Kvothe wakes up the next morning nervous about having lunch with Denna despite the fact they’ve spent a good 12 hours in total flirting with each other by this point. I’d find the whole “awkard first relationship” thing a lot more believable ad possibly even enjoyable if either of them actually acted like it.
Kvothe goes to the workshop to make some blue sympathy lanterns until it’s time to meet Denna in the Eolian. He has to use the bone tar to do this, which if you remember is super dangerous.
“Should there be this much frost?” I asked him, pointing out the tar canister. Its edges were covered in fine white tufts of frost, like tiny shrubs. The air around the metal actually shimmered with cold.
How are they keeping this thing that cold? Do they have magic freezers or something? The way he’s describing it makes it sound like it’s at least below -60 C.
Kvothe works on his lamps for two hours before something interesting finally happens!
I felt a flash of cold sweat roll over me when I saw black liquid leaking from one corner and running down the worktable’s leg to pool on the floor. The thick timber of the table’s leg was almost entirely eaten away, and I heard a light popping and crackling as the liquid pooling on the floor began to boil. All I could think of was Kilvin’s statement during the demonstration: In addition to being highly corrosive, the gas burns when it comes in contact with air….
Let me guess, Not-Malfoy sabotaged the canister or something?
The metal canister is so cold it shatters like glass when it hits the floor, which, yeah, I don’t think so.
The bone-tar goes all over the place and threatens to light one of the students on fire so Kvothe can jump to the rescue. Can you guess the gender of the student?
Trapped between these two spreading arms of dark fog was Fela, who had been working by herself at an out-of-the-way table in the corner of the shop. She stood, her mouth half open in shock. She was dressed practically for work in the shop, light trousers and a gauzy linen shirt cuffed at the elbow. Her long, dark hair was pulled back into a tail, but still hung down to nearly the small of her back. She would burn like a torch.
Yes, in a school where only 10% of the students are women one of them just happens to be the only person in major peril. I guess Kvothe rescuing a guy would have been too gay, am I rite.
Kvothe does…. something with sympathy to make one of the water pipes burst and get his cloak wet, then runs to Fela who is of course too busy shrieking and tripping over herself to do anything.
I picked her up, not in front of me, like Prince Gallant out of some storybook, but over one shoulder, the way you carry a sack of potatoes.
Guyz he didn’t pick her up like in stories, is this a deep deconstruction of fantasy tropes and cliches yet?
Kvothe runs like hell out of the lab but collapses from breathing in super-acid fog.
He wakes up in the Medica and all is well, but he missed his date with Denna. Everyone is remarkably calm about nearly getting killed in an industrial accident.
Kvothe goes to the Eolian to look for Denna but it turns out she left with someone else already. No interview about what happened, considering Kvothe was the last person to use the bone tar before the accident? No? Guess not.
Kvothe heads back the Inn he lives at and overhears everyone talking about how awesome he is.
People were already embroidering the details and confusing parts, but the heart of the story was still there. I had saved Fela, rushed into the fire and carried her to safety. Just like Prince Gallant out of some storybook.
Kvothe is great and people talk constantly about how great he is. This isn’t at all some sort of shallow wish fulfillment fantasy because uuuuuuhhhhh.
A Matter of Hands
Kvothe goes back to the mostly-still-intact workshop to finish making his sympathy lanterns. Kilvin arrives and is super blown away at how Kvothe rescued Fela by using the heat of his own blood to smash glass. Somehow.
I’m still really not sure how sympathy actually works. It’s presented as being about transferring energy from one body of matter to another, which is a neat idea, but in practice it seems to boil down to “use heat to make things happen”.
“Do you know the saying ‘Chan Vaen edan Kote’?”
I tried to puzzle it out. “Seven years … I don’t know Kote.”
” ‘Expect disaster every seven years,’ ” he said.
Remember that Kote was Kvothe’s (bad) alter ego at the Inn, which means he named himself “disaster”. I guess that’s a cool little non-obvious character insight moment, although if the next interlude chapter has the characters explaining this I’m going to hurl something large and Rothfuss shaped through a window.
