let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 48-53

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A Significant Absence

Kvothe has admissions, Kvothe is studying, Kvothe needs money, he has money blah blah blah

Kvothe and the Super Boys continue looking for information about the Amyr but can’t find anything.

“Why don’t you let it go?” Wil suggested. “You’ve been beating this Amyr thing like a dead horse for what, two span?”

This is strikingly similar to the bits in the Harry Potter books where Harry goes scurrying around for information about something or tries to uncover a Dastardly Plot of some kind and no one believes him. Except in those books it doesn’t take him 800+ pages to find anything.

Kvothe is concerned because he can’t find contemporary evidence to corroborate any of the stories that post-Amyr historians told about them. Surely he’s not the first person to notice this?

“It was three hundred years ago,” Wilem said reproachfully. “You can’t expect all those little details to survive.”

This was only three centuries ago? I thought we were talking about ancient history here. There’s no way the Chandrian could have erased themselves from common knowledge that successfully if the Amyr were still fighting them that recently.

Kvothe points out that the only explanation for their absence from the historical record is that they were deliberately expunged. Again, why has no one else come up with this idea before? Very rarely does it happen that some random layman stumbles onto an obvious problem with the orthodox consensus that experts have failed to notice, despite what creationists and climate change denialists would have you believe. Either way, he speculates that the Amyr themselves did it to try and preserve their order secretly after they were disbanded by the church.

I should point out that for all my complaining this is pretty interesting compared to the background radiation of boring that’s made up most of the book so far. Let’s see how long that lasts.


The Ignorant Wagon Bro

Elxa Dal invites Kvothe to somewhere for lunch and tells him a long, rambling story about  a Wagon Bro and a wizard on a boat. Basically the point is that Kvothe is working his ass off on his studies but knows nothing of Life and should take a term off from wizard school. Later the Wonder Twins inform him that this was Elxa Dal’s way of informing Kvothe that the trial has tarnished the University’s reputation and that Kvothe should take the term off until the heat dies down; Ambrose has already left for home for the same reason.

I’ve never understood why authors write their characters coming out with these ridiculously circuitous spiels just to make simple points. I can’t imagine anyone actually realizing what Elxa Dal was trying to get at, as Kvothe doesn’t here.

Anyway, he decides to take their advice, but that will mean being away from the Archives and their invaluable store of Chandrian knowledge so he’ll need access to other, mostly private libraries. And for that, he’ll need a patron.

Why yes, the entire plot up to this point has basically been a giant red herring. Surprise!


Chasing the Wind

With no college work to occupy him Kvothe’s life becomes even less interesting, if you can believe it.

Count Threpe, who we haven’t seen in quite a while, finds Kvothe and announces he may have found him a patron.

“Do you know who the Maer Alveron is?”

You mean Mayor Alveron? That’s a pretty big typo to get past an editor.


He’s fabulously rich and is basically a king in all but name, and he wants Kvothe (well, not Kvothe specifically but someone like Kvothe) for an undisclosed purpose. Unfortunately the Maer Mayor lives in Vintas, which is quite far away. Kvothe readily agrees to go, partially out of a desire to acquire mad bank (perfectly understandable) but mainly because the Mayor might have a library with information on the Amyr.

Before he leaves Elodin acts quirky at him some more and he visits Devi to settle his debts. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to finally be rid of these awful characters and their annoying personalities. He doesn’t actually have enough money to give her though, so instead he leaves her his special sympathy lamp, his talent piles and (reluctantly) Denna’s ring as collateral to postpone repayment for a year. For some reason during this entire exchange he never uses contractions, because fantasy.


All Wise Men Fear

Kvothe heads off to a river ship with a letter of introduction from Threpe, which he keeps in an apparently remarkably spacious secret compartment in his lute case along with the reproduction of the Chandrian vase Nina gave him and some dried apple.

There was nothing special about the dried apple, but in my opinion if you have a secret compartment in your lute case and don’t use it to hide things, there is something terribly, terribly wrong with you.

