Let’s Read The name of the wind ch.16


So here’s a super fun-time story, I had like 500 words of this post typed out before I realized I was summarizing the second last chapter in the book. The fact that it took me that long to notice should say something about the amount of padding in the story.

After Ben’s abrupt and mostly off-screen departure in the last chapter Kvothe’s parents and the rest of the troupe do their best to keep him busy and distracted from wallowing in loneliness.

You see, in the troupe age had little to do with anything

Including alcohol consumption, apparently.

Kvothe’s father teaches him how to act while his mother teaches him how to “comport himself in polite society”, herp a derp gender roles.

“Who cares if a Modegan viscount outranks a Kallian shodican, or if a Vintish spara-thain outranks a Minish Arch-Senator?”

Experiment: two of the bullshit conlang phrases in the above sentence are real, the other two were made up on the spot by me. See if you can guess which. Answers in the comments section.

The troupe’s caravans come to a tree across the road. I sure hope this isn’t a mega tragedy ambush or anything. Kvothe’s Dad comments about how the last storm that could have knocked a tree down was sixteen days ago but fails to make the necessary mental leap to conclude that something might be up.

“I think it’s nice,” my mother said, walking around from the back of the wagon. “Gives us the chance for something hot,” she gave my father a significant look, “to eat. It gets frustrating making do with whatever you can grab at the end of the day. A body wants more.”

Fucking hell, these two are starting to remind me of Shia LaBouf’s parents from the Transfomers movies. I hope they die soon

I hope they were together, busy with loving each other, until the end came.
It is a small hope, and pointless really. They are just as dead either way.


Let us pass over the time I spent alone in the woods that evening, playing games that children invent to amuse themselves. The last carefree hours of my life. The last moments of my childhood.

Your childhood doesn’t end because something bad happened to you, you stupid tit. Tons of people spend their formative years dealing with much worse than this. I realize I’m harping on about this a lot but it shows a complete lack of thought on the part of the author, and I have a real problem with the idea that childhood = carefree time of frolicking through sunlit meadows.

I would pass over the whole of that evening, in fact. I would spare you the burden of any of it if one piece were not necessary to the story. It is vital. It is the hinge upon which the story pivots like an opening door. In some ways, this is where the story begins.

Then why- dear God why– didn’t we just start there? As I’ve pointed out previously, massive chunks of the preceding 15 chapters were either redundant or could have been shortened considerably. Apparently Rothfuss himself realized this, but for whatever reason didn’t act on it.

Kvothe returns to the camp to find everything dead and/or on fire. This might have had more impact if most of these characters were given more development than a name and a handful of vague character traits.

I stood, unable to look away from Teren, the grey shirt, the red blood, the white bone. I stared as if it were a diagram in a book I was trying to understand. My body grew numb. I felt as if I was trying to think through syrup.

It’s not described particularly eloquently but I quite like Kvothe’s reaction to all of this. He goes into complete shock and fails to process what’s happened for a long time. There’s a particularly effective scene  where he tries to push a woman’s hair out of her eyes and gets blood all over his hand, and it just doesn’t register. Kvothe wanders around in a daze until he stumbles onto a group of people sitting around his parent’s camp fire. One of them spots him and pulls a sword.

His sword was pale and elegant. When it moved, it cut the air with a brittle sound. It reminded me of the quiet that settles on the coldest days in winter when it hurts to breathe and everything is still.

What is a “brittle” sound? What reminds him of winter, the sword or the sound it makes? How does a sound remind someone of quiet? What does a brittle sound have to do with coldness?

He was a creature of winter’s pale.


This guy’s name is Cinder but Rothfuss uses winter, ice and cold related metaphor so frequently to describe him that I’m going to call him Frosty.

Frosty and the rest of the league of evil taunt Kvothe for a bit until Voldemort shows up and tells them to stop.

