let’s read the name of the wind ch. 61-62


Jackass Jackass

Well now.

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.

Fuck Yes


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.


38 thoughts on “let’s read the name of the wind ch. 61-62

  1. Somhairle Kelly (@Eithin)

    Every time Kvothe-the-barman says “I was no good with women”, what he’s actually trying to say is “I wish I’d realised as a teenager that I WAS good with women”. Of course, it’s all staircase thoughts, what-I’d-have-said-if-I-was-as-cool-as-I-want-to-have-been.

  2. mythraidates

    “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.”

    At the risk of /spoilingyouforever/ there is a small scene where one of Kvothe’s friends says there’s some element in alchemy that does precisely this. Which more or less again illustrates the throwaway scenes being far more interesting.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      Rothfuss gets half a point for putting in cool science stuff, but it’s a very small half a point.

  3. RSGardner

    Strangely enough, I remember being more irritated by the Jackis/Jackass affair than by the generic fantasy language. This possible has something to do with my mental image of Rothfuss sitting at his desk and trying to think up names that Kvothe would be able to wittily mock.

      1. Andrea Harris

        Oh gosh, yes, stuff like that will throw me completely out of a fantasy where supposedly the “real” language everyone speaks is High Westron or something where plays on English words would be meaningless. (Sometimes the author tries to fix this sort of thing with a laborious series of appendices where the conlang word & pun have an equivalent English one, Just Like Tolkien did it, but there’s a reason even language nut me didn’t read the LOTR appendices until I was really bored one day.)

      2. Þorsteinn

        Exactly. I’m not a translator myself, but from what I’ve been told, getting a pun across from e.g. Icelandic to Norwegian, or from Norwegian to Danish, is no joke. And these are fairly closely related languages, with a common ancestor – while English and High Westron could just as well be as closely related as Welsh and Sumerian.

        Okay, so relatedness isn’t everything and maybe a good translator could translate from Faeroese to Vietnamese without a single footnote while still keeping the humour and wordplay and sense intact – still, if I wanted to make up excuses, I’d say that this “Jackis” fellow is actually named “Wrofthl” while that language’s term for “jackass” is “Vrufthl” (but that’s only because where I’m from, translating/adapting names isn’t that uncommon – nearly nobody talkes about “Queen Elizabeth” or “King Henry” or “Juan Carlos”, it’s all “Elísabet drottning” and “Hinrik konungur” and “Jóhann Karl”, and it’s only a little less rarely applied to European/Western non-monarchs, as long as there is an equivalent name available – so Barack Obama doesn’t get one, but Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton sometimes get called “Valdimar” and “Villi”. Out of all the remaining European monarchs, I think it’s only (former) Queen Beatrice who’s name never got translated).

        That would still be a big coincidence. This looks like a situation where a Pratchett-like footnote would come in handy, explaining that ” ‘Vrufthl’, here translated as ‘jackass’ means ‘someone who, while sober, would attempt to wax a sleeping bear’s chest’.” (Although that would also require a translation of Wrofthl of similar length but different meaning – guess I should’ve given this a bit more thought?)

        Jeez. The more I follow this “Let’s read”-thing, the more frustrating it gets. This is the first place I’ve heard about this story … and I’m assuming you’re being honest here and not fine-combing the book for the occasional horrible snippet, but all I can say is “Thanks for the warning!” (I’d like to put that in all-caps, but that might look like overreacting.)

        1. ronanwills Post author

          ” I’m assuming you’re being honest here and not fine-combing the book for the occasional horrible snippet”

          Oh no, I’m usually quoting the *best* parts of the books unless it’s specifically to criticize a really poorly written section. Most of these chapters have tons of long, rambling conversations and pointless descriptions that I’m skipping over entirely for the sake of these posts not all being 5000 words long.

      3. RSGardner

        The idea of an author having to provide appendices / footnotes / a linguistic info-dump so that the hero can make a clever joke is just so funny! The most strenuous set-up ever. Seriously, couldn’t someone just slip on a banana skin instead?

