Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 15: Stick by the Maer

My obsessively 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. 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.

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.

Okay, first, The Wise Man’s Fear won the David Gemmell Legend Award, which is wonderful, and even cooler, it’s an axe!

D3 is not here yet, but apparently people are reviewing it on Goodreads nevertheless. I’ve written reviews of imaginary books myself, but usually on April 1st. Pat responded to this in an absolutely awesome way:

While it’s nice to see folks out there giving this book five stars, and in some cases even reviewing it, I’ll admit that I’m kinda puzzled.

After thinking it over for a while, I’ve realized there’s only one explanation for this: Time travelers love my books.

This is strangely reassuring, as it lets me know that, eventually, I do finish my revisions, and the book turns out good enough so that I still have a following out there in the big ball of wibbly-wobbly…. timey-wimey…. stuff that I like to think of as the future.

I would also like to say, future readers, that I appreciate your taking time to read and review my books. It’s really flattering knowing that even with time-travel technology at your disposal, you’d rather read my stuff and mention it here on goodreads, rather than, say, hunt dinosaurs, get drunk with da Vinci, or pants Hitler.

Secondly, I’d like to say if you’re The Doctor, and you’re reading this, I would make an excellent traveling companion. I know you normally tend to hang out with pretty young women and robot dogs. And honestly? I respect that.

Still, I bring certain things to the table. Humor, witty banter, and a beard that will allow me to blend in seamlessly with any pre-industrial Germanic culture. I’m also an excellent kisser and play a mean game of Settlers of Catan.

Just throwing it out there.

Lastly, if any of you happen to have a digital copy of the book you’d like to e-mail me, I’d really appreciate it. I’d love to see the five-star version of the book, because right now, the one I’m toiling away at is about a three and a half-in my opinion. It would save me a lot of work if I could just skip to the end and publish it.

Sincerely yours,

Jhirrad found this, and isn’t it adorable? What Pat doesn’t know is that if a time traveler sent him a copy of the book that would cause a paradox in which the world would end and the Aleu fall nameless from the sky.

Whatever Aleu are…

A Fox:

Odd thought. ‘Aleu fall nameless from the sky’. I think there is an easy assumption that the Alue equate to stars (much like Ludis to the moon). But what if, in fact, the ‘angels’/singers are Alue? As in Alue already existed and these were the model on which Aelph based the transformation..or transcendance. A shedding of mortal fesh and all that.

And could this relate to K ‘killing’ an angel?

Thistlepong finds the quote, and it’s very suggestive indeed:


In my delirium, I imagined death in the form of a great bird with wings of fire and shadow. It hovered above, watching patiently, waiting for me…

I slept, and the great bird settled its burning wings around me. I imagined a delicious warmth. Then its claws were in me, tearing me open—


They came to Aleph, and he touched them. He touched their hands and eyes and hearts. The last time he touched them there was pain, and wings tore from their backs that they might go where they wished. Wings of fire and shadow. Wings of iron and glass. Wings of stone and blood.

That the aleu might be the angels is interesting, but pretty tenuous. They’re certainly in the sky and bear a connection to Aleph. And it’s fun to think about the nameless ring alluding to killing an angel. I’m just wary of positing another faction or group to fill in the hole. There’s also the other clause, “after everything is gone,” to consider.


I always interpreted it as the Aleu being “followers of Aleph” due to the likeness of name. Aleph being the “first” of the Aleu (and thus the “angels”) because his name is the name of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (and synonymous with the Greek ‘alpha’). There’s another thing I was curious about regarding Aleph, as well.


We have seen Haliax’s goal being described as the destruction of the world. Whether this is true or disinformation, we don’t know—but let’s run with an end of the world goal.

We have seen a couple of stories with Aleph being the creator or starter being. In one he is ascribed as the original namer (either finding or creating). It is this naming of everything that starts the world rolling.
It would seem like the way to undoing the world would then be unnaming it. If you remove the name of everything then you are left with nothing. Now, you could leave it at that or you could then rename things and have a whole new universe that corresponded to your own desires.

Exactly what the nature of this original naming event/being (called Aleph) corresponds to is something we would have to leave to conjecture at this point.

But, if Aleph really did name everything perfectly, then it could be said to have removed entropy from the system—resulting in a system that was perfectly predictable. Someone (like say the Cthaeh) who was skilled enough with naming could use this to see into the future.
By breaking names, Haliax would be increasing the entropy of the system—making it in more unpredictable. At perfect entropy (chaos) it ceases to be a system.

Unnaming everything so that the aleu, whatever they are, can fall from the sky and the world(s) cease to exist… how is what they’re doing part of that plan? What are they doing? They’re wiping out everyone who says their names. Maybe they’re trying to unname themselves, first?

