Riding in the Wagon with Ben
Hold onto your seats people
ABENTHY WAS THE FIRST arcanist I ever met, a strange, exciting figure to a young boy. He was knowledgeable in all the sciences: botany, astronomy, psychology, anatomy, alchemy, geology, chemistry.. ..
…. What sort of time period is this set in? Because some of those fields are pretty modern inventions in the real world. Also not sure why you’d need alchemy and chemistry since the latter evolved from the former, but maybe it’s awesome Fullmetal Alchemist style alchemy.
God, I hope so.
He cursed like a drunken sailor with a broken leg, but only at his donkeys. They were called Alpha and Beta,
Previously on Let’s Read The Name of The Wind:
Maybe I’m being pedantic here but having actual Greek words as names is a bit jarring. How does this work, is there a language in Kvotheland that has the exact same vocabulary as Greek but isn’t called Greek? I know the story itself and all the dialogue is in English but in these sorts of books the implicit assumption is that they’re “really” speaking in another language (most likely some variation of “the common tongue”) that’s being translated for convenience.
Abenthy made a dismissive gesture. “No, no, boy. I’m talking about arcanists. Not some poor chill-charmer who works his way back and forth across caravan routes, trying to keep fresh meat from rotting.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked, sensing it was expected of me.
“Well,” he said. “That might take a bit of explaining. . . .”
“I’ve got nothing but time.”
Nope, still not buying that Kvothe is a young boy here.
Ben mentions something called “sympathy” which is apparently indistinguishable from magic but somehow not really magic, so I’m just going to call it magic. This feels very much like Rothfuss thought having wizards and magic in his book would be too cliched but then couldn’t actually come up with any alternative to them.
Kvothe talks to Ben some more and he explains about the Arcanum of the University (apparently there’s just the one) where wizards go to learn
sympathy magic. In Kvotheland some people also have “knacks” or in-built magical talents like always being able to win dice games or growing super awesome vegetables. I’m finding myself quite liking Ben, maybe simply because he has information and skills Kvothe doesn’t possess yet, which means Rothfuss has to tone down the Kvothewank a bit.
For about a page, anyway. Kvothe asks Ben to start teaching him the many scientific skills that he’s somehow had time to become an expert in and naturally Kvothe excels in all of them instantly, learning a suite of complex skills in only a matter of months. I really wonder what Rothfuss was expecting us to take away from this, because it just makes me hope Kvothe gets set on fire.
Within a span I could identify any chemical in his cart.
No you fucking can’t. 99.9% of commonly used chemicals look like water or white powder. Identifying them by sight is literally impossible, which is why scientists working in labs have to obsessively label everything.
Anyway Kvothe lists the many things he can now identify, distill, fix and create and we get the scene where it’s implied he’s learned how to make viagra- you know, that joke that was funny the first time Terry Practchett did it that gets increasingly less funny every time someone else uses it. It turns out a lot this was actually preparing Kvothe’s mind for the level of mental gymnastics he’ll have to go through at the University, which would be interesting if Kvothe wasn’t already a genius.
In chapter 10 Kvothe starts to learn magic, which involves believing really hard that something is going to happen.
Finally Ben was able to drop the rock and I retained my firm belief that it wouldn’t fall despite evidence to the contrary.
I am desperately trying to believe that Patrick Rothfuss is an excellent writer but alas, I lack the necessary faith.
Is this even possible? I really don’t think someone can force themselves to believe- like really, seriously believe- in something that they don’t, particularly if that belief is known to be physically impossible.
This reminds me of the stereotypical fantasy training montage where you teach someone to sword fight by beating the shit out of them with a wooden stick until they magically become competent at defending themselves, or teaching someone to survive in the wilderness by abandoning them on a remote island for a month with no supplies. Those scenes always annoy me. That would be like trying to teach six year olds maths by making them complete college-level calculus exams.
He also taught me a game called Seek the Stone. The point of the game was to have one part of your mind hide an imaginary stone in an imaginary room. Then you had another, separate part of your mind try to find it.
I remember one time I looked for the stone for almost an hour before I consented to ask the other half of me where I’d hidden it, only to find I hadn’t hidden the stone at all.
….. What? How the hell does this work? He’s not just imaging himself hiding something, he’s actually keeping information from himself. Did Ben give him a split personality or something?