let’s read the name of the wind ch. 55-56


Flame and Thunder

Kvothe gets over his emotional outburst after playing his song of woe for the Eolian audience.

Even as I sat, the ending I had improvised was fading from my memory. Then came doubt. What if it hadn’t been as whole as it had seemed? What if my ending hadn’t carried the terrible tragedy of the song to anyone but myself? What if my tears seemed to be nothing more than a child’s embarrassing reaction to his own failure?

As someone who produces art and puts stuff out online for people to read, this comes across as quite well observed.

Then there was a murmur of sobs released and sobs escaping. A sigh of tears. A whisper of bodies slowly becoming no longer still.
Then the applause. A roar like leaping flame, like thunder after lightning.

Again, this would be a lot more believable if the actual lyrics to the song weren’t so goofy.

Patrons, Maids and Metheglin

……um. Okay. Apparently that chapter was only a page long.

Kvothe re-strings his lute while Stanchion collects opinions from the crowd.

For a while I simply stared at it dumbly. My lute had been tampered with?

Son of a gun, who ever could be behind this???? The lute has apparently never been out of Kvothe’s sight all day so he’s mystified about how it could have been tampered with. I mean it’s not like you live in a school dedicated to teaching ways of manipulating the world around you without touching it or anything.

Stanchion walks up to Kvothe and pretends to shake his hand (indicating that he’s not getting his musician badge) but of course it’s concealed in his hand and the crowd applauds as Kvothe is formally inducted into the ranks of super cool music people (super cool music people would be a great name for an indie band).

This entire sequence really would have been a great character moment in any other book, but I’ve been so thoroughly soured on Kvothe as a protagonist that it made no real impression on me. I’d also like to remind you- because the book seems to have forgotten- that kvothe is only fifteen here. There’s no mention of being intimidated by the idea of being judged by adults or competing with them, no pride at being able to play so well at such a young age. When I was fifteen I still thought of myself as essentially a child, which I’d wager is true for a lot of people, but there’s not a hint of that in Kvothe’s actions or narration. He might as well be twenty five.

“You’ll have to promise me,” a red-eyed Simmon said seriously, “That you will never play that song again without warning me first. Ever.”
“Was it that bad?” I smiled giddily at him.
“No!” Simmon almost cried out. “It’s . . . I’ve never—” He struggled, wordless for a moment, then bowed his head and began to cry hopelessly into his hands.

Really, really shouldn’t have shown us the song lyrics, Rothfuss.

If you haven’t tried it, then I am sorry I cannot describe it properly.

Oh, you can’t describe it? Maybe you shouldn’t try writing a fucking story then

Okay, deep breaths. Keep in mind the Death of the author. Literally. Preferably with explosions and napalm.

Count Threpe was one of the first to come to me. He looked shorter up close, and older. But he was bright-eyed and laughing as he talked about my song.

Count Threpe goes on for a while about how amazing Kvothe was before handing him seven talents- more money than he’s ever had before- as a way to encourage him to keep playing. I’ve complained repeatedly about how Kvothe trying to get money has been over-emphasized way too much in the story, and I think it would be a lot more tolerable if talents didn’t just keep falling randomly into his lap. This goes all the way back to Tarbean, which followed the same “Kvothe needs money real bad! Hooray Kvothe got money! Kvothe needs money real bad!” pattern. I’ve got quite a chunk of book left to go and I’m really wondering how many times this is going to be repeated.

Threpe does imply that the song Kvothe just played had something to do with the Amyr (the anti-Haliax brigade Kvothe is supposedly looking for) so maybe the Chandrian will catch wind of this and remember that they left Kvothe alive all those years ago? Maybe? Please?

Members of the audience come to congratulate Kvothe and he tries to work out who the woman who sang with him is. It turns out Not-Malfoy ran off looking pale and shaking as soon as Kvothe got his talent pipes. Something interesting is happening with Not-Malfoy! Quickly, narrative, let’s go see what it is!

The symptoms sounded familiar, like binder’s chills. A suspicion began to form. I pictured Ambrose, listening to me glide through the most beautiful song he’d ever heard, and realizing I’m about to win my pipes.

No, narrative! This is boring! Go the other way you stupid tit!