Stick By The Maer

The CTH said, about the Amyr “Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their side.” We’ve obsessed about this quite a bit, especially considering the potential punning nature of both “stick” and “lead.” We’ve no evidence that the CTH puns, have we? Except that it’s generally obnoxious and therefore probably has many bad habits?

Some people have thought that Bredon, who uses a cane, is the “stick” by the Maer.

Therightstuff disagrees:

Haha, please, everyone who thinks the stick is related to Bredon and serves as some sort of definitive clue (or red-herring) please google the word “Ferule” – Cinder’s second name. “He beats her…stick to the Maer.” Then google ferule. It’s a real word, well placed and well used.

Bredon is clearly relevant, but the Ctheah never lies. Cinder is Ash.

The first and biggest problem with this is that we know Cinder isn’t an Amyr. He’s a Chandrian – enemy of the Amyr. So the “stick” meaning of “ferule” is as irrelevant as the “cane tip” meaning of “ferule.” Secondly, Cinder isn’t close to the Maer when Kvothe is with Felurian, he’s off in the Eld killing tax collectors.

“Stick by the Maer” might be a reference to Bredon or it could just be the literal words – the Maer could have helped Kvothe learn about the Amyr if Kvothe could have stayed there, but of course he reveals his Ruh ancestry in front of Meluan and has to leave. If the CTH knows all futures and there is no free will and it manipulated Kvothe into going with Tempe and therefore into coming back and meeting the false troupe and therefore into the revelation of his identity, well, there we are then. But it can’t be a reference to Cinder – Cinder, no matter how much of a stick he may be, isn’t by the Maer and won’t lead anyone to the Amyr.

GBrell came up with an interesting new Master Ash theory:

Alternatively, and this is very unsupported conjecture, have we ever considered that Cinder was Master Ash up until the wedding massacre at the end of NotW and then Bredon stepped in and took advantage of Cinder’s secrecy to steal Denna from him? Denna has no contact from her patron for at least a month after Trebon and doesn’t even mention him reappearing until Ch. 64 of WMF when she meets Kvothe in Vint.

She had met him, though, she’s met him several times – in the Eolian and at the farm, and she’s meeting him in Severen, she’d notice if he were a different person, surely?

A Fox wonders if Dagon is Cinder:

He functions to punish, in the nature of ferule, K always has bad
feelings around him, a nature that seems to paralel the way Cinder acted at the massacre of K’s family. He is also conveiniantly out hunting mischevious wizards…perhaps leaving himself enough time to begin his ops in the Eld.

The relatioship between the Maer and he is an odd one, and would be even more interesting in this light.


Dagon is certainly by the Maer’s side and seems to be very odd. I rather think he fits the role of being a Ciridae for the Amyr. Dagon seems quite odd as a human.

And, of course, Dagon loses an eye when he is getting Caudicus.

A Fox:

He and the Maer are ‘looking over maps’ when K first see’s him. (For what purpose? Bandits? The Lackless lands?)

“Dagan looked at me with dark, dispassionate eyes. His face was hard and sharp and emotionless. I surpressed a shiver.” WMF p.374

(coupled with Cinder, NotW, troupe massacre “His face was narrow and sharp.” & “dark and chill of eye”)

“As Dagon stepped into the room his eyes flicked toeach of the corners, to the window, to the other door, breifly over me, then back to the Maer. When his eyes touched me, all the deep feral instincts that had kept me alive on the streets of Tarbean told me to run. Hide. Do anything so long as it took me far away from this man.” WMF p.439.

(!!! This is potencially exciting. We have surmised that K’s retreat into his sleeping mind was a result of his encounter with the Chandrian, specifically Cinder (at Haliax’s command) sending him into ‘sleep’, leading him to the events of Tarbean, hiding, until Skarpi Names him. Here we have an echo of that time, and perhaps that command, when he meets the eyes of Dagan.)

Via Stapes “Good lord, Rand, he’s like cold water down the back of my neck. I wish you’d get rid of him.”

(Signs on the vase. Tree, pool of water, snow.)

Maer “So someone else could have him? No, Stapes. I want him right here. My mad dog on a short leash.”

(But whose leash? This has an interesting correlation with the relationship of Haliax and Cinder.)

Cinder, in Eld. “He stepped into the choas with fearless grace, taking in everything with a glance.” Much like Dagan in above qoute. “As I watched him stride across the encampment I was reminded of…something….He gestured to his men, and something in that motion was terribly familiar…”

Later, upon return to severen K and the Maer are talking of what happens. “But still, strange and bitter news.” he muttered, almost to himself.“ Why is this strange? He knew there were bandits-and efficiant ones. Is it the news of the leader disappearing? Or is it rather that it has ramifications on his own plot. Confirmation of ‘magic’ in the Eld, near the Lackless lands. Mmmm.

