put life on hold to deal with the fact that you don't have any food, that the rent check is going to bounce, that you can't afford a doctor.

The treatment Rothfuss' gives to the issue of poverty and its doggedness in clinging to a person is pretty unique, especially in fantasy and science fiction writing, and I'm glad it is addressed, because even after every other form of prejudice is extinguished the haves will still be set against the have nots.
Ian Cyr
52. Taniarella
Frankly, that was a massive disappointment and a huge turn off for a sequel I had been looking forward to.
Ian Cyr
53. ben linus
kvothe is a mary sue.he is the single most annoying character i have read in fantasy.he is too perfect and acts like it.prose of tnotw is ok in fact it is better than in most fantasies.but there is no plot,minimal characterisation and it is too long.example of a great first person narrative with brilliant characterisation Robin Hobb The Farseer Trilogy.
Ian Cyr
54. mmg
"I scowled as loudly as I could"

How does a person scowl loudly?

But, otherwise, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
Walker White
55. Walker
kvothe is a mary sue

You clearly do not know the meaning of Mary Sue. You may not like Kvothe, but don't make ridiculous claims like this. Mary Sues by definition overcome all challenges and never suffer setbacks.
Walker White
56. Walker
For those of you complaining about this excerpt, the first six chapters are available in the free preview in Apple's iBook Store. That is much, much better.
Ian Cyr
57. sensible
I find it absolutely baffling that a brief scene, clearly intended only to add some life to the book and characterize the kind of teaching Elodin does could cause so many people to get upset. For one it is was too short and light-hearted to be considered a real indicator of what the book is like, for another it's clearly pretty near the beginning as he still hasn't found anything out about the Chandrian nor has he gotten in trouble for sneaking in. Perhaps the most baffling thing, however, is that it was a very good scene that put a smile on my face and reminded me why consider Rothfuss a great author.

The Mary Sue comment I could almost support because of the fact that he is ridiculously good at everything, but you so easily forget so many aspects of the character in assuming that he exists solely as a stand in for the writer. For one the character hates himself in the future, sees himself as a terrible person and, as his fairy apprentice points out at the end, the whole point of chronicling his life was to remind him of the good times that Kvothe had. On multiple occassions they point out that the first book contains almost solely the happy parts of his life. Beating poverty, being accepted at the academy, earning his pipes.

Another point against the Mary Sue argument is that he gets physically beaten often in the early portions of the book, a Mary Sue would have been able to defend himself very well indeed. And perhaps strongest of all is the scene where Kvothe witnesses a child being beaten and robbed and decides not to help. This disproves the Mary Sue comment on multiple levels. Firstly, as I said before, a Mary Sue would have been able to jump down from his rooftop hideout and kick the kids asses. Secondly a Mary Sue would have helped even if it meant putting his own life at risk because a Mary Sue is good and kind and lovely. Thirdly Kvothe ignores, screams at or hurts his friends from the academy far too often to be truly considered a Mary Sue.

As for the actually important bit; I love Elodin, I loved the excerpt and I love Patrick Rothfuss.
Jeanette Baker
58. FollowYourMuse
Persnally I find the lack of often historically incorrect usage of archaic language refreshing, too often authors have relied on the occasional switch of a few words to assist in world building or getting across the feeling of it being a different time or place, though this can be used effectively, both in historical, Sci-Fi and fantasy, it can also be a crutch, and lack if it to me is less jarring than using thee without using thou.
Ian Cyr
59. .Merri.
About Kvothe being to perfect: I think you forget, he's telling the story himself... If you speak about yourself and you know, it's recorded and kept for eternity (=very long), wouldn't you try to make yourself seem better than you perhaps are? It is, after all, not a factual report but a story in which the main actor can present himself the way he wants to be and of course he wants to present himself as good as possible.

@54 That's not to be taken literally, I think...I'm quite sure of it, actually^^ It's a stylistic device called synaesthesis (or synaesthesia, not quite sure, since I only know the German word for it)
Ian Cyr
60. Nate From MD State
Is it just me, or did most people completely miss the point of this scene? Elodin was teaching a very concrete and important lesson, even if he didn't mean to.

The harder you try to catch something immaterial (as, let's say, the name of the wind) the more it eludes your grasp.

Just the fact that Elodin did in fact make a point, albiet a very strange one, shows that there is more going on in his head than he often leads us to assume. It was a very basic, but enjoyable scene, and it served its purpose beautifully. That's the magic of writing after all, using simple language to illustrate a complicated point.
Ian Cyr
61. treep kinkibows
holy crap @60

I did not see that. Im either an idiot or Rothfuss is a genius. perhaps both

I loved this seen for the shear hillarity and humanity Rothfuss was putting into it. Although Nate comment shows that he has more up his sleeve than just funny and interesting tid bits.
Ian Cyr
62. Kilerkki
@Sensible

I just reread the Tarbean chapters last night, so forgive me for making a correction that I think bolsters your point: Kvothe didn't just witness a child being beaten and robbed and decide not to help. He knew that child was being gang-raped. He had been a victim once before.

p. 167 of the hardcover:


The object of the chase...a young boy, eight years old at the most. One of the older boys was holding him down. The young boy's bare skin shone pale in the moonlight. There was another sound of ripping cloth, and the boy gave a soft cry that ended in a choked sob.