        Personally, however, it was not the issues of translation that made me dislike the pun to such an extremity. It was more the fact that it seemed so clear that Rothfuss had created a name / word in his world expressly for the purpose of a punchline. Following the logic that this “Jackis” name would have had to have an etymological root in one of his fantasy languages… it just seems to cheapen his entire world-building. (Though I’m aware this is a rather severe reaction to what was meant as a harmless joke.)

        Thorsteinn: I think the main reason the book has inspired such frustration is because it’s being pushed as some sort of new masterpiece. If it was just gathering dust in a car boot sale somewhere, then I’m sure it could be considered brilliant!!

        1. ronanwills Post author

          The “Jackass Jackass” chapter is also he first time we ever hear Ambrose’s surname so I’m fairly sure Rothfuss wrote the joke first and then just came up with something on the spot.

    1. braak

      It’s funny, too, because you notice how practically no one else in the entire book has a surname?

      I mean, sure, in Ye Olde Fantasy Times, surnames weren’t very common, and it was people like Ambrose who had them, but nobody else?

      Maybe “Threpe” is Count Threpe’s surname, I guess, if it’s not the same as his county (though that’s weird, because then he’d be the Count OF Threpe, since “Count” is very specifically a landed title), though then what’s his actual name? And how come no one uses it?

      1. Andrea Harris

        Few Americans actually understand how surnames and titles work in an aristocracy, and even fewer Americans are willing to do the research to learn, apparently. I mean, it took me three seconds to look up Lord Dunsany’s actual first name and surname (it was Edward Plunkett), but I’ll bet you 9 out of 10 of my fellow citizens thought his mama was named “Mrs. Dunsany” and called him into dinner by shouting “Lord! Lord!” out the back door.

      2. braak

        I remember being very disappointed as a child to discover that Lord Byron’s actual name was George Gordon.

      3. Andrea Harris

        English titled peoples’ real names are generally a buzzkill. The exception maybe is Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey, but he’s fictional.

    2. katz

      It more bothers me because it’s so pointless and mean-spirited. He’s not trying to accomplish anything–not even, Ender-style, trying to teach him a lesson and get him to back off–he’s just being an asshole. And we’re supposed to be going “Yeah, way to show him!”

      It’s so obviously something that Rothfuss wished he had done to someone he hated in college and is now putting in a book as a revenge fantasy.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        Yeah, that’s what gets me as well. Like I said in an earlier post, it’s not like Amrbose attacked Kvothe and he had to defend himself, nor did the conflict between them even start off with serious bullying- Kvothe just won’t let his wounded pride go.

  4. sonamib

    “cwjcbtbobnefocnsaqxzsm qoxwnvoenoeoicnewo j4v rfhuf 3rfkjecr frcrfcrfn fr wdl gval qw”.
    Your Higher Eardish is curiously lacking in apostrophes. Can it even be considered a real conlang?

  5. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    What really confuses me about the popularity of these books is that they seem to lack awesomeness, something that nerds will praise the dreck they love for incessantly. Sure Kvothfuss does awesome stuff but it seems that most of it involves music and learning and other non action stuff which is anathema to nerds.

    A while ago I was on the tvtropes fora posting on a thread where the OP was asking if they should read Jordan’s A Wheel of Time series. I said it wasn’t worth it but defenders came out of the wood works to defend it, their most common defense being the awesome fight scenes. That was all they could come up with, how cool the action was. There must be some sort of payoff in for The Name of The Wind, but doubtless it will only appeal to the sort of person who finds it appealing.

    Either that or some people really do think all the dialogue is as clever as it believes itself to be.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I get the feeling from reading reviews that people like Rothfuss’ books because the purple prose and “clever” themes about the nature of myths makes them feel like they’re reading some sort of complex literary work.