Oh, how zany. How Internet. I bet all the morons over on r/fantasy and 4Chan will be just guffawing till their ass cheeks fall off at that one.

Remember: There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

Nothing is more hilarious to me than self-important fantasy authors who don’t realize how terrible they are.


A Brief Journey

Kvothe sets off on his epic journey, which will apparently take a while. I’m not sure what the transportation technology level in this world is at- they’ve got carriages, clockwork and advanced scientific techniques, so do they have trains? Doesn’t seem like it. The world in these books is a strange mish-mash of renaissance and 19th century technology.

Several unfortunate complications arose during the trip.

In brief, there was a storm, piracy, treachery, and shipwreck, although not in that order. It also goes without saying that I did a great many things, some heroic, some ill-advised, some clever and audacious.


Over the course of my trip I was robbed, drowned, and left penniless on the streets of Junpui. In order to survive I begged for crusts, stole a man’s shoes, and recited poetry. The last should demonstrate more than all the rest how truly desperate my situation became.

Hold on

However, as these events have little to do with the heart of the story, I must pass them over in favor of more important things



The Sheer

I LIMPED THROUGH THE GATES of Severen ragged, penniless, and hungry.

Are you serious

Are you serious

After wasting hundreds and hundreds of pages on total bullshit something interesting finally happens and we just skip merrily over it to get to Kvothe being poor in a big city, ie the exact same scenario he was in in the first book.

You know what? Screw it. My last ounce of patience just evaporated. Patrick Rothfuss is a god-awful hack who does not know what a story is or why people enjoy reading them. What exactly is the “heart of the story”? I’m nearing the halfway point and I still have no idea.

I’m seriously trying to picture how this went down between Rothfuss and his editor. I can just imagine him sitting there in his gnome outfit, stroking his neck-beard absent-mindedly. “The book is way too long, you say? No one in their right mind would ever want to read it? I guess I better cut something out! Hmmmm, what could I remove? Not the parts where Kvothe wanders aimlessly around Imre achieving nothing, that stuff is dynamite! Not the parts that just repeat plot threads already resolved in the first book- they were so good, everyone will want to read them again! And not the part where I repeatedly slap the reader in the face by telling them that 70% of everything they had just read was pointless filler, they’ll love that! Hey how about the bit where stuff that fantasy fans might actually enjoy happens? Let’s do it!”

Anyway. Somehow Kvothe’s lute managed to survive all of that off-screen excitement, so he still has his letter of introduction. Severen, the capital(?) of Vintas, is divided in half by a giant cliff called the Sheer, with the fancy-pants aristocracy living in a small section at the top of the cliff and the every-day business of the city taking place below.

I hadn’t really noticed it until now, but the environmental description in these books leaves a lot to be desired. I barely had any idea what Imre and wizard school looked like and now we have this fascinating location described with all the passion of college biology lecture. “Severen is split into two sections. One of them is on top of a cliff. It’s big. See Spot. See Spot run. Run, Spot, run”.

where it bisected Severen, it was two hundred feet tall and steep as a garden wall

….. you mean it’s fucking vertical, as cliffs tend to be? Has Rothfuss ever actually seen one?

Kvothe is sad because he once again has no money and he needs proper clothes or the Fantasy Mayor will think he’s a begger. The only person nearby who he knows is Ambrose, who lives just a few miles from the city. So he pawns his lute for eleven silver nobles, which I guess is the currency round these parts, planning to hopefully be able to buy it back within eleven days. He buys a suit, food and some personal grooming with the money so that he’ll look like a wealthy fifteen year old boy instead of a poor fifteen year old boy, which will doubtless make everyone take him seriously.

Kvothe goes to a cafe, which they apparently have, and gets a friendly dude who works there to point out important aristocratic types. I guess this is like in Wheel of Time where everyone inexplicably speaks the same language. He prepares to approach a Baronet and makes a big song and dance first about how in Vintas rank is everything and he can’t let the Baronet know Kvothe is just a Wagon Bro commoner, but didn’t the Mayor specifically request his presence? Surely if rank is everything that would make Kvothe the Mayor’s guest and an extremely important person? Moreover why can’t he just waltz up to the front door of Chez Mayor and be like “hey it’s that dude you sent for, let’s hang”?

