Another one-page chapter this time. Kvothe looks down at the dead dragon, then the roof of the church collapses and he gets knocked unconscious.
Ash and Elm…
Kvothe wakes up at an inn, bandaged and bruised. A timid serving woman comes in and we learn that no one was killed by the dragon. Just in case you were starting to feel emotion. More worrying is the fact that Denna apparently didn’t return the previous night.
Kvothe petulantly demands that the owner of the Inn sell him some food but the guy tells him to stick around for the constable,so Kvothe once again gets his way by threatening to set someone on fire.
“Now fetch me what I asked for,” I said, looking him in the eye. “And a skin of water too. Or I will burn this place down around your ears and dance among the ashes and your charred, sticky bones.”
Kvothe arrives at the hill with the greystone arch on it only to find that Denna is gone. I don’t get why she would have run off without seeing if he had killed the dragon successfully, except to set up a situation where Kvothe has to irrationally worry that she doesn’t like him any more.
The constable and mayor arrive to question Kvothe. It quickly becomes apparent the there are a lot of wild rumours flying around about how the dragon died, most of them focusing on how much of a bad ass Kvothe is.
It occurred to me they didn’t see a penniless, ragged boy sitting across from them. They saw a mysterious battered figure who had killed a demon.
All of Kvothe’s myth-building scenes rely entirely on everyone around him being stupid or extremely gullible. They don’t think to just ask him what happened or who he is. Most of Kvothe’s big accomplishments consist of him either doing something relatively mundane (appearing to not bleed, playing a lute with only six strings) or contrived coincidences (Kvothe falling unconscious on top of the iron wheel).
The towns-people burned and buried the dragon’s body, much to Kvothe’s disappointment. How much heat do you need to melt iron? Surely the scales and the skeleton should be relatively intact?
Kvothe tells them to find someone who can give him information about the object that was uncovered on Barrow Hill shortly before the farmhouse wedding was attacked. Because just going into the house to find it isn’t an option, I assume. Kvothe has already wasted two opportunities to do so, why seize the initiative now?
The door opened a crack, then wider. A young girl of thirteen or so looked around nervously
Would a fifteen/sixteen year old really think of a thirteen year old as a “young girl”? Yet another way in which the depiction of Kvothe’s age fails completely.
But hey, we find out what the farm owner dude found:
It was a vase showing the Chandrian and their signs.
In a better novel we would have actually seen all of this, but instead we get stoned dragons and picnics.
I moved to sit next to her on the bed and put my arm around her, making comforting noises. Her sobbing slowly wound down. “Nothing is going to come and get you.”
Kvothe is a super awkward teenager guys, he totally clams up around women. No really, I swear.
The girl is terrified that demons will kill her for touching the Chandrian vase so Kvothe gives her a piece of artificing material and makes up something about it being an exotic anti-demon charm that would work perfectly if it was taking place between an adult and a child but makes no sense at all between two teenagers who are ostensibly almost the same age.
But there in that room was the first time I actually felt like any sort of hero. If you are looking for a reason for the man I would eventually become, if you are looking for a beginning, look there.
So if you remember, back in Tarbean we were told that Kvothe not doing anything to rescue a child was the Kvothe Begins moment for his dark and angsty side, and now we’re told that his comforting a
childperson who isn’t that much younger than him in a place that sounds like an anagram of Tarbean is the beginning of his more heroic side. Neither of which I’m buying because frankly I don’t see why these two events should do more to shape his personality than anything else that’s happened.
Also if you make me read through 628 tedious pages only to announce that your protagonist has just started his character development I’ve got a certain two word, seven letter phrase beginning with “f” that I’d like to yell directly into your eardrum through a megaphone the size of the moon
Kvothe returns to Imre on a boat, learning on the way that Denna passed through the area the previous night. He pays off his short term 20 talent loan to Devi with the magnet and one talent. He manages to make amends with his friends and tutors for disappearing suddenly with remarkably little fuss.
And… that’s all that happens. Astute readers will note that Kvothe still didn’t go into the farmhouse or make any attempt to find the pot, nor did the adventure in Trebon advance the Chandrian portion of the story in any way.
A Sudden Storm
Unfortunately for my sanity the book is not over yet.
Kvothe runs into Denna while about town one day. She’s with a tall strapping fellow who is handsome and rich.