We’re told that wild rumours are once more swirling about how exactly Kvothe broke the water pipe, with some people claiming he smashed it with his fists and stuff. As before, this all feels really contrived and unbelievable. The things that Kvothe has done so far aren’t so spectacular or noteworthy that supernatural explanations would be ascribed to them. The only reason for the other students to act like this is if they know Kvothe is the hero of the story and that their role is to serve as his fanbase.
In the course of all this it turns out that Elodin- the crazy name guy- knows the Name of Fire.
“The name of fire,” I said slowly. “And they could have called it and the fire would have done what they said, like Taborlin the Great?”
Kilvin nodded again.
“But those are just stories,” I protested.
He gave me an amused look. “Where do you think stories come from, E’lir Kvothe? Every tale has deep roots somewhere in the world.”
Okay, this is what I don’t get- Kvothe treats the whole name magic thing as if it’s just myth, but enough people at the University either know about it or can do it themselves that it seems like it should be common knowledge among wizardly types that it’s at least theoretically possible. I’m just not getting a clear idea of how common magic actually is in this world or how much ordinary people know about it, which is a problem when Kvothe’s quest to learn this kind of magic seems like it’s going to be a central plot point whenever the book gets around to actually having a plot.
We also discover that the canister was being kept cold with sygaldry. What’s the different between sygalrdy and sympathy again? It’s basically magic runes, but how does that work? Does a sympathy wizard still need to actively direct all the heat to wherever it is they’re diverting it to to bring the temperature down?
“You can’t be serious,” I said. “It was a furnace in here. You couldn’t have moved that many thaums of heat.
A quick Google search tells me that “thaum” is a bullshit made up fantasy term embraced by illiterate nerds who prefer pointless trivia and worldbuilding nonsense to an actual decent story (what chip on my shoulder, I don’t know what you’re talking about) so its inclusion here makes me roll my eyes hard enough to knock the planet off its axis. That and we, you know, already have units of measurement for heat.
The Ever-Changing Wind
Kvothe trudges around wizard school thinking gloomy thoughts about his lack of money and how he can’t get into the Archives- or in other words the same issues we’ve been dealing with the last, what, thirty chapters? More?
My flash burns were minor but incessantly painful. I had no money to buy painkillers or new clothes. I chewed bitter willow bark and bitter was my mood.
I’m going to start up some sot of running count for how many times willow trees, willow wood or willow derived components get mentioned in this book. I will discount this one instance because willow bark contains quinone, the stuff aspirin was derived from, so it makes sense he’d be chewing it. Taking that into account the current Willow Tally stands at 18.
How could I hope to stay in the University for the years it “would take me to become a full arcanist? How could I hope to advance in the ranks without access to the Archives?
Kvothe needs money. He’s poor. We get it. Move on with the story.
Hasn’t this already been resolved like five times? First Kvothe got a lute, then he got his badge, then he got a job at Kilvin’s workshop, then he moved up the ranks enough to make and sell his own devices. The text itself has explicetly stated “my money problems were over” at least three times, but then we’re right back to square one. I really get the feeling Rothfuss is trying to pad the story out to some arbitrary page count by just repeating the same plot points over and over again.
Kvothe goes to the Eolian to see Denna. Inside is Fela, who thanks him for rescuing her.
“Just the part where I passed out and dropped you. It was sheer stupidity. I forgot to hold my breath and sucked down some bad air. Were you hurt anywhere else?”
“Nowhere I can show you in public,” she said with a slight grimace, shifting her hips in a way I found most distracting.
I sigh heavily, remember the good times and continue on.
I was just standing there. Like one of those silly girls in those stories my mother used to read me. I always hated them. I used to ask, ‘Why doesn’t she push the witch out the window? Why doesn’t she poison the ogre’s food?’ ” Fela was looking down at her feet now, her hair falling to hide her face. Her voice grew softer and softer until it was barely louder than a sigh. ” ‘Why does she just sit there waiting to be saved? Why doesn’t she save herself?’ “
Oh for fuck’s sake.
Fela-chan starts to sob but it’s okay because her Onii-san Kvothe is there to comfort her. Kvothe who’s bad with women, remember.
