let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 22-25

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Kvothe learns wizard-maths from Elxa Dal so he can use magic more effectively.

In terms of energy, there isn’t much difference between lighting a candle and melting it into a puddle of tallow

That doesn’t sound quite right to me.

If wizards aren’t careful using sympathy they can end up channeling excess energy into their own body, raising their temperature to dangerously high levels. I’m just going to accept this on face value even though, like most of the exposition related to sympathy, it sounds completely counter-intuitive.

Calculations for enthaupy

For those of you who don’t get this: enthalpy is an important concept in heat transfer, except they’re wizards so they use thaumaturgic science or whatever, so instead it’s, yeah, do you see.

Elxa Dal arranges competitions between the wizards to improve precision and control that sound an awful lot like the contest to improve precision and control in the first book.

After two span, I was the highest ranked student in our class of twenty-three Re’lar

Of course.

The students also compete in duels. Just like the duels from the first book! How about that. Kvothe’s unparalleled awesomeness in these contests eventually leads to him acquiring the name Kvothe The Arcane. Remember how all of his other names were acquired through trickery or people exaggerating more mundane achievements? I guess he really is just awesome at magic.

(You could argue Kvothe Six-String could also count, but that was for a once-off occurrence that was implied to be exceptional even for him rather than Kvothe just being incredibly badass at shredding on a lute)

You’ve been looking a little ragged lately. Ragged isn’t the right word, really.”

“Weary?” I guessed.

“Yes. Weary.” He eyed me speculatively, smoothing his beard with a hand. “You have a gift for words.

He knows that weary is a synonym for ragged? Dude’s a walking thesaurus.

The Masters have been so eager to praise Kvothe for the slightest achievement, if he fell off a stool onto his ass they’d probably hail him as a gifted gymnast.

Elxa Dal knows the name of fire and does some fire magic to show Kvothe, but Kvothe can’t hear what the name is because his Sleeping Mind blocks it out. I guess that’s a convenient way of explaining why wizards can’t just share names and make everyone all-powerful. Apparently you can do some pretty cool things with them, like pushing your hand into a lit brazier.

Names reflect true understanding of a thing, and when you truly understand a thing you have power over it

How far does this go, I wonder? If you knew the name of Air could you create localized vacuums?  Is there a name for the Moon that would let you alter its orbit if you wanted? Is there a name for the entire planet (whatever the planet they’re on is called, no one has said yet)? What about space? What about the Universe?

But fire isn’t a thing unto itself,” I protested. “It’s merely an exothermal chemical reaction

Well actually *puts on lab coat* the visible flame is a form of plasma produced by the exothermic (not exothermal) reaction *takes off lab coat and drives away on a dirt bike, popping wheelies and tossing vials of acid at stop signs*

 I made my way over the river to Imre. I didn’t find Denna at the inn where she was staying, so I headed to the Eolian

Fucking hell, how many times is Kvothe going to wander around looking for Denna and/or meander over to the Eolian? It’s like Rothfuss really wanted to do a fantasy spin on the college experience, except he forget to embellish it at all so we just end up watching bored students listlessly meander around town getting drunk. The ordinary day to day monotony of school life is not that engaging, which is why the Harry Potter books involve in inordinate amount of the characters getting up to wacky hijinks and almost being murdered.

Count Threpe is there and invites Kvothe over to his place for dinner. Kvothe agrees but worries that he can’t afford any nice clothes for the occasion, the poor dear.

Kvothe asks him about Denna’s mystery patron.

Either this fellow is having a bit of fun pretending to be an outlaw, or he’s genuinely dodgy.


Kvothe, narrative pinball that he is, is making his way back to wizard school (after buying some milk and renewing his TV license) before careening randomly into the next plot event, namely he starts to feel a mysterious heat spread through his body. He jumps into a nearby river which may or may not help, but the heat continues anyway.

Kvothe,  buddy. I think someone is trying to magic you to death. I’m really hoping they’re successful, and also that it’s the Chandrian and not just Ambrose again.



Kvothe goes to Mola but she’s not very sympathetic.

“She said it was all in my head and pushed me out the door.”

Wasn’t he just talking about a potentially-deadly wizard affliction matching those symptoms?

