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.
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
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