Let’s Read The name of the wind ch. 53-54


Slow Circles

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.


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.


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.


14 thoughts on “Let’s Read The name of the wind ch. 53-54

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 17-18 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. dollsgarden

    I find it entirely infuriating how much Kvothfuss bitches about whores (pun intended). Especially since baaaaww we don’t know how damn HARD it is to be POOR and only have mismatching yarn to repair your ONLY pair of pants and shtick like POOR, POOR Kvothe who lived on the STREETS for an eternity and a half, you could expect that, while not the most honourable or desirable of all professions, Kvothe could at least be arsed to show some respect for prostitutes because women in this milieu (or from any milieu, really) rarely do this kind of work because they want to or like it, but because they have to find some kind of method for survival and this is it for them. *deep inhale* I don’t have much to say to this post that hasn’t already been said, except that sushisneeze’s comment made me nod so hard that I think my neck twisted.

  3. sushisneeze

    God, this post (and your other NOTW ones) are SUCH A BREATH OF FRESH AIR. I love the meandering stylings of both books and I even read Pat’s blog on and off, but everything about him and his army of lemming fans irritates the shit out of me. You can’t disagree with him. You can’t express the opinion that a lot of the authors he publicly supports on his blog write some of the most racist, sexist, orientalist bullshit you’ll ever read. Heaven forbid that you actually get annoyed by Kvothe’s charm/wit/brilliance/recently-acquired sex prowess/gallant gallantry. Much as I loved reading both books (the first more than the second), Kvothe feels like Pat’s fourteen-year-old wet dream of himself, carefully preserved and nourished over the years to culminate in one monster ejaculation that lasts like five thousand pages.

  4. katz

    Okay, I want to know your secret: How on earth have you avoided getting flooded with whiny Kvothe-defending trolls?

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I really have no idea 😐

      I know other bloggers who have been inundated with fanboys for doing a single post criticizing popular fantasy authors.

      This might be too simplistic an explanation but it’s been observed many times, including by me personally, that women tend to take way more flack than men for talking about this stuff so maybe that’s one reason.

    1. Andrea Harris

      I think that by the age of twelve I’d have rejected something like this hogwash, but I wasn’t the most discerning of readers. Anyway, I’m thinking that maybe Kvothe would come off as less of a self-regarding dickwad if he wasn’t a first-person narrator. I know that omniscient third-person isn’t popular these days, but I need distance between myself and main characters with really annoying personality traits.

      I can’t understand the love of adults for this book either, it sounds perfectly dreadful and I can’t see any normally mature adult having the slightest patience with Rothfuss’ Author’s Darling, never mind the long stretches of quite frankly boring, mundane stuff like the constant maundering about Kvothe’s finances. Do people actually find all this talk about “will I ever have enough talents to pay for one more semester” that thrilling?

      1. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

        Well his financial situation would be thrilling if Rothfuss did anything interesting with it but he seems to have Kvothfuss forget all about his magic when he wants to drag out the story for some reason. I think the reason Kvothfuss is an irregular magic user is because Rothfuss wants to show us that he can do more than just cast “not-magic” and wow us with his thousand and one other talents. All this boring, mudane stuff has to be in the story because Kvothfuss is, like, a real character man, he’s all fleshed out and shit. If he used magic to solve all his problems how could deconstruct everything and blow your puny little mind.

      2. Gav

        I think the third-person parts were even worse. In first-person, you get to say, “Oh, he’s just self-aggrandizing unreliable narrator, but we’re supposed to read between the lines that he’s not really so awesome.” But we have the third-person interludes to tell us that, in fact, he really is that awesome.

      3. katz

        Gav: And “unreliable narrator” is one of the most common excuses fans use to defend Kvothe. I can only assume they skimmed the interludes.

  5. Reveen

    Given the beef against poetry I’m guessing Rothfuss doesn’t much care for musical lyr-OH WAIT. Seriously, what’s going on here? How do you talk shit about an artform that uses the same basic principles as the one you’re into? That’s like paleontologists mocking archaeologists, does that happen?

    And those lyric… well, I don’t know much about this sort of thing but it sounds off. I mean, it rhyme’s and shit, but when I say it out loud it doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a super awesome musician singing about another super awesome musician.

    Oh, and another woman with a mental illness presented as a receptacle for the protag’s kindness and pity. Creepy. I hope she flips out and stabs Kvothe in the face.

    1. braak

      Well, for one thing, almost every line is a different length. Secondly, there’s no recognizable meter to it– it’s not always easy to tell with lyrics, but based on the stressed syllables, it looks like every line is also in a different time signature. Thirdly, it keeps breaking thoughts across the verse lines and putting full stops in the middle.

      Maybe Kvothfuss hates poetry because he has no idea how it’s supposed to work?

    2. ronanwills Post author

      I want to see a movie about epic paleontologist vs archaeologist gang wars, with West Side Story dance fights

  6. Andrea Harris

    That poetry thing… God, you know this book was written by an American. “Poetry is dumb and boring and for GIRLS.” Yeah.

    As regards the not-Malfoy totally-not-contrived-at-all rivalry… It makes me want to drop all my other projects and write a story about a fantasy hero who meets an unpleasant person his own age that he has to interact with for much of the story, and instead of cooking up some stupid PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE THE HERO ARE BAD type of scenario I actually have my protagonist work on getting along with this guy, and though they don’t become buddies they learn to live on the same planet. I mean in real life we don’t all come with a Villainous Rival provided for us to work off our frustrations on, people are people and we have to live with each other and kids have to learn that. (I’m pretty sure that frustration with this His Rival! trope fuels a lot of the Potter/Malfoy slash, and that the only reason there apparently isn’t any Kvothe/whatsname slash is why would anyone bother when there’s Potter/Malfoy…)


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