The voice came from a man who sat apart from the rest, wrapped in shadow at the edge of the fire. Though the sky was still bright with sunset and nothing stood between the fire and where he sat, shadow pooled around him like thick oil. The fire snapped and danced, lively and warm, tinged with blue, but no flicker of its light came close to him. The shadow gathered thicker around his head. I could catch a glimpse of a deep cowl like some priests wear, but underneath the shadows were so deep it was like looking down a well at midnight.

Apparently his name is Lord Halifax Haliax. I really didn’t expect to see a bargain-basement Dark Lord in an important literary fantasy masterpiece, much less one that reminds me so much of a villain in a children’s series:

And you seem to forget our purpose,” the dark man said, his cool voice sharpening. “Or does your purpose simply differ from my own?” The last words were spoken carefully, as if they held special significance.


You are a tool in my hand,” the shadowed man interrupted gently. “Nothing more. ” A hint of defiance touched Cinder’s expression.

(Yes, Haliax’s dialogue is all in italics).

Haliax casts the Cruciatus curse on Frosty to get him to fall into line. I always wonder how villains like these survive for more than a month without one of their lackies taking them out.

There’s a lot of coy talk of “our purpose” without mentioning what that might be. Before they remember that Kvothe is there Haliax senses that “they” are coming and gathers his followers to him. They teleport away, leaving Kvothe on his own. He eventually finds his parent’s bodies in a scene that’s not described and leaves the camp.

It was in the darkest hours of the night when I found our wagon. Our horse had dragged it nearly a hundred yards down the road before he died.

That’s a nicely creepy image.

Kvothe goes to sleep in the wagon but has to bail when the wagon is set on fire from the candles he had lit before he collapsed. He sits by the side of the road and plays his father’s lute until he fingers start to bleed.

This chapter was a major mixed bag. On one hand it’s nice that something is finally happening and I like Kvothe’s reaction to the bloodshed. It’s the first time in the story that he actually seems human instead of a collection of cliches and authorial wish fulfillment fantasies. On the other hand I was seriously let down by the Saturday morning cartoon villains. These guys better not be the Chandrian, which have been hyped up something fierce as being otherworldly and alien up to this point. I’m going to be seriously pissed if they turn out to just be cackling Death Eater knock offs.


6 thoughts on “Let’s Read The name of the wind ch.16

  1. neremworld

    You’d have to be something like DIO from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to get away with being a jerk to your minions, and he specifically wasn’t. If he believed you were loyal he was pretty generous, even if you failed in your task.

    Also the whole ‘ridiculously charismatic’ with a side of mind-control abilities and oh yeah a completely mysterious ability that made him seem absolutely invincible, to the point that Hol Horse fell in line when he decided assassinating DIO was a good idea and it catastrophically failed (and then DIO gently offered him a chance to redeem himself. He took it.)

  2. braak

    I am guessing that Modegan Viscount and Vintish spara-thain are the real ones.

    Though the idea of an “arch-senator” is kind of neat.

  3. Andrea Harris

    Re that carefree childhood thing, something just occurred to me: I’ve only ever heard men talking about childhood like that. I mean, I’m sure somewhere there are women who lament the relatively responsibility-free time before they had to worry about jobs and kids, but the whole idea of childhood being a pain-free innocent romp through dreamland seems to be to be an exclusively male one. I remember being a child, and mostly hating how I was both powerless and laden with all sorts of duties (to behave, be “ladylike,” to not get dirty, to not interrupt my elders, to do my chores, to be a Good Example to my younger sister, etc.) — and my folks were generally indulgent and relaxed when it came to raising me. But I just can’t remember any book written by a woman that ever talks about childhood being a time of “lost innocence” or anything like that. Maybe there is one, but I haven’t read it.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      That’s actually a really good point. I hadn’t ever noticed it before, but I think you’re on to something there.

      1. Andrea Harris

        Thanks! Obviously I have to do more research but I’m pretty sure this is a majority-male trope. The only female equivalent I can think of would be that thing where women are urged to think of their childhood as the time when Daddy Protected Them, but considering how that always came with the underlying threat “as long as you’re a Good Girl” — i.e., didn’t have sex with any rival males — it doesn’t sound quite the same.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s