Patrick Rothfuss Reread

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 16: You May Have Heard of Me

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.

First, this month’s “Pat is awesome” story. At World Fantasy in Toronto, I met a twelve year old kid whose father was a fan of mine. The kid was a fan of the Kingkiller Chronicles, so naturally that’s what we talked about. He’d met Pat earlier in the day, and asked him various detailed stuff, as you would. And he’d asked him about the currency, and Pat pulled two copper jots out of his pocket and gave the kid one. I immediately asked him how good his Alar was, and whether he could make the other jot, still in Pat’s pocket, rise into the air. He said his alar was like a bar of Ramston steel. He’s a great guy. Go donate to his charity.

Kvothe: Mary Sue?

I’m going to start this time with the allegation that Kvothe is a Mary Sue. “A Mary Sue” for those who don’t know the term, comes from Star Trek fanfiction. It’s a useful term for a reader insert character who is just so perfect she* can do everything and solve everything and everyone loves her. Characters like this are generally deprecated, and there’s a useful discussion of why on Making Light. The real problem with Mary Sue is that she’s a wish fulfillment character who gets everything easy, and that’s a detriment to story.

(*The pronoun “she” includes “he” in this context.)

Now there’s a lot about Kvothe which does recall the classic Mary Sue. He’s better than everyone at everything. Well, not everything—not alchemy, and not tact—but he’s the best at Sympathy and music and he learns the Adem fighting and everybody loves him. There’s the whole Felurian thing, which we have talked about at length. And he’s so very clever, and a dab hand at untying knots.

There are a pile of reasons he’s not a Mary Sue—Rothfuss being conscious of the problem for one thing. But the real reason he’s not and cannot be a Mary Sue is the frame. In the frame, Kvothe has failed. He’s lost D, he’s lost his mastery, he’s lost magic, he’s lost his name, he’s like a cut flower waiting to die. And the frame informs everything in the story, it’s the resonance between the frame and the story—the multiple stories—that makes these books so great. Kvothe needs to shine brightly in the story—which he is telling—because of the darkness of the frame, he needs to have the hubris because we know he’s getting the nemesis. What we have is tragedy.

Aaron in D3

Brilliant suggestion from Kaizoku:

I think Aaron believes Kote is Kvothe. It’s been remarked that he’s pretty smart, so I think he could pretend to not believe it. This way he can’t bring down the authorities on Kvothe, get his thousand royals and a duchy, and save his village ( from poverty ). Maybe we’ll see Kvothe being killed in the third book in this manner. I wouldn’t like to see it happen though, at least not this way.
… But think! This completely explains the need for that scene in the book, which would otherwise be irrelevant and have no effect on the plot.

Well, even without that it would be character development for K as JohnPoint points out:

1) Kvothe really is starting to become the innkeeper (whether by acting a convincing role or because his name is changed, etc.) He can’t convince Aaron of the truth because it isn’t true anymore (he actually is someone else) or because he is so deep into acting the innkeeper that he’s actually starting to become the mask (as per Bast)

2) He is both concerned about Aaron, and feels responsible for the war and every life that is lost due to it. He’s willing to risk his annonymity to save Aaron from going off to war, and he feels (and perhaps is, though I’m not entirely convinced of it yet), that everything sits squarely on his shoulders.

The scene adds to our understanding o frame-K, his mindset, and his sense of guilt for the cataclysm.

Remember that this story (the KKC) is Kvothe’s story. Not just who he was, but who he became. His frame mindset is a very important part of who he is today.

and WickedKinetic:

the Aaron scene is a very important part of the story, illustrating a great many things. 1- K feels responsible for the war and general state of things, 2- K is still morally and empathically ’good’ in not wanting some local kid to go get killed in the war, 3- his guise is so good that people won’t believe the truth when its in front of their face, won’t even consider it for a second…. also the currency bit mentioned above. It is a very valuable scene even if Aaron is not a significant character.

And yet it’s out of character, isn’t it? Breaking character that way? Most of the time he’s so careful to stay in character, even to the point of getting beaten up by the soldiers. Maybe he wants Aaron to bring the authorities to stop Chronicler? Or something?

This feels—this feels like the kind of thing Rothfuss does, like the Bast/soldiers thing.


in order to convince A, all K had to do was ask Chronicle or Bast to support his claim. Between the three of them, A would have easily been convinced. Unless A has a role in the thirdd book which involves this scene. It seems wrong to throw away A in a scene like this after mentioning him several times in the previous book. And it’s a bit of a stretch that he runs off to war without even waiting a single day.