Kvothe and his buddies sit around in Anker’s tavern and worry about what the symptoms could mean- allergy, exposure to dangerous stuff in the workshop- in a low-key, not terribly exciting sort of way. When he gets up to play at the bar he feels a mysterious chill, which you remember as the thing that happens to wizards when they try to wizard too hard using their own body heat. Gee I wonder if that could have anything to do with it.

Kvothe manages to heat himself up with magic, but then feels a sharp pain and starts to bleed from his arm. I wonder what could possibly be causing this? Maybe the voodoo doll thing Kvothe himself did to Not-Snape during his first term? They finally figure it out and try to think of how someone could get Kvothe’s blood to use. Kvothe figures Ambrose got some of his blood off the roofing tile that fell on his during his daring Tactical Espionage Wizard adventure.

Wil and Sim make the decent point that Ambrose tends not to attack Kvothe directly and that using such obvious malfeasance would be insanely risky.

The following quotes occur in the space of three pages:

Wil was slowly shaking his head

Wil shook his head again

[Sim] nodded to himself, first slowly, then with more certainty

Wilem was shaking his head.

Wilem simply closed his eyes and shook his head


God the writing in these books is terrible.

They eventually conclude it might be Devi, as revenge for Kvothe spurring her womanly advances in an effort to get the hidden entrance to the Archives out of him. There’s a conversation about the Wizard Boys sharing a room for security and Kvothe putting on a shirt “so as not to sleep naked” that I can’t believe isn’t the intro to a porn fanfic.

Kvothe runs across the rooftops and straight into Moon Fey-chan, who comments that the blood on his hands makes him look like one of the Ciridae, which is not a genus of cricket but rather a high ranking member of the Amyr, the anti-Chandrian squad that Kvothe has supposedly been looking for information about this whole time.

Holy shit, we’re finally advancing that plotline, what, like 600 pages later? And it’s because of Moon Fey-chan, of all people. Once again Kvothe doesn’t do anyhting, he just faffs around until the plot finds him.

Anyway Kvothe can’t ask her anymore because there’s a flash of lightning and she vanishes batman-style. Let me guess how this is going to pan out: Kvothe will want to talk to her for more information, but Devi will force him to tell her where the secret entrance is, making Moon Fey-chan cry great shining imouto tears and clam up or run away, thus arbitrarily padding out the plot some more.



Kvothe goes toddling off after Moon Fey-chan to uncover her mysteries.

“I don’t like telling,” she said softly, her voice thick with tears.


There was a tiny sob from the shadows that froze my heart solid and broke off a piece of it.

God, I fucking hate this character.

Let’s take a moment to discuss why Auri is such a blight on the collective cultural landscape of humanity. There’s the creepy infantalization angle I’ve already mentioned- she acts (and is treated by Kvothe ) like a child despite being older than him. I guess her role as a former student requires her to be in her late teens at the youngest, but why not just drop the child-like behaviour then? More troubling is Rothfuss’ depiction of her apparent mental illness. It’s super quirky Hollywood mental illness that doesn’t impair her ability to survive in any real way- she does way better than Kvothe did on the streets in Tarbean- nor does her perception of reality seem particularly altered. She believes (or at least acts as though she believes) that an avocado contains the shining ass of the sun of whatever the fuck, but that delusion doesn’t seem to affect the way she would perceive or interact with an avocado. It’s not an actual delusion, it’s just a quirky thing she says to be quirky. I worked around mentally ill people for years; a lot of them would believe things like their show laces had been poisoned or that the hospital toilets were actually missile launch platforms. Obviously that’s not to say everyone who suffers from schizophrenia or other mental illness has delusions that severe, they totally don’t, but there is always a certain level of disconnect from reality involved unless they’re getting very effective treatment, which we know Auri isn’t. Really, it comes across more as severe social anxiety crossed with some sort of amnesia or PTSD-like symptoms. The whole THIS LEMON IS MADE OUT OF DREAMS LOL thing is more like a game she and Kvothe have decided to play.

I guess the problem is that Rothfuss is interpreting mental illness as non specific “weirdness” that can encompass any symptom you care to name.

She reached out to touch the center of my bloody chest with a finger. “Imre enim euge.

Imre denim huge? Is that like a clothing label in town? I don’t keep up with you kids and your jeans.

Auri comes up with a remarkably coherent plan to put some of Kvothe’s blood and hair into glass bottles and throw them into some underground streams with strong currents so they’ll circulate all over the University and be impossible to pin down, thus blocking someone from divining Kvothe’s location. Apparently. I mean, it seems like it would be pretty obvious that the one blood-signal that isn’t moving constantly is probably him.

