Kvothe wakes up at an inn he retreated to the previous night all a-flutter over the whole almost-getting-killed thing.
I’d pushed the dresser against the room’s only door and tied the window shut with a length of rope despite the fact that it was too small for a grown man to fit through.
Seeing my precautions in the cool blue light of early morning, I was a little embarrassed.
“Embarrassed”? Nearly getting stabbed by professional hitmen is one of those situations for which there is no over-reaction. If that happened to me I’d seal myself inside a concrete bunker until the killers were dead or in jail.
A plate of eggs, a couple sausages, and some fried potatoes later, I felt I could begin to think rationally about my situation.
Isn’t it interesting how the people in Kvotheland eat the same things that Patrick Rothfuss probably eats? Take the fried potatoes. In some countries that’s a common breakfast food, but it only arrived at that status through a series of historical and cultural circumstances that likely wouldn’t be repeated in another world. It’s not like fried eggs potatoes for breakfast are a universal constant or something.
Then again if Rothfuss had tried to make up his own fantasy food we’d probably be getting long-winded exposition on where fried Ha’thayn comes from and why it’s customary to eat it with blue Amlarr or something.
Kvothe considers running but decides he can’t leave behind his studies and his only chance at earning a decent living, which is fair enough. He considers trying to confront Ambrose or find prove that he hired the assassins, then overhears something shocking.
“… all blue fire. Every one of them dead, thrown around like rag dolls and the house falling to pieces around them. I was glad to see the end of the place. I can tell you that.”
Finally. I thought Rothfuss had forgotten this story was supposed to involve the Chandrian.
Overhearing this prompts Kvothe to remember he was supposed to be at wizard school for a reason. He listens in on the conversation and learns that the target was a wedding party at a town called Trebon, which if you remember from Kvothe’s douchebaggy little intro he’s supposed to have burned down. Spoiler: he probably didn’t.
After all these years I finally had the opportunity to learn something about the Chandrian
Actually you’ve had opportunities to learn about them for ages, you just haven’t bothered.
Kvothe suddenly leaps into action making enquiries about the fastest way to Trebon and grabbing what supplies he can for the journey. It’s almost like this is happening just after his parents were killed- you know, before the book started to suck donkey balls- and the intervening 50 or so chapters were pointless bullshit. But surely that’s not the case.
However, Kvothe still needs a horse to get him to Trebon so he runs over to Devi to borrow more money. Wheeeee.
Devi tells him that word has gotten around that he “called down lightning” to fend off his attackers and Kvothe asks her to spread rumors giving his name as the one who did and that he’s mad as hell and will kill whoever else comes after him. Which totally wouldn’t work because then 10 guys would just jump him and tear his entrails out. Kvothe’s rise to the halls of legend seems to overwhelmingly rely on the world being populated by gullible, cowardly rubes.
Devi sees his cut and insists on tending to it with her womanly ministrations (is it weird that in a world academically extremely biased toward men we’ve only seen women taking care of sick and injured people?).
“… but you’re an idiot who didn’t even make sure this was cleaned properly,” she finished. “If this gets infected, it would serve you right.”
Yet somehow that wasn’t a problem when Kvothe got stabbed with a piece of glass back in Tarbean.
“I brought back your copy of Mating Habits of the Common Draccus. You were right, the engravings added a lot to it.”
There’s going to be a Draccus in Trebon isn’t there
The tall man had said, “let’s do him” but that could mean any number of things.
I don’t know whether “doing” someone has the same slang meaning in other parts of the world, but from where I’m sitting this is a somewhat unfortunate choice of words.
Kvothe bargains with Devi to try and get enough money to buy a fast horse, but she won’t loan him that much, so he offers up his possessions as collatoral, so zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
It really feels like this is Rothfuss is trying to be subversive and desconstructive here. “Look, look! Other fantasy novels never bother with where the heroes are getting money so in my book I’m going to account for every single last penny he acquires!” Except that there’s a reason most fantasy stories don’t bother telling us where the characters are getting their money from, namely that no one fucking cares.
Anyway eventually Kvothe offers to find Devi a secret access to the Archives if he can’t pay her back. She offers him 12 talents instead of 20.
I stood up and swung my travelsack over my shoulder. “I’m afraid we’re not bargaining here,” I said. “I’m just informing you as to the conditions of the loan.” I gave her an apologetic smile. “It’s twenty talents or nothing. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear from the beginning.”
Kvothe- asshole extraordinaire.
Kvothe goes to buy a horse but the horse merchant (horse-monger? equestrist?) is appalled at how quickly Kvothe is rushing through the whole deal.
“Sir, the purchase of a horse should never be so rushed. You would not pick a wife in ten minutes, and on the road, a horse is more important than a wife.”
I don’t even care any more, let’s just get this over with.
It turns out Kvothe is a super horse expert because people frequently try to sell the Ruh (that will never stop sounding stupid) bad horses.
There was a world of trouble waiting for a man who sold his neighbor some sickly hobble, but what was the harm of swindling one of the filthy, thieving Ruh?
Major bit of world-building fail here. Rothfuss is clearly trying to apply the same real-world prejudices to the Ruh (shudder) as are applied in real life to Romani and the travelling community, but we saw from Kvothe’s childhood that the R-word were significantly better educated, wealthier and enjoyed a higher standard of living than the common folk they entertained. This prejudice makes no sense. The R-words should have been stereotyped as elitist snobs (which wouldn’t have been inaccurate given what we saw of them) and not destitute itinerant thieves.