I like this theory. Kaizoku, you’re promoted to E’lir in the Department of Imaginary Sympathy.


He may have a part to play, we may find out what happens to him, but I don’t see him showing up with all the King’s horses and all the King’s men to collect the reward money for finding someone everyone believes is dead….

I can. I really can see that happening in the frame part way through D3, but if it does it will be because K wanted it to.


Aaron really only needs to suspect that Kote is Kvothe. The Innkeeper confessed. Aaron’s bluff call could be read as a cover: “If you really are…” His voice trailed off, but his expression turned it into a question. I’m skeptical, but he could be considering the relative value of 1000 royals and nobility versus one and the promise of death. Lying’s in his family. He breaths iron every day. It’s improbable but not impossible that he played it off legit.

Aaron has all day to mull it over, maybe even discuss it on the road. Given that time to take it all in, he could convince himself if not others. He’s got the confession, Kvothe’s behavior with the scraeling and the shambleman/draugar/skindancer, his sudden uncharacteristic interjection into Cob’s story, the “demons” conversation, and the strange new sword on the unimaginably expensive mounting board.

That last one might make one wonder at the expense and cleanliness of the Waystone itself: windows, keyed locks in every door, the dumbfounding selection, black stone hearths. Moreover, used only to aggravate Elodin, our innkeeper isn’t stingy around town in general: hiring the Bentleys, taking quite a bit of mutton off the Orrisons’ hands, commissioning brass ringed barrels.

Aaron would be able to present a story worth checking out to anyone who heard it.

Chapter two (Holly) also has some direct parallels with chapter 151 (Locks) which might illuminate the “why” of the scene. I’ll throw out the relevant one first for folks like to get bored by formalism. Kvothe’s failure to convince Aaron, the failure of his “legendary silver tongue,” parallels his failure to open the Thrice Locked Chest. In a sense, it’s even the failure of a third necessary part. In chapter 2, he’s got the hair and the sword, but no magic. In chapter 151, he’s got the iron key and the copper key, but no… probably magic considering the open/edro commands.

Lest the casual observer look at the above and mutter, kyxxs, coincidence, imagery and incident are reversed or repeated across both chapters as well. Chronicler comes downstairs in the morning in chapter two, unpacks his paper and pens, and receives the holly crown from Bast. He cleans the pens, puts away the paper, and tucks the crown in his satchel before heading up at night in chapter 151. These are the only two chapters where holly and the holly crowns appear. In these two chapters, Bast and Chronicler have their moments alone together to discuss Kvothe. In fact, they use awakening language in both conversations. Finally, for this post anyway, these are the only two chapters in which thorn is used, and the only two in which both thorn and blade of grass appear.

At the very least, I’m beginning to see what took so long, and what will take so long for Day 3. In order to get back by the end of Day 3, Aaron had to leave on the morning of Day 2. For structural reasons, he had to leave in chapter two to parallel the second to last chapter.

I agree with GBrell, that’s brilliant.

Netalia Lackless

DarlinKaty suggested that Meluan might be Netalia’s daughter rather than her sister, and I explained:

No, Meluan can’t be Laurian’s daughter and Kvothe’s sister because she refers to her sister who ran off with the Ruh. She’s his aunt.

GBrell pointed out:

Unless lots of Lacklesses run off with Ruh. But that would probably tend to downplay the scandal.

And I thought, well:

What if it had happened every generation since the Creation War? That would explain all the songs…


At some point you’d think they’d figure out those Ruh boys are trouble.

Yeah, really. But you never know!


Galathel notices something we missed at the time:

In NW there is a scene of Bast recalling her beautifull ears. And in WMF Kvothe takes her for a walk in Maer’s garden at night. Moonless night, mind you. ;) “Denna peered out of the hedge toward the path, and I looked at her. Her hair fell like a curtain down the side of her head, and the tip of her ear was peeking out through it. It was, at that moment, the most lovely thing that I had ever seen.” This lead me to the theory, that Bast is more closely connected with Kvothe than it seems.


My crazy Denna theory is that she is actually Lyra, and a fourth power in the story, although a hidden/subdued one. When Lanre brought her back he also cursed her with immortality/reincarantion. Most of her power and ability is sleeping and only some of it leaks out in the form of Fae-ness and abset-minded yllish spells.

Truthfully though, I find the normal girl trying to get by with a little borrowed magic more likely.


