Kvothe takes to wndering the road to Imre looking for Denna, to no avail. One day at the Eolian he discovers from Count Threpe that Not-Malfoy has been spreading vile slanderous rumours about Kvothe among the wealthy and high-society members of Imre, effectively locking him out of getting a patron. I guess antagonizing him really wasn’t such a good idea, huh?
Threpe and Kvothe compose a little ditty called “Jackass, Jackass” about Not-Malfoy, whose surname is apparently Jackis. Do you see. I’m just ROFLing so hard over here, let me tell you.
Later Kvothe goes to the Archives to talk to Master Lorren.
A tall, lean Cealdish man opened the door behind the entry desk. Unlike most Cealdish men he was clean-shaven and wore his hair long, pulled back into a tail. He wore well-mended hunter’s leathers, a faded traveling cloak, and high boots, all dusty from the road. As he shut the door behind him, his hand went unconsciously to the hilt of his sword to keep it from striking the wall or the desk.
“Tetalia tu Kiaure edan A’siath,” he said in Siaru
Guys I’m going to make my own conlang, check it out. This one is called Katcha:
“Gh’wka thachw E’randf yuira.”
That’s how you say “Dear God please end my torment” in Katcha. Here’s how you say the same thing in my other fictional language, Lower Eardish:
“Trinananf E’lara mert A’hara ghefe”.
This is so easy! I should write a dictionary!
Oh and here’s how you say it in Higher Eardish:
“cwjcbtbobnefocnsaqxzsm qoxwnvoenoeoicnewo j4v rfhuf 3rfkjecr frcrfcrfn fr wdl gval qw”.
Higher Eardish is pretty hard to pronounce and so is spoken only by the people of the Ashriver Plateau, who have five tongues.
Anyway the Cealdish dude- who is a member of the obligatory “white people with tans” fantasy race that always seems to pop up in books like this- recognizes that Kvothe is one of the Ruh and is all like “what’s up” but then he has to leave. Kvothe is informed that he’s a “giller” or someone who travels the world looking for books to add to the Archives’, um, archives, which sounds like a pretty awesome job to be honest. In the real world this profession would consist of sitting at a desk all day haggling on Ebay.
Kvothe goes to Lorren’s office.
Tall, clean-shaven, and wearing his dark master’s robes, he reminded me of the enigmatic Silent Doctor character present in many Modegan plays.
To give Rothfuss some credit (God knows it’s been a while) this is the sort of world-building nugget I actually like because it feels authentic and consists of a single sentence that doesn’t bog down the flow of the story at all.
Kvothe buys the book Ben gave him back from Lorren (remember, Lorren had said he’s get it when he was in Tarbean to prove that Kvothe has been taught by an Arcanist) and also pleads with him to be allowed back into the archives. An actual non-bullshit character moment where Kvothe shows real vulnerability!
“I require but one thing to rescind my ban,” Lorren said.
I fought to keep a manic grin off my face. “Anything.”
“Demonstrate the patience and prudence which you have heretofore been lacking,” Lorren said flatly, then looked down at the book that lay open on his desk. “Good morning.”
And that pretty much ruins it. Because let’s remember yet again, Kvothe’s ban from the archives has nothing to do with a lack of “patience and prudence” or any other flaw on his part. It was entirely due to being tricked by an older student.
The next day one of Jamison’s errand boys woke me out of a sound sleep in my vast bed at the Horse and Four. He informed me that I was due on the horns at a quarter hour before noon. I was being charged with Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Arcanum. Ambrose had finally caught wind of my song.
Can’t say I didn’t warn you, you stupid gobshite. Although I have to say the things that Arcanum members are and aren’t allowed to do seems to be more or less random, presumably so Kvothe can get in trouble without actually having to knowingly break the rules or screw up in any way.
Turns out the Masters don’t really have much of a problem at all and they’re pissed at Not-Malfoy for wasting their time (apart from Not-Snape of course). Kvothe just has to write a letter of apology and publish it publically. And here I thought something interesting was going to happen.
Next in the chain of arbitrary events that passes for a story in this book, the Inn Kvothe is staying at gets a new owner who kicks him out. None of the other Inns want his services either. Look’s like Not-Malfoy strikes again! How will out hero get out of this jam? Do I give a fuck?
I’m really starting to wonder if this is actually going to go somewhere or if it’s just going to be pointless faffing around with Kvothe needing money and feuding with Not-Malfoy until the end of the book. I’m closing in on the two thirds mark here, it would be nice if the actual story would get going at some point.
Luckily Kvothe finds another inn owned by a guy called Anker who isn’t afraid of Not-Malfoy.Yay.
So when I sat down to write my public letter of apology, it dripped with venomous sincerity. It was a work of art. I beat my breast with remorse. I wailed and gnashed my teeth over the fact that I had maligned a fellow student. I also included a full copy of the lyrics, along with two new verses and full musical notation. I then apologized in excruciating detail about every vulgar, petty innuendo included in the song.
They then proceed to paste the letter all over the place which I’m fairly sure could count as vandalism.
I’d say this particular piece of insolence was the main reason Ambrose eventually tried to kill me.
Kvothe studies artificing some more and worries about not having money. Again.
All of Kilvin’s students gather in the workshop to see Kilvin open a huge container with something cool in it.