I’m noticing some oddities in this part of the book- the plot picks up directly from where The Name Of The Wind left off, as though the climactic events of that book never really happened (the business with the dragon has barely been mentioned), and stuff that was seemingly resolved at the end of the Name Of The Wind like Kvothe’s rivalry with Ambrose and his loan to Devi have now been picked back up, as though nothing had happened.

My only explanation for this is that the latter third of Name Of The Wind and what I’m reading now had originally been written as part of a single book, that was then arbitrarily split at a certain point. That would certainly explain why the previous book pulls a climax out of nowhere that has nothing to do with any of the preceding events and why Kvothe regains access to the Archives twice in the space of a short time.


17 thoughts on “let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 22-25

  1. Matt

    I don’t think I’ve ever met someone willing to review a book chapter-by-chapter simply for the sake of throwing in a few cheap memes, referencing universal archetypes to try to make a connection to a series that has very little connection to this one, and simultaneously trying to cast the protagonist as a Mary-Stu figure and repeatedly stating that he’s not really amazing and the evil author is trying to use dialogue to trick you into thinking he is.

    I mean, it was funny, but GODS, did it get old quickly. After about two chapter reviews, it just became whiny. I was almost too bored to spend the short minute it took to type this out…

    1. Sevansl Canzate

      Get outta here fast, pls. You are infected. Probably Contagious. Leave before it spreads, or we’ll have lost one of our last bastions.

  2. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    How long has Kvothfuss been at the university? If Rothfuss wants to finish this series in three books there’s going to have to be a lot of time jumps and that’s assuming he’s not going to have the story continue in the present day.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I think it’s been like a year + one three month term.

      We know he gets expelled though so he won’t finish his education

  3. braak

    Huhm. i wonder how much of Kvothe’s sabbatical year is ALSO part of the “let’s take this one book and split it up into three parts” plan.

  4. Reveen

    Goddammit Ambrose, just challenge Kvothe to a good ol’ fashioned sword duel and run him through. Now, before he takes fight levels! C’mon, you’re rich enough to get away with it!

    Can’t believe I’m rooting for the foppish rich douchebag. But hey, atleast there’s someone with an actual goal. A worthy one too.

    1. Alvaro

      A parody from Ambrose’s perspective would be perfect. Maybe alternate Denna-Ambrose chapters, they’re secretly fucking and laughing at what a dolt Kvothe is. A brilliant conclusion to the trilogy!

  5. Greentree

    Perhaps Rothfuss split the book near the dragon so that he could write charm girl as a mystery. Strange that Kvothe has conveniently forgotten about her despite saying right after giving her the charm that ‘There in that room was the first time I actually felt like any sort of hero’.

    Then again, I’ve not finished TWMF so maybe the charm girl isn’t the same one from the last book

    When looking back for that quote, I see that there is still 10% of the book left to read after the dragon so I guess we’re supposed to see the broken lute as the big ending. Irritating to have read NotW but still now be reading about Kvothe trying to learn the name of the wind…

    1. ronanwills Post author

      Wow I totally forgot about charm girl, you’re probably right. That’s probably what will get him expelled

      1. Greentree

        Well, easy for a reader to forget but there is no good reason why Kvothe forgets about her which is why (if I’m right) it is a really cheap trick by Rothfuss. I’ll be quite happy if he gets expelled for it – the reason I remember the passage is because it irritated me that he considered himself to be a hero for lying to someone.

    2. sonamib

      Oh God that lute “climax” was terrible. J.K Rowling might not have been the “cold, heartless killer” she thought she was, but Rothfuss is downright cowardly for trying to stir up our emotions over the death of a lute.

      But what’s the deal with charm girl? I don’t actually remember.

      1. Greentree

        She saw the Chandrian vase and thought they were going to come and get her, so Kvothe gave her a charm and told her it would protect her. He also that she was bound to the charm so even if she lost it she would be fine

        I would have felt more bad for Kvothe if it had actually been his father’s lute but since he had that destroyed that right at the start I’m not sure why I was meant to care about the cheap one

      2. Reveen

        I felt worse about Jeff Bridge’s car in The Big Lebowski for god’s sake, and that wasn’t actually trying to sympathy.


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