Unscene says:

It’s amazing how many potential poet kings there are in the story.

And I don’t think that is in any way a coincidence. Rothfuss wants us tying ourselves in knots.

Jhirrad considers the possibility of a Faen King being killed:

The King that is killed. We have speculated extensively regarding who the King is named by the story. We almost always come back to someone in the human/mortal side of T4C. I can vaguely recall mention of the possibility of it being a faen King, but that never seemed to catch much traction. After going through the end of ch. 99 more carefully, I’m starting to believe that it might the case however.

Here’s what we know that leads me to this conclusion:
Kvothe has involved himself in politics of some sort to the point that a war was started.
He killed a King. (Was this the beginning or end of his political involvement? No idea, but it’s an interesting question.)

These two pieces, along with ch. 99, lead me to believe the King was from the faen courts. Here are some things which Kvothe says in this chapter which push me in this direction:

“All I knew for certain after hearing Felurian’s stories is that I had no desire to ever entangle myself in even the kindest corner of the faen court.”

“[T]he Fae are not like us….We are not the same…they are profoundly, fundamentally not the same…We forget it at our peril.”

Peril is a particularly strong word which Pat uses here. It is in fact the only time he uses that word in this book. It appears once in NotW, in the Tehlu story. Knowing how carefully Pat chooses each and every word, it leads me to believe it is important here.

We haven’t seen anything of the Faen court, and we haven’t heard much about them either. We do know Bast is a prince.

I think there’s quite good evidence that it’s a king of Vintas who is killed—possibly not Roderic though. We know (thanks GBrell!) that Newarre is in Vintas, and we know that it has a Penitent King and a war. Something caused that, and Occam’s razor suggests to me that it was the kingkilling.


Doesn’t Kvothe kill Roderic Calanthis?

I thought the poisoning of the flits in the Maer’s room was pretty open foreshadowing.

Well, maybe. I think it’s most likely to be a king of Vintas.

Jhirrad has a thought on the Penitent King:

The Penitent King. I know there has been a great deal of discussion about precisely who this is. Many have conjectured Alveron. I’m not certain what all the other theories out there are regarding that character. However, as I was reading through NotW yesterday afternoon, something stuck out to me, especially after reading the discussion re: Bredon as Ash. In Chapter 22, A Time for Demons (sorry, I only have a Kindle version in front of me so I can’t give a page), after “Encanis” has given Kvothe a full silver talent and rushed off, Kvothe hides himself as “Tehlu” and his coeterie pass.

Tehlu stood tall and proud in the back of a wagon drawn my four white horses. His silver mask gleamed in the torchlight. His white robes were immaculate and lined with fur at the cuff and collar. Grey-robed priests folled along beside the wagon, ringing bells and chanting. Many of them wore the heavy iron chains of penitent priests.

Emphasis added. We know that at one point in history the Church had a large hand in governing in Atur. Let’s also recall that Simmon is the 4th son of a duke. The third son is a priest. See WMF, Ch. 39, Contradictions. “…he has three older brothers and two sisters. The first son inherits. The father bought the second a military commission. The third was placed in the church.” That is, in fact, something which commonly took place in medieval/rennaissance families. First son inherits, second son is a soldier, third son is a priest. Maybe our Penitent King is one of these 3rd sons that was sent to become a priest, became a penitent priest (which I don’t think is mentioned anywhere else in the text other than this one scene), but ends up inheriting through the death of his elder brothers. Being such a devout Tehlin, that would necessarily put this king on a path to collide head-on with Kvothe in some way, this evil magic user who has already been brought before the iron law for his “Consortation with Demonic Power, Malicious Use of Unnatural Arts, Unprovoked Assault, and Malfeaseance.” Also, if the war is, as many have suggested, one between the Fae and mortal realms, it is not much of a stretch to think that such a conflict could have been started/perpetuated by a heavily religious leader, Lhin?

Honestly, it was thinking about Pat’s incredibly delicate and obsessive choice of words that led me on this path.

I think we’ll have to wait and see but it could well be.

An Angel and a Demon

DarlinKaty says:

Isn’t his “heart’s desire” to learn the truth of the Chandrian? It is what motivates him throughout the whole story. It’s why he wants to attend the University, it’s why he goes to the Maer and much more. He even chooses this pursuit over Denna once in a direct way, I think. And certainly several times indirectly. Perhaps it is knowledge of the Chandrian that causes him to fight a demon and kill an angel. If those things really happen in DT.

