Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 14: This Far West

My ridiculously detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but the speculation goes on. I’m going to post the occasional speculative summary of cool things posted since last time. 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. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

Abbreviations: NW = The Name of the Wind. WMF = The Wise Man’s Fear. D3 = Day Three, the forthcoming final volume. K = Kvothe or Kote when I can’t figure out what to call him and I’m feeling Kafkaesque. MT: Myr Tariniel. D = Denna, 4C = Four Corners, CTH—that thing I can’t spell! IID3Y = Is it Day Three Yet?

Useful links: The Sleeping Under the Wagon post. The re-read index. The map. The timeline. Imaginary Linguistics.


Let’s start with Shalter on agendas:

But, in the meantime, yeah there are a lot of agendas out there. The Chandrian have one. Haliax in particular seems to have something in mind.
The Amyr (who/whatever they are) have the “Greatest Good” thing going on.
The Fae probably have a number of competing agendas.
The Tinkers have an agenda.
The various human political rulers have agendas.
The Cthaeh has an agenda.
The Masters at the University have agendas—probably both mundane and more interesting.
Kvothe wants to find out who killed his parents and what he can do about it.
Denna almost certainly has an agenda beyond writing some songs.

The Creation War and its various causes and effects, movers and shakers, does seem to be the crux of everything.
Exactly what that crux is can be a myriad of things at this point, and that is what is beautiful.


The Chandrian

Clairerocks finds evidence that the Chandrian spend a lot of time separately:

When Haliax says, “I am glad I decided to accompany you today. You are straying, indulging in whimsy. Some of you seem to have forgotten what it is we seek, what we wish to achieve.” it also indicates that theory discussed by Kvothe’s parents and Ben is probably true: that the Chandrian don’t always attack as the full 7, which is why all 7 of their signs don’t show up in every tale.

We also know that Cinder is on his own in the bandit camp. We have no idea how many of them show up at the farm in Trebon.

L-Train suggests that Kvothe did hear his father’s song but has put it behind the doors of stone (well, memory and dream) and hasn’t got it back:

he dreams that his father plays the song about the Chandrian – i think that either the mystic nature of the stones were such that he dreamt what happened while he wasn’t there, or his mind is sheltering him from the memory. It could be that his mind has stored away the memory of his father’s song deep behind the ’door of forgetting’, so that he actually thinks that he was playing in the woods when really he stayed long enough to hear his father’s song before going to gather plants…

Which leads to the possibility of remembering it:

perhaps in the future he breaks through and remembers the song, which holds important secrets about the nature of the Chandrian…

This could happen, but I don’t think it will be this easy.

Keller Scholl wonders if Haliax is Iax:

Haliax is perhaps actually two words, joined together. Hal Iax. It would explain why he has the various forms of the moon around him: He stole it. It would explain why he is hated: He began the creation war. What do others think? What would Hal mean?

No idea what Hal would mean – anyone? The problem with this theory is that Haliax is definitely Lanre, and Lanre was on the other side of the Creation War from Iax as best we can tell. Maybe “Hal” means “just as bad as” or “Bane of”?

The only other “Hal” I can think of is in “Hallowfell” where it seems to be part of “hallow” meaning “holy” with “fell” meaning “hill”, though you know it could mean “hollow hill” just as easily, think of Borrorill. Who knows though, it could be “Just as bad as” plus “evil.” (I remember my ex-husband quipping once that fell walkers are really different from fell riders.)

Futureminime, on Trebon:

I think Cinder moved in his army (we see them later in WMF) to pillage the wedding. Ash being Amyr would beat D “for the greater good” because it really WOULD look suspicious if she got away uninjured, and he runs through the fae while they look for history.

The problem with this is where did the army come from and where did they go to? They’re bandits, human and killable, there would have been traces of them and Kvothe would have found them. It’s possible that Cinder moved them into and out of Fae, or moved them by the same method the Chandrian use to move about, but if so why didn’t he take them with him the night of the storm attack in the Eld?

But this does raise the question of how a maximum of seven people, with magic and weird knack-signs, could kill an entire wedding party, and for that matter an entire troupe of Edema Ruh. They’re killing using physical means as far as we know?

