Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 3-6

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CHAPTER THREE

Luck

Our hero is about to start another term at wizard school, which means it’s admissions time. Remember how much of the first book was taken up with Kvothe worrying about money, and telling us how little money he had, and then getting money, then spending it, then worrying about money again? I’m sure glad that cycle of time wastage is behind me now. I expect it’ll all be high adventure and Chandrian battles from here on out, no more going on and on about

Once the masters set a tuition, it couldn’t be changed. So if my tuition was set too high, I’d be barred from the University until I could pay.

[…]

I didn’t see Wilem or Simmon anywhere, so I settled into the nearest line and tried not to think of how little I had in my purse: one talent and three jots.

wow-freak-out-o

For the sake of my sanity, from this point on if there’s any more money-angst I’ll point out that it came up but won’t go into detail. If there’s a whole chapter of nothing but that I’m just going to skip it. Let me just say how amazed I am that 700+ pages was apparently not enough time for Rothfuss to resolve this plot point.

Fela was beautiful. The sort of woman you would expect to see in a painting. Not the elaborate, artificial beauty you often see among the nobility, Fela was natural and unselfconscious, with wide eyes and a full mouth that was constantly smiling.

I don’t know why, but this whole “she was *naturally* beautiful!” thing seems to come up a whole lot in fiction, as if we’re supposed to look down on women who use cosmetics or clothes to enhance their looks. Funnily enough, the same standard is rarely applied to men. I think The Hunger Games is the only example I’ve ever seen.

Well, at least she’s not small and delicate and child-like any more.

I could almost hear them wondering why one of the most lovely women in the University would give up her place in line to stand next to me.

It was a fair question. I was curious myself.

Shut the fuck up Kvothe, I swear to God.

Fela announces that Elodin is starting up a class on super-magic and wonder why he wasn’t invited to join it. She also ask about the time he supposedly threw him off the roof of the Crockery, which is odd considering no one else was around to see that. It’s like information spreads through mental osmosis in this world.

I gave an embarrassed chuckle. “That’s a complicated story,” I said, then changed the subject rather clumsily.

In the Name of The Wind Let’s Read I pointed out that Kvothe’s ascension to legend seemed to largely rely on everyone else being gullible or stupid, but we here we see that Kvothe himself is the cause of a lot of the confusion either by deliberately lying or just refusing to tell people what really happened. But there’s no reason for him to act like that except to ensure that people make up rumors about him. When characters act in ways that are only explainable by assuming that they’re deliberately trying to make the plot of the book happen you know you’re in the hands of a poor writer.

After some more talk about how wacky Elodin is Fela and Kvothe get their times for admissions, which are handed out lottery style. Fela asks if Kvothe wants to get lunch but Money Angst so he can’t. Once again he is oblivious to the fact that she wants to jump his wizard’s staff.

CHAPTER FOUR

Tar and Tin

Kvothe spends a bit of time talking about how his chosen profession is artificing, which involves farming loot from monsters traders and then using them to craft objects to sell at the auction house to other traders. How much XP points all of this gives is not elaborated on.

This raises the question of exactly why Kvothe is so poor all the time, as he gets free meals and a room at an Inn for playing music in the evenings and has a badge marking him out as an expert musician in case he wants to play in other locations, and he makes money on every doo-dad he creates that the University sells. His only real expenses should be tuition and clothes, and he kept harping on about the injustice of only having two shirts last time so we know he isn’t spending much on that.

Kvothe artifices for a while then heads up to the roof to visit Moon Fae-chan. Joy of joys.

I smiled my best smile of the day. “Hello Auri,” I said. “You smell like a pretty young girl.”

picard

“You smell good” is kind of a weird thing to say to anyone. “You smell like a child” would be creepy even if you were saying it to a literal child. Keep in mind that Auri is a mentally ill woman older than Kvothe and it just makes my flesh crawl.

She grinned. “I have an apple that thinks it is a pear,” she said, holding it up. “And a bun that thinks it is a cat. And a lettuce that thinks it is a lettuce.”

Oh my God this character

Such terrible fucking writing

Truth be told, I didn’t even know her real name. Auri was just what I had come to call her, but in my heart I thought of her as my little moon Fae.

Rothfuss, trust me, this is not a line that anyone needed to be reminded of.

The point of this chapter is just to rehash Kvothe’s secret entrance into the Archives, and bring about the downfall of human civilization.