The others watched and talked in low, urgent tones with each other, wearing hard, hungry smiles.

I'd been chased before at night, several times. I'd been caught to, months ago.



Kvothe readies himself to intervene--and then rationalizes not doing so. He's safe where he is; if he throws a rooftile down at the gang, they'll turn on him. Even if he gets away from them, they'll find and destroy his safe corner. He's been brutalized at this point into an almost feral existence, where even the urgent drive to rescue someone in pain is subsumed by his need to protect himself at all costs. He curls up in his safe place and clenches his teeth, "trying to shut out the low rumble of conversation punctuated by coarse laughter and quiet, hopeless sobbing from below."

One page later, an older Kvothe tells Chronicler, "If you are eager to find the reason I became the Kvothe they tell stories about, you could look there, I suppose." And that is the reason, I think, that Kvothe is such a fascinating, well-rounded character and that these books are so good. For those who are looking for a trite, tired plot wrapped up with a bow and presented to you on a platter, you're looking in the wrong places: This book is about the evolution of a hero.
Ian Cyr
63. Nate From MD State
@61

Does that mean i'm a genius too? =P

It definitely means that Elodin is something of a flawed genius.
Ian Cyr
64. rararaa
@60

Excellent point, drowning in my anticipation for this book, I ended up re-reading this excerpt three times, and it hit me on the third.

Elodin also (purposely or not) demonstrates the corollary that the immaterial is best grasped when when that's not one's intention when he choked on the milkseed.

To those who were dissapointed in this scene: didn't Rothfuss intentionally choose a spoiler-free scene? I'm quite thankful for that. I'm personally sick of the many movie trailers today that showcase the entirety of each climactic moment as a series of clips. While the trailers leave me excited, the movie then seems lacking.
Ian Cyr
65. C04
Terrible. How does one scowl as loud as you can? Scowling is a facial expression. That scene just reeks of over reaching. A combination of low-brow and slapstick humor that isn't even particularly funny. This guy needs a dramaturg (or whatever the literary equivalent might be) and an explanation of why female characters are important in books (not just as objects that Kvothe will undoubtedly bang at some point).

First book was weak. Looks like I shouldn't expect better out of the second.
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
Okay, that's two people complaining about "scowling loudly" so now I have to comment on it. The only problem is that it's really hard to explain that form of wordplay to someone who obviously doesn't get it. You "scowl loudly" when you know you can't say what you want to say and have to settle for scowling. Any facial expression, as well as various other verbs, can be used according to context. It's not a common figure of speech, but it's not new either. Personally, I enjoy that type of juxtaposition; it's both funny and expressive of the point he's making, which is that he was annoyed by Elodin's comment but really didn't have a good comeback and had to settle for scowling. Loudly.
Ian Cyr
67. Nate (still from MD)
Just to illustrate a point here, think about this. For those that complain that his writing is poor (which is is most assuredly not), how would you yourself write the phrase "I scowled as loudly as I could" ?

Now before we start, realize that the book is written in the POV of Kvothe, that is, he is telling the story about himself (this will become important in a moment).

So, other ways to write that phrase. I scowled. (lacks panache). I scowled as widely as I could (meh). I scowled greatly (meh). I really, really scowled, like super hard man (heh). I scowled as though/like (insert million different things, all of which sound clunky).

Kvothe is the narrator. He can describe how he scowled any way the hell he wants. He chose "loudly" because it is the easiest way to describe what he did: give a great big scowl at Elodin for being a prick.

If you still disagree go take an english lesson or something. You're making a huge deal out of absolutely nothing. Trying to diss the book because you found the first one irrating (Whatever, your opinion is yours to have even if I disagree). At the very least, pick your arguments better.

PS: Rothfuss writes fine female characters.

PPS: Kvothe is not even close to a Mary sue.

In closing if you make any of the above assertions, you are wrong, even if your perspective is too limited to realize it. (In other words, opinions can still be wrong).
Ian Cyr
68. Kendall (South Africa)
Nate has just become my blog comment hero.

I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I also think that bitter, nasty, destructive comments are unnecessary. You can portray the same idea without coming across as mean and horrid people. Simple "I didn't like it", "I was disappointed", or even just a change of tone.....

I enjoyed it. TnotW was my favourite book of the year, and I'm really excited to get the sequel.

