The Wise Man’s Fear, the second volume of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, turned ten earlier this month with relatively little fanfare. When The Name of the Wind reached the decade mark, we got a beautifully illustrated 10th anniversary edition filled with extra goodies. Now the sequel’s anniversary has come and gone, and we’re still waiting for news on book three—at this point, we have about as much information on the upcoming Doors of Stone as Kvothe has on the Chandrian.
And yet the last ten years have provided fertile ground for theories and speculations, as well as a number of reread podcasts and deep dives into the world of Temerant. I, for one, am a fan of Jo Walton’s excellent KKC reread here on Tor.com and listen enthusiastically to Page of the Wind’s daily dive into the books. Of course, I have spent hours on the KKC subreddit and I even started my own podcast where I profile the rich characters Rothfuss has gifted to us.
Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to mark the anniversary with a refresher on the major burning questions I have about this beautiful story-in-progress—so without further ado, here are ten questions I hope to see answered in The Doors of Stone.
1. How does Kvothe get Folly?
In the Waystone Inn, Kote hangs a sword up behind the bar with the word “Folly” burned beneath it in the dark wood. KKC theoreticians surmise that this is the Chandrian Cinder’s sword. We don’t know if Kvothe and Cinder have met again; perhaps Kvothe hangs it up to either remind himself of what he lost chasing Cinder down or as some kind of lure for the Chandrian. There are some similarities, definitely, in the way Cinder’s sword is described (pale and elegant) and the way Folly is described (grey-white, slender and graceful). Be wary of folly.
2. Will Kvothe see Abenthy, his first teacher, again?
If you recall, the arcanist Abenthy taught Kvothe rudimentary sympathy and also had a discussion with Kvothe’s parents about the Chandrian before he left their troupe. In my opinion, Ben knew more than he let on about the Chandrian, and he certainly left the troupe at an oddly convenient time, just before the massacre. The last two lines of the letter he reads Kvothe are, “Remember your father’s song. Be wary of folly.” That’s not just an offhanded comment—it’s clearly significant. Arliden never performed his song about Lanre for anyone…but Ben knew what it was about.
3. What does Denna’s patron, “Master Ash,” want?
One of the biggest sticking points in the relationship between Kvothe and Denna is the latter’s patron, who meets with her in secret and seems to send her all over the world. The Cthaeh tells Kvothe that the man beats her, as well. What’s going on with Master Ash, and what is he trying to accomplish?
And as it logically follows…
4. Who exactly is Denna’s patron?
Ohhh, Master Ash: the man who launched a thousand theories (which Jo Walton helpfully condenses in the TOR reread). There are a number of folks on Reddit who believe Ash is either Cinder or Bredon, the noble Kvothe plays Tak with in Severen. Some think he’s neither of these characters. Some think he’s both. Personally, I’m not 100 percent convinced on the “Bredon=Cinder=Ash” line of thinking; I believe Denna’s patron is likely to be either Bredon or Cinder, but not both.
Whoever Ash is, he has Denna looking into genealogies and trying to rewrite Lanre’s history, as we learn in Wise Man’s Fear when she sings her unfinished song for Kvothe. I say “rewrite” because though Kvothe takes Skarpi’s story as gospel truth, it’s possible Lanre really was a hero. We don’t know, and sadly Kvothe never hears his father’s song.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Denna’s patron knows she is close to Kvothe. Maybe he’s instructed her to follow him and/or keep an eye on him, waiting for the right time to strike. Something certainly breaks between these two young lovers, and I think it’s likely Master Ash is at the center of it.
(Interesting to note, here, that Bredon did not exist in early drafts of Wise Man’s Fear.)
5. What’s in the Lackless/Loeclos box?
At the end of Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe meets Meluan Lackless and holds the mysterious object that has been in her family for thousands of years.
Kvothe KNOWS it’s a box. He says it “wanted to be opened.” He can also feel something shifting around inside and hear it thumping. He initially thinks whatever’s inside is made out of metal, but later states the contents must be something made of glass or stone.
Whatever it is, it’s small. It’s light. It’s probably ancient. Personally, I like the idea that it’s connected to either Jax or Selitos. Perhaps inside the box is the flute Jax used to call the moon, or the piece of stone Selitos used to put out his eye. Or it could be a key to the fabled Lackless Door.
6. What is in the thrice-locked chest Kote keeps in his room at the Waystone?
Whatever’s in it, it appears Kvothe cannot open it…which raises a lot more questions. Kvothe really went to a lot of effort creating this thing. It’s made of roah wood and is possibly connected to Cthaeh (we get a description of a citrus scent coming from Cthaeh, the thrice-locked chest, and the Lackless Box). Is Caesura in the chest? Is it his ten rings? Is it the power of his voice and his hands? Is it part of his true name?
7. Who does Kvothe kill in Imre, and is it the king referenced in the designation “Kingkiller?”
At the beginning of Name of the Wind, a drunken traveler recognizes Kote as Kvothe. And we get the following line:
“I saw the place in Imre where you killed him. By the fountain. The cobblestones are all shattered.” He frowned and concentrated on the word. “Shattered.”
