let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 40- 42

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CHAPTER FORTY

Puppet

Kvothe and co go to visit this Puppet person, who lives in the basement of the Archives and is apparently very odd and you need to be polite around him. Boy I sure hope this isn’t just going to be another generic “quirky” character.

Our sympathy lamps shot bands of light through the shelves and made the shadows dance nervously

lasers

I was looking at this image for at least half an hour before I noticed there was a guy on the left.

“Puppet” is basically the male version of Moon Fey-chan, except naturally without all the fragile kawaii desu~ imouto bullshit going on.

And there were puppets. They hung from shelves and pegs on walls. They lay crumpled in corners and under chairs.

That’s pretty creepy.

Arcanum training does unnatural things to students’ minds. The most notable of these unnatural things is the ability to do what most people call magic and we call sympathy, sygaldry, alchemy, naming, and the like.

Hey I wonder why the text keeps emphasizing the fact that the magic all the wizards learn in wizard school isn’t “real” magic?

Earlier I said I had an idea why Rothfuss was harping on so much about the Chandrian fading into legend. I think he did it for the same reason that the wizards aren’t called wizards and magic isn’t called magic, and why he keeps making sure to emphasize this repeatedly. And that reason is:

I don’t think it’s really disputable that The Kingkiller Chronicles share a lot of superficial similarities with the Harry Potter books- I’ve been making jokes about it ever since the first post in this series and a lot of reviews of The Name Of The Wind refer to it explicitly as “adult Harry Potter”. A lot of this pussyfooting around and semantic “well yes but technically” word-play feels like a deliberate attempt to smooth over those similarities. Ripping off the Lord of The Rings or one of its many imitators like Wheel of Time isn’t really a big deal since everyone does that already and most of the tropes they introduced to the genre have become so ubiquitous a lot of authors probably don’t even realize they’re doing it. But if you copied Harry Potter, which is a newer and more pop culturally saturated work, people would probably take notice. Even just the decision to set the story in wizard school is treading on thin ice (which is unfair, since the HP books didn’t invent that premise by any means).

Unfortunately Rothfuss’ attempts to make his story more distinct just end up adding layers of unnecessary complexity that he then has to spend ages navigating and hacking through to get the plot going. The Chandrian are basically the Death Eaters, the Amyr are the Order of The Phoenix. Find a way to join the good side to defeat the evil side. It’s a nice simple set-up, but making them both ancient history that most people don’t believe in any more just ties a massive boat anchor around the story’s neck. Kvothe now has to spend forever digging through the Archives and searching futilely for scraps of information that could have just been delivered in a single scene of exposition right at the start of the first book.

Anyway Puppet spouts a lot of nonsensical yoda-like wisdom about looking, and seeing, and looking without seeing. He tells them that the Amyr were disbanded by the church of Tehlu while putting on a little puppet show of a Tehlin priest beating a young girl to death with a book. We’re back in edgy-land I see, although frankly this entire chapter is probably the most interesting thing that’s happened since Kvothe was in Tarbean. And hey, world-building and stuff! The characters aren’t just floating around in a Tolkien-flavoured void any more.

The initial reason for visiting Puppet was a contradiction between two books, one of which states that the Amyr were disbanded by the church while the other claimed it was some emperor named Nalto. Wil now speculates that the church deliberately altered the records to fob the blame off on Nalto, even though such an important event would doubtlessly have been recorded by multiple independent witnesses. It’s quite difficult to completely erase something from history, particularly to outside observers who you have no political control over or historians a long time after the fact who have decades or centuries of history to sift through and compare. Also, I’m sure glad we took a chapter’s worth of content to clear up this minor historical confusion.

“Puppet,” I asked. “Do you know what is behind the locked door on the floor above this one?”

It’s probably this thing:

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Puppet tells him that it’s nothing students should be concerned with. Then why leave it out in plain sight? People are just going to wonder what’s behind it.

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

The Greater Good

I LOOKED UP AT SIMMON and whispered, lvare enim euge.”

Larva enema huge? Whatever floats your boat man, I’m not here to judge.

Kvothe finds something interesting in a book by an ancient duke/physician named Gibea who kidnapped people and cut them open while still alive to see how their organs work. Simmon seems weirdly bothered by this despite the fact that it happened back in the time of the Amyr. It’s implied that his ancestors swore fealty to Gibea before people knew he was a shit-head, which I guess is sort of like being one of Hitler’s descendants, but even still. You’d think after a few centuries the sting would have worn off a bit.

Kvothe points out that the book has the words I quoted above, which means “for the greater good” scribbled in the margin. A few chapters back when Moon Fey-chan compared Kvothe to a Ciridae she said something similar. This was apparently like the Amyr’s catch-phrase or something, so Kvothe speculates that Fantasy-Mengele was a secret member of the Amyr. He goes on to theorize that there may have been more secret members of the order who remained active even after they were disbanded.