Constructive criticism people....
James Hogan
69. Sonofthunder
Hmm, so just read this and much enjoyed. Beautiful writing style and fantastic dialogue!! I think I may need to go and pick up The Name of the Wind now..
Gerd K
70. Kah-thurak
I guess it is possible to dislike The Name of the Wind, as it is a rather slow story without an epic plot. However, the claim that Rothfuss cant write, that the phrase "I scowled as loudly as I could" does not work or that his characters are bad is simply absurd. Kvothe is a "Mary Sue"? Too perfect? I dont think so. The guy may well be an occasional liar (and this is an important point) but how does that make Rothfuss a bad writer? It may make the book a little more complicated to read because you cannot trust everything you are told but this is actually a good thing in my opinion.
Ian Cyr
71. Timmybear
Juhan, I'm with you on the craps and wows. This passage seems so different in tone and style from anything in NotW, and nothing about Elodin in book 1 prepared me for this. I honestly couldn't even digest the meaning of the passage the first time I read because I was so surprised by the language. Elodin will forever be the Crapmaster to me now.

Don't get me wrong, I will buy and love WMF. I just need to adjust myself to this new tone.
Ian Cyr
72. Tarcanus
@71

Really? Nothing Elodin did in tNofW prepared you for this? Not his wandering seemingly aimlessly? Not his staring at a fern while it moved in the breeze for 30 minutes? Not him jumping to grab low-hanging leaves? Not him playing the question game with Kvothe? Not him teaching obscure lessons using obscure means?(getting Kvothe to jump from a building).

If nothing Elodin has done prepared you for this, you must've either glossed over Elodin's scenes in Book 1 or just have a strange view of the character and what he's supposed to be.

IMO of course.
Ian Cyr
73. Timmybear
I'm speaking strictly of the lanuage he uses, the craps and wows and yeahs. He is still delightfully odd, he's just more crass than I recall from NotW.
Ian Cyr
74. Timmybear
To be clear, Elodin here sounds like a high school kid chatting on Xbox live. A delightfully odd but sadly crass high school kid.
Ian Cyr
75. Nate (still from MD)
Must we explain Elodin's use of language as well?

Couple things. Its been a bit since I read NotW but I believe Elodin was still refusing to teach anyone? He was stubborn and reclusive, and Kvothe was the only one that interested him enough to be somewhat tolerated (and some of that can be put down to Kvothe's persistence).

I would guess Kvothe has done something to bring him out of his shell before this point in the story. This scene is showing him in a different situation than we are accustomed, teaching a bunch of students, which until now he refused to do. Yet he is still being silly and appears to be on the fringes of teaching anything useful.
Thus he passes the time joking and trying to avoid being drawn into serious topic.

Since Kvothe does indeed learn the name of the wind at some point, we must assume that Elodin will eventually be persuaded to teach it, and thus he will probably be acting more serious in the future. Elodin acted crazy in Book 1 and the use of language in this scene should not strike you the least bit out of character.

It's called a character arc, and this scene shows Elodin in the midst of his own; changing, yet remaining stubbornly silly and difficult. He says "Wow" and "Crap" and makes jest so he doesn't have to actually teach anything of value.

Better arguments please. Everything can be found and dissected, and explained. You have to pay attention to the whole of the sum and not an itsy bitsy scene.
Alice Arneson
76. Wetlandernw
Oh, come on, Nate. Someone expressing their startlement at the language used is hardly an invalid comment. Trying to claim that Rothfuss is a terrible writer because of their own startlement would be invalid, but... If Timmybear didn't see this particular characteristic of Elodin in NotW, so that it took him by surprise in this excerpt, that's valid. Please note that he said quite clearly that he still expected to buy and love WMF, so he's hardly making an argument against it. Just stating a reaction.

I'm in basic agreement regarding people who only jump onto a site like this to bash something, or try to make their favorite look better by bashing the subject of the blog. That's meaningless to anyone but themselves, and most of us would just as soon not bother to read it. However, I try not to be bothered by (or rude to) people who express a simple reaction in a reasonably courteous fashion.
Ian Cyr
77. Caoxyn
I do have to agree with Wetlandernw. In defense of TimmyBear, his statement was nonflammatory. He likely would have understood Elodin's characteristics after reading WMF and witnessing the character arc in its entirety. But your logic behind the differences in Elodin's use of language are correct.

An amusing excerpt, nevertheless, and for some reason he continuously reminds me of my older brother in the style of his writing and himself as a person. There's a thread of sincerity and seriousness through the excerpt as well as his other book, but he colors and embellishes it through wit and a sometimes immature sense of humor that is charming and well played. He is a different breed of author who seems to follow a haphazard and entertaining trail and has always held a fond (and quite possibly biased) spot in my heart.

I've been waiting for WMF for two years now (not as long as some) and I greatly anticipate this book. I don't know how I plan on getting any work done next week. My nose will be buried in that book.
Ian Cyr
78. Nate from MD
Sorry for my fervent defense of The Rothfuss. I get carried away.