Now, keep in mind that Rothfuss could be playing with our expectations here. It’s very possible that Kvothe doesn’t actually kill a king, and that he doesn’t kill someone in Imre either. We’re reminded again and again of how rumor grows and how the truth behind stories can be very different from the fables and tall tales told around campfires and at the Waystone Inn. But let’s assume both things are true: Kvothe kills a king, and kills someone in Imre by the fountain. Is this the same person?
We’re given heavy hints that Roderic Calanthis, king of Vintas, will die. Rothfuss has revealed that Kvothe will travel to the capital city of Renere in Day Three, where we know the king lives. Thus, I think it unlikely that if Kvothe kills King Roderic, he does so in Imre. Why would the king of Vintas travel to the University?
Closer to home, I think a likely suspect for a battle in Imre is Ambrose (admittedly kinda obvious) or Simmon (incredibly tragic). Kvothe does talk about Simmon with a bit of wistfulness, as if something irreparable may have happened between them. Either way, killing a noble’s son in front of the Eolian would certainly be a story that traveled far and wide.
(Also, shattered cobblestones by the fountain doesn’t necessarily sound like something the wind could achieve alone. Either Kvothe learns the name of stone or other namers are involved here somehow; perhaps Fela, who does know the name of stone.)
8. Who is the “penitent king” in the frame story?
There are various clues indicating that it’s Alveron: First of all, the money system in Newarre is the same as in Vintas, which in my mind means the Waystone Inn is in that country. Secondly, the colors of the king’s soldiers who attack Kvothe are the same as Alveron’s—sapphire and ivory. And finally, Alveron is quite high up in the peerage. But we don’t know it’s him for certain. Other folks speculate that the king is a member of the Jakis family, or perhaps even Simmon. Personally, I’m a believer in the Alveron theory, even if it seems a bit obvious at this point.
9. What is Auri’s true story?
In spite of the fact that Rothfuss has said Auri didn’t exist in early drafts, she is a character whose true identity could connect with the “Princess Ariel” mystery Kvothe mentions in the beginning of The Wise Man’s Fear. She is often described as eating daintily and acting very formal. Possibly the biggest clue is that Kvothe makes up the name Auri for her, but when he tells Elodin this, Master Namer seems somewhat impressed—perhaps because Auri and Ariel are similar enough, especially considering the audio book pronounces the latter name “Ari-elle.” But if Auri is indeed royalty, where is she from? She has no discernible accent, so perhaps she isn’t Vintish royalty; Ambrose is Vintish and is described as having an accent in the books, and everyone in Vintas has an accent in the audiobook. It’s possible that she is from Atur or one of the Small Kingdoms—we simply don’t know much about her past.
Auri is definitely very intelligent and resourceful: we know from The Slow Regard of Silent Things that Auri has studied alchemy and chemistry in her time at the University, and some even go as far as to surmise that she is a Shaper. She certainly Names places and objects in the Underthing, and she knows Elodin, so maybe they worked together as well. Auri also reveals her knowledge of the Ciridae, the highest order of the Amyr—though she doesn’t tell Kvothe how she knows about them. This “little moon fae” is definitely more than she appears.
10. Why does Bast travel with Kvothe/Kote, and how do they meet?
We know Fae shed some of their power in the mortal realm, so I think there must be a very compelling reason Bast decides to remain in Newarre with his Reshi. Does Kvothe enter Fae again at some point, and meet Bast there? Was Bast traveling in Temerant and the two crossed paths? Or had one of them been looking for the other, for some reason?
There is clearly a lot of love between these two men, though they haven’t been together too long. They care for one another, though perhaps Bast cares more for Kote’s power and not necessarily Kote’s well-being. Kote describes himself as Bast’s teacher (teaching him what???) and is also described as Bast’s master. But Bast might have other motives for trying to get Kote to remember his story, other than simply wanting his Reshi “back.”
For many fans of the Kingkiller Chronicle, myself included, this wait between books has been tough—ten years is a long time, after all. We love spending time in this world, and we all want to know what happens next. But one of the things that makes it easier is that we aren’t waiting alone: We’re sharing ideas and theories with one another, exhibiting our cosplay, making memes, creating beautiful art. We argue about the Amyr and compare our favorite seven-word sentences. It’s an incredible thing to appreciate a work of fiction so deeply, and to know so many folks around the world feel the same as we wait for The Doors of Stone to arrive.
Until that happens, thank y’all for reading. May all your stories be glad ones, and your roads be smooth and short.
Michelle RJ is the host of Entirely the Right Sort of Podcast and an active member of Kingkiller Chronicle Twitter. She is also a journalist and an avid supporter of Chelsea FC Women. RJ currently lives in the Cincinnati area with her dog, two cats, and close to a thousand unfinished projects. Occasionally, she makes balloon animals.