CHAPTER FIVE

The Eolian

While in the workshop Kvothe gets a tiny drop of Fantasy Liquid on his arm, which we’re told could seep into his skin and eat the calcium from his bones. Stuff like this does actually exist, but we’re told that’s used in presumably magical alchemical designs rather than actual chemistry.

After that Kvothe Needs Money, Money Angst, so they go to the Eolian for music time.

Properly cared for, a voice does nothing but grow sweeter with age and constant use.

Do any singers in the audience want to chime in on this? It sounds kind of implausible to me.

In between explaining how the Eolian works Kvothe claims that he and Ambrose are no longer anime boyfriend-rivals, which is obviously incorrect as anime boyfriend-rivalry is eternal. When the nations of humanity have fallen there will still be spiky-haired youths gazing soulfully at each other with stoic determination among the wastelands.

Manet, an older student who came along to the Eolian, claims that the student’s tuition is only partially determined by the interview; politics and personal grudges among the faculty also go a long way. He estimates that Kvothe’s tuition could be as high as ten talents, which is a problem since he spent most of the money on a new lute and

You know what fuck this, Money Angst Kvothe Needs Money.

Kvothe goes up to play, spotting Denna on the way. She’s with a guy who has dark hair and a “strong jaw”, whatever that means, who is initially disdainful of Kvothe until he spots his talent pipes.

“I am here to win my pipes,” he said, his deep voice filled with certainty. When he spoke, women at the surrounding tables turned to look in his direction with hungry, half-lidded eyes.

157084-stock-photo-woman-old-black-eyes-style-mouth

He’s a stupid jock who’s no good for Denna, unlike sweet natured sensitive Nice Guys like Kvothe, so of course he’s rude and arrogant for no reason. Denna pretends to lose an earring to have an excuse to spend time with Kvothe, as opposed to just meeting up with him when the other guy isn’t around.

What is the deal with Denna’s arrangement here, anyway? She’s not actually in a romantic relationship with any of the men Kvothe keeps spotting her with, because of course she must remain Kvothe’s pure virginal waifu, so she just acts like there might be a possibility of that happening if they teach her to play musical instruments and give her money? Why? She can already play the lyre and sing, so why not just make an arrangement like Kvothe’s to play for money?

Oh wait that was explained in the first book, some bullshit about how she needs big strong men to protect her or else she’d have to allow herself to be raped or something. Of course the actual reason is so Kvothe can have romantic rivals to smolder at.

I stepped toward her and stood close as she handed me the earring. She smelled faintly of wildflowers. But beneath that she smelled like autumn leaves. Like the dark smell of her own hair, like road dust and the air before a summer storm.

She smelt…. like the smell of her own hair? And wildflowers and autumn leaves and lightning or whatever I don’t even know

I bet Rothfuss has one of those big Wheel of Fortune things in his house full of random words and concepts, and when he needs a metaphor he just puts on his gnome outfit and gives it a spin.

Kvothe’s pals launch into a mostly-nonsensical explanation of how patrons like to take on musicians so their taxes will be lower, during which each of them grin at least five times. I swear, what is it with all of the grinning? Any time anyone does anything in a normal social setting with no imminent threat of death, they grin.

Sim was Aturan nobility, and Wil’s family were wool merchants from Ralien. They thought being poor meant not having enough money to go drinking as often as they liked.

So ask them for some money. If they’ve got that much to spare they shouldn’t have a problem giving you some.

CHAPTER SIX

Love

end_of_evangelion_wallpaper_by_chr5d50-d37bm79

^ A photo of love happening

Kvothe gets on stage and admires his lute for a bit.

The wood was the color of dark coffee, of freshly turned earth. The curve of the bowl was perfect as a woman’s hip.

What does that even mean?

I have heard what poets write about women. They rhyme and rhapsodize and lie. I have watched sailors on the shore stare mutely at the slow-rolling swell of the sea. I have watched old soldiers with hearts like leather grow teary-eyed at their king’s colors stretched against the wind.

Listen to me: these men know nothing of love.

Oh my God shut uuuuuuuuuuuuuup

Kvothe gets on stage and totally rocks the fuck out playing a simple folk song. This impresses most of the audience but some of them start laughing at him. Next he plays a really difficult song and pretends to be bored all through it, because Kvothe is an arrogant little pissant and no one likes him. It turns out the people laughing that first time were musicians, who are super impressed with his ability to I don’t actually care.

A  conversation follows about how a noble family was recently lost at sea and Ambrose’s father has moved up to thirteenth in line for the throne, and

Wait.

cover_uk

Don’t you even dare.

I’m serious.