I wasn't trying to slam Timmy in particular, I just noticed the many comments about Elodin and saw it as foolish. I don't like seeing people upset about WMF just because of an out-of-context scene.
Ian Cyr
79. Williamao5
I have a very practiced and very loud scowl personally, so I knew exactly what he was saying there.
Ian Cyr
80. Matt from FL
I seem to recall Elodin saying how "stupid" it was for Kvothe to jump off the roof. When I was expecting a more diplomatic response from a Master. So Elodin's use of simple, direct language is already established, not something new.

Love your theories Nate! In NOTW Elodin tells us that Names are already known to the "Sleeping Brain" and that is what Kvothe tapped into when he called the wind against Ambrose. So all Elodin has to teach is how to tap into the "Sleeping Brain" without going crazy.
Ian Cyr
81. me518
I really liked The Name of the Wind. I read this passage and it made me laugh. Pat said that this excerpt is not going to spoil what happens in the book and that is why I read it. There are a few more days left before the 2nd book comes out and like many others I have been waiting. We can wait a little longer. For the citics out there who have posted endless amounts of comments if you don't like the book and have problems with Pat's writing why are you on his website ? Go post a good comment about a book you like.
Ian Cyr
82. Timmybear
Just to be clear, I've read NotW three times and love it, and I have no doubt I will love WMF just as much. I just checked again, and didn't see Elodin mutter anything like this in the first book, and it still ain't my cup of tea, but I'll live. Maybe Rothfuss wants Elodin to come across as slightly crass, saying whatever the hell he feels like. I'll get used to it.
Ian Cyr
83. Timmybear
I've actually been thinking about it, and I think it's fair to say Rothfuss is just pushing Elodin further. He is "cracked" and that gives him liberty to do and say just about anything. He could start hooting and it would fit.

I think in an excerpt, this kind of language stood out to me more than in it would in the book with the flow of the narrative. And I was suckled on Jack Vance and Fritz Leiber, so new styles just take some getting used to. Doesn't mean I'm going to cancel my preorder for a signed copy of WMF. :)
Ian Cyr
84. mike the electronic thief
cnnt wt fr ths bk. Thgh 'll b prtng n lctrnc cpy bcs f th rrgnc f th thr nd hs dly tctcts. Wht bb.
Ian Cyr
85. Rodney a big fan of Pat
I really loved the name of the wind, and I have been waiting for the wise man's fear for 3 years so as soon as it get out I will buy it. I really like Elodin and there is no doubt he will be playing a big part before Kvothe leave the university. Beside if I am not mistaking, the Adem trained Kvothe sword fight so the way he talks about their martial art is just a teasing for what is to come. finally some people seem to dislike the way kvothe behave, but for me it is the thing that made me buy the book in the first time, the way he discribe himself, the pride, the arrogance that's what made me love it, he is clever and he knows it, not like harry silly potter. The way Pat right is also incredible, the dialogues and the way he can take a classic like the Prince Gallant(aka Kvothe), the Pricess(aka Dena) and the Dragon(aka the Draccus) and change it the way he did by switching the Dragon's treasure with dener resine, the dangerous monster with a drug crazed lunatic beast, just show you that this guy is fighting in a complete different league. Indeed that's not just a fantasy book, that's a hero story, do not look for a boring plot, in fact the real plot maybe what the kandrians are all about so you should not expect Pat to say it just now wait for it, you will have it in due time.
Ian Cyr
86. End3r
this guy's a wordsmith. Like I love how he said "I scowled as loudly as I could." ahhh I cannot wait. My whole day of March 1st will be dedicated to reading, eating, and sleep if there's time. (I can read while I eat, but not while I sleep.)
Justin Levitt
87. TyranAmiros
Matt from FL @ 80: you hit why this scene is so weird--naming doesn't seem to be something you can memorize or practice (hence why Kvothe struggles with it), so why is Elodin teaching a class? But then, if learning the Name of the Wind causes a person to go half-mad like Elodin and the others in the Rookery suggest, maybe Elodin is deliberately trying to provoke them so they do get to that mental place where they can spontaneously call the wind.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
88. tnh
CarlosSkullsplitter @4, I had a professor like that at ASU, and three more that shared some characteristics. They were great fun as long as you had an overall sense of what the subject was and why people study it. Students who didn't could have real trouble making coherent sense of what they were being taught in class. I remember one course where, by my estimate, a good 60 - 80% of the students had gotten lost before the final exam. But that's okay, because they really didn't belong there, and the professor was a lenient grader so no harm done.

Jec81 @12, it embarrasses me when people read something that's clearly labeled an excerpt, then complain about its lack of a plot.

Goodgulf @13, not impressed.

Walker @14: Yup. See above. Come to think of it, one of my odder professors also had strange opinions about cheese.

Lunartic @16: You think you can write something better? No one's stopping you. There's always room for more good books.

Juhan @17, I've been reading fantasy for over forty years, I'm reasonably fluent in Middle English and Early Modern English, and the language in that scene doesn't bother me at all. It wouldn't bother Ursula K. Le Guin, either, whose essay you're invoking but clearly have misunderstood.