Sim strokes Kvothe ego for awhile by talking about how awesome he is. Also they both get suspended from the Archives for five days for talking too loudly.

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

Penance

SINCE STUDYING WASN’T AN option and winter was covering everything in drifts of blowing snow, I decided this was the perfect time to catch up on a few things I’d been letting fall by the wayside.

You mean like the plot?

OohBurn

No he’s actually just visiting Moon Fey-chan again. Kvothe must have a literal path worn into the ground between his room, the Eolian and the courtyard he meets Moon Fey-chan in. Except she’s not around so he goes to the workshop again.

Why do we need to keep following every move Kvothe makes around the wizard school campus? Is this actually supposed to be interesting?  It seems like Rothfuss is trying to portray the everyday drudgery of college life, apparently unaware that no-one gives a shit about the everyday drudgery of college life. People in college don’t give a shit about the everyday drudgery of college life.

After getting his car taxed and taking his cat to be de-wormed Kvothe goes to visit Devi again. He gets soaked from snow on the way there so she hands him a robe and tells him to take his clothes off so sexy-times can ensue. Apparently Devi sold Ambrose the crazy-juice he slipped Kvothe back at the start of the term? Did we learn that before now? I can’t remember, all of the identikit scenes are starting to blur together. Anyway he convinces her to drop the requirement to pay back his full loan before the end of the term that I forgot about until just now.

I still don’t get why Devi acted so cagey when they met that time. He explained what the situation was but she wouldn’t let him see his blood, as far as I can just because. Of course the situation was exacerbated by Kvothe massively over-reacting and flying off the handle. It’s a classic case where the characters (to quote another blogger) act in a way that only makes sense if you assume they’re deliberately trying to make the events of the story happen.

And if this was all just going to get swept under the rug, what was the point? There’s no point in having events take place if the plot is just going to return to equilibrium afterward. I don’t think Rothfuss understands how books work.

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17 thoughts on “let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 40- 42

  1. Zenobious

    IMNSHO there’s nothing Rothfuss could write in the third book that would make up for the failures of the first two. And given their progression so far, I feel pretty confident in saying that we won’t get any of the clever concepts people on this blog or elsewhere have suggested for how he’ll wrap the series up in an intelligent way — we’ll just see it all played awfully straight. I can only wonder how the fans will react to this, especially since there seems to be a decline in opinions of him from the first book to the second. Maybe Rothfuss can sense this as well, and it’s why we’re waiting so long for the whole trilogy — despite it having been plotted and planned since his college days?

    In many ways this reminds me of the wild speculation in the mid-2000’s about how Rowling was going to wrap up the Harry Potter books, with all sorts of zany ideas thrown around — some of which might even have been better than what we got. Except that for all her failings Rowling writes better than Rothfuss; and I doubt he will resolve his books in a better manner than Deathly Hallows did. For that matter, I strongly suspect that this trilogy will end with many points unresolved, and we’ll just get a follow-on series set in the “present day” of Kote the barkeep, with he and Bast and possibly Devan having more zany adventures.

    All that said, I still enjoy seeing what people here come up with for how Rothfuss could at least not totally embarrass himself in the third book!

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      I seriously have a feeling he’ll try some sort of Big Twist where it turns out that at least some of what Kvothe has been telling the other two isn’t accurate. Given the premise I don’t see how he could resist. But as has been said already, that would be way too little, way too late.

      Reply
      1. Andrea Harris

        Almost everything Kvothe claims happened to him is so mundane, with the exception of his entire family being killed, that I can’t see what significance finding out he lied would have. Like, maybe it turns out he didn’t have as many money troubles as he says: “I, er, was getting a steady salary at the inn for my music playing.” Or his parents really weren’t killed by the Chandrian, their wagons got buried in an avalanche one winter while Kvothe was out looking for firewood. Or he was never an Edema-Ruh, he was always a street kid from Tarbean. Or he’s really an aristocrat’s son but ran away from home… no wait! I’ve got it! He’s really the head of the Chandrians, what’s that dude’s name, and he’s been lying to Devan all along, muahahahaahahahhhaaa!

        Reply
      2. Reveen

        Kvothefuss might as well ape the plot twist in Life of Pi at this point, it’d wrap things up better than anything he could ever do.

        Y’know, there probably is going to be a “I was bullshitting about something” twist in the next book, and the story is going to be obnoxiously coy, yet completely transparent about it and it will be the most anemic and ineffectual thing ever and the entire genre might as well put a gun in it’s mouth.

        I’m betting Moon-fey Chan isn’t real, that’s the twist. She’s some really shitty, annoying version of Tyler Durden.