Kvothe figures Not-Malfoy was drawing on his body heat to to work sympathy and finally puts two and two together.

A woman comes to pay her respects to Kvothe.

She was the lovely, golden-haired harper who had tried for her talent and failed. I thought for a moment that she might be the voice of my Aloine, but after a moment’s listening to her, I realized it couldn’t be.

What’s-her-face (we don’t learn her name) is obviously hitting on Kvothe but he doesn’t realize because he’s oh so ignorant about women and nope, not buying it. Kvothe has repeatedly proven to be uncannily good at reading people and finding ways to manipulate them. There’s no reason for him to have this huge blind spot other than to force something resembling a character flaw onto him.

I knew I was woefully inexperienced with women, but I didn’t have to admit to it.

You’re fifteen Kvothe, how much experience could you even have had by this point?

Kvothe goes looking for the woman who sang alongside him and we get a very telling bit of narration:

Do not hope, it said. Do not dare hold hope that any woman could burn as brightly as the voice that sang the part of Aloine.


She will not be as beautiful as you imagine, and then you will despair.

Who cares about her singing ability or, you know, her personality, right?

Coming round the corner of the table I saw her face. Or rather, his face. They were both men.


They looked up, and the fair-haired one smiled at me. “Look Thria, young six-string has come to offer us his respects.” He eyed me up and down. “You’re a fair one. Would you like to join us for a drink?”
“No,” I murmured, embarrassed. “I was just looking for someone.”
“Well you found someone,” he said easily, touching my arm. “My name is Fallon and this is Thria. Come and have a drink. I promise to keep Thria here from trying to take you home. He has a terrible weakness for musicians.” He smiled charmingly at me.

Oh look gay people! Of course they’re just here to confound our young hero on his quest to locate a vaginawoman (also “he smiled charmingly at me”?)

Then I heard a voice, a voice like burning silver, like a kiss against my ears. Looking up, my heart lifted and I knew it was my Aloine. Looking up, I saw her and all I could think was, beautiful.

Remember how this is totes realistic and not just some silly wish fulfillment story? Remember? Remember that?

The next chapter is an interlude. I would like to remind everyone that we began the current story arc, which was supposedly about finding The Woman, with another interlude in chapter forty-six. It took this long to actually get there.

This book is going to be the death of me.


19 thoughts on “let’s read the name of the wind ch. 55-56

  1. dollsgarden

    Ye gawds.
    The “Woe is me, someone tampered with my lute!” thing really, really got on my nerves. Surprise, Mr Master Musician – strings snap. They just randomly do it. I have watched my brother, who is an avid guitar player, several times playing while his strings decided to break and whip his hand. And we are talking about modern steel strings here, not the irregular, hard to maintain ones made of animal guts like Kvothe’s lute presumably has (Modern lutes are eqipped with nylon strings).
    By the way, I forgot to mention it in my last comment, but a lute has at least 15 and up to 24 strings, which are arranged in pairs that are called courses. This is something a five-minute research on Wikipedia would have shown. But why bother to properly edit the Harry Potter/Wheel of Time crossover fanfic you wrote back in high school?
    Also, I guess “Three-and-twenty’String” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  2. Pingback: Doing In The Wizard

  3. braak

    Incidentally, as improbable as it may seem, the Adem use the same word for “Flame” and “Thunder,” and whatever that word was, it’s one of Kvothe’s eighteen nicknames — and since this is presumably where “Six’String” comes from, this chapter features TWO of those names.

    (“Flame” because of his red hair. “Thunder” because he is a skinny little white kid — I assume this is the sort of joke like naming a really big guy “Tiny.”)

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I didn’t actually cop the Six String thing until after I had written this post.

      If this is the “exploration of the intersection of myth and reality” everyone keeps crowing on about I’m pretty let down. This isn’t how fame works- every last insignificant detail of a person’s life isn’t put on a pedestal and worshiped, particularly in a pre-computer age when accurately recording information is going to be difficult. The only kinds of people who receive that level of obsessive deification are actual religious figures and their back-stories tend to be highly embellished or entirely fabricated decades or centuries after their deaths. It’s only been ten years since the stuff we’ve seen so far, even less for the really impressive things he apparently does later.