Fantasy is not required to use archaic diction. (I can't recall any of Le Guin's fantasy that does so, though I may be missing a story or two.) Some fantasy writers use it. A smaller number of fantasy writers use it well. No writing is improved by tossing in a Renfaire-ish assortment of mayhaps, ayes, prithees, and other random archaisms.

Le Guin wasn't criticizing the use of modern English in fantasy. She was criticizing the use of earless, thoughtless modern English, which I will define as the language used by the person standing next to you on the bus who's having an unbelievably stupid, pointless cellphone conversation with someone she's going to be seeing in person less than an hour from now.

Patrick Rothfuss doesn’t do that. He uses clean, universal modern English. No one says "yeah, whatever" or "my bad" or "totally awesome" or "I could care less." His characters aren't team players, they don't think outside the box, nothing goes viral or is an epic fail or happens at this point in time, and bad stuff doesn't make them want to throw up in their mouth a little.

Fantasy of this kind takes place somewhere that isn’t here. Language that’s too obviously tied to the present mundane world breaks that illusion. Badly used archaic language, which is native to neither Elfland nor Poughkeepsie, breaks the illusion even more thoroughly. Rothfuss uses English that could happen anywhere, which means it’s invisible to the reader, and doesn’t interfere with the illusion at all.

The reason his language bothers you is that you haven’t read enough fantasy. The cure for that is painless: read more fantasy.

Barry O’Bumble @20: First, it’s an excerpt. You don’t know what the plot is doing. Second, there’s a large amount of painless exposition going on in that scene. I don’t know how it fits into the rest of the book (yet), but I know it when I see it.

Freelancer @30, I’m fine with grammar police as long as they’re polite and I agree with them. You’re fine on both counts.

Apelz @40: Yes. Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.

jec81 @43: I take it you never get tired of plots in which the world is at stake? There’s nothing wrong with that -- it’s a known taste -- but not everyone shares it.

JonPruitt @47: Does that mean you aren’t going to try it? Not even browse it in a bookstore to see where this scene fits in?

cmpalmer @48: My apologies. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to this thread before you did. In the future, please feel free to flag disheartening comments. There’s far more good conversation lost to pointless, mean-spirited comments than to all the moderators that ever lived.

Taniarella @52, there wasn’t enough in that excerpt to produce the reaction you’ve described. I'm not sure what effect you're trying to produce, but I doubt you intended to come off as a poseur.

Walker @55: Seconded. No way is Kvothe a Mary Sue. He may not be what Ben Linus is looking for in fantasy, but that’s a different issue.

co4@65: Disliking one phrase doesn’t turn the whole passage into lowbrow slapstick humor, which in fact it isn’t. If you want to argue with the book, argue with what’s actually there.

Nate from MD @78, it’s a worthy impulse, but I see no need for you to apologize.
Ian Cyr
89. Tim Gannon
I re-listened to the audio book while driving too and from work over the past month so my mind would remember more. For some of this time, my wife was in the car. The audio book hooked her. Soon it was one question after another from her which led to her staying up late several nights and reading book 1.

Now I hear her suggestions daily how I can listen to book 2 via the audio book I ordered while she should have the written book 2 all to her self. I am thinking I am going to have to buy a 2nd book!
Ian Cyr
90. Juhan R
@tnh

“Wow,” Elodin said. “Okay. Yeah.” He pointed to Fela.

How is that not "earless, thoughtless modern English"? Rothfuss does not use it all the time, but he uses too much of it* for my taste. It feels anachronistic and pulls me out of the story. That's it.

Frankly, I think it is you who has "clearly misunderstood" Le Guins essay. I was not seriously saying that throwing in a "mayhap" instead of a "maybe" would automatically fix all of Rothfuss' writing mistakes. That was a joke (kind of) and I'm sorry if everyone took that home as the main point of my comment. I was saying that what annoys me is that nearly all of his characters are talking in a way thats "too obviously tied to the present mundane world". Not all the time. But way too often. As a result, the world feels artificial.

*(Part of it is related to his philosophy of removing all sorts of exposition from the story, which I understand, but do not share. Sometimes, I think, it's perfectly okay to tell and not show. There are many shades of gray between THE LORD OF THE RINGS and something like NEUROMANCER)
Ian Cyr
91. RaWords
Lol..... He's setting up The Name for the Wind. Plot.
Ian Cyr
92. Malachi Constant
Dear jec81, Juhan R, and lunartic,

I love to read posts online by people who want to be legitimate critics. I say "want to be," because you three are the farthest possible examples from such legitimacy. I am a published book critic. Criticism pays my bills. I would never speak in such generalities. No critic in his or her right mind would do so. Your unsupported opinions and lack of literary couth are astounding, to say the least. Did Patrick Rothfuss write a good first novel? Yes. Was it the best book I've ever read? No. That being said, The act of spewing rivulets of unfounded hate into the vast miasma of the Internet does not a critic make. In fact, one might argue that those who engage in such behaviors more closely resemble angsty teenagers. To write that Rothfuss's first novel has no plot is a flagrant act of libel. When expressing an opinion to which one would like others to listen, it is advisable for one to temper his or her opinion with reason. In summation, you all possess not a modicum of knowledge regarding critical method between the three of you. Please close your gaping maws, lest any more illegitimate bile should spew forth.