He gave me an oddly calculating look. “What do you make of it?” Then the Lackless box enters.

I am half convinced that Dagan is Cinder, wearing a glamourie. If Faen can wear a glamourie, a seeming, to resemble a mule and the Chandrian know how to hide their signs…a missing eye doesnt seem that much of a stretch. Dagan returns 2 days after K leaves. The Chandrian obviously have some sort of teleportation-like power. Dagan is not occupied, is not really mentioned other than his return. He is obviously in the Maers confidance with whatever he is plotting, but perhaps Cinder is actually playing this role to further Haliaxs’ plan? There is an obvious central focus of the Lackless lands and mysteries.

GBrell finds some counter evidence:

Some small pushback:

-Dagon is described as “weathered,” while Cinder’s skin has the “perfect beauty of porcelain.”

-Dagon is bald, while Cinder had shoulder length hair when Kvothe met him.

-Cinder wears a “coif” when Kvothe sees him at the bandit camp. Traditionally, a coif doesn’t cover the face. It was at distance, but it’s interesting that Kvothe doesn’t recognize Cinder’s face (or Dagon’s). But this could also lend credence to the glamour theory (along with the Cthaeh’s comments), since it’s unlikely bandits in superstitious Vintas would follow a man with goats’ eyes.

I’m not entirely convinced that Dagon is Cinder, but I agree it’s possible. And I’ve always thought that there’s something more going on with him and with Caudicus than what we see. Too much of that is offstage and the Maer doesn’t even seem interested in Caudicus’ motives and possible co-conspirators.

More GBrell:

Could Dagon be in league with Caudicus?

I’d like to highlight portions of this exchange:

“Ah, Dagon!” the Maer said cheerily. “Are you well this fine day?”
“Yes, your grace.” He stood attentively, not quite meeting the Maer’s eye.

“Would you be good enough to arrest Caudicus for treason?”

There was a half-heartbeat pause. “Yes, your grace.”

“Eight men should be sufficient, providing they’re not likely to panic in a complicated situation.”

“Yes, your grace.” I began to sense subtle differences in Dagon’s responses.

“Alive,” Alveron responded, as if answering a question. “But you needn’t be gentle.”

“Yes, your grace.” With that, Dagon turned to leave.

-Interestingly, Dagon only ever says: “Yes, your grace.” He has no other lines in the text.

-I presume that Dagon doesn’t meet the Maer’s eyes because of his inferior social status, but what if has to do with maintaining a glamour? The problem with this is that Chronicler’s reveal of Bast seems to suggests that indirect glimpses (as opposed to direct ones) reveal the underlying truth beneath a disguise, and that it is more about expectation than examination.

-What is the “half-heartbeat pause”? Is he merely startled by the unusual nature of the request or is he startled because he is involved in the treason?

-Kvothe detects subtle differences in his responses (see previous comment about him having only one line). This can be read one of two ways: 1) Kvothe is commenting that he uses the one line in different ways (see, e.g., Vashet with “You fight like a tiger”); or 2) Kvothe is commenting that his later responses have changed somehow from his earlier responses. Perhaps because he realizes that the Maer hasn’t caught him?

This also ties in with what happens immediately after. The Maer and Kvothe are “secured” in the Maer’s rooms while Caudicus escapes by Dagon’s orders. I’ve yet to see an explanation for the “malignant spirit” that killed Anders. And it’s “Dagon” that is after Caudicus while the guards are left to guard the Maer (due to the ambiguity of language, Dagon could’ve taken guards with him as well, the text isn’t clear – judging by the fact that guards were slain by Caudicus at his eventual apprehension, I lean towards this interpetation).

Ambiguity pops up again when Caudicus’ disposition comes up between Stapes and Kvothe. He is only caught “by setting fire to [the farmhouse].” I would normally read this as him perishing in the fire, but Kvothe reads the situation as implying that they managed to capture him and he was then “tended to.” Perhaps the reason a) Caudicus was so close and b) it took so long to catch him was that Dagon/Cinder needed time to find a patsy to replace Caudicus or prevent himself from being fingered.

And what better way to keep people from examining one’s eyes than by conveniently “losing” one?

If we’re thinking about glamours, we absolutely know that Bast is wandering around the Inn disguised with one all the time, and nobody is noticing cloven hoofs etc, so they’re right out there and maybe not even too hard.

And as for losing an eye, who do we know with only one eye? What if Dagon is Selitos?

And DB3600 thinks Dagon is a Chandrian but not Cinder.

He is described as bald or with a shaven head (nothing about a beard). In NW, K recalls who was present after the attack and sitting around his parent’s fire.

“Back by the fire, a bald man with a grey beard chuckled. Looks like we missed a little rabbit. Careful Cinder, his teeth may be sharp.”