Naturally this whole exchange goes on for several pages longer than it needs to. Kvothe eventually gets the horse seller to give him a super-horse for 15 talents after threatening to, um, burn the guy’s house down and murder him if he sells Kvothe a bad horse. Which is a tad over the top even assuming that Kvothe wouldn’t actually go through with it. For some reason the horse seller finds this threat from a scrawny fifteen year old boy terrifying instead of just sucker punching Kvothe and calling the guards.
Next up there’s an absolutely god-awful scene where Kvothe gets his horse whisperer on to think of a name for his new steed, which is pitch black, rejecting relatively sensible names like Midnight or Sooty but suggesting alternatives like Twilight and Coal. Eventually he settles on- I swear I’m not making this up- “First Night”. No really, First Night. If Rothfuss wrote this scene after the age of 18 he should hang up his word processor immediately.
Actually, Kvothe gave him the name in fantasy-ish so it’s Keth-Selhan. I’m not going to keep typing that though so I’ll be referring to the horse as Linkin Park from now on.
Kvothe sets off to Trebon, ensuring not to exhaust his new ride too fast.
But to be entirely truthful, I would have ridden Linkin Park to death if it would have brought me to Trebon in a timely fashion.
Jesus. I hope there are no orphanages in his way.
Since this is Rothfuss we’re talking about Kvothe can’t just ride to Trebon- instead we need long winded descriptions of how he walked for a certain distance to warm the Linkin Park up, then increased his speed after this many miles, then brought him down to a trot to let him rest, and so on. I always complained a lot about the amount of travel scenes in the Wheel of Time books but this is even duller.
Rothfuss seems to either have experience with horses or has done some research on them and shows it by including a great many pointless details about the proper way to ride and care for a horse. I get the feeling this is his attempt to subvert the Automaton Horses trope, but like with all of the”clever” fantasy subversions in the story he creates an entire scene just to subvert the trope instead of simply working it into the story naturally. That’s not being clever or original, it’s just showing off and wasting the reader’s time.
Okay so let’s just barrel through the rest of this before I jump out a window, Kvothe meets a tinker who he keeps calling “Tinker” for some reason, the thinker offers to buy Kvothe’s horse which is a stroke of luck since they’re just outside Trebon and Kvothe couldn’t have afforded to keep him anyway, but it turns out the horse-monger dyed Linkin Park black and fleeced Kvothe. Oh and also Kvothe mis-named the horse, he actually called it “One sock” instead of First Night which I guess is supposed to be another one of those “oh ho ho do you see how clever and original I am moments” but just ends up feeling like an extremely long set-up for a bad joke.
The tinker (he’s a tinker, remember, a tinker, have you forgotten he’s a tinker, make sure not to because he’s a tinker you see) offers to trade Kvothe a “loden-stone” which from the description sounds like a lode-stone, which is a naturally magnetized mineral. Hold my hand as we trek together into the following linguistic nightmare:
I drew in an appreciative breath. “A loden-stone? I’ve never seen one of these.”
“Technically, it’s a Trebon-stone,” he said matter-of-factly. “As it’s never been near Loden
So In Kvothe’s world there are lodestones, which are the same as our lodestones, except they’re called Lodenstones, Loden being a place where they’re found that just happens to sound exactly like the real name for the same thing in our world. I…. just…. why?
I marveled. A piece of stariron in my hand.
Is “star iron” a meteorite? Because lodestones aren’t meteorites. I’m also not sure why Kvothe is treating this like some sort of magic talisman, given he lives in a University that uses fairly advanced chemical and mechanical engineering on a daily basis you’d think they’d know what magnets are.
Kvothe sells the horse but is disgruntles when the tinker (who’s a tinker) casually mentions the wedding that the Chandrian are supposed to have gatecrashed, possible indicating that nothing unusual actually happened.
I swear to God, if this was a wild goose chase I’m going to find some way to set my Epub copy of the book on fire.
After haggling for what feels like 50 pages Kvothe finally makes it to Trebon, a small backwater town where people still follow the Old Ways. I always find these sorts of setting interesting because small backwater towns where people still practice the Old Ways tend not to actually be very pleasant to live in for a lot of people because the Old Ways are actually pretty shit. No mention of that is made here of course, Kvothe just thinks it’s quaint and charming. Although given how he talks about women he’d probably fit right in.
Kvothe goes to the inn to try to pick up clues for the next part of his quest (as you d0) and discovers that
he must collect 5 Corrupted Dandelions and 10 Chandrian Spleens and bring them back to the quest-giver something tragic did actually happen at the wedding. He goes to interview the lone survivor.
It was a narrow room with a narrow bed. A woman lay on it, fully clothed, one arm wrapped in a bandage. Her head was turned toward the window, so I could only see her profile.
Still I recognized her. Denna.
Huh. Okay, I didn’t see that coming.
You have noticed that it took me significantly longer than normal to write this despite only covering two chapters. Partially this is because my exams are coming up soon (oh on a related note: probably no updates for at least a week) but also because this chapter was an absolute slog to get through. I’ve been whining and moaning this entire time that nothing was happening in the story, and then something finally does happen and the book actually gets more boring. How is that even possible?