Yours truly,
Reasonable Human Being
Ian Cyr
93. the zedmeister
TheNewSun @ 26 :

I didn't find that to be particularly interesting or even clever.

This was my problem with the book. There's a certain pretentious smug superiority in the tone that really sets my teeth on edge.

I wouldn't mind it if I was blown away by the writing or the content, but as it is, I feel like telling both Kvothe and Rothfuss, "Stop it. You're really not as smart as you think you are, and you're embarrassing yourself."

Here's an example of the sort of writing that bothered me throughout the book:

"I don’t know if you understand what a geometric progression is, but that is the best way to describe it."

He can't think of a way to describe something except in a way his audience might not understand? And we're supposed to buy that he's an expert storyteller?

Or this part:

"At this point I used one of the tricks of the stage. There is a certain inflection of voice and body language that signals a crowd to applaud. I cannot explain how exactly it is done, but it had its intended effect."

What is that certain inflection of voice and body language? How does it work?

I grew up in a household where my father was always pointing out things like this and explaining how they work to my siblings and me. (And he's an engineer, not a psychologist.)

The fact that Rothfuss (and by extension Kvothe) can neither describe this trick or explain it once again forces me to conclude he is neither as smart nor as educated as he seems to think he is.

Kvothe is supposed to be supremely intelligent and capable of thinking outside the box, but he doesn't demonstrate it in any way. The fact that he can't make the connection between what Eludin is teaching him and learning the name of the wind is beyond obtuse.

And Kvothe-the-supposed-prodigy is not the only character who's much less interesting and clever than the author is desperately trying to make him be. Take Eludin in this excerpt. He's "wowed" by mildly interesting facts that I'd expect a school-age kid to be blown away by, not a professor.
Alice Arneson
94. Wetlandernw
the zedmeister @93 - Wow. Much like Elodin, my "Wow" has nothing to do with the impressiveness (or interest level) of your statements, but with what your statements say about you. Intelligence does not necessarily equate to the ability to clearly explain everything you think. I've known a great many highly intelligent people whose ability to communicate was really quite appalling; some of them were prone to use rather bizarre metaphors to attempt to explain themselves. It rarely worked unless their audience knew them quite well, but sometimes the results were highly entertaining. Why is it unacceptable to write a fictional character who is narrating his story in much the same (true-to-life) fashion?
Ian Cyr
95. Litr2
@93

"At this point I used one of the tricks of the stage. There is a certain inflection of voice and body language that signals a crowd to applaud. I cannot explain how exactly it is done, but it had its intended effect."

What is that certain inflection of voice and body language? How does it work?

I grew up in a household where my father was always pointing out things like this and explaining how they work to my siblings and me. (And he's an engineer, not a psychologist.)

Perhaps Rothfuss is trying to say that this kind of thing comes natural to kvothe and/or add a little mysticism to his time spent with the Edema Ru. He could just as easily left the bit about not being able to explain out. It's also in Kvothes voice. He isnt a robot. He shows plenty of faults, albeit mostly artificial ones.

I don't entirely disagree with you, but Rothfuss clearly got under your skin. Why did you bother finishing the first book and then coming here for an exerpt on the upcoming sequel?
Ian Cyr
96. the zedmeister
Litr2 @95:
Rothfuss clearly got under your skin. Why did you bother finishing the first book and then cominghere for an exerpt on the upcoming sequel?

I suppose it's because he got under my skin in a way that made it hard for me to disengage. The story itself isn't bad (even if it's nowhere near as great or original as people make it out to be), and on some level, I enjoyed reading it. Now that I've invested time, money, and emotion into it, I want to see where it goes, whether the writing improves, etc.

Wetlandernw @94 :

Intelligence does not necessarily equate to the ability to clearly explain everything you think. I've known a great many highly intelligent people whose ability to communicate was really quite appalling Why is it unacceptable to write a fictional character who is narrating his story in much the same (true-to-life) fashion?

Of course it's not unacceptable, but I really don't think that's the case here. Kvothe is a Mary Sue (Or Gary Stu, if you prefer). The author clearly thinks that Kvothe's really cool, and he's supposed to be an excellent storyteller on top of all his other qualities.

Look at this bit from the beginning of the book:

Kvothe leaned forward in his chair. “Before we begin, you must remember that I am of the Edema Ruh. We were telling stories before Caluptena burned. Before there were books to write in. Before there was music to play. When the first fire kindled, we Ruh were there spinning stories in the circle of its flickering light.”
Kvothe nodded to the scribe. “I know your reputation as a great collector of stories and recorder of events.” Kvothe’s eyes became hard as flint, sharp as broken glass. “That said, do not presume to change a word of what I say. If I seem to wander, if I seem to stray, remember that true stories seldom take the straightest way.”