In WMF Alveron, Stapes and K are having dinner when Dagon comes in. K wants to run and hide. I believe K instinctively knows Dagon, as one of the Chandrian but has yet to make the connection.

I find this really convincing.

And Shalter has another thought:

there is another possibility (well there are lots) for what type of being Dagon is. He could be an angel.

This would be a nice reversal of trope. We fall naturally into the idea that angels are beneficial fluffy things and so we don’t look for things that don’t look like that. This gives a slight twist to the angels being unseen. They aren’t really unseen, we just don’t see them for what they are as we don’t expect them to look like that.

Kvothe feels like he has seen Dagon before. This could be either from Angels and Chandrian being related (from opposite purposes) or from having seen Angels—possibly at the troupe massacre.

Kvothe kills an Angel. I like the idea of Kvothe having to fight and kill Dagon and having Dagon turn out to be an angel in the reveal.
If I had to pick an angel, it would be:

And beside her came Andan, whose face was a mask with burning eyes, whose name meant anger. NotW ch 28

As we have:

“Dagan looked at me with dark, dispassionate eyes. His face was hard and sharp and emotionless. I surpressed a shiver.” WMF p.374

“As Dagon stepped into the room his eyes flicked toeach of the corners, to the window, to the other door, breifly over me, then back to the Maer. When his eyes touched me, all the deep feral instincts that had kept me alive on the streets of Tarbean told me to run. Hide. Do anything so long as it took me far away from this man.” WMF p.439.

Really, this is a very strong reaction, but K doesn’t flag Dagon as important and we’ve been overlooking him.

A Fox on Stapes:

Looking over these sections I cant help but feel that Stapes has been overlooked. He is faithful to the Maer, he protects him. I also suspect that he knows more of arcanists than he lets on. He turns to evil wizard when he suspects K of poisening the Maer, or at least taking advantage, showing that he respects him. “My outer door…He has ears like a dog. Its uncanny.” Or perhaps he has a system similar to the bells in Denna’s swanky lodgings. He clearly distrusts Dagan.

“Our Stapes is old fashioned…And more educated than he cares to admit. Calanthis is the Eld Vintic Name for them…Its also the surname of the royal line of Vintas.” WMF p.440

Stapes could be an Amyr, now couldn’t he? He’s right by the Maer.

And A Fox gets excited and considers all the factions at the Maer’s court:

Oldest Factions; (Knowers) Aelph & the CTH.
Old Factions:The chandrian/ the amyr/ the singers/ the sithe.
New Factions: Often have agenda’s concerning the old factions, perhaps even for/with. Others have their own (Jakis) but whose plots intercept plots to do with above.

Lets say Dagan represents the Chandrian.
The Maer has an interest in the Amyr, even pursued it. But when he became Maer he decided suddenly not to bother looking further? He talks to K as if he is testing him, not just on character but on ability, belief system…and often of how far you would go for such ideal. Perhaps he did continue looking…and found them. He is actually seeing if K is worth initiating.

During the Amyr’s heighday, through the Aturan Empire they conquered much, if not all of the Lackless lands. They also tried to surpress Yll, the Adem, Ceald, Modeg; all countires with knowledge or customs concerning the chandrian, faen, Aelph. They also murdered Arcanists. Vints supersticious atitude toward the Arcanum strongly suggests that they have held over many of those beliefs.

So the Maer is an Amyr, one who marries into the Lockless clan.

The sithe? Bredon. His pagan rituals, and all the things I’ve waffled on before. Yll, Bredon Beer, the owl and Tak, a beautiful game, known by Felurian. The juxtoposition of kind and cruel in his nature, also like Felurian, like Bast. Ash has been proven, via various translations, to be of the tree variety, rather than of a fire. An element of nature which is always present in descriptions of the Fae, even the smell of their magic.

The singers? Well K is ruh, he sang Felurian’s name. Later, he also shares the star on the brow as did Tehlu&Pals during their transformation into beings beings who sung songs of power’. (His potencial confronted with temptation to a different path?)

Caudicus represents the almost childlike (in comparison) plots of the new players, Jakis. Succession plot.

Stapes…I think he may be a subtle link to the Knowers. Links to arcanum. Arcanum a bastion against the Amry, one in which the knowledge of their enemy has been removed…or kept hidden. Lorren, Puppet, Elodin if K were to follow their advice I imagine D3 would go down differently, certainly some of events we have seen would. Much like Tinkers offer with their goods. Stapes loyalty to Calanthis, and suspicion of Dagan; if Roderick Clanthis doesnt die, the penitant King would not arise.