I think those things will happen in DT, and I think when they do I will hyperventilate. But I don’t know if knowing the truth of the Chandrian is his heart’s desire. Stopping the Chandrian might be. We get that phrasing from Chronicler, where does he get it from? A story, or a song? Or… This seems like a productive area to think about.


I think the angel he has to fight is Denna because we are allready seeing them come at cross-purposes in WMF.

But that would need her to be an angel. Is there any useful evidence that she might be? Would a Ruach need a patron? Would an angel let herself get beaten by Master Ash? And if so, would an angel believe she deserved it? We don’t know enough about angels. And as for demons, we mostly know that they don’t exist, except for the Chandrian and things out of the Fae, and the draccus—there are a whole lot of things called demons that aren’t, and whatever Kvothe tricked could be anything. It could be Bast.

And Thistlepong sums up everything about our one declared demon, Encanis:

The possible identities of Encanis have been discussed. I think the three major theories are Encanis as Encanis, Encanis as Haliax, and Encanis as the Cthaeh. Encanis in Trapis’s story shares the shadowed face and black garb attributed to Haliax at the end of “Lanre Turned.” He also shares the general Chandrian signs of frost and blight. His reaction to iron points to Faen association, as does characterizing him as a demon.

The confusion of characteristics as well as the general timeframe Trapis provides confounds current conjecture. A reader can successfully support several identities and convincingly refute none of them. Trapis is a Tehlin apostate, reciting from imperfect memory a story derived in part from The Book of the Path. His story, though, resonates with both “Lanre Turned” and Shehyn’s account.

Folk have written about how all of these may be versions of the same story, culturally relevant to the speaker, but only partially accurate. This theory’s actually quite likely. given Pat’s comments. It’s also possible that they’re iterations on a theme in a conflict spanning five or six millennia. Or both.

I’m getting some serious Baader-Meinhof for the Encanis/Cthaeh connection lately, though, so I figure it’s worth exploring. Take as given the aforementioned tree imagery and the prescription of truth.

Encanis shares serpent imagery with the Cthaeh. compare “motionless as a snake” and, “Encanis hissed. his voice like the rasp of stone on stone,” with “Kyxxs” and, “I thought I saw a sinuous motion among the branches.” The serpent imagery reverberates with the ideas of deception and truth. The serpent figures from many of our mythologies don’t lie outright, but reveal partial truth to goad the listener; this, in fact, is pervasive throughout the Chronicle. Encanis and the Cthaeh share a fondness for alliterative cursing. Compare “bite and break you” with “blood, bracken, and bone.” Both Encanis and the Cthaeh create conflict, Encanis “setting men to murder one another” and the Cthaeh’s influence “is like a plague ship sailing into a harbor.”

Their names bear a curious reflective relationship. Encanis suggests canis, or dog, which has little to do with our shrouded demon at first glance. I mean, Tehlu hounds him and runs him down, and that’s sort of funny. But as before, with serpent, we might think in terms of image and cosmology. Contemplate the associations of Anubis, Cerberus, and other guardians of other worlds. Consider the Cthaeh as a reflection of Encanis in the outer darkness (Trapis) or Hell (Daeonica,) which we know to be Faen—the immanent other world that’s either above, below, or ekpyrotic to the Mortal. Encanis might translate as in/of/one dog or even behold dog, the latter further suggesting the sight of the Cthaeh.

Cthaeh, on the other hand, evokes the Mortal via it’s similarity to khthon/cthonic—in/under/beneath the earth. Having mentioned the tree connection, this is how we reconcile the pit into which Encanis is thrown and burned. Ritual sacrifices of living creatures by cthonic cults involved burning the body whole in a pit. The ligature of a and e is called aesc, or “ash tree” after the Anglo-Saxon rune. Might be coincidental or purposeful, marking Denna’s patron even as we remain unreconciled as to whom Ash is.

Thus Encanis and the Cthaeh mirror one another nominally and symbolically across worlds as well as sharing common imagery. As above, so below. I rather like it.

The connection might also narrow down the range of possible suspects in the bad-spy-novel-where-everyone-is-someone-else sense. As much as we have consensus on anything, we generally view Iax as the first shaper, he who pulled the moon, and he whom is imprisoned beyond the doors of stone. Felurian not only refuses to speak his name, but implies he’s unreachable in Faen. This strongly suggests The Cthaeh is not Iax. Further, she refuses to speak of the Seven at all, while she’s willing to discuss the Cthaeh. And we know Haliax has been recently active in the Mortal, eliminating him as a candidate.