Instead he acts* like a stuck-up dick so the Baronet will think he’s someone important and brow-beats the guy into taking him to the Mayor.

* insert obvious joke here


20 thoughts on “let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 48-53

  1. Ibagg

    I honestly think Pat loves to just throw ‘poetic’ sentences together using events that sound awesome. Just the bit about ‘…I walk paths by moonlight others fear in daylight…’ business on the dust-jacket screams this.
    “All of that sounds sick! That stuff sounds really amazing and cool! and it was put together so poetically!”
    “Why thank you!”
    “What was that like!? Was your blood boiling!?”
    “Oh, well, that isn’t important to the story. Here, fill your hole with some drivel about money woes and treading the same path by moonlight and day as everyone else. Also, goat-men.”
    “I don’t know anything but college. Nine years I played DnD there. There lies my experience. And in true American Midwest fashion, I can state things without actually exploring them. But GODDAMN if that sentence doesn’t sound sexy!”

    The fact he can take himself seriously as a writer of Epic Fantasy, and his sales bolstering this sickening ego, makes me wanna take a shit outta my dick.

    I feel as if this begging section, too, was written at a later date than the bulk of the University tom-foolery. The being poor and begging in the street sections. This second iteration feels oddly akin to Locke Lamora, and as has been pointed out, Rothfuss isn’t the best at hiding his influences. Also, he has pointed-out a few things about that particular series he finds ‘cooler’ than his own. So to go with your ‘I’m trying to be edgy and throw whore around like hotcakes’ theory, he tries to add sophisticated Machiavellian roguery. Which, coupled with his tendency to haphazardly throw the random ten-dollar word in the mix (his dreadful use of ephemeral coming to mind), makes him seem like his primary goal is to make himself seem smart. Not to say he is stupid, just that he tries too hard to be some genius. Like he suffers castration anxiety constantly. Stick to writing children’s stories.

  2. SineNomine

    I really hate to leave a comment here so late after the fact, but this particular part enraged me in a way I feel the need to rant about but not badly enough to, you know, blog about it on my own out of the blue.

    His lute case was said to be basically more valuable than any amount of money he had ever held before, both by the artisan who made the case and claimed it was more valuable than the lue, and the fact that his mind boggled at the amount of money the necklace that denna pawned to buy it was being resold for at the jewelers where he got her ring back. I’m far too lazy to be assed to look up the exact numbers but since he is always talking about money, he’s made mention of how he could live for years on some of the coin he has held.

    It strains credulity to the breaking point to even begin to imagine any sort of poverty when you are walking around with a $200,000 guitar case. I don’t care how nice it is, I don’t care if it is from your true love, the most wonderful thing you possess…if you are starving and it is worth YEARS of modest income…it’s a fucking guitar case.

    For a book so obsessed with currency I feel like there is no real rhyme or reason to the prices. I really wish I cared enough to go through all the mentions of money and try to figure out how much things are actually worth, because there is so much wonky about it. I’m not actually inherently opposed to dealing with money in a world-building focused novel as much as you are, but if you are spending that much effort on it, shouldn’t it be the single most obsessive, accurate fictional medieval price analogue ever produced?

  3. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    It’s funny how in fantasy they don’t use contractions to try and make the characters seem more real and human somehow, as though we are reading the translations of another language, or they are trying to call up a bygone yada yada yada. Where as in Sci-Fi only robots and the like speak without contractions to make them seem less human (and if you think about it if a robot was trying to be EFFICENT they would use as many contractions as possible provided they could still communicate).

    1. braak

      It’s especially weird considering how full of contractions Elizabethan english was. Back before there were formal rules about what sorts of things could be contracted and what couldn’t, apparently suckers just did it all the time.