Im trying to imagine it as a game of Tak, within Tak, within Tak…

I don’t think the Maer is an Amyr, because of what he said when Kvothe mentioned them to him. If he was one, he’d have said “Nonsense, my boy, disbanded years ago, Atutan Empire don’t you know…” because that would have been for the greater good. Unless he realised that Kvothe is an Amyr without the t-shirt, and even then I think he’d have responded in a different way, if he wanted to recruit him. Also, the CTH said they were close to him and he didn’t realise it, not that he was one.

JezDynamite on the bandits:

does anyone find it weird that the map (supposedly marking the bandits location in the Eld) is “locked” in the Maer’s lockbox?

I mean, if Cinder setup the bandit group, why does he need to lock up the map with all the Maer’s gold? I doubt he needs to keep the map safe from the other bandits. Perhaps he’s worried about getting lost in the Eld and the map is their only frame of reference?

I assume Cinder would have taken the key when his bandits stole the box, otherwise he’d probably also need to be another “Edro” expert or an expert lock picker.

Where are the other three lockboxes that Cinder would have stolen from the other three tax collectors that were also waylaid? Surely all of the lockboxes would be in the leaders tent. Unless they are being delivered somewhere else and the map is needed to find the camp’s location again…

I doubt Cinder would give the gold-delivery duties to one of his bandit veterans (the temptation to steal the gold would be unbearable) and he’d most likely deliver the gold himself. But who would Cinder deliver the gold to?

Alternate not-so-good theory: Could Cinder have been sent the box (including the map of where to setup the military camp) by the Maer with the Maer’s intentions to capture the Loeclos box? The gold is probably supposed to be the promised wages (held until the job is done) for the seasoned veterans and to arm/equip Cinder’s small military encampment.

Is the Maer the only source of information that says four of his tax collectors have been waylaid? This could be just a Maer invented story.

We do know, however, that there has been serious trouble on the kings road as evidenced by the lack of work and lack of caravans coming through the Eld. But that doesn’t mean that any actual tax collectors have been waylaid.

I doubt the bandits would need to go to any town to restock. The caravans they raid would have enough goods in them to keep them more than adequately supplied.

Really good questions. The Maer is the only source of information on the ambushes, I don’t think anyone mentions them. But they know about the bandits in the Pennyworth Inn.


another thing that’s odd is the Maer telling Kvothe to keep their mission secret. You’d think you’d want the bandits to know they’re being hunted so that they’d stop or go elsewhere, like those campaigns against fare dodging on the metro and anti-shoplifting where they tell you they have people looking out. The reasons for secrecy superficially make sense, but do they on examination?

Also, do they for a Chandrian led band?

Cinder could be freelancing, but if not, how does it advance the cause of the Chandrian to be leading bandits in the woods?

I can’t believe I’m actually asking “What’s their plan?” but I am.


I’ve always assumed they were instructed not to announce themselves for a couple reasons:

1) The Maer has managed to keep the whole affair relatively secret. While there are rumors that roads are bad, Kvothe hadn’t heard of the tax collectors being accosted. Widespread rumor that the Maer can’t protect his own employees would make it open season on any tax collector or justice.

2) If you warn a group of armed bandits that someone is hunting them, they might not run way. Instead, they might start hunting you. This is the argument Kvothe uses on Dedan on the way to the Eld.

Jo, I think you’re right that for minor offenses like shoplifting, you can spread rumors to combat the offense. But when you’re engaged in a capital crime (penalty for banditry is death), the calculus of punishment is already pretty heavily weighted. I’d bet those persons are more likely to fight than flee.

What’s more confusing is that the Maer had started providing escorts for his collectors. Depending on how you read it, it sounds as if he’s lost a dozen guardsmen to bandits. Why he thinks five random mercenaries can automatically handle them is confusing.

Re: The Chandrian’s plan. We can try and connect the banditry to the Lacklesses, whose lands are in the north based on the random comment from the Maer when he assigns Kvothe the task. More simply, the plan seems to be to cause instability, particularly amongst the common people (who are taxed repeatedly to pay for the missing collectors).

What if Kvothe’s kingkilling actually brought about exactly the chaos the Chandrian were attempting to achieve? Would give some context to this comment: “With all the hell that’s breaking loose in the world these days you can believe people are telling old stories more often. If the Chandrian are listening for names, I don’t doubt they’ve got a slow din of whispering from Arueh to the Circle Sea.”

Slongy on the ambush:

When Kvothe and his crew were fighting the bandits in the Eld, he noticed their leader (Cinder) looking towards the sky as if sensing something, much like Haliax and co did just before they left the scene of the crime. Being that the Eld was in close proximity to where Kvothe encountered Felurian and The Cthaeh, this leads me to believe that the forces that chased The Chandrian away were The Sithe. Either that or Kvothe unknowingly at the time, summoned something unconciously or indeed had someone watching over him, much like Tehlu did with Perial.

