Time to find out what young Kvothe is up to after that action packed last chapter!
Bast and Devan are appropriately distraught over Kvothe’s story (he never asked about Kvothe’s parents before?) but Kvothe waves their sympathy away, thus allowing him to be showered with hurt/comfort fuzzies while remaning a badass.
“What, Bast? Should I weep and tear my hair? Curse Tehlu and his angels? Beat my chest? No. That is low drama.”
Because this story hasn’t had any of that until now.
“Besides, all of this happened long ago.” He made a dismissive gesture. “Time is the great healer, and so on.”
Isn’t Kvothe like 25 at the most? I’m pretty sure this would screw you up for a long time. Childhood traumas can have a huge impact on a person’s development as an adult. But I guess this is fiction-land where seeing your parents butchered in front of you just induces chronic Batman syndrome.
“I refuse to tell the rest of this story with you making blubbery coweyes at me.”
Man, adult Kvothe is an asshole. Go back to 12 year old Kvothe, he was more likable.
Kvothe leaves to do innkeeper stuff and Bast and Devan manage to smooth over their earlier attempting to kill each other problems. It’s really amazing how much more interesting the story becomes the second Kvothe leaves the room. Bast reveals that Kvothe bruised his wrist earlier when he grabbed him but covers it up quickly in a scene that reminded me uncomfortably of domestic abuse, although I’m sure that wasn’t intentional.
Outside, Kvothe gradually breaks down and begins to weep. Alright, I guess Rothfuss isn’t quite as clueless as he seems. I would still like to get rid of the stupid SUPER MANLY MAN MUST NOT SHOW EMOTIONS IN FRONT OF PEOPLE thing, but this is a step in the right direction.
PERHAPS THE GREATEST FACULTY our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain
….really? Humans are actually pretty shit at that. I would have said the greatest faculty our mind possesses is a propensity for self-delusion, but that’s just me.
There’s a weird little fantasy psychology lesson about the “four doors” that the mind travels through to escape pain- sleep, forgetting, madness and death. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and serves no purpose.
Kvothe wanders through the forest in a daze, then has a dream that I think is supposed to establish that he knows all about survival in the wilderness. Bad writers seem to do this quite often- put their character in a potentially sticky situation then provide an easy solution so we don’t have to deal with any of that pesky “drama” stuff. Before he wakes up Kvothe dreams about an arch made of waystones that’s clearly going to be significant at some point.
Kvothe wakes up and gets his survival on, and there’s a pretty cool scene where he’s about to kill a rabbit but remembers getting blood on his hands back at the camp and can’t bring himself to do it.
In chapter nineteen Kvothe has made a little camp for himself in the wilderness and survives day to day more or less without thinking about it:
Make no mistake, I was not myself. At least I was not the same person I had been a span of days before. Everything I did I attended to with my whole mind, leaving no part of me free for remembering.
The only notice I took of my surroundings was when it rained, because then I could not bring out my lute to play, and that pained me.
I don’t know how realistic this is as a depiction of grief, but it’s surprisingly effective in the story. The image of Kvothe sitting alone in the forest obsessively playing his lute is particularly chilling.
Kvothe starts inventing music on his lute to sort through his feelings about his family being murdered.
Somewhere in the third month I stopped looking outside and started looking inside for things to play.
….. wait, what?
How in the hell did he survive in the forest for longer than three months without moving from his camp? How much food could there possibly be in that one area? Did no one ever come by and notice the half-starved young boy sitting by the side of the road? Wouldn’t he have died of exposure?
Toward the end of summer, one of the strings broke, broke beyond repair. I spent the better part of the day in a mute stupor, unsure of what to do. My mind was still numb and mostly asleep.
I was just praising Kvothe’s reaction to his parent’s death, but this seems a bit excessive. I really wonder why Rothfuss felt the need to have this part of the story stretch out for so long.
After more lute strings break Kvothe finally decides to head for the nearest town. He passes some farms and small villages but decides to avoid them, which might seem counter-productive but apparently he’s planning on trying to play music for money and needs somewhere where the locals will be willing to pay him. I could also believe that a child who had gone through a traumatic experience like he had might develop a habit of avoiding human contact for a while.
Kvothe mentions his shoes at one point, which makes me wonder why his clothes haven’t disintegrated to rags by now. Again, I don’t understand why Rothfuss had him spend months and months in the wilderness.
Eventually Kvothe gets a lift into “the city” with a dude named Seth and his son Jake. Seth gives Kvothe some bread, which makes his heart grow three sizes.
This casual kindness made my chest ache. It had been half a year since I had eaten bread.
HALF A YEAR? You spent six months in the forest and we just glossed over it in like nine pages? How….. what…… why……
Okay you know what never mind, la la la la moving on
They ask if Kvothe can play his lute and when he tells them its broken they start to sing. We end the chapter with this quite nice bit:
After a second his son joined in, and their rough voices made a simple harmony that set something inside me aching as I remembered other wagons, different songs, a half-forgotten home.
It’s almost enough to make me have emotions.