    2. Reveen

      Considering what happened last time Kvothfuss tried writing in a vernacular, him sticking to Ye Olde Data speak is almost a blessing.

      The constant Ois and Innits that fantasy writers think passes for british speech patterns would make this book motherfucking unreadable.

  4. lampwick

    I was so waiting for you to get to this point — almost as much as I’m waiting for Falurian — and you didn’t disappoint.

  5. braak

    The motto/title of the story sounds like a Monty Python sketch.

    Remember: There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.

    Also tigers.

    Well, yes, and tigers. So, there are four things all wise men fear: sea storms, moonless nights, angry gentle men, tigers–

    Bears also. And rattlesnakes.

    Six things, that all wise men fear, the sea, the dark, angry people, tigers, bears, rattlesnakes…

    What about just a really big guy, and he’s got maybe an axe and a grim look on his face?

    I mean, is he a gentle man?

    No, but let’s say you ran into him in an alley, and maybe you just heard some kind of screaming coming from the alley, and maybe a wet chopping sound, and then there’s this huge guy with an axe and he looks pretty, he’s got blood on him…

    Oh, hm. Sure, I think a wise man would fear that. Seven things, then that all wise men fear — that’s storms, the dark, the anger of a gentle man, tigers, bears, rattlesnakes, probable axe murderers…you know, now I think on it, maybe there are a lot of things that wise men fear. Mining accidents. Dragons.


    Well, let’s just call “diseases” one big category. Diseases, mining accidents, tornados. The cops if you’ve got pot on you.

    1. braak

      Hold on, though, wouldn’t the anger of a really mean man be more frightening than the angry of a gentle man? I mean, even if gentle men get angrier than mean guys, they haven’t got a lot of practice at being mean, have they? Aren’t they likely to just not offer you a cup of tea, or something?

      Oh, that’s a good point I suppose. I guess it’s more accurate to say that there are a lot of things that all wise men fear, including but not limited to: storms, the dark, diseases, tigers, bears, snakes, mining accidents, dragons, tornados, and corrupt civil authorities, but actually probably the one thing they DON’T fear is when a nice guy gets mad at them. They don’t take that seriously at all.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        But you see, Kvothe is the gentle man and we’re supposed to be in awe of how badass he is.

      2. Reveen

        Kvothe? Gentle? More like passive-agressive.

        Didn’t Kvothe fly off the handle and try to magic-strongarm Loanshark Lady a while back? And she kicked his ass? I’m really not fearing the disproportionate anger of a passive aggressive boy here.

    2. Sevansl Canzate

      Can I please, plaease, pretty please with a cherry on top use this in my own book? This is perfect 😀

  6. Austin H. Williams

    “In brief, there was a storm, piracy, treachery, and shipwreck, although not in that order.”

    Wow. He’s a shit neckbeard, at that. At least a half-decent neckbeard hack would leap at the opportunity to describe piracy adventures on the high seas, but something that is not only a staple of adventurous high fantasy, but also something fanboys the world over fawn over, and he CAN’T… EVEN… BE… ARSED…

    (Never mind that traumatic events like surviving shipwrecks and pirates might also just leave an indelible mark on the main character, and therefore would be worth looking into, even if this weren’t supposed to be an adventure story…)

    I’m so glad you’re reading these for us. I’m still very, very worried about how and why these books got so big, and just what it says about the book-buying public. This is the point where, even while just following your read-along, I wish I had a copy of the book to throw at the wall.

    1. Greentree

      Yeah but you’re forgetting that the lute made it out fine, and the only time Kvothe can have a traumatic experience is if he is parted from it – this is why that time Denna took it and he thought it was stolen was worth page time, and sea pirate adventure was not 😉

      1. Alvaro

        Yeah, what’s that stiff protuberance that pokes out from a man’s groin?

        Ohya, a lute.

        You don’t want to fondle your lute *too* much, of course, or the palms of your hands will grow a thick mat of flame-red hair.


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