Kvothe summoning unconsciously, or Marten consciously, who is praying. It could be the Sithe, or it could be the angels coming. The Skarpi story about Aleph drafting Ruach to be angels and protect the mortal world from now on would seem to fit, if that’s what happens.

Which brings me nicely to:


I was thinking about Tehlu and heresies:

Pat said in the Admissions Questions, in response to GBrell, that Trapis was a Tehlin heretic, and we know that there are Menda Heresies, and Trapis mentioned Menda when he told his story, and so he’s probably one of the Menda heretics. I’d got as far as that before, but I hadn’t really thought of the implications.

Trapis story is the only story about Tehlu we have, and we’ve been taking it for what the Tehlin Church (and probably the associated Amyr) believe. But he’s a heretic. The bit about Menda at least isn’t canonical within the orthodox Tehlin Church, and we don’t know how much of the rest of it is.

We know Encannis is, because of the Midwinter festival in Tarbean. We know the wheel is, it’s on the church. We know people say ”God“ and mean Tehlu, from Kvothe’s conversation with Ben. Apart from that, what do we know for sure from non-Trapis sources, about what the Tehlins believe?

Shalter points out that we also have Skarpi’s definitely heretical story:

Most of the Ruach hung back from Selitos, too. They were afraid, and they did not wish to become involved in great matters.
But Tehlu stood forward saying, “I hold justice foremost in my heart. I will leave this world behind that I might better serve it, serving you.” He knelt before Aleph, his head bowed, his hands open at his sides.

None but the most powerful can see them, and only then with great difficulty and at great peril. They mete out justice to the world, and Tehlu is the greatest of them all—.”

Skarpi’s tale is almost certainly very much not part of what most Tehlins believe. He was arrested for heresy for telling it, so that is a pretty good bet.

and Marten’s prayer in the woods. We don’t know how orthodox Marten is, of course, but it seems to fit with what we heard from Trapis:

We also have (WMF ch 91):

Marten still lay praying on the bank. “Tehlu who the fire could not kill, watch over me in fire.” …
Tehlu who held Encanis to the wheel, watch over me in darkness.”
After a long moment of searching he found an arrow and fumbled to fit it to his string with trembling hands, praying all the while. I turned my attention back to the camp. Their leader had brought them back under control. I could see his mouth shouting orders, but all I could hear was the sound of Marten’s trembling voice:
Tehlu, whose eyes are true,
Watch over me.
Suddenly the leader paused and cocked his head. He held himself perfectly still as if listening to something.
Marten continued praying:
Tehlu, son of yourself,
Watch over me.
Their leader looked quickly to the left and right, as if he had heard something that disturbed him. He cocked his head again. “He can hear you!” I shouted madly at Marten. “Shoot! He’s getting them ready to do something!”
Marten took aim at the tree in the center of the camp. Wind buffeted him as he continued to pray.
Tehlu who was Menda who you were.
Watch over me in Menda’s name,
In Perial’s name
In Ordal’s name
In Andan’s name
Watch over me.

This actually sounds very like Trapis’ tale, so we would have to ask whether Martin is a Tehlin or a Mender.

Pat compared the Mender Heresies with Arianism, and Shalter considers that:

Arianism basically held that the Father and the Son were separate beings as opposed to part of the same trinitarian structure—Heteroousios vs Homoousios.
When the Justice arrests Skarpi he says:

“Under Tehlu’s watchful eye, I charge you with heresy.”

This phrase implies they believe in Tehlu as a kind of all seeing deity. The phrases “Merciful Tehlu” and “Tehlu and all his angels” are used a number of times.

In the frame (NotW) we have:

“I din’t know the Chandrian were demons,” the boy said. “I’d heard—”
“They ain’t demons,” Jake said firmly. “They were the first six people to refuse Tehlu’s choice of the path, and he cursed them to wander the corners—.“

This portion references the first 6 to refuse—that part is in Trapis’ tale (although not about them being Chandrian).
So, I would guess that the Mender heresies are like the Arian heresy in that (to an outsider) the two beliefs (Mender vs. main Tehlin) are very similar, with just a few differences that are unacceptable to either side.

I know quite a lot about early Christian heresies, and while the differences seem minute quibbles to us, there were rivers of blood spilled over them and people really cared about these differences. (Even now, Albigensianism seems to be huge in the U.S.) Skarpi’s story makes Tehlu one of Aleph’s angels, not God, which is quite similar to Arianism and Nestorianism.

Trapis, on the other hand, with his “Church was corrupt” and his unfailing good works, reminds me more of a Reformation schismatic.

And “Mender,” as we’ve said before, makes me think of the Jewish idea of “mending the world” and also of the Tinkers.


My initial thought was that Marten’s (presumably orthodox) prayer indicated that Tehlu didn’t die in destroying Encanis, where Trapis’s story has him sacrificing himself to achieve that end.