More money angst and banter. It turns out Kvothe has been regularly drinking water disguised as strong alcohol while everyone watches, because he’s a narcissistic jack ass.

Manet nodded. “It’s an old whore’s trick. You’re chatting them up in the taproom of the brothel, and you want to show you’re not like all the rest. You’re a man of refinement. So you offer to buy a drink”

Patrick sighed and gazed at the life-sized poster of George R.R. Martin hanging over his bed. How long he had dreamed of attaining The Master’s glory, of basking in the adoration of the same refined and intelligent readership.

He hit ctrl+F and brought up the search window on his word processor. Find: Woman. Replace: Whore.

“The power was within me all along.” he whispered into the darkness.

This is actually part of some nonsensical plan to get money, whereby Kvothe pretends to drink expensive stuff so patrons of the Eolian will buy him that same expensive stuff when they want to give him drinks to congratulate him, PROFIT, then he splits the money that is conjured by doing this with the barman.

Kvothe goes home, another pointless chapter ends.

I’ve seen people describe the first third or so of this book as essentially a continuation of The Name of The Wind, and that certainly seems to be true. It’s like absolutely nothing has changed from when Kvothe first arrived at wizard school, with the sole exception that he now has a way back into the Archives. And how’s that search for information about the Chandrian going, huh?

No? Didn’t think so.

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24 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 3-6

  1. Rumpelstiltskin

    “Kvothe’s pals launch into a mostly-nonsensical explanation of how patrons like to take on musicians so their taxes will be lower, during which each of them grin at least five times. I swear, what is it with all of the grinning? Any time anyone does anything in a normal social setting with no imminent threat of death, they grin.”

    I haven’t read Wise Man’s Fear yet (Name of the Wind was enough), but I had the same problem with John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Everybody was grinning. All the time.

    Stephen King’s comment about a novel by Murray Leinster:

    “Worst of all (or so it seemed to me at the time), Leinster had fallen in love with the word zestful.

    Characters watched the approach of ore-bearing asteroids with zestful smiles. Characters sat down to supper aboard their mining ship with zestful anticipation. Near the end of the book, the hero swept the large-breasted, blonde heroine into a zestful embrace. For me, it was the literary equivalent of a smallpox vaccination: I have never, so far as I know, used the word zestful in a novel or a story. God willing, I never will.”

    If I ever write a book myself, nobody will be grinning.

    As for the Kingkiller Chronicles, the whole hype is a mystery. If someone like Kvothe existed in real life, he certainly wouldn’t be one of my friends.

    Reply
  2. Hannah

    Having just read the first book, my guess was that not-Malfoy was going to be the king, it mentioned his position to the throne-of-wherever quite early after his introduction in TNoTW. This chapter seems to confirm my suspicion, and not-Malfoy has already moved closer to the throne. So lame. I guess is he’s going to fridge Denna and that’ll be Kvothe’s motive. I’m also wondering if not-Malfoy is going to team up with not-Voldemort at some point.

    So far this book seems to have a lot of recapping of details from the first. The writing seems a bit better to me, but the story is still spinning it’s heels. I thought this was supposed to be one story in three books? Like the Lord of the Rings. So why didn’t it similarly just have a page of recap in the forward so that it could get on with the story? It’s noticeable how Manet’s first visit to the Eolian is so that Kvothe and his friends have someone to explain to all of the details of the music scene already covered in the first book. These first chapters seem to have been written purely to be accessible to a new reader, which makes more sense in a Harry Potter book as the individual books are more self contained (and Rowling doesn’t spend a million chapters on the recap.) Who would pick up the 2nd Kingkiller as a place to start?

    Reply
  3. PaleAntiquarian

    A full thirteen months late, but I’d also like to note on the singing thing: People within their professional careers do generally become better with age unless they abuse their voice (improper technique, smoking, etc.), but once people start to get older than that, they often lose fine vocal control, and with it, singing ability. Some styles of singing support the ranges of older voices better (Willie Nelson is 81 and still going, and Christopher Lee at age ninety-freaking-two has just put out another heavy metal EP), but that depends entirely on cultural tastes, which Rothfuss appears to not be aware of.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      The versions of the books I’m using are *cough*unofficial*cough* so one of the spellings was probably a mistake. There have been a few weird typos cropping up but I usually correct them for the quotes.

      Reply
  4. zephyrean

    @Ronan, “For the sake of my sanity, from this point on if there’s any more money-angst I’ll point out that it came up but won’t go into detail. If there’s a whole chapter of nothing but that I’m just going to skip it. Let me just say how amazed I am that 700+ pages was apparently not enough time for Rothfuss to resolve this plot point.”