Dozier thinks the Trebon attack could have been faked:

I think it’s very possible that someone is setting this up to look like a Chandrian attack. I also think Denna is supposed to assist him in reaching this conclusion.

I don’t think so because of Nina and her drawings of the vase. Unless you think that’s faked too, but that would be very elaborate. Who would fake it, seventy miles away from Kvothe and with no guarantee he’d even hear about it? And what would they gain by it?


I had a thought about Ben. We’ve discussed the possibility of Ben being somebody else, but whoever he is, he’s also actually Ben, as the Masters at the University recognise his name and Lorren accepts the inscription in the book. This means he really is an Arcanist called Abenathy, whatever else he is. That doesn’t stop him being an Amyr or a friend of Skarpi’s or Master Ash, of course. We know he’s a real Arcanist – he has his guilder. We also know he’s using his real name, or anyway the same name he used at University.

I was also thinking about the “trap” laid for Ben. If the Chandrian laid the trap to get him away from the troupe before killing them, then Ben had to be sufficiently powerful to be a threat to them. Interesting.

We’ve talked about the possibility of the Tinkers trying to mend the world and whether Kvothe has made that better or worse – my bet is on worse with a side bet on eucatastrophe in D3. Where’s Ben on that?

The Fae

I’m going to repeat Thistlepong’s neat summary on the moon and boxes:

We know from the frame that the moon is still moving. At the beginning of NW there’s no moon. At the end of WMF there’s moonlight. So, regarding Jax’s box and the Loeclos box, one of the following must be true. Thery’re not the same, or he doesn’t open it.

But I am sure from every time Kvothe talks about doors, opening things, his insatiable curiosity and just his inability to be wise rather than clever that between the story we have and the frame (i.e. in D3) he has to open something he should have left closed.

It doesn’t have to be the moon, but I do think there’s also considerable evidence that it is. That doesn’t mean it has stopped moving, because as Thistlepong says, it is. But I think it must be related to the moon, because for one thing, things out of Fae are coming into the world in profusion – the scrael, the skindancer thing (“Te rhintae?”), possibly even Bast. The system Felurian tells Kvothe about the moon affecting the times you can move between worlds was mostly keeping the Fae things in Fae and keeping the 4CW safe from them. This isn’t the case by the frame.

JohnPoint says:

Bast and Kvothe speak about the Fae in presnet tense (e.g., Bast says something along the lines of “they don’t even share a border with us” when he’s talking about the skindancer). So that indicates that, whatever he did do, Kvothe didn’t destroy the Fae, or cause the two worlds to merge.

But maybe if he opened the Doors of Stone it caused the position of the gates between the worlds to shift from “open with moonphase” to “always open”?


Tox has a really good new theory on how K’s alar might have broken:

What if whatever betrayal he suffered constituted an irreconcilable challenge to his ability to believe. I can imagine his certainty with regard to a few things already being core to Kvothe-in-the-story. Destroy one and he undergoes the existential crisis, unable to really believe in anything without doubt anymore.

I like this because it explains how it would sometimes unreliably work—breaking the bottle of wine—but not when he tries it during the skinchanger attack. If he can’t believe, he could still Name, which doesn’t use alar. But renaming himself Kote could mess up the Naming too?


Re the thrice locked chest: my money is on it containing all of his “kvothe” possessions. His lute (which he needs to play in order to “nap out of it” — whatever “it” is), his shaed, his rings, his candle and key etc. I believe that he locked them all away. From himself, and from “prying” eyes.

Is it D3 yet?


Structurally, Ash should probably be Cinder. Kvothe should come into conflict with Cinder and both should be destroyed or, in Tak terms, removed from the board. We know Kvothe faked his own death, so he’s effectively gone. We know there’s a rumor of a new Chandrian and folks are coming around to Folly being Cinder’s sword. I know there’s sparse evidence, which gbrell’s articulated. It’s something else he wrote that twisted me, though.

What if rhinna and roah have a unique ability to trap? Okay. What if it doesn’t have to be a unique ability? But yah, what if the chest is a trap?

