Walking and Talking
Initially I was just going to include this because the chapter title reminded me of it and also fuck Penny Arcade, but now that I think about it the exact same complaint can be leveled against The Name of The Wind- a whole lot of talking and not much story.
I had been on the other side of the river buying a dram of quicksilver and a pouch of sea salt. The last had cost me dearly, but for once I wasn’t concerned about money. If fortune smiled on me, I would be moving up the ranks in the Fishery soon, and that meant my money troubles would soon be over.
Thank sweet merciful Christ. Maybe then the actual plot can advance? Please?
Kvothe and the bunk buddies talk for a long, long time about the six hours he spent walking around with Denna the previous night. Eventually it comes out that Kvothe has permission to start a journeyman project in artificing, specifically a sympathy lamp which is seen as the go-to project for budding young artificers.
Aaaaand that’s all that happens. Five and a half pages for something that could have been conveyed to the reader in a single sentence.
Nine in the Fire
Kvothe makes a habit of wandering around Imre hoping to meet up with Denna (as opposed to just asking if she wanted to hang out last time I guess).
The owner didn’t know the name “Denna” or “Dianne,” but a young, lovely dark-haired girl named “Dinnah” was renting a room there
These people and their fake names, I swear to God.
But then one day she dissapears without paying her bill at the inn which rather suggests that something bad has happened (yes please).
Deoch told me that it was her nature to disappear like this, and that looking for her would serve about as much purpose as calling for a cat.
I don’t know about you but my cat always comes in when I call him because he wuvs me.
As much as I would like to continue talking about kitties, let’s move on.
Kvothe presents a sympathy lantern to Kilvin for judgement. It has some unusual properties, such as essentially acting like a flash-light instead of a lantern. Kilvin for some reason has a problem with this.
“I thought sailors used them,” I said.
“Burglars use them,” Kilvin said seriously. “And spies, and other folk who do not wish to reveal their business during the dark hours of night.”
… Or, you know, people who want to see in the dark?
Kilvin allows Kvothe to pass his apprenticeship but instead of selling his lamp and passing on part of the profit to Kvothe, which is what usually happens, he insists on melting it down to stop would-be miscreants from using it for the forces of darkness. Of all the convoluted reasons for Kvothe to not have money we’ve seen so far this has to be the dumbest and most obviously contrived.
Kvothe plans on making some blue lanterns with the super-acid stuff, which is profitable but risky. He asks Manet (his teacher) if he knows any alternate ways into the Archives. Remember that particular plot road-block that’s been clogging up the plot drainpipe for something like half the book’s page count? Looks like it’s finally going to be addressed. Or not, since Manet won’t tell him what it is.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford patience. I was painfully aware of the fact that this term would be my last unless I could find a way to make a great deal of money rather quickly
Wait, what? Why? Didn’t you just say your money problems would be over once you passed your apprenticeship? You’ve go artificing and music as professions now, and if it comes down to it I’m sure one of your rich friends or your buddy Lord Threpe would bail you out. Can’t we just be done with this fucking plot-line already?
Kvothe goes back to Kilvin and asks if he can buy the sympathy lamp himself, but Kilvin gives it to him for free once he promises not to do anything unscrupulous with it.
As I left the shop I was careful to keep my expression neutral, but inside I was wearing a wide, satisfied smile. Manet had told me exactly what I needed to know. There was another way into the Archives. A hidden way. If it existed, I could find it.
And it only took you six months of in-story time and what felt like the page count of half a dozen smaller novels to come up with this idea. Congratulations.
Kilvin’s squeamishness over the lantern comes across as seriously over the top. His treating what is essentially a flashlight like it’s some sort of arcane weapon that will grant supervillain-like powers is kind of hard to take seriously.
Kvothe goes on for a while about some money-making scheme involving playing at the Eolian and getting people to buy him drinks that isn’t really important.
Suddenly! Denna walks in. But it turns out that Deoch, the doorman has something going on with her and it’s so unfair because she’s the hottest girl in
schooltown and she’s going out with that dumb jock instead of meKvothe.
Then Deoch turned and pointed. She followed his gesture, met my eyes, and lit up as she smiled at me. I returned the smile by reflex alone. My heart began to beat again. I waved her over. After a quick word to Deoch she began to make her way through the crowd toward us.