      I just don’t think an incident as small as Kvothe managing to play a difficult song with six strings would be remembered, particularly when the guy has more miraculous events attributed to him than Jesus and Mohammed combined.

      …. Actually that gives me an idea, you know what would have been really interesting? If instead of cutting back and forth between the back-story and a decade into the future we cut back and forth between Kvothe and hundreds of years in the future when he was literally a religious figure. Let’s say he saved the world from the Chandrian and a new religious order grew up around him that sought out stories from his past to prove he was chosen by Tehlu or something, and over time his true history fades into a series of overblown legends. You know, the way actual myths develop rather than just a bunch of people seeing something in a bar one time.

      1. braak

        I think also importantly, the way that myths develop in an oral tradition isn’t just that they aren’t individual details blown up to mythic proportions (I remember a bit in the framing narrative about Kvothe’s rings, that I don’t know if you’ve gotten to, or if it’s even in this book, since they aren’t really separate “books” so much as individual volumes of one gigantically long book); it’s actually that a particularly popular story will tend to roll up the details of OTHER stories that are largely unrelated to it.

        So, rather than everything that Kvothe did at school becoming a famous part of his story, really what is more likely to have happened is that Kvothe became famous, and then everything that happened at his school — whether he did it or not — is retroactively attributed to him.

        I actually think that would have been a lot more interesting than what we got, and the fact that Rothfuss wrote it this way, it seems to me, betrays a complete ignorance of the basic mechanics of storytelling as a medium of cultural transmission.

      2. Gav

        Jane Yolen did something like this in “Sister Light, Sister Dark,” complete with archeologists who doubt any of it ever happened. Very good book.

      3. katz

        Indeed, all the sources of his nicknames are so inconsequential that I didn’t notice any of them when I was reading it. I just kept expecting that he’d do something legitimately impressive later on to earn the nicknames. He takes a readily available medicine and it affects him normally so they call him “Kvothe the Bloodless.” Later, I assume, he takes an Aspirin and becomes known as “Kvothe the Headacheless.”

      4. Reveen

        If Rothfuss were clever and willing to follow through wholesale with his premise Dulator would translate to “hideous ape” and shadicar would mean he cheats at cards or something, and he just goes around telling people he’s called that to impress them. Lightfinger means, well, I’ll leave that up to your imagination. Let’s just say that in a non-hack version of the story the Felurian would have let Kvothe live because she felt sorry for him.

        I guess Rothfuss wanted to do his groundbreaking premise, but he also wanted to indulge in some wish-fulfillment swashbuckling too. So he chose a middle ground and we ended up with a watered down, wishy-washy story that runs on a creative deficit.

        Story of the genre’s life, huh?

      5. braak

        I’m not even sure why they call him Six’String, since after this he presumably just gets a new lute string.

        I definitely don’t remember him continuing to play on a six stringed lute. Also do not remember him inventing epic shredding as a result.

  4. shardbaenre

    Those lyrics were terrible. So, every time Rothfuss decides to include lyrics about an epic/romantic/tragic/heroic/etc tale, I will hear this:

    Is that or is that not an epic tale about one man’s journey from being poor to being well-off? And it includes some awesome banjo playing, yes, equal to Kvothe’s skill…clearly.

  5. Andrea Harris

    I hate romance in fantasy written by male authors. It’s almost invariably wish-fulfillment, with the female love interest representing the author’s Ideal Woman in some way or another, not being a character in her own right. And oh, the “look, I include a Gay Couple™!” passage is just embarrassing, it reeks of American cismale discomfort with all things non-hetero. As for the writing, some of those passages should have been submitted to that Edward Bulwer-Lytton contest, they would have won hands down.

    1. fnich

      I wish Midnighter would come in and kick Kvothe in the face. Seriously, this was published in 2007, wasn’t the time when random irrelevant gay guys counted as progressive long past at that point? Are we sure this book didn’t come out of a time warp from 1999?

      Oh, and the music scene in Kvotheland must be dead in the water if some guy giving you money out of his pocket counts as patronage. Ed Mirvish he is not.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      Clearly you lack the LITERARY SOPHISTICATION to appreciate this writing.

      Yeah, Rothfuss seems to be firmly entrenched in the “random flowery bullshit” school of writing which I normally associate with total amateurs.


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