    (1) It won’t come up when Kvothe leaves school (spoiler alert? nah), and
    (2) the way it is eventually resolved when he returns, you are going to wish it wasn’t.

    TWMF: “The sort of woman you would expect to see in a painting. Not the elaborate, artificial beauty you often see among the nobility…”

    Holy kittens, it burns. YOU EXPECT TO SEE NOBLEWOMEN ON PAINTINGS. NOBLEWOMEN, WITH THEIR “ELABORATE, ARTIFICIAL BEAUTY”. NOT COMMONERS.

    @Ronan, “She also ask about the time he supposedly threw him off the roof of the Crockery, which is odd considering no one else was around to see that. It’s like information spreads through mental osmosis in this world.”

    Presumably, he told what happened to whomever asked when he was being patched up.

    “How much XP points all of this gives is not elaborated on.”

    From D&D 3E upwards, crafting *costs* XP, which you then have to go farm back by killing monsters. Yes, *that* is the plot of TWMF.

    Concerning Moon-chan: I see a teenager being super sekrit friends with a mentally ill woman, especially considering the state of mental healthcare in whatever the time period is. The issue here is that it’s not a teenager making a difficult decision, it’s a scene full of infantilizing shit in a book written by a garden gnome.

    “She’s not actually in a romantic relationship with any of the men Kvothe keeps spotting her with, because of course she must remain Kvothe’s pure virginal waifu…”

    I have always assumed Denna is a “hooker with a heart of gold”, and Kvothfuss just glosses over the fact.

    “What does that even mean?”

    It means Kvothfuss imagines the lute’s bowl is a woman’s ass. Excuse me while I help myself to some bleach.

    Concerning the alcohol trick: shouldn’t they be drinking fancy spirits from fancy glasses? You know, since they’re across the river from the largest concentration of glassblowing businesses in the world? Like (I think it was) in the real world, where the widespread use of glasses directly followed the start of fancy wine production?

    Reply
    1. whythebicyclists

      Concerning Denna’s profession: it’s my theory that Denna is a con-man (or should it be con-woman?)
      Most people treat her as if she’s some sort of escort, but the fact is prostitution is a trade where the parties involved know what they’re exchanging. Denna does not escort people in exchange for money, she tricks them into thinking she’s interested in a romantic relationship, and skips town when they start expecting a development in the relationship, taking with her whatever gifts they might have given her. In short, conning them.

      Reply
      1. ronanwills Post author

        Kvothe and Denna discuss this in the first book. He basically says that she’s manipulating them into giving her gifts and providing for her, but since the society they’re in is set up so heavily against women she’s not really in the wrong. Which is fair enough, but I still think the situation feels contrived.

        Reply
    2. ronanwills Post author

      “I have always assumed Denna is a “hooker with a heart of gold”, and Kvothfuss just glosses over the fact.”

      It’s implied pretty heavily- and I think they stated it outright in the first book- that she doesn’t have sex with any of them. It’s more like she uses the possibility of getting into a relationship with them as an incentive for them to provide for her. Which I still think is nonsensical and stupid, but whatever.

      Reply
      1. magpiewhotypes

        Wise Man’s Fear 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby!

        Perhaps Denna is supposed to be some sort of freelance geisha–providing entertainment and pleasant female company, without an automatic expectation of sexual favors. The only problem is that there is no such thing as a freelance geisha–they were part of an elaborate social system, and creating such a system would require worldbuilding for a character who is not Kvothe. I’m not sure whether the “lone geisha” model would work, anyway–it would be much more realistic to just make Denna a prostitute, but again, that would involve challenging audience perceptions and creating empathy for a character who is not Kvothe. So it ain’t gonna happen (unless Denna turns out to be bad, in which case OH MY GOD SHE’S REALLY A SLUT, etc.)

        Oh, and “The power was within me all along” made me laugh out loud.

        Reply
    3. braak

      “Holy kittens, it burns. YOU EXPECT TO SEE NOBLEWOMEN ON PAINTINGS. NOBLEWOMEN, WITH THEIR “ELABORATE, ARTIFICIAL BEAUTY”. NOT COMMONERS”

      I like the idea that there’s apparently an entire school of portraiture of painting women without makeup. Is there a Vermeer of Kvotheland? Are his paintings revolutionary for dwelling on middle-class life, or are they considered dull compared to the garish, baroque work of his contemporaries?

      Has Rothfuss spent even two seconds thinking about how portraiture interacts with the culture that produces it?