Oh, I guess not. I’m so
She lounged into a chair. “What brings such a group of handsome young men out on the town tonight?”
“We’re plotting the downfall of our enemies,” Simmon said.
“And celebrating,” I hurried to add.
Wilem raised his glass in a salute. “Confusion to the enemy.”
I haven’t been quoting most of the dialogue between Kvothe and his friends because 80% of it is just annoying jokes and time wasting, but reading this exchange and continuing on from the Penny Arcade hate from earlier I just realized what this reminds me of: webcomic dialogue.
I attempt to read a lot of webcomics looking for good ones (there are only like five in total) and the dialogue in your average nerdy gamer humour comic is just like this- recreations of oh-so-funny conversations the author had with his friends at 3 am over the D&D board but with all the Star Wars in-jokes and stegosaurus-with-pleurisy snorting laughter removed. It’s annoying and grating in an online comic about two jackasses playing video games, and it’s annoying, grating and out of place in a fantasy novel.
(Wait, do you even use a board to play D&D?)
My face grew hot and I had the sudden urge to throttle Sim. Denna laughed sweetly. “I suppose I’d better take him then.” She stood with a motion like a willow wand bending to the wind and offered me her hand.
Is Rothfuss being payed to write this by some sort of willow plantation owner or something? It seems to be the only variety of tree that exists in this world.
Denna and Kvothe head for a night time stroll, no doubt to talk about things that they couldn’t discuss on their previous night time stroll for what I’m sure are sound and valid plot reasons.
Denna removed her shoes and danced lightly through the shadows, delighting in the feel of the grass beneath her feet.
~*MANIC PIXY DREAM GIRL AHOY*~
It’s a shame, I was starting to like Denna.
We settled on a bench beneath a great spreading willow
Okay, now this is legit getting weird.
They have some more George Lucas approved flirtatious dialogue and it turns out that Denna remembers Kvothe from the first time they met, which he was worried she wouldn’t. Sure aren’t playing into common fantasy story tropes here Rothfuss, no way.
“Denna,” she said softly. “I’d almost forgotten her. She was a silly girl.”
“She was like a flower unfolding.”
Is this supposed to be insipid self-important teenager romantic bullshit, or are we meant to take it seriously? Although I don’t think even teenagers would say something this dumb with a straight face.
We talked through the long hours of night. I spoke subtle circles around the way I felt, not wanting to be overbold.
So we danced very carefully, unsure what music the other was listening to, unsure, perhaps, if the other was dancing at all.
Okay. Dude. There is no way in hell anything you just said could be interpreted as anything other than “I fancy you, let’s go for a romp behind the nearest willow tree”. I have trouble with social intricacies and even I’d get it. The same goes for Denna, with statements like “from that moment I was yours”. They’ve basically declared their love for each other a dozen times over, let’s just take that as a given and move on.
Kvothe heads back the Eolian where Deoch the Doorman gives him some patented male fantasy author romantic advice:
“You see, women are like fires, like flames. Some women are like candles, bright and friendly. Some are like single sparks, or embers, like fireflies for chasing on summer nights. Some are like campfires, all light and heat for a night and willing to be left after. Some women are like hearthfires, not much to look at but underneath they are all warm red coal that burns a long, long while.
“But Dianne . . . Dianne is like a waterfall of spark pouring off a sharp iron edge that God is holding to the grindstone. You can’t help but look, can’t help but want it. You might even put your hand to it for a second. But you can’t hold it. She’ll break your heart. . . .”
Women are mysterious and powerful and dangerous wooooOOOOooooOOOooOOOooo
How about “women are people, with emotions and stuff, and they have different ideas of what they want in a relationship so make sure you’re both on the same page or it probably won’t turn out well?” No? I guess that would make too much sense.
“Deoch, my heart is made of stronger stuff than glass. When she strikes she’ll find it strong as iron-bound brass, or gold and adamant together mixed. Don’t think I am unaware, some startled deer to stand transfixed by hunter’s horns. It’s she who should take care, for when she strikes, my heart will make a sound so beautiful and bright that it can’t help but bring her back to me in winged flight.”
I swear I laughed for about five minutes straight at this. I don’t think there’s anything I can add that’s funnier than what you just read.
Kvothe made arrangements to meet Denna the next day so I guess he can stop love-stalking her now.