I can’t help thinking the Seven are immortal and unkillable, either as a result of Selitos’s curse or consuming the rhinna flowers. In that case all Kvothe could hope to do is hold Cinder. He suggests to Bast that someone might be in there. Folks assume it might be Denna, but that would be serious dickery, especially for someone he talks about even now with a fond sadness.

What points to Cinder? The story really gets going when he mounts Folly on the roah board: folks come to the inn, Chronicler happens by… Anyway, y’all know I think Selitos is the Cthaeh and how the mountain glass in the Loeclos keeps him in place. So how about the sword on the board firmly and finally holds Cinder in check? Maybe it’s even the third lock? Heck, the third lock should even be silver in color, according to the tinker’s pennies thing.

Wow. I don’t believe a word of it, but I can’t disprove any of it.


I always took the part of the Jax story where he locks the moon’s name to be embellishment for the sake of the story. A name reflects the total understanding of something. Or more accurately, a name IS the total understanding of something. You can’t trap your understanding of something in a box. I don’t think it would be possible even in this world where a thing’s name lets you manipulate said thing.

What I think is more likely is that Iax shaped the moon’s name, changing it and therefore the moon’s very nature. I don’t quite know how this could be done, except to say that it might have to do with the magic Denna is so interested in: that of writing something to make it true.

“You can’t trap your understanding of something in a box.” Well, you can’t in the real world, but maybe you exactly and precisely can with magic, and maybe that’s what K has done.

KCC4291 goes on to consider K’s problems with magic as akin to impotence:

I think his problems are not physical, but psychological. Basically, I think he has performance anxiety. I think he tried to use his abilities once for something big, like saving someone’s life, and failed. Now he questions everything and his confidence is shot, but he can still do it when no one’s around or when he doesn’t have time to think about it.


More Dozier suspicions about D and Trebon:

some other suspicious things:
1. “it’s my job to know things about you.” why is that her job? why else would she even be sent to this wedding?
2. she conveniently supplies the exact explanation of why the Chandrian attacked that he’s looking for
3. She specifically keeps him from going inside the farm. what is in there that she doesn’t want him to see?
4. Master Ash wants her to play they 7 stringed lyre. (lyre= lyra?) and why specifically 7 strings?
5. her story is inconsistent. Master Ash beat her after the attack (to validate her in the eyes of the townspeople). Therefore, she has to know he’s ok. Also there were only 26 people in the wedding party. seems like the chandrian could have easily realized one was missing and killed if that was really their goal. was this story is specifically designed to mirror kvothe’s?

It would be an incredibly elaborate fake, with the rotted pump handle and everything, and it doesn’t lead to anything. Cui bono?

However, I agree that her story is inconsistent and that saying “her job” is to know about him is very dubious and needs clarification. What’s going on with D is one of the things I am most looking forward to finding out in D3.

Dozier again:

6. I wonder if there’s something in her hair to make him be honest? she consistently calls him out on his lies. and then there’s this quote:

“Listen Kvothe, I’m sorry.” Denna sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “I shouldn’t have pushed you. It’s none of my business, really. I know what it’s like to have secrets.”

I almost told her everything then. The whole story about my parents, the Chandrian, the man with black eyes and a nightmare smile. But I worried it might seem like the desperate elaboration of a child caught in a lie“

as if the act of her running her hands through her hair makes him more compelled to tell the truth.

Is this the first time when D messes with her hair and it has an effect? This is before she goes to Yll and starts braiding ”lovely” into it. But I think Dozier is right here, it does something.

And Futureminime again, on Master Ash’s motivations

the sponsorship has something to do with him training a Singer from D and that Ash might be the angel K kills to get his hearst desire, D.

Could be. But Amyr aren’t angels. Ruach are angels. Which isn’t to say Master Ash couldn’t be Ruach – have we thought of that at all?



I can’t help but think the decreasing number of bodies between Ambrose & the throne is solid evidence that, well, he’s the eponymous king of the Kingkiller books, yes. Which I see that everyone takes as a given, I just wanted to say yes, me too.

I think that, but it’s far from a universally held belief around here.

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


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