Lentaren was tall and lean. Well muscled, well dressed, and well-bred. He had a jawline a mason would have been proud of
What is it with fantasy authors and people’s jawlines? Why would a mason have or favour a particular kind of jawline?
It turns out the guy isn’t Denna’s mystery patron, but instead appears to be her boyfriend, although she doesn’t explicitly say that (hint: he’s probably not).
I laid my lute case down beside the bench and absentmindedly flipped open the lid, thinking my lute might enjoy the feel of a little sun on its strings. If you aren’t a musician, I don’t expect you to understand.
‘Scuse me Patrick, I’m just going to go make sure my in-progress fantasy novel actually has a plot. If you aren’t a writer, I don’t expect you to understand.
(no, I am not actually writing a fantasy novel)
Kvothe goes to meet Wil and Sim, who have actually gotten quite a lot of page time, I just haven’t been summarizing any of their conversations because it’s all pointless banter.
“I was thinking about what you told us,” Wil said. “What your Denna said. There is a hole in her story.”
I can think of another story with a few holes in it as well.
Wil points out that Denna had come with Kvothe to supposedly look for her patron, but then said she knew he was safe. What was she really doing out in the woods with Kvothe, then?
Sim blows the lid off the incredible secret at the heart of The Name of The Wind: Denna fancies Kvothe and she was making excuses to be with him.
Yeah, no shit.
Kvothe realizes that his lute is missing and looks around for it frantically.
I turned to see what he was looking at and saw my lute case, empty. My lute was gone. I looked around wildly, ready to spring to my feet and dash off searching for it. But there was no need—a few feet away stood Ambrose and a few of his friends. He held my lute loosely in one hand.
So, quick test: read the following passage and guess the age range of the audience it was intended for:
I got to my feet, keeping my eyes on him, on my lute. I had come to think of Ambrose as taller than me, but when I stood I saw that we were eye level with each other. Ambrose seemed a bit surprised as well.
Keep this in mind. I will be mentioning it again when I present my Grand Unified Kvothe Theory on the origins of this book in the final thoughts post I’m going to do at the end of this.
Ambrose starts singing an idiotic song about how Kvothe is a smelly poo head that in a real third level institute would likely ensure his instant social pariah-hood, but because this is a book written by a man-child for man-children crowds of students gather to laugh at Kvothe.
Ambrose throws the lute to Kvothe and it breaks. I should point out that throughout this entire scene the narration has kept talking about the wind and the leaves blowing in the wind and how the leaves blowing in the wind are formed into patterns by the wind and you can see where this is going, can’t you?
I opened my mouth to howl, to cry, to curse him. But something other tore from my throat, a word I did not know and could not remember.
Yes, that’s right. The ability to call the wind- the power that the book is named after, that the story has been teasing ever since the very beginning- finally comes into Kvothe’s grasp not to fight the Chandrian or even the dragon, but to embarrass a school-yard bully ripped off of a fantasy book series for children. And Kvothe just pulls it out of his ass instead of actually doing any work.
Kvothe’s devastating magic assault blows some paper around and knocks Ambrose on his ass. Stunning.
In the aftermath Wil and Sim hustle Kvothe over to Kilvin’s office where, instead of just claiming that a random gust of wind blew through the courtyard and claiming he had nothing to do with it- remember, this is an ability that as far as anyone knows Kvothe can’t possible have learned- he decides to tell Kilvin everything.
It’s really annoying me that Kvothe mysteriously being able to do name magic is so random and out of the blue, because this is the one event so far that could have plausibly propelled him to legend-dom, at least among the students of wizard school.
There was no Kvothe, only the confusion, the anger, and the numbness wrapping them. I was like a sparrow in a storm, unable to find a safe branch to cling to. Unable to control the tumbling motion of my flight.
Because his lute broke.
The emotional climax of the book is Kvothe’s lute breaking.
Elodin marches in in the middle of all this and tells Kvothe what The Name of The Wind is.
“Aerlevsedi,” he said.
I hope you’re all in as much awe as I am.
Of course, the name of the wind is a bullshit collection of random syllables thrown together.
Elodin does…. something involving staring at Kvothe that calms him down from his cataclysmic emotional turmoil (over his broken lute) and then the chapter ends.
We’re on the very cusp of finishing this piece of garbage with only eight or so chapters to go. I’m going to attempt to tackle them all in two long posts, which take longer to write but will undoubtedly spare my mental health any further erosion.