“For several span we will have this in the shop,” he said simply, gesturing to the metal container that stood nearby. “Nearly ten gallons of a volatile transporting agent: Regim Ignaul Neratum.”
“He’s the only one that calls it that,” Manet said softly. “It’s bone-tar.”
He nodded. “It’s caustic. Spill it on your arm and it’ll eat through to the bone in about ten seconds.”
Writers of fiction love to talk about super-strong acids that melt flesh or eat through steel or whatever, but there are way more fun chemicals out there. Like dimethyl mercury, 0.1 ml of which is fatal if spilled onto your hand, even if you’re wearing gloves. It takes several months and by the time you realize what’s happening it’s too late to do anything about it. Isn’t science fun?
The “bone tar” has many exotic properties such as producing a heavier-than-air gas that catches fire easily and produced intense heat.
“In addition to being highly corrosive,” Kilvin said, “in its gaseous state the reagent is flammable. Once it warms sufFicienctly, it will burn on contact with air. The heat that this produces can cause a cascading exothermic reaction.”
The existence of any substance with this many dangerous properties at once seems pretty dubious to me, but maybe we’re operating on Fantast Physics here or the stuff as unicorn blood in it or something.
The point of the bone-tar is that you can make blue sympathy lamps that sell for a lot of money, although the cost of containing and working with something so absurdly dangerous would probably negate any profit you’d make.
The next day Kvothe is playing at the inn when Denna shows up to trade some more banter.
“Am I correct in understanding that you are looking for a gentleman to walk with you tonight?”
A smile curved her lips as she looked sideways at me. “Quite.”
“That is unfortunate,” I sighed. “I am no gentleman.”
Her smile grew. “I think that you are close enough.”
“I would like to be closer.”
“Then come walking with me.”
A love for the ages.
Kvothe asks what about Sovoy, who he assumes is going out with Denna.
Her mouth made a line. “He’s staked a claim on me then?”
“Well, not as such. But there are certain protocols involved. . . .”
“A gentleman’s agreement?” she asked acidicly.
“More like honor among thieves, if you will.”
She looked me in the eye. “Kvothe,” she said seriously. “Steal me.”
Is it just me or is anyone else getting the implication here that Denna doesn’t think she has much of a choice in which of the boys to have a relationship with? She clearly prefers Kvothe so why not just say “I like you more than him”?
There’s some more BANTER BANTER BANTER I HATE SAND IT GETS EVERYWHERE about roses and shit and Kvothe tries to decide what flower would suit Denna best.
“Daisy is a good one,” I bulled ahead, not letting her distract me. “Tall and slender, willing to grow by roadsides. A hearty flower, not too delicate. Daisy is self-reliant. I think it might suit you But let us continue in our list. Iris? Too gaudy. Thistle, too distant. Violet, too brief. Trillium? Hrnmm, there’s a thing. A fair flower. Doesn’t take to cultivation. The texture of the petals …” I made the boldest motion of my young life and brushed the side of her neck gently with a pair of fingers. “.. . smooth enough to match your skin, just barely. But it is too close to the ground.”
Guys Kvothe is just so bad around women because he’s only a poor naive fifteen year old boy, remember? Remember that?
H eventually picks a flower that grows in shadow since Denna has much of the shadow about her and this is so badly written, you don’t even know.
“What flower would you bring me?” I teased, thinking to catch her off guard.
“A willow blossom,” she said without a second’s hesitation.
Well we all know how Kvothe likes the willow switches, if you know what I mean.
Wait that doesn’t make any sense
“You remind me of a willow.” She said easily. “Strong, deep-rooted, and hidden. You move easily when the storm comes, but never farther than you wish.”
I lifted my hands as if fending off a blow. “Cease these sweet words,” I protested. “You seek to bend me to your will, but it will not work. Your flattery is naught to me but wind!”
This is so bad. So, so bad. How did anyone write this? How did it get published?
They get back to Denna’s inn and Kvothe considers kissing her but doesn’t because Rothfuss suddenly remembered he’s supposed to be shy around women.
Like all boys of my age, I was an idiot when it came to women.
Nope, not buying it. You don’t get to spend two pages making Denna melt with your bullshit faux-Shakespearean nonsense and then turn around and pretend you’re just such a poor naive teenager.
And here’s a thought, why isn’t any mention made of Denna being inexperienced as well? Men of a certain nature (the ones who never really stopped being teenagers) like to cast themselves- and sometimes all other men as well- as poor, confused souls struggling to understand women who are strange and inscrutable creatures wrapping men around their fingers with their sexual power. Men like this like to pretend that this attitude stems from ther days as awkward, insecure nerdy teens grovelling at the feet of the WOAH HAWT CHEERLEADERS without ever stopping to consider whether the hawt cheerleaders might have been just as awkward and insecure. Kvothe has so far been following this narrative to a T, except Rothfuss has his cake and eats it with gusto by having him transform periodically into a smooth-talking Lothario.
I had ruined everything. All the things I had said, things that seemed so clever at the time, were in fact the worst things a fool could say. Even now she was inside, breathing a sigh of relief to finally be rid of me.
Okay, look. I’m a pretty shy dude in real life, I can understand feeling self conscious about yourself like this. However a) Kvothe isn’t self conscious and b) it could not have been more obvious that Denna is into him and I just don’t believe Kvothe wouldn’t notice that. This characterization is complete and total nonsense.