I LEARNED MANY THINGS those first months in Tarbean. I learned which inns and restaurants threw away the best food, and how rotten food needed to be before it made you sick to eat it.
Learning all of this must have pushed those wicked foraging skills you used to survive for six months in the forest out of your head (I’m going to keep going on about this until Rothfuss gives me a compelling reason to stop).
I learned how to hide. I had a secret place atop an old tannery where three roofs met, making a shelter from the wind and rain. Ben’s book I secreted away under the rafters, wrapped in canvas. I handled it only rarely, like a holy relic. It was the last solid piece of my past, and I took every precaution to keep it safe.
Hey, about that.
Why not track Ben down and ask to move in with him? You know exactly where he lives. I realize it’s implied to be quite far away but you didn’t have much trouble hitching a lift on a cart last time. It’d be better than begging for food in the middle of a city.
Let’s see how Rothfuss is doing with the metaphors, shall we?
I learned that Tarbean is vast. You cannot understand if you have not seen it yourself. It is like the ocean.
I get the feeling this was written by someone who has never seen either a city or the ocean.
Part of Tarbean’s vastness is the fact that it is divided into a thousand small pieces, each with its own personality. There was Downings, Drover Court, the Wash, Middletown, Tallows, Tunning, Dockside, the Tarway, Seamling Lane. . . .
… Crampton-upon-Buttery, Pippington, Cheerio, London-ville.
You could live your whole life in Tarbean and never know all its parts.
“Parts”? Not districts or neighbourhoods or boroughs, just “parts”. Now I’m really wondering if Rothfuss has ever been in a city.
Winter gripped the city firmly and the Midwinter Pageantry was making the streets more dangerous than usual.
The occupants of Not-London are celebrating Not-Christmas, okay got it.
This was shocking to me. Every winter for the entirety of my young life our troupe had organized the Midwinter Pageantry for some town. Dressed in demon masks, we would terrorize them for the seven days of High Mourning, much to everyone’s delight.
I’m assuming Rothfuss is pulling from concepts like Krampus here.
Merry Christmas, kids!
Apparently guys in demon masks run around the city trolling everyone for seven days, which frankly sounds way more awesome than real-world Christmas.
Kvothe chooses one of the last “Days of Mourning” try thieving in an upscale part of town and we get an example of the wholesome japes that go on this time of year:
The pair of demons slipped out to follow a well-dressed young couple who were strolling idly down the street, arm in arm. The demons stalked them carefully for nearly a hundred feet, then one of them snatched the gentleman’s hat and thrust it into a nearby snowdrift. The other grabbed the woman in a rough embrace and lifted her from the ground. She shrieked while the man struggled with the demon for possession of his walking stick, obviously flummoxed by the situation.
Luckily his lady maintained her composure. “Tehus! Tehus!” she shouted.
“Tehus antausa eha!”
At the sound of Tehlu’s name the two red-masked figures cowered, then turned and ran off down the street.
… so just wondering, what were those two guys going to do if she didn’t know the right bullshit conlang? Also mentioning hats and walking sticks suddenly reminds me how little of this world has been described to us. I have no idea what people are wearing or what the buildings are made out of. We could just as easily be in the equivalent of the 13th or 18th century.
Kvothe decides to try his luck at begging and gets a silver penny, which is apparently a big deal. Between this and the fawning descriptions of how much more civilized everyone is here I’m getting uncomfortable “rich people are awesome, poor people suck” vibes.
Unfortunately just then Kvothe spots a shopkeeper asking a guard to get rid of him and has to run.
I heard his heavy boots pounding behind me as I turned into a second alley branching off from the first.
My head hit the cobblestones and the world spun dizzily as the guard lifted me off the ground, holding me by one wrist and my hair. “Clever boy, aren’t you?” he panted, his breath hot on my face. He smelled like leather and sweat. “You’re old enough, you should know not to run by now.” He shook me angrily and twisted my hair. I cried out as the alley tilted around me.
He pressed me roughly against a wall. “You should know enough not to be coming Hillside either.” He shook me. “You dumb, boy?”
I know I was just complaining about the rich people being too nice and perfect, but this feels like it’s taking things too far in the opposite direction. We’re back into cartoon bully land. Rothfuss joins the ranks of mediocre writers everywhere in being apparently unable to hit that sweet spot of making characters who act like real people.
The guard beats the crap out of Kvothe, causing him to lose the silver penny he just got in the snow. Somewhere in the distance the sound of wailing violins is heard.
Okay, all snark aside the next bit, where Kvothe scrabbles around in the mud and snow for the penny with his fingers too numb to feel anything, is genuinely well done and pretty heart breaking. If maudlin tragedy is what it takes to let Rothfuss tell a decent story I’m willing to put up with it. If Rothfuss could make me believe that this Kvothe and the smarmy git we saw in the framing story were really the same person we’d have a much better story on our hands.
Needless to say he doesn’t find it and starts to stumble back to his hiding place but collapses in the snow and is about to succumb to hypothermia when two demon-masked revellers find him and help him to his feet. They argue for a bit about whether they have time to stop and help him- apparently this Christmas pageant thing is Serious Business- and one of them hands him a silver talent (lot’s of money) and some gloves. He limps over to an inn for some food and a room.
Through the open doorway I heard the warm, bustling sounds of a busy inn: the low murmur of conversation, punctuated with laughter, the bright clink of bottle glass, and the dull thump of wooden tankards on tabletops.
And, threading gently through it all, a lute played in the background. It was faint, almost drowned by the other noise, but I heard it the same way a mother can mark her child crying from a dozen rooms away. The music was like a memory of family, of friendship and warm belonging. It made my gut twist and my teeth ache. For a moment my hands stopped aching from the cold, and instead longed for the familiar feel of music running through them.
The women at the inn give him tons of food and a blanket in exchange for the money and invite him inside, but he’s still too fearful of people to trust them.
I made it to my hidden place, where the roofs of two buildings met underneath the overhang of a third. I don’t know how I managed to climb up there.
I woke at midnight when all the bells in the city started ringing. People ran and shouted in the streets. The seven days of High Mourning were behind us. Midwinter was past. A new year had begun.
In previous posts I formulated the hypothesis of the Kvothe Effect, which states that the quality of The Name of The Wind decreases at a rate of 1 Kvothewank per sentence in direct proportion to how much the story is currently focusing on Kvothe. I must amend it now to include the Tragedy Principle, which states that the magnitude of the Kvothe Effect decreases when Kvothe is getting the shit kicked out of him.
While it’s too late for these findings to influence the development of The Wise Man’s Fear, they suggest a clear course of action for the third and final novel in the trilogy.