Chronicler nodded solemnly, trying to imagine the mind that could break apart his cipher in a piece of an hour. A mind that could learn a language in a day."

That is not a character that's meant to be bad at communicating. The fact that most of his narration is extremely cheesy and eye-roll-worthy in conjunction with his inflated opinion of himself is the author's fault, not a trait of the character.
Ian Cyr
97. Gazman
@93 and 96

There are two main issues with your statement.

------------------------------------------------------------------

The assertion that Kvothe is a "Mary Sue" character, while found in many misguided posts, is rather difficult to support. For those of you who do not know, or perhaps are too busy to look it up, (zedmeister?) a "Mary Sue" is a figure with few meaningful faults that is overly favored by the author and/or other characters.

All quotes are taken from the mass-market paperback edition.

-- "'You're clever. We both know that. But you can be thoughtless. A clever, thoughtless person is one of the most terrifying things there is.'" (114)

-- "In hindsight, it was as foolish as taunting an angry bull." (455)

-- "Kote's expression was haunted, eyes half in this world, half elsewhere, remembering. This is the face of a man who has killed an angel." (49)

Kvothe, while brilliant, is also thoughtless, foolish, and naive. Clearly, he has done something terrible - enough to change his entire life and world for the worse. This character is well-liked, but the feeling is far from universal. Now, unless you are arguing that these are not real character flaws, I fail to see your reasoning that led you to label this character a "Mary Sue." Please enlighten me.

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It also is not especially valid to assume that your views on communication apply to everyone else. You may feel that a failure to exhaustively explain every minute detail of a story indicates that Kvothe "is bad at communicating." However, please keep in mind that others may not agree. For instance, I do not believe that an analysis of mathematical models truly belongs in an epic fantasy. Similarly, this is not a textbook on body language and theatre.

In fact, I find your version of "good storytelling" to be utterly appalling. I would never be able to tolerate a tale with such a mass of unnecessary information. From what I understand of quality writing and story technique, concise language is highly prized. Patrick Rothfuss appears to feel the same way, a piece of information that can be found on his blog at www.patrickrothfuss.com.

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Also, please note that it is incorrect to make broad generalizations about the intelligence of the author and the quality of his writing based on personal opinion, especially when the opinions are largely unsupported by fact.
Ian Cyr
98. The Seeker
@96: Dear Zedmiester,
Let's go ahead and call you out fr th hypcrtcl pc f sht y r. You can clearly mock Pat and, by extension, Kvothe on how they mention things and then fail to explain how or why they work. Yet, setting aside the fact that no one else agrees with you on this thread, pssbly bcs thy hv lvs nd dn't g plcs jst t cs trbl r ct lk dck, your repetitive phailure (f mst pc qlty) to illustrate your points with any decent descriptions, quite simply, makes you look, quite fittingly, like n sshl (qt lt).

Rothfuss' brilliant alliterations are surreptitious enough to hardly ever recieve a mention, yet work wonderfully with the storyline. And how many other authors of modern day can give such a damn good rythym to a seemingly mundane paragraph and make a good rhyming ending within said rythym.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
99. tnh
Seeker @98, I understand that you feel strongly about this; but if you use excessive language, it will just encourage others to do the same, and then they'll be twice as irritating.
Ian Cyr
100. The Seeker
TNH @ 99: Please, accept my humble apologies. And allow me to correct ths matter in haste.

Seeker @ 98: Way 2 go, jenius. Now you gots the grammerz all messed up in your powst. You are a emmbaracement to urselv. Gro upz d00d.

TNH @ 99: There! That should take care of that filthy, no account, good-for-nothing rapscallion! If he bothers you at all in the future, just give me a call.
Ian Cyr
101. Bellechi
This fantastic excerpt truly hooked meto the second book if i was not already. ? I have enjoyed reading through all the comments. They have been quite entertaining.
The diction Rothfuss employs is clear. On first read though I didn't stop to think about his use of the modern english, because, though some might dissagree, it wasn't distasteful or brash but added a more human quality to Elodin that i considered was a bit lacking in the first book. This added humanity in Elodin could suggest that his "sensible" mind floats toward the surface in situations of the frustration. Kvothe frustrates Elodin because of Kvothe's doggedness toward refusing to stretch his mind and give any sort of relevence to Elodins words.
Sorry if my wording is poor. Im just trying to convey my point of view and im too lazy to revise it.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
102. tnh
Zedmeister @93:

"At this point I used one of the tricks of the stage. There is a certain inflection of voice and body language that signals a crowd to applaud. I cannot explain how exactly it is done, but it had its intended effect."
What is that certain inflection of voice and body language? How does it work?

I grew up in a household where my father was always pointing out things like this and explaining how they work to my siblings and me. (And he's an engineer, not a psychologist.)