Dessert, on Naming and Shaping:

I was always under the impression that shaping was the creating of new things, whilst naming is the manipulation of existing things. Shaping means making a new star, creating a new species of tree with glowing fruit or designing a new world with it’s own set of physics. Naming means stirring up a storm, or suppressing a faeling’s power.

That’s compatible with what we know, but we don’t know enough to say if it’s right.

Shalter, on Naming:

A Name is a very precise thing in 4C-land. The languages extant within the 4C probably lack the precision to convey a Name. Thus we see Elodin’s explanation of the Sleeping Mind and Kvothe envisioning a musical stream in his battle with Felurian.

And, notice that Ademere adds additional precision through the gestures and maybe Yllish knots were along a similar bent—the more precisely you can model a Name, the more likely you can manipulate the named object.

We’ve talked about Kvothe’s musical Naming, but how about gesture and touch? Maybe the best way to Name something would be a song and interpretive dance?

A Moonless Night


The more I read and think about it, the more I am sure that there is no concept of simultaneity between Faen and FC. There is no “same time” in the two realms, and the only thing connecting time in the FC and “time” in Faen is that you can travel from a certain point in time of one and arrive at a certain point of time in the other. But while you’re in one there is no saying how much time is passing in the other, and it’s probably true that you have some control over time whenever you pass through a gateway. I strongly suspect Felurian deliberately set Kvothe back in FC only a few days later; she probably could have set him a hundred years in the future if she had wanted.

Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like you ride the moon from one realm to the other, and it seems to be possible to travel between the two realms in either direction whether the moon is new or full. I suspect that the phase of the moon is more about control of the paths between the worlds: on full moon you have full control, on a new moon you have none.

So the other way round for the Fae? But if the gates are more open now—with the scraelings etc coming through, what does that mean?

Robocarp, on the making of the Fae:

Felurian said of the Faen realm that it was “wrought according to their [the shapers’] will. the greatest of them sewed it from whole cloth.”

Key point: she says it was “wrought” and “sewed from whole cloth”. That is, it was made from pre-existing land, not constructed out of thin air. The Shapers must have taken land from somewhere, moved it sideways into another dimension, and then shaped into the Fae. The obvious question is, where did the land come from?

I looked at the Four Corners map to see where ground zero might have been for this hypothetical move, and to my surprise I saw something that fits, namely the Reft, the large bay south of Tarbean. “Reft” is an archaic past participle of the word “reave”, which is a verb that could mean “to steal, carry off forcibly” or “to tear apart, break”. Both of which could be an apt description of what the Shapers did to the land.

So let’s run with it. Is there any evidence that Faen was originally part of the FC? I have a couple ideas. In Hespe’s story, Jax talks to a tinker before setting off on what appears to be eastward on The Great Stone Road toward the mountains. The tinker may represent the Cthaeh, who Bast said Iax spoke to before stealing the moon. But that raised the question of how the Cthaeh got into the Fae, which was apparently constructed after Iax spoke to him (according to the chronology of Hespe’s story). Now here is a possible explanation: the Cthaeh and it’s tree were part of the land that was moved sideways into the Faen realm.

Speaking of the Great Stone Road: it ends in Imre on the FC map, but if you were to extrapolate it westward, it would go very near to the Reft. Suppose the Stone Road once did lead past Imre, and was part of the land that was moved into the Fae. Is there any evidence for that? Yes: when Felurian is leading Kvothe into the darkest part of the Fae, they actually walk on a stone road for awhile. It seems like an odd place for a stone road: the darkest part of the Faen realm. Perhaps it was there before it was the Fae.

Wow. I like that.


I think you’re onto something important. First of all, Iax ’stole’ the moon, and this caused the war. So the idea that he literally stole a chunk of land fits in.

Here’s a variation of your idea. The Fae realm may be a single, razor-thin vertical slice of the FC—a cross-section—that was stolen and then laid out in the-time-dimension-converted-to-space, hence the realm of Twilight, etc. That sliver-thin cross-section—from sky to crust—would actually have the appearance of a cloth. It could have been folded like a cloth, tucked into a box, and later unfolded just like a cloth. It was then dragged through the missing dimension of spacetime to give it the third-spatial dimension (think of an accordion expanding), but it’s not really a spatial dimension, it’s time. So the Fae realm is the same sliver at different times of a singe day, only time has truly been converted to space. Such a process could be described as ’sewing from whole cloth’.

Over time, this new landscape could have developed a varied topography we associate with a normal three-dimensional space.