However, we should note that the line “To ash all things return, so too this flesh will burn” in Trapis’s story is the exact same line that Simmon repeats in WMF (after its mis-remembered by Wilem). Simmon specifically states that it is not his holy book (which begs the question whether Sim is an atheist since his family holds a duchy in Atur – the country with the presumably closest tie to the Tehlin church). It would be odd if Simmon knew a line that speaks directly to a heresy rather than the mainline version.

I think Sim could be an atheist the way students are, or possibly and more interestingly come from a pagan family. We know there are pagans – see rumours about Bredon. But Sim doesn’t believe in the Fae until Kvothe goes there.

On the other hand, “not my holy book” could well mean that Sim is orthodox and it is from the heretical version. Imagine a Jew correcting an New Testament quote.

The direct parallel to Arianism doesn’t really work because while Menda in Trapis’s story is created by Tehlu, he is also Tehlu (not separate and lesser in divinity).

Things in the story that I would see as being blasphemous/interesting:

-The story implies that Tehlu’s church predates the main events of the story (”his church was corrupt“). They were no longer living ”by the laws he had given“ implying a prior visitation to the mortal world. Pretty clearly a parallel to Judaism-Christianity.

I don’t think so, I think that’s Trapis being confused when he’s telling the story, the same way he is about getting drunk even on Mourning, when there wasn’t any Mourning yet. I think when he tries to imagine a demon-ridden awful world, he pictures Tarbean as it is, corrupt Church and all.

-”I think you know very little about what it is to be a man.“ This line strikes me as implying that Tehlu had to learn something, i.e. was limited and not all-knowing. That would be an easy target for claims of heresy.

-In the same vein, Tehlu is repeatedly restrained from judgment by Perial. This could be the lesser divinity parallel to Arianism, that Tehlu had to learn from Perial and was thus lesser in divinity prior to his sacrifice.

And lastly a question and an aside:

Whose is the life that does not end in death? The clear assumption is that it is Tehlu himself, but he DIES at the end of the story.

He dies, but there’s a fairly clear resurrection parallel, I think. But maybe that’s a heresy. I can imagine lots of lovely heresies from that story.

And the aside: The single thread of knowledge I hope most to be explained but I am almost certain will not be is the relationship between Tehlinism, the Chandrian (more specifically, Encanis to Haliax) and the Fae. The language in the story seems to repeatedly connect the two and its a wonderful exploration of the nature of fantasy, history, religion and story.

I would also really like to know this. And I really hope we find out.

Robocarp, on the Ruach:

I don’t think the Ruach are angels. Some of the Ruach were changed into angels (the Singers, probably) but rereading Skarpi’s story there’s no indication that those Ruach were angels before Aleph uttered their long names. At first I thought Ruach might mean ”survivors“, until I learned the Hebrew origin of the word, which made that unlikely.

I think the simplest explanation is that Ruach is the term for what people were before they became Men and Fae. The Ruach in Selitos’ story are not human, if you believe Felurian, because she said there were never any human Amyr, and most of those Ruach became the Amyr.

Which brings us to the next question: is Master Ash a Ruach? I think yes. I believe that Ash is Cinder with 99% confidence, and knowing what we know about the Chandrian, Cinder was a leader who betrayed one of the eight cities. Since the people who lived in those cities were Ruach (by my theory) it would make Cinder a Ruach.

Which raises other questions. How was it that the Ruach became Men and Fae? Felurian was presumably a Ruach when she sat eating silver fruit on the walls of Murella; now she’s a Faerie. Men and Fae both have characteristics distinct from Ruach. Faeries can’t tolerate iron, wheras Ruach could. Men seem to have much shorter lives. What happened? It must have happened in the aftermath of the Great Betrayal and Creation War, which we know very little about. (I’m still not even sure what side won.)

Another question is whether any Ruach besides the Chandrian still live. One theory I have is that the Adem are Ruach, and remained Ruach rather than turning into Men because they were neutral parties in the Creation War. This could explain their ideas about reproduction; perhaps that is how Adem reproduce because it’s how Ruach reproduced.

I really really like this, and I’m going to stop calling the angels Ruach from now on, because this fits with everything and makes sense. Also, I don’t know about the Adem, but Saicere was at the battle of Drossen Tor, so it could well be.

Sahiroth asks a very good question we haven’t considered, and which might well be heretical:

how and where and why does the creation myth with Aleph as creator start? What I’m referring to is

In the beginning, as far as I know, the world was spun out of the nameless void by Aleph, who gave everything a name. Or, depending on the version of the tale, found the names all things already possessed.

This clearly connects with Skarpi’s story, but it isn’t it, and neither Chronicler nor Bast is shocked by it.