The fact that Rothfuss (and by extension Kvothe) can neither describe this trick or explain it once again forces me to conclude he is neither as smart nor as educated as he seems to think he is.


Dear me. You're wrong, you know. This is a basic maneuver when you're writing fiction. Sometimes you have to get the audience to believe something you won't or can't make manifest.
Christopher Marlowe's Faust calls for Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman that ever lived, to walk across the stage. How does he manage it? First, everyone agrees in dialogue that Helen of Troy is *It*.

Next Mephistopheles, who's going to make her appear, says "Be silent, then, for danger is in words." Why? He doesn't say, the moment goes by too fast for you to think about it, and anyway your attention is on the imminent appearance of Helen of Troy. Then, writes Marlowe in the stage directions, "Music sounds, and HELEN passeth over the stage."

Usually the actress is veiled (mantled?) from head to foot. She turns her back to the audience and briefly opens her veil so the other players can see her, then closes it again and leaves the stage. We know this is Helen because there's music, and Mephistopheles has set it as a condition that there can be no talking during her apparition. We know when it's ended because the music stops. That's important too. Helen's appearance is a temporary specialized condition, so it needs boundaries. The music provides that. After the music stops, the other characters all exclaim in astonishment: by golly, that really was the most beautiful woman of all time.

And there you have it: the most beautiful woman that ever lived has appeared on stage, magicked up out of an enveloping veil, some bits of incidental music, the audience's imagination, a body that for all we know was the janitor, and the other characters' reaction shots.

Reaction shots are wonderful. You can make an orator deliver a world-changing speech without having to write a single line of it. They're how Tolkien makes the Black Riders so terrifying. Quentin Tarantino created the motivating object in Pulp Fiction out of a briefcase, some refulgent gold light, and reaction shots. (It was obvious to me the first time I saw it that the thing in the briefcase is the Holy Grail, but we'll leave that for another day.)

Onward. Sometimes you have to get the readers to simply believe that something is so. Why? Possibly because it isn't so, but you need it to make the story work. More mundanely, you sometimes need it because explaining how it's so is not what's going on in the story at this moment. (The latter explanation is what's going on in The Wise Man's Fear, by the way. In my opinion.)

So what do you do then? If it's a thing, like a time machine, one trick I know (I got it from Steve Brust) is to skip over explaining why it works -- no metachronic infundibulator -- and just explain how you use it: this is how long it takes to warm up. This is how much cargo it can carry. This is how it smells starting about twenty minutes in. This is how long you have to wait before you can use it again.

Another way you can do it is to establish a character you believe, and later, when you need it, have the character (Fred!) say "This is so." How do you know that it's so? You're not completely sure, but Fred knows.

You want to argue with that? Ever read Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes stories? That's a big part of how they work. (There's also Conan Doyle's underappreciated gift for leaving stuff out, but that really is another conversation.) Or take Ayn Rand: establishing a character, then having that character say that something is so, is I swear the only thing that makes large swatches of her novels work.

Yes, it is too.

And now back to Patrick Rothfuss:

There is a certain inflection of voice and body language that signals a crowd to applaud.

Is this true? Yes. My only cavil is that there's more than one of them. Watch enough Eddie Izzard videos and you'll see him playing with them, playing with the crowd. There are more besides the ones he uses.
Could Rothfuss have explained the one he had in mind? Undoubtedly. But that sort of thing, which takes only a second in performance, would take pages to describe. It would have halted the story dead in its tracks. So he didn't explain; and you, therefore, were left wanting to know more.

When you're writing fiction? That's a good thing.

Stop worrying. Read the next book.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
103. tnh
Thank you, Seeker. You made me laugh out loud. I didn't know there was such a thing as lolcat Molesworth.
Alice Arneson
104. Wetlandernw
tnh @102 - Thank you! I'm going to have to follow you around - I loved that. Well said! and especially

Stop worrying. Read the next book.

Ian Cyr
105. Gazman
@ tnh

Bravo! You said it better than I ever could.
Ian Cyr
106. The Seeker
TNH@ 102: Wonderfully put.

TNH@ 103: *see above reference to 102*
*takes a bow* Why thank you, grazie, danke schon, arigato-gozaimasu. *accentuates each with yet another bow* One does one's best.
Ian Cyr
107. RenaMP
Aw! I want to read the book now, but in my country I have to wait until fall this year! That's really not fair...
Ian Cyr
108. TheMogwai
Actually, this scene might be interpreted as a lesson in futility... You cannot catch seeds in the air, if you are trying to. Elodin might actually be teaching Kvothe and the others that Naming is not like other things in that it cannot be learned by trying, but rather comes to those who are able naturally and on its own time.
Ian Cyr
109. LaurafromNY
@TheMogwai, nicely said! I was amazed that Elodin would act thus, but he's a bit cracked, so I shouldn't be too surprised. Still, I always find him to be a brilliant sort of cracked:D Anyway, if all my professors were like him, I'd still be going to school! (Really engaging class it is).

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