I know this doesn’t explain the CTH’s presence in the Fae realm. Ah well. Maybe the cloth included a cross-section of the Wheel as well, taking the CTH with it. A Wheel dragged through the time dimension would look like a cylinder. The tree trunk? I know that’s a stretch. But it’s semi-congruent with Roah being iron-like.

More likely, Cinder tossed him in there. His name does suggest mastery of iron.

And, and Pat refused to mark the location of Caluptena on GBrell’s map at a signing. And he specifically wouldn’t tell me where it was when we were doing the Admissions questions — it was in the list, and I mentioned it as one of the things we really really want to know because we’re odd that way, and he said he couldn’t tell me because it would be a spoiler. So if Caluptena was there, and wasn’t there any more, well, that would make sense, wouldn’t it?

Taborlin the Great


There’s a character from the stories that I think might hold some important clues, about the past especially, who I don’t think we’ve been talking enough about. It’s a pretty important character, who is mentioned all throughout the novels, and in fact, was the first heroic character mentioned at all.

I am talking about Taborlin the Great.

I realize that “character” is a bit of a stretch, since Taborlin is only known from stories, and might not even exist in universe. In a sense, Tab is to FC what Robin Hood is to us. However, Robin Hood’s legend grew out of a real bandit culture in medieval England, and even if Taborlin or any particular person he’s based on never existed, I still believe the stories have some truth.

Robin Hood ostensibly lived 600-800 years ago; for this reason my first guess would be that Taborlin lived about the same number of years BK. But it seems like such a waste to place such a character at such a recent time (which we already know a few things about), and anyway, the Chandrian the Taborlin fights seem to be a bit different from the Chandrian we know.

So here begins my wild guessing: Taborlin the Great is actually based on the person who (according to Shehyn) didn’t lose the Lethani and betray a city, or, perhaps more likely, was someone from that city who resisted the Chandrian. In the aftermath of the betrayal, the Chandrian would have set themselves up as rulers of what remained of the Ergen empire. This is what the situation seemed like in Marten’s story when Taborlin opposed King Scyphus (with a suspiciously similar name to Cyphus the Chandrian who bears the blue flame). Taborlin’s efforts (no doubt assisted by the Amyr and friends) brought about end of the Chandrian as worldly rulers; thenceforth they would have to act covertly, and strike like lighting from a clear blue sky, rather than rule from a throne. It is in this world that things such as the Lockless box and Yllish writing appear.

Here are the characteristics of Taborlin the Great. I wonder what significance they all have.

– a Cloak of No Particular Color, which has many bottomless pockets
– a key
– a coin
– a candle
– a copper sword
– knows the name of all things

An interesting one is the coin. As we know, the Cealds invented currency only 2000 years ago, so it seems like Taborlin would be more recent than that, but that could just be later additions to the legend.

As for the word “Taborlin”, I can’t think of any word that resembles it, except that the last two syllables kind of sound like “Belen”, which I’ll opine is coincidence.

Last note, I like to think that Taborlin the Great was a human (not a Ruach or whatever the pre-Creation-War people were), and was so great because he was a Man who entered the world of legendary beingsand defeated them.

And we’ve talked before about how Auri gave Kvothe all those things—a coin, a candle and a key, anyway. Not a copper sword, yet anyway. And of course he consciously has the cloak in emulation of Taborlin.


Tarbolin may be identical to the scary guy on the artifact from the Farm.
He is the only individual reported to struggle with the Seven and although they can trap him, they do or annot kill him.

Now there’s a new thought.

Thistlepong wonders when Taborlin was:

the features of Taborlin, in no particular order:



(Prison without windows or doors)
(Blue Flame)
The Names of All Things
(Fire & Lightning)

You could probably throw demons in there, which we know to be Faen. So I tend to agree that he, if he was, was a man.

I think the common popularity of the story tends to confine him temporally more than anything else. Oren Velciter is comparably known, but he’s still alive. Tehlu has a religion that rode a conquering empire across the known world to keep him on people’s minds. And even then Wil calls him a pagan diety. Illien, the other big name, is no more than a thousand years old, either. After that, the oldest names are the founders of Ceald, found in history books; known only to Arcanists. Then it’s a scattering of unknown legends told by the very old: Skarpi and Shehyn. Skarpi’s sort of an unknown quantity, telling ancient stories with modern names. Shehyn is relating treasured cultural traditions, passed down orally; the names are different and some of the details forgotten.

