Kvothe goes to somewhere called the Eolian.
THE EOLIAN IS WHERE our long-sought player is waiting in the wings.
In case you can’t remember, he’s talking about the mystery woman this is supposedly leading up to.
I have not forgotten that she is what I am moving toward. If I seem to be caught in a slow circling of the subject, it is only appropriate, as she and I have always moved toward each other in slow circles.
Authors making mistakes? Understandable.
Authors recognizing their mistakes? Laudable.
Authors recognizing their mistakes but not correcting them? Infuriating.
Authors recognizing their mistakes and not only not correcting them but actually trying to make excuses for them in the text itself? There are no words
The Eolian is somewhat unusual in that musicians actually have to pay a silver talent to play there. Once more I’m struck by how the value of money in this story fluctuates wildly. In particular a silver talent basically seems to equate to “all-purpose unit of currency” as nearly everything in the story, ranging from two month’s board and food to entry into a pub, costs a silver talent.
If someone plays well enough they’re given a silver token to indicate that everyone in the Eolian thought they were awesome, which will be recognized by other inns ad taverns in Imre and increase the likelihood of the musician getting work. Alternatively playing well might net you a wealthy patron. This is actually a pretty neat idea but I think we all know where it’s going.
“It’ll take years for it to all come back.” I shrugged and popped the last of the sweetcake into my mouth. “But it’s easy again. The music doesn’t stop in my hands any more, it just—” I struggled to explain, then shrugged. “I’m ready.”
You were ready more than ten chapters ago. Remember, the totally amazeballs performance for Denna and what’s his name at the wagon? Did no one proof read this thing?
Kvothe goes up to the roof and we’re introduced to a new character out of nowhere who Kvothe apparently met off-screen at some point:
At my best guess, Auri was only a few years older than me, certainly no more than twenty. She dressed in tattered clothes that left her arms and legs bare, was shorter than me by almost a foot. She was thin. Part of this was simply her tiny frame, but there was more to it than that. Her cheeks were hollow and her bare arms waifishly narrow. Her long hair was so fine that it trailed her, floating in the air like a cloud.
“Tiny”, “thin”, “waifish”. At least she’s not pixie-like this time.
Auri is a homeless woman who listens to Kvothe sing. They struck up a gradual friendship while we weren’t looking, I guess. With all the bullshit that this book is padded out with I wonder why this wasn’t important enough to actually include.
When I’d asked her name, she bolted back underground and didn’t return for days.
So I picked a name for her, Auri. Though in my heart I thought of her as my little moon-fey.
Also she’s like twenty and Kvothe is fifteen so that’s really condescending and gross.
I smiled. “What did you bring me?” I teased gently. She smiled and thrust her hand forward. Something gleamed in the moonlight. “A key,” she said proudly, pressing it on me.
I took it. It had a pleasing weight in my hand. “It’s very nice,” I said. “What does it unlock?”
“The moon,” she said, her expression grave.
“That should be useful,” I said, looking it over.
“That’s what I thought,” she said. “That way, if there’s a door in the moon you can open it.” She sat cross-legged on the roof and grinned up at me. “Not that I would encourage that sort of reckless behavior.”
It’s FANTASY PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS time again. Oh isn’t she just so quirky and adorable and quirky.
“What’s in the water?” she asked as she pulled out the cork and peered down into it.
“Flowers,” I said. “And the part of the moon that isn’t in the sky tonight. I put that in there too.”
What the fuck is this supposed to be? I don’t even know.
It turns out the whole point of this chapter is to discuss “the Underthing” which is where Auri lives and to tell us that she saw Elodin listening to the wind one night. Riveting.
A Place to Burn
Kvothe and friends go to the Eolian, but not before we get a page of “funny” and “witty” banter, because every conversation in this book has to have inane banter with people grinning and chuckling and making their eyes twinkle with mischief. Seriously, I’ve been skipping over upwards of four pages of this stuff in some chapters. You’re welcome.
They meet the doorman of the Eolian and BANTER BANTER BANTER they go inside.
Simmon, you are jittery as a teenage whore.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: SUPER FEMINIST
Seriously what is it with Kvothe and prostitutes? Did one of them kill his parents or oh no wait
Stanchion had a medium build and was handsomely dressed in deep green and black. He had a round, bearded face and a slight paunch that was probably only noticeable because he was sitting.
RothfussStanchion is the guy who’s going to be deciding how amazing Kvothe is at music.
Kvothe decides to do a super hard piece to earn his badge but requires a woman to sing part of it with him. I wonder if one will show up to be a love interest.