I flushed with embarrassment as I realized what I’d said, but pushed ahead. “This isn’t the hand of some swooning princess who sits tatting lace and waiting for some prince to save her. This is the hand of a woman who would climb a rope of her own hair to freedom, or kill a captor ogre in his sleep.” I looked into her eyes. “And this is the hand of a woman who would have made it through the fire on her own if I hadn’t been there. Singed perhaps, but safe.”
No, actually, the narration made it pretty clear she was seconds away from burning to death and only survived because of Kvothe. What is this, Rothfuss trying to convince us his female characters aren’t all helpless damsels while still having them be helpless damsels?
Fela-chan gives Kvothe a cloak as a gift, leaning over to put it on him. Can you guess what happens next? You can, can’t you?
when she leaned to adjust the way the cloak lay across my shoulders, one of her breasts brushed my arm.
Then Kvothe trips and his face mashes into Fela-chan’s chest. She shrieks and blood squirts out of Kvothe’s nostrils, but there’s a moment before that where they both blush and it seems as if there might be something more-
Oh, no, sorry. I got confused there for a second. Where was I?
Just then Kvothe spots Denna in the doorway! It looks like she saw Fela-chan all over Kvothe! Oh noooooooooooooooooooo!
Seriously though I cannot fucking believe we’re actually going here.
Kvothe doesn’t actually go after Denna to try and explain what happened or anything- because who needs proactive characters, right?- but instead sits around chatting to Fela-chan. It turns out she works for Elodin.
He put wet clay in her shoes and made her spend the entire day walking around in them. He even … she flushed and shook her head, breaking off the story.
We better not be zeroing in on Rothfuss’ fetish of choice here. This is exactly how all the spanking bullshit in Wheel of Time started, coy little hints that only made sense once you looked back on them after reading the later books.
I really need to do a big rambly blog post about the Wheel of Time one of these days and just get it out of my system.
Kvothe goes to the roofs to finger his lute some more then suddenly remembers Auri his moon-fey, who lives underneath the University and so might have been hurt when the bone-tar went down the drains. I’d kind of assume someone would have followed up on such a dangerous substance being disposed of in such dangerous quantities. I mean it has to end up somewhere, right? Like a river or the ocean?
Kvothe grabs one of the Medica students and races off to the sewer grate that Auri uses to get in and out of the tunnels below the building. Turns out she’s fine, though.
Auri relaxed a bit and came a few steps closer to me. “I brought you a feather with the spring wind in it, but since you were late …”
Out of all the terrible things in this book, the portrayal of this character might be the worst.
Instead of a feather with bullshit in it she gives him an odd coin.
It was shaped like an Aturan penance piece, but it gleamed silver in the moonlight. I’d never seen a coin like it.
No, I’m not going to say it. That’s way too over-used.
Kvothe gives her some sea salt and explains that it contains “the dreams of fish and sailor’s songs” because she’s his little pet moon-fey and communicates only in quirk.
Since Auri is fine I guess this was totally pointless. Kvothe plays some music for Auri and Mola, the Medicia student. On the way back Mola raises the fairly reasonable point that Kvothe should really tell someone that Auri is there so they can help her. But Kvothe (who as we’ve been reminded over and over and over and over again is poor and barely able to feed himself) insists on taking care of her, objecting that she’d be sent to the Crockery if anyone found out about her. Why that would be a bad thing is beyond me, she clearly needs help and they seem able to treat students with these sorts of conditions at least enough to get them functioning independently.
So I’m now on page 1021 of 1452 according to the Epub copy I’m using, which means I’m just over two thirds of the way through this thing. I’ve said it before, but I’m really starting to wonder if this story is going to come to some sort of resolution or climax at all. You could argue that it doesn’t need to as the entire trilogy is basically one really long novel chopped into three parts, and I’d counter by saying that that’s a fucking stupid way to write a novel. Even if they’re part of a greater whole each book needs to stand alone to some degree and deliver a satisfying story. I really doubt The Name of The Wind is going to be able to deliver on that in the time we’e got left with it.