Really good question. He’s from after the Creation War, and there are Chandrian—or at least blue flame—in at least one of his stories.

Robocarp in response, thinking he’s older:

I used to think about Taborlin the Great more or less exactly the same way you describe it, and it still wouldn’t surprise me if it were true. But here’s a bit of rationale for why I think Tab’s story might be a little older than we thought.

All we know about Tab is from folk tales, which means there are two separate questions to consider. 1. What do the people who are telling the tales understand about them? 2. What clues can the folk tale give us about actual historical events? They are separate questions, but the answer to #1 could shed some light on #2.

If you were to ask the people of FC what time frame Taborlin the Great stories were set in, what would they say? Based on the fantastic content of the tales, I’d say educated people would place Tab at the earliest fringe of written history, the same as we would place legendary figures like Abraham and Theseus. (Compare the stories of Taborlin and Illien. Tab was fighting demons with magic swords and thunder. Illien was taming bears with music. It suggest Tab was a lot older than Illien.)

Now, it doesn’t mean the folk tales necessarily originated at that time, nor that any real-life people it was based on lived at that time, but if the story is set at that time it’s reasonable to wonder if it contains clues about that time.

I have a meta reason for suspecting the Taborlin story is old as well. There’s a 3000-year-long gap in the timeline, and I find it hard to believe that PR would leave so few clues about it. All we know for sure is that someone put something in a lockless box, and that some people in Yll started writing with knots. Taborlin’s story seems to be the only thing that might have other clues about that time.

I think he’s a myth. I think he’s exactly and precisely a myth, because Rothfuss is doing this whole thing with stories and what stories are and stories as clues and what Kvothe’s father was doing with Lanre and what Kvothe’s doing with the Chandrian and all of this, the Creation War, and the Lackless rhyme and so on, and all the distorted stories about Kvothe himself. Some stories are clues and some are distortions and some have to be just stories. Taborlin seems to me the most fairy-tale like, and the most used for explaining how the magic system works and the least solid in time.



Rereading the CTH passage got me thinking—it tells him not to call them that and so does Shehyn. Why? Is it that it’s inaccurate and they know it? Maybe by calling them Chandrian all you’re really doing is calling them by some general term like “cursed” or “undead”.

As far as we know, it means “the seven”, which certainly isn’t precise.

And Hang, on what the CTH says:

When the CTH is talking to K about his parent’s death, he says that his father begged and cryed, saying that probably to hurt K, but what if his father did that not because he was affraid but because he knew that was what he should do.
This may be a long shot, but what if while searching to write the song he discovered something about the Chandrian and the fact they are afraid of Tehlu and the angels, what if he also discovered that they can actually listen the prayers?
So, when he was “begging” for his life, just like the CTH said que did, he was trying to call upon Tehlu and the angels, that would explain why Haliax looked into the sky(angels falling from the sky) and the Chandrian went away from the camp, they were afraid .
That would explain why Cinder looked to the sky and then vanished, because Marten was praying so the angels were coming.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I think this counts as actual confirmation that it was Marten’s praying that scared Cinder off. Hang, you are hereby promoted to E’lir in the Department of Imaginary Sympathy.

DB3006 thinks Cinder has been in the Eolian, or maybe Ankers:

“Why cant’ you find this Cinder? Well, that’s an interesting why. You’d think a man with coal-black eyes would make an impression when he stops to buy a drink. How can it be that you haven’t managed to catch wind of him in all this time?”

So Cinder has been buying drinks where K plays? I would say yes. AND if true, it cannot be a coincidence.

Another Andrew takes this even further:

perhaps Kvothe has met all the Chandrian (except possibly Haliax) in the course of his wanderings. And in that case Devi, ’the Demon’, is a possible candidate for being one of the female ones.



In re salt: There is mention of “hal” being salt, and the possibility of Haliax being something like the sower of salt. There was also some discussion re salt, sulphur, and mercury, going back to something Pat had mentioned. While I don’t want to overstate the importance of salt, I think it’s REALLY important here. In trying to get information on the Chandrian from Felurian (at which Kvothe was wildly unsuccessful) she (Felurian) says, “I do not jest…I swear this by my flower and the ever-moving moon. I swear it by salt and stone and sky. I swear this by singing and laughing, by the sound of my own name.” WMF Kindle version, Ch 99.

