Our hero manages to bluff his way into the inner chambers of the Mayor, navigating past his suspisious manservant Stapes, who shall henceforth be known as Staples. Staples is cold and imperious to Kvothe and so I predict he’ll turn out to be evil.
The Mayor is consulting with a military leader named Dagon (HP Lovecraft jokes in the comments will result in instant death by orbital laser strike). The Mayor explains that he’s too busy to speak to Kvothe at the moment and tells Staples to get a room ready.
My rooms were so pleasant it took me almost a full day to realize how much I hated them.
God I hate this trope.
This comes up in fiction a lot, where our blue-collar hero happens on a bit of luxury and realizes he’s not meant for it- see also movies in which a character must choose between a traditional down-home working class lifestyle and extravagant wealth and invariably goes for the former even though no one, ever, would turn do that. It’s a false dichotomy wherein wealth and some nebulous definition of “real life” are seen as mutually exclusive.
Now, don’t get me wrong here and interpret anything I just said as being against criticism of economic inequality or anything like that. The current narrative of our times casts the lesser off as the “good guys” and the one-percent types as villains, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with viewing things that way. In fact, the trope I’m talking about works into the agenda of societal factions that would rather we didn’t question the status quo by portraying people who are unsatisfied with their lot in life as misguided and deluded, and striving for more wealth or financial security as an empty and meaningless goal divorced from “true” happiness and fulfillment, the simultaneous acquisition of which is treated as an impossibility for reasons that are never quite explained. Or put another way, being rich is all fine and dandy but becoming rich is a fool’s errand that must inevitably end with the hero realizing they’re content with their life as it currently stands.
What would have made much more sense here is for Kvothe to say “holy shit check out these rooms, this is fucking sweet after being poor for so long, I’m going to milk this Mayor job for all it’s worth”.
Anyway, even though the rooms are hella bourgeois and chafe at Kvothe’s preferred lifestyle of living in dingy pubs, he appreciates the fact that he gets a large private bathroom with drains and stuff.
I had not expected to find such conveniences so far from the civilizing influence of the University.
Well, there’s a whole lot of weird assumptions packed into that sentence.
Is wizard school the font of all advanced technology in this world? Surely there must be more Universities than just that one? Even a single country with only one University, one center of research and engineering, would have trouble making significant technological advancements due to the collaborative nature of those fields and the sheer amount of effort it takes to make any headway in them.
But it goes further than that. Kvothe’s statement here seems to indicate that these things aren’t just invented by the University, they’re only produced there as well. So what, someone invents plumbing and that knowledge never travels further than the borders of Imre? Don’t students ever go to distant lands and set up their own businesses there?
Then there’s the issue of the whole idea of “civilizing influences”. I can’t read that phrase without picturing Kvothe as one of these people who go to countries in Africa or Asia and take some sort of weird personal credit for the fact that people have iPads (whereupon, in a just world, they are immediately devoured by a swarm of flesh eating bats).
Later, Kvothe gets a visit from the Mayor’s private tailor and exaggerates the value and fanciness of the clothes he lost so they can be “replaced”.
The result was a richly colored burgundy cloak. It wouldn’t keep the rain off worth a damn, but I was quite fond of it. Not only did it make me look rather dashing, but it was full of clever little pockets, of course.
Yes Kvothe, you’re very quirky and internet with your hidden pockets and your secret compartments. I’m going onto 4chan to make lolcats about it right now.
Kvothe is stalking the Mayor in his garden for some reason and notices from his clothes that he’s rich as all get out.
I took in the tired lines of his face, the slight tremble of his hands, his posture. He looks old, I thought to myself, but he’s not.
How do you know how old he is?
Apparently he’s sick with some disease that makes walking difficult. He calls Kvothe over and they go ambling around the garden for awhile.
Occasionally the Maer would point out a particular piece of statuary and tell which of his ancestors had commissioned it, made it, or (he spoke of these in a quieter, apologetic tone) plundered it from foreign lands in times of war.
I love how monarchs that the hero becomes friendly with are always exclusively of the progressive, modern variety whose kingdoms are built on generations of bloodshed and slavery, but of course they wouldn’t dream of doing anything like that these days and it’s all in the past now.
And I guess giving the statues back as a gesture of goodwill would be out of the question.
The Mayor informs Kvothe that everyone is wondering who he is, because every atom of the god damn universe hangs on his very being, and that he should refrain from telling everyone so they’ll pay more attention to him. Presumably the Mayor is a wily fox and this ties into his plans in some way.
I idly wondered how exactly one was supposed to lounge. I couldn’t remember ever doing it myself. After a moment’s consideration, I decided lounging was probably similar to relaxing, but with more money in your pocket.
Terry Pratchett is still writing books. You’re not him.
Naturally the real drama in this part is whether Kvothe will be able to get enough money to buy his lute back, which has happened already, like, 37 times? I might be mis-remembering.
For a chance of having the Maer as a patron, I was willing to grit my teeth and spend a span bored and anxious, without music.
Holy shit, the drama. I just…. I’m not sure if I can go on with this, my hands are shaking here. It’s just too intense. Also people are spreading rumours about Kvothe, as they tend to do if he so much as farts in the presence of another sentient being.
Kvothe and the Mayor go back to the gardens again and walk around slowly while talking about things that aren’t important.
Their conversation is meandering and dull even by the standards of these books so I’m just going to skip it and I’ll bring it up again if it becomes important to the plot.
Oh bother,” the Maer said, his expression souring. “I must go take that dreadful nostrum of mine or Caudicus will be completely unmanageable for a span of days
His doctor is actually called Caudicus. I see we’re fully in JK Rowling naming convention territory.
Terrible woman. New man every span of days.
GOOD HEAVENS I MUST RETREAT TO MY FAINTING COUCH. Of course she has a “wicked smile” because women who sleep with lots of different partners instead of
Rothfuss Kvothe their One True Love are evil harpy slut whores.
Kvothe and the Mayor talk some more and the Mayor quickly brings Kvothe into his confidence for no reason as far as I can tell other than that Kvothe is the protagonist. Supposedly it’s because he has all of these qualities like intelligence and insight that the mayor favours, but I’ll be damned if I can see any of them myself.
Various members of the court come to gawk at Kvothe and talk to him, including several seduction attempts.
but at that point in my life I knew so little of women that I was immune to those games
Uh huh. Sure, Rothfuss, we believe you. No really, keep going. I’m fascinated.
Once more it feels as though this entire world revolves around Kvothe. None of the other characters feel as though they have any life or existence apart from how their orbits intersect his. They exist solely to react to him, usually by immediately becoming fascinated by him for no obvious reason. Kvothe enters a room and everyone else immediately swivels around to stare at him, like that bit in Inception where the mind-people catch on to Leonardo Di Caprio’s antics.