Imaginary Linguistics

Thistlepong on the meaning of “Haliax”:

The prefix hal- indicates salt. For years (yah, wow) I couldn’t make sense out of Salt-of-Iax. I began to sort of dismiss the whole connection between Haliax and Iax. After all, these are contemporary names from one storyteller with an agenda; stories Kvothe can only correlate because he’s encountered a guy called Haliax. What does Iax have to do with Alaxel, y’know?

It should make sense from an author biography standpoint. It shouldn’t be an accidental meaning. Pat has remarked about wanting to do a cross-cultural survey of salt in grad school and being thwarted by his advisor, who suggested he examine salt in Shakespeare. There are several salt references in the text so far: the salt he gives to Auri, “all the salt in me,” and not insignificantly related to alchemy (Ambrose mixed Sim’s salts.)

Turns out the connection is pretty solid alchemical symbolism. For Paracelcus, all being was threefold: salt=body, mercury=spirit, sulfur=soul. So Haliax would symbolically be the Body of Iax.

That sort of reifies a position I was quite resistant to: namely that Haliax is, as some have theorized, an actual agent of Iax in the mortal. In that framework, Iax would be the spirit. We don’t have to look to hard for the soul. The parallels set up between Kvothe and Lanre and Kvothe and Jax are, I dunno, blatant. Fits rather well with Jo’s conviction that Kvothe will open something and the notion that he might do it without knowledge of the consequences.

The Cinder-in-the-Box theory was playful, as I think I mentioned initially. A possibility to be considered. This is less so. The books are as full of alchemical imagery as they are clever deployment of tropes and cliches. It takes kind of a long post to explain Haliax, though…

*An update on the red sulfur/white sulphur thing: you can’t reduce white sulfur with mercury because white sulfur is mercury

**salt, sulfur, and mercury are the principles Pat referred to in our admissions interview, the same ones Sim talked about during the plum-bob incident


hal- is the Greek root for salt, and we know Rothfuss uses real-word foreign roots, such as tu (= you) in Siaru, and Ruach (= breath, wind). So it seems a reasonable guess that Haliax means “salt something.” Since -iax is the rest of the word Haliax it seems a reasonable guess that Haliax means “salt of Iax,” as thislepong said.

But I have another theory. Lanre already has a connection to salt: he tells Selios, “I sow salt because the choice is between weeds and nothing.” With this quote in mind, I would say -iax means “to sow” or “sower.” Thus, Haliax means “sower of salt,” and that would seem to be a good thing for Selitos to christen him at that point.

I think that fits really well, especially if it means “sower in a bad way.”

Taking it one step further, Iax’s name also means “sower.” I think that’s an apt description of him, as both “sower of the Faen realm” and “sower of discord.” For all we know, Iax might not even be a name but an epithet. Considering Iax’s evil, it may be that his actual name became taboo and people (e.g., Felurian) refused to utter it. But that’s only speculation.

So, to summarize, my theory is that Haliax has no actual connection to Iax except that they are both sowers of some sort.


@En Temerant Voistra:
While I am not too fond of interpreting fictional languages based on real-world vocabulary, this title always felt to me like “About Your Recklessness.”

“En,” as in “En Faeant Morie,” functioning like “Of …” or Latin “De …” in book titles; “Temerant” like Latin “temerarius” (reckless, thoughtless, imprudent, foolhardy, temerarious) and “temerator” (reckless person); “Voistra” like interpreted in previous threads indicating something second person plural.

It certainly sounds like something Elodin tries to convey to Kvothe (and possibly some of his classmates), and which Kvothe can probably not learn in the library.

Imaginary Astronomy

We were talking about what it meant for the moon to be always full before the Creation War, and I summed up the way I picture it:

Imagine the 4C world flat, with the full sun and full moon passing over and under it, on rails, or in chariots pulled by horses. Then the spherical Fae world is invented at a 4th dimensional angle to it, and the moon’s rail is (in the sky) along a seam between them, with the moon itself sometimes entirely in one and sometimes entirely in the other, and most of the time part visible from either side.

I’m actually visualising this as a special case of a tesseract, and it does work.

Thistlepong Visits the CTH

Or maybe not! In any case, Thistlepong prophesies:

Off topic, the envelope, sealed by third parties and notarized, which I have pressed to my forehead contains the information (lots of oms and handwaving) that there will be a wedding in the final third of Day 3 which Kvothe will most likely miss. This wedding will turn out to probably have been important. He will draw conclusions from second or third hand sources and act impulsively.

Yes. Because Trebon at the end of NW, and the Lackless wedding at the end of WMF. I’m entirely in agreement, the shape of story demands that this happen. And furthermore, I believe that Carthage must be Kvothe will open something better left closed.

The Doors of Stone will open when they open, and there is no new news about when it will be D3.

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.


Back to the top of the page


Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.