      Reply
  5. sonamib

    I swear, what is it with all of the grinning? Any time anyone does anything in a normal social setting with no imminent threat of death, they grin.

    “It’s so sad that Rothfuss doesn’t know how to write dialogue”, I sighed, nodding. “I bet he didn’t put much thought into it”, I added, my eyes twinkling with mischief.

    Reply
  6. Reveen

    As someone who worships at the altar of Barnum and Ponzi, that scam is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. There’s no actual incentive for the guy to actually fork over Kvothe’s share, there’s no risk that would make the bartender put any trust in Kvothe.

    He easily could have told Kvothe to fuck off when he came for his share, it’s what I would have done. Kvothe’s not going to tell anyone “I tried to set up a scam with this guy but he bailed on me, help!”.

    It’s almost like Rothfuss wanted to show Kvothe a sly scam artist, but didn’t want him to actually do anything illegal. It offends my sensibilities! And it’s pretty laughable considering that I’m pretty sure Kvothe starts killing people in this book.

    Also, “You smell like a pretty young girl.”? I think that actually might be the creepiest thing he’s said so far.

    Reply
    1. zephyrean

      As a former professional embezzler (seriously), this scheme is quite solid. It’s exactly how billions of dollars are stolen over here: place an order for something, pay an inflated price for an inferior model, get your share from the supplier. Now, Kvothe doesn’t have any reputation or administrative clout to speak of, but he does provide repeat business.

      Reply
      1. braak

        Yeah, it sounds like the most straightforward kind of grift, actually. The bartender’s incentive to participate is: “I can keep all the money from this one time, or I can keep half the money from fifty times.”

        What’s confusing about it is that, since musicians in this world basically seem to live on largesse anyway, there doesn’t seem to be much reason that folks wouldn’t just give Kvothe money instead of booze.

        Reply
  7. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, this is obviously a video game and Kvothfuss is using hacks, but there are some things hardcoded into the game, such as losing most of your equipment when you start a new level that can’t be worked around.

    “The curve of the bowl was perfect as a woman’s hip.” There are so many joke you can make with this line…

    Reply
  8. Andrea Harris

    Also wow this is a boring book. So all those articles on how you have to hood the person reading your manuscript within the first three paragraphs or they’ll reject it is a lie? It must be so.

    Reply
    1. Andrea Harris

      Argh! I meant “hook” the person reading your manuscript. By the way, I first wrote “reading” as “reason.” It’s time to stop being on the internet for a while.

      Reply
      1. ronanwills Post author

        When I read that comment I pictured the author sneaking up on their reader and whipping a black bag over their head before stuffing them in a van and driving them off to a warehouse somewhere where they’d be forced to endure endless dramatic readings of Rothfuss’ books.

        Reply
      2. Andrea Harris

        You’re right, hood does work better. Obviously my subconscious knew what to say better than I did.

        You could use “hoodwink” as well — as in Rothfuss somehow hoodwinked editors into approving the ms. for publication.

        Reply
  9. braak

    “Properly cared for, a voice does nothing but grow sweeter with age and constant use.”

    This is largely true, depending on the kind of singing you’re doing. You get better at using it with practice, obviously, and — unlike lutes — the stress that you put on your vocal cords causes them to heal, rather than just wear them out.

    So, it’s generally the case that an older singer in a particular style of music is going to have a better voice than they did when they were younger, unless they’re Courtney Love or someone.

    Reply
    1. Gav

      I’d say that’s sort of true, although boys’ choirs exist for a reason — it’s a special sound that adults don’t usually make. Also, I think most instruments get better with age, though I’ve seen so many different theories about this that I have no idea which is true.

      (I play classical guitar, and lots of guitarists would say that an instrument can take years to grow into its sound).

      Reply
      1. braak

        Yeah, that is true about instruments, especially the very well-made ones (I have also heard many different theories; the one that seems most plausible to me is the interaction between the wood and varnish, though I suppose this wouldn’t explain brass instruments — the other plausible theory is that it’s not the instrument that sounds better so much as the musician who gets accustomed to it). In any case, though, that’s more true for better instruments, I think. Junky instruments will warp and sour and wear out, but maybe that’s also true with junky voices?

        Hm. COMPARISON RETRACTED.

        Reply
    2. Andrea Harris

      A lot of singers end up with nodes on their vocal chords that have to be removed by surgery, but I believe that’s due to incorrect singing techniques (like rock singers, most of them untrained, just bellow until they grow hoarse — though this even afflicts singers with good voices, Elton John was one as I recall).

      Reply

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