      1. magpiewhotypes

        I’ve heard the same about Wheel of Time–that it’s worthwhile reading because it draws on “Arthurian” themes and is therefore a form of high literature, whatever that is.. From what I can tell, Wheel of Time draws on Arthurian themes by copying some of the better-known characters’ names but I guess that still counts.

        1. ronanwills Post author

          That’s pretty much all it has to do with Arthuriana, unless those legends had an all-consuming bondage/ domination theme I’m unaware of

    2. braak

      I don’t know man, I feel like even the awesome stuff he does isn’t THAT awesome. It’s not like after his lute broke, he invented the pentatonic scale and fretboard tapping. (Weirdly, for a dude who wrote a book about the World’s Greatest Musician, Rothfuss seems peculiarly disinterested in actual music.)

      1. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

        What is Rothfuss interested in? While Kvothfuss is clearly a wish fulfilment character it seems like he does nothing more than try to validate the persecution complex Rothfuss had while attending college. Kvothfuss’ talent at music seems like Rothfuss trying to get that terrible self-composed fantasy music checkbox.

      2. braak

        Or else, he’s checking off the list of awesome skills that he wished he’d had in college so that he’d be better at picking up girls.

        “Science, check. Guitar in the quad, check. Drama club, check. Kung fu, check.”

    3. welltemperedwriter

      their most common defense being the awesome fight scenes

      Perhaps this explains why the final volume consists of almost nothing but.

  6. Andrea Harris

    I thought everyone over the age of three hated those “romance” scenes between Padme and Anakin but by all reports grown adults have been eating this book and its awful, amateurish “lurve” talk up so I don’t know.

    1. fnich

      I can point you to legions of people who thought the prequel romance was the epitome of Shakespearean beauty.

      It’s the same franchise that has Lando Calrissian in it, so there’s no excuse either. As for Kvothe, maybe someone should tell Denna about the mentally ill homeless woman he calls a moon fey?

      1. ronanwills Post author

        I’m still utterly baffled by that scene and have no idea why it was included.

  7. braak

    “Kvothe is informed that he’s a “giller” or someone who travels the world looking for books to add to the Archives’, um, archives”

    CHAPTER 61:
    In which Rothfuss Introduces Yet Another Character Whose Story Would Be More Interesting

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I know right? I immediately thought I’d like to know more about this guy instead of Kvothe.

      1. braak

        I remember being very excited at this part, because I thought to myself, “Oh, man, Kvothe is going to be apprenticed to THAT guy, and he’s going to go off on adventures to find rare books!”

        SPOILER: Nope.

      2. braak

        My guess is that it’s because they’re often less interested in creating good stories than they are in telling revisionist fantasy biographies where they get to have magic powers and know kung fu.

        So, it’s not that they don’t know how to create interesting main characters, it’s just that they’ve got no real reason to.

      3. Reveen

        I think it’s just the vague concept and outward personality of the characters that sound cool or interesting, something that the reader’s imagination can run with without the writer’s inability to make a non-annoying protagonist to get in the way.

        GRRM does this kind of thing hardcore, there are tons of secondary/tertiary characters I’d rather follow (Hot Pie, Thoros of Myr, the Mormont women) because I couldn’t give less of a shit about most of the actual viewpoint characters.

      4. Alvaro

        @ Adam, It’s because secondary characters are *much* easier. You don’t have to worry about things like consistency or being bearable for more than a moment. In a book as turgid as this one some of them seem particularly attractive because they do things like serve as plot devices that move the action forward, which the protagonist is dead-set against.

        I think people’s enthusiasm for some of the secondary characters and plots here is basically a weaker form of the feeling fans have for Kvothe – they are imagining a much better work is hiding just behind the eaves. I’m not sure that redeems what’s actually written – to me even people like Bast and the Chronicler are just ciphers when compared to the characterization in other works. They’re NPCs in a videogame.

        It blows my mind that this stuff is actually popular in fantasy circles. Is science fiction really as bad? Although I haven’t kept up with modern scifi, isn’t a lot of the popular writing slightly more competent?


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