There are a couple of interesting things to me here. First, the pride of place to which salt is being given. Not only does she swear by it, but does so in the same line as she swears by the ’ever-moving moon’ and ’the sound of my own name’. It would appear this is a very powerful oath indeed. Also, the way she combines it with stone and sky. I’m not sure as to the significance of this right now, but I’m sure that it is significant.

And me:

People get it from Tinkers. Well, and from caravans. There’s a mention near the beginning of the price of salt being up in Newarre and people wishing they’d bought it anyway.

What Felurian is swearing by is her flower, the moon, salt stone and sky, singing and laughing, and her own name. I think we have four things that are central to Felurian herself — her name, singing, laughing, and her sexuality, which are all close to her absolute identity, and four world-things, the moon, salt, stone and sky. The ever-moving moon’s significance we sort of know. The other three things come together, as if they’re linked, as if they are elemental. The triplet rolls well on the tongue, too, I can imagine swearing that “Salt, stone and sky!”

A Fox:

ky: Aleu falling nameless from, Tehlu&Pals inhabitig,lightning falls from.

Stone: Heart of, Waystone, Door of, Selitos’ eye-taking

Perhaps Salt, Sky & Stone are liken unto our Earth, Air, Fire, Water (and has overtures of the Celts).

If so, that’s a very interesting consideration of elements. We know Stone is a Name—Fela learns it, and similarly Fire, which isn’t on that list.


What I was reading was the scene where Kvothe looks at the lockless box. When asked to guess what the box contains he says “something smaller than a saltbox”. Given the meaning of Hal-, I’ll leave the conclusions to you.

But we know Haliax’s name—Alaxel, Lanre. Dessert thinks it’s Iax’s name—though if that, why not the name of the Moon, which in Hespe’s story gets shut in a box?

Given the nature of the box (containing iron and copper), then it is likely Iax is of fae nature. Additionally, when the Maer suggests cutting open the box Meluan replies, “I would sooner think of salting every acre of our lands.” This ties in with our salt sowing ideas of Haliax. Also, when you consider the nursery rhyme line “In a box, no lid or locks/Lackless keeps her husband’s rocks,” the Maer/Meluan are in some interesting company. Another from the rhyme: “She’s been dreaming and not sleeping,” this reminds me of Haliax (thousands of years without sleep).

Certainly there’s a salt/box connection going on there.

Princess Ariel

JohnPoint has a crazy theory:

What if Fela is… Princess Ariel.

What do we actually know about her? Not a whole lot about her background, honestly. We know that she is wealthy (such that she can have a fancy cloak made for Kvothe, has a private room, nice clothes, etc.), so she is probably “upper middle class” or noble. We know that she has skill Naming and sculpting. We know that she is beautiful, relatively young, and has been at the University for several years. But we don’t know much more (at least that I can think of off hand.)

So, what if she is Princess Ariel, in disguise at the University?

There are several ways this could play out.
1) perhaps the Killed-King is Fela’s father. He doesn’t approve of Sim as a SO for Fela, and has him killed. Kvothe goes on revenging mode, kills the king, starts the war. The penitent king, (the Maer?), puts the price on Kvothe’s head, he fakes his death and goes into hiding etc.

2) Sim and Fela get married and inherit the thrones, and become K&Q of Vintas. Ambrose has Sim, or both Sim and Fela, killed and blames it on Kvothe (this not only brings A closer to the throne, it eliminates Kvothe’s best friends and causes him to be blamed for it — fairly genius on Ambrose’s part…). Kvothe figures it out, kills Ambrose in Imre — cracked stones and all, fakes his death (pulls a Peter Pettigrew?), and goes into hiding.

3) Due to royal customs, arrangement, decree, etc., Fela has to marry someone else. Sim challenges him to a duel and is killed. Kvothe seeks revenge against either the king, Fela’s other suitor, or both. King-Killing ensues.

4) I’m sure there are other, but those come to mind off hand…

She’s Modegan. However, that doesn’t stop her being Princess Ariel. What do we know about the Modegan Royal House? It’s the oldest in the world. But what Kvothe says is that he’ll tell us the truth about Princess Ariel. If she was Fela, wouldn’t he say “how he saved Princess Ariel’s life”? Because he really did save Fela in the Fishery that time.

She could totally be Princess Ariel of Modeg and nothing to do with the king Kvothe kills.

I’ve been laid low and not on the site as much as normal, and I was distressed to see some impoliteness needing moderation on the last comment thread. This has always been a very civil discussion, even when we absolutely disagree, let’s keep things polite, please.

But also on the previous thread, some pictures of 4C rings and pendants, well worth checking out.

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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