Kvothe goes back to his buddies and BANTER BANTER BANTER WINK GRIN CHORTLE Not-Malfoy shows up to spoil the party.
“I’m willing to leave him be,” I protested. “But every time he sees me he can’t help but make another jab in my direction.
“It takes two to argue,” Simmon said.
“Like hell,” I retorted. “I don’t care whose son he is. I won’t go belly-up like some timid pup. If he’s fool enough to take a poke at me, I’ll snap the finger clean off that does the poking.”
I’ve always hated this character portrayal (I believe several characters in the Harry Potter books also suffered from it). Kvothe’s attitude here is extremely immature and pig-headed yet we’re clearly supposed to be rooting for him to win out even though Not-Malfoy wasn’t really doing anything to him at first and would probably get bored and leave him alone fairly quickly if Kvothe just didn’t react to him.
I found it unnerving that he didn’t smile. He had always smiled at me before, an over-sad pantomime smile, with mockery in his eyes.
I’m having trouble imaging what that would look like.
It turns out Not-Malfoy recites poetry. More mysterious poetry hate. Kvothe is determined to music harder than anyone has ever musiced before just to show Not-Malfoy.
Several musicians come on stage to play/sing and Rothfuss gets a very small amount of points for having Kvothe be genuinely impressed with how good they are. A musician tries to earn his pipe badge thing but fails. I wonder if you can try this multiple times or if you only get one shot at it.
Next up a beautiful woman comes on stage and sings/ plays the harp and is beautiful and golden haired and all that. However she makes a few mistakes on the harp and doesn’t get a super music badge. In the middle of this Kvothe and Not-Malfoy stare at each other for minutes on end with looks that are described as “smoldering” which makes me think my shonen anime rivals joke may not have been so far wrong.
“Threpe,” Simmon whispered back at me. “Count Threpe, actually. He plays here all the time, has for years. Great patron of the arts. He stopped trying for his pipes years ago. Now he just plays. Everyone loves him.”
So apparently you can just try as many times as you want. I’m not sure why the other two before him were making such a big deal out if then.
Next up: Kvothe time.
This part is actually quite well done, as Kvothe’s nervousness comes across well. It’s almost like when things actually happen in your novel the story becomes more interesting and engaging, fancy that.
Unfortunately the effect of this is thoroughly ruined by the disastrous decision to actually write down the lyrics of Kvothe’s song.
“Still! Sit! For though you listen long
Long would you wait without the hope of song
So sweet as this. As Illien himself set down
An age ago. Master work of a master’s life
Of Savien, and Aloine the woman he would take to wife. “
I really think this needs a name. I hereby christen it Renaissance Man Syndrome and it may be defined as the belief among fantasy authors that an ability to put words on a page in an order recognizable as language also confers an ability to write songs and poetry, create languages, draw maps, make intricate magic systems and write knowledgeably about ancient military tactics. It’s rare enough to find someone who can do one of those things well; trying to do all of them at once is just stacking the deck against yourself.
As usual, blindly copying Tolkien without actually understanding why he did any of the things he did is the root of the problem. Now I’m not a fan of Tolkien in any sense, but he did undeniably know what he was doing with the whole “create a new language” thing. Many, many fantasy authors who came after him don’t seem to have taken this into account at all and seem to regard conlangs and all the rest of the world building bullshit as a necessary and ingrained component of writing a fantasy novel.
Anyway, Kvothe starts to music and in another quite nice scene a woman in the audience starts to sing along with him.
Savien sang solid, powerful lines, like branches of a rock-old oak, all the while Aloine was like a nightingale, moving in darting circles around the proud limbs of it.
WOMEN ARE DELICATE AND SMALL AND CHILD-LIKE LOLOLOLOL
But! Before the end of the song a string on Kvothe’s lute breaks. Boooo. He didn’t mess up due to a flaw of his own, it was just random chance. I swear it better not turn out that Not-Malfoy sabotaged his lute or something. Not that it matters because Kvothe just keeps playing imperfectly with six strings rather than seven. I’m going to avoid extensive but there’s a noticeable uptick in the quality of the writing during this whole segment.
I buried my face in my hands and wept.
I know this seems really shallow and lacking in empathy, but
I laughed out loud when I read that.
I’m sorry, it’s just the image of this dude tearing his way through this epic lute song and then bursting into tears on stage. There’s nothing wrong with having an emotional reaction to things- movies make me cry at the drop of a hat- but the way it’s described is just so over the top and melodramatic.
But hey, things are happening! DRAMA! I was seriously starting to get fed up with wading through endless filler and Kvothe Needs Money storylines. Hopefully something resembling a plot shows up soon.