        Reply
        1. ronanwills Post author

          Spoiler: Ambrose is actually a hyena.

          Maybe all of the women in the book are imaginary and that’s why they’re all so obsessed with Kvothe.

          Reply
    2. Hannah

      With the second reminder of Denna’s weak lungs earlier in this book, I’m wondering if she is just going to drop dead at some point, because – don’t you see! – people in stories don’t just randomly die, they get murdered or make heroic sacrifices and so forth, and as we’ve been told so often, this is no fairy tale.

      Reply
  2. Andrea Harris

    The problem with the whole look-for-the-ancient-references-to-Chandrians subplot is Kvothe is acting like someone who only suspects the Chandrian are behind various evil happenings. Instead didn’t the Chandrian dudes basically introduce themselves when he stumbled upon them after they killed his parents? I mean, that was just a few years before he ended up in wizard school. The Chandrian, for a vague ancient legend for whom records seem to hardly exist, are pretty active and in your face.

    It just doesn’t work. I see here Rothfuss’ attempt to write a Dark Eater type of enemy, one whose effects on Kvothe were the same as Voldemort’s (parents killed by them), but he didn’t want to so obviously rip off JKR, so instead of a fearful “don’t talk about it” official contemporary conspiracy he came up with this legend of ancient evil thing. But in that case he should have ditched the scene of Kvothe stumbling on the Dark Eat– I mean Chandrian after they killed his parents and being inexplicably spared by them (I mean they killed a bunch of unarmed actors, why should they stick at one kid). He should have Kvothe gradually realizing — from other similar atrocities that kept happening over the years — that his people’s killing wasn’t just by a band of brigands or whatever, but something worse.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      The other problem with the Chandrian is that we’re starting to approach the halfway point of the entire trilogy (assuming book 3 isn’t like 2000 pages, which knowing Rothfuss it might be) and I still have no idea what they’re actually trying to do except erase all mention of themselves from existence. Villains who spend all their time hiding don’t exactly make for compelling drama.

      Reply
      1. Andrea Harris

        I know, right? You sort of need to be known about if your plan is to take over the world and so on, which I have to assume is their plan since it’s the Standard Dark Lord And His Minions plan. On the other hand, this could be Rothfuss being all clever and genre-breaking: maybe the Chandrian are just trying to escape the Amyr, who will be revealed as the True Evil Overlords! Of course that wouldn’t explain the killing of Kvothe’s folks unless that was really the Amyr disguised as Chandrian.

        I mean I can see it working like this: the Amyr work for the “good” God Tehlu, who runs around hitting people with a hammer and killing kids apparently. So yeah, some “good” god. The Chandrian work for, er, whoever — themselves, Satan, I forget. Anyway, everything Kvothe believes about his god and things turns out to be a lie, the Chandrian are really good (or at least not so bad, just frightened and desperate) people, Kvothe, disillusioned, kills some king or other and then goes into “hiding” in plain site.

        Of course, that still doesn’t excuse all the faffing around with Kvothe’s boring money woes and his boring existence at Hogwarts– I mean “the University” — and his girlfriends and so on.

        Reply
      2. braak

        It’s understandable why the Chandrian’s motivations are confusing. Inexplicably letting one kid live after having seen them massacre an entire caravan seems like a counter-productive way to erase yourself from history.

        Reply
        1. ronanwills Post author

          To be fair the book’s explanation for this is that some sort of threat was on the way (the Amyr?) and they had to skedaddle in a hurry, but they’d totally have had enough time to just stab Kvothe before leaving.

          Reply
      3. braak

        I mean, if they have time to sit around and consider killing him, they definitely have time to just kill him.

        Reply
  3. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    The worst part about these books is how not only does nothing happen but it feels like anything that does has no effect on the characters or even importance. Ideally in a story the characters should pass some narrative points of no return but it doesn’t seem like they’ve done anything that they can’t just walk away from. The only permanent change that happened is Kvothfuss’ parents being killed but given how little the Chandrian have appeared in the book Kvothfuss could have been orphaned by an angry mob who killed his Gypsy-WASP parents.

    Also its nice to see that you have the time to make more updates for these “books”. Happy America-Should-Have-Been-Smothered-In-Its-Crib Day from CA.

    Reply
  4. q____q

    And let us not forget that all this „Plot? What plot?“ bullshit is made even more ridiculous by the framing story: He’s got two days or something to tell the story of his life and he spends 80% of telling Devan and the vampire about the money problems he had in college? And they’re not even complaining? Argh!

    Of course this might be another clever genre-subverting idea: The bullshit we read is what Devan writes down because that’s what Kote tells him and he then would make a real story out of it by chopping away 90% of all the stupid stuff.

    Reply

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