let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 57-58

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Before we get into today’s exciting material, take a look at this:

Fox has just snagged the television rights to Pathrick Rothfuss’ awesome, best-selling fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicles. That’s practically the only news we have, but for those people who have read the amazing first two books, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, it is officially time to freak out.

Here’s the Deadline article:

New Regency Productions and 20th Century Fox Television have optioned Patrick Rothfuss’ fantasy trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle to develop into a drama series. Eric Heisserer (Hours, The Thing) is attached to adapt the series and will exec produce. Arnon Milchan, Andrew Plotkin, Brad Weston and Robert Lawrence (Die Hard With A Vengeance) also serve as exec producers. Set in a compelling world where the sharpest minds can master magic, The Kingkiller Chronicles tells the story of Kvothe, a streetwise young man who hopes to one day hunt down the mysterious group that murdered his family.

Source: io9

Thanks to several people in the comments for alerting me to this.

The first thing that strikes me about that article is how if you took out “streetwise” and switched “young man” to “boy” the plot synopsis they give would work equally well for a Harry Potter TV series.

Also, lol wut?

It kind of blows my mind that some group of executives read these books and thought “yeah, this will make for great television!” It’s obvious this is happening to cash in on the success of Game of Thrones, and as a fantasy property to adapt the Kvothe books certainly have their appeal, being largely bereft of magical creatures and big battle scenes that would require a high special effects budget.

Needless to say you’ll be hearing more about this from me whenever the series gets off the ground.


A Handful of Iron

I MET BREDON ON MY fourth day in Severen. It was early, but I was already pacing my rooms, nearly insane with boredom.

Is there some reason I’ve missed why Kvothe can’t leave his room? He’s not the Mayor’s prisoner, right? And how shady is it to summon him all the way to Vintas and then not tell him why he’s there?

Alveron wanted to see if I was truly willing to make myself available to him at any unreasonable hour of the day or night. He was watching to see if I would become impatient or irritated by his casual use of me.

Isn’t this exactly the same bullshit Elodin has been pulling for the rest of the book? Now I’m really starting to feel like Rothfuss just has some sort of weird aversion to moving the plot forward for some reason. The “drama” in this part of the story is supposed to come from Kvothe’s lute, which he needs to recover within 14 days or it will be sold. This is roughly as exciting as a novel about a guy who needs to get to the post office before it closes.

I opened the door to reveal an older man, a gentleman down to his bones. His clothes gave him away, certainly, but more important was the fact that he wore his wealth with the comfortable indifference of someone born into it. New-made nobles, pretenders, and rich merchants simply don’t carry themselves the same way.

Why not? I see this come up often in fiction, most likely regurgitated unthinkingly by mediocre writers like Our Hero, but I’ve never understood what it’s getting at. Are old-money types taught how to stand differently as children or something? Is it somehow genetic? Also note that Kvothe has repeatedly fooled people into thinking he’s a noble, so I guess “pretenders” can act rich if they learn how.

For example:

Thanks to Alveron’s tailors, I was dressed as well as anyone. The colors were good on me, leaf green, black, and burgundy, with silver workings on the cuff and collar. However, unlike Stapes, I wore the clothes with the casual ease of nobility.

But you just said that oh fuck it

The old guy at the door is named Bredon, and he sets up a chess-like board game with Kvothe with no intoduction. Ah yes, another quirky old man who chuckles and winks and shakes his head after every sentence, this is what I need more of.

Kvothe and Old Guy talk courtly politics for a while and eventually Old Guy explains that he’s hoping to befriend Kvothe early so that if Kvothe rises to a high position in the Mayor’s favour he’ll have an influential ally. They play the board game, Tak, for a while.

Afterwards Old Guy explains how the court politics work, with people giving each other rings when they’re interested in talking to someone based on their relative status, and much meaning ascribed to how a person stores and displays their ring collection. Old Guy gives Kvothe an iron, silver and gold ring with his name on it to send out to people he might want to talk to, including himself. However he hasn’t old Kvothe his own rank within the court and advises him to send a silver ring if he wants to play more fantasy chess…. which means that people will assume Kvothe is the same rank as him, but Kvothe doesn’t know what rank Old Guy is and how this will make people perceive him.

So this is actually really interesting. I’ve always found internal politics and the workings of self contained environments to be fascinating and this is a fairly unique set up. Plus, the dilemma over how to interact with Old Guy is actually a real problem (of course it’s a largely artificial one since Old Guy could just tell him Kvothe what his standing in the court is, but I’m assuming he’s got some sort of reason for doing that).

More time passes and Kvothe and Old Guy play fantasy chess to pass the time while the Mayor does whatever it is he’s doing.



After not calling him for two days Kvothe is summoned to the Mayor’s rooms by Staples. It turns out the Mayor is only forty years old but is aging rapidly due to some sort of unspecified illness. I’m really hoping it’s a magic curse of some kind and not just fantasy-cancer or something. At this point a cliched find-the-mystical-thing quest would be a breath of fresh air.

The point is his strength is rapidly fading and even if the disease isn’t fatal in the short term it’s going to leave him too weak to get married and have children; this is a problem because he doesn’t have any heirs.

 I was rather strong-headed about not taking a wife at the time

Does anyone else find the phrase “taking a wife” really creepy and gross?

Anyway the Mayor needs a wife pronto, one of the proper social standing and young enough to engage in royal badonk-a-donk and form babbies, but not one under the king’s control so he’d have to concede political power to arrange the marriage. Improbably there’s only one such woman in the land, but the Mayor doesn’t think she’ll be interested in him and he doesn’t want to use his position to coerce her into it. Which is a relief, things were going a bit Gameof Thrones-ish there for a second.

Her name is Meluan Lackless. I guess she doesn’t lack for beauty, eh? Eh? Am I right? Eh?

Yeah Kvothe has to convince her to marry the Mayor by, like, writing songs and shit. Okay, then. Whatever.

Caudicus can lay the groundwork for you. He knows a great deal about the history of the families. Family is the foundation upon which a man stands

I haven’t mentioned this before, but the Mayor speaks almost entirely in meaningless profundities. Most of his conversations with Kvothe go something like this:

“Shall I go into town to run some errands, your Grace? Because if you don’t mind me saying so, I’ve been here for like a week and it’s getting fucking boring.”

“Yes, I believe so. Go and fetch me some bread.”

“Right, well, I’ll be back in about-”

“Bread. The foundation of the diet. The almighty loosener of bowels.”


“The product of man’s ingenuity over nature!”

“That’s very-”

“Also get milk.

“Right, okay then-”

“The sweet nectar of life!”

“Please let go of my sleeve.”

Anyway the Mayor doesn’t want anyone to know what Kvothe is doing so he needs to complete his mission all subterfugally (it’s a word now, shut up).

Sometimes they don’t give it knowingly, sometimes they don’t give it willingly. Nevertheless … all power.

That certainly is a real statement that actually means things, and not faux-profound drivel.


14 thoughts on “let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 57-58

  1. katz

    I’m hoping this goes like Eragon: The producers throw everything but the names out the window, hack together a cliche but entertaining script of standard fantasy tropes, and produce a mildly entertaining popcorn movie (well, series). The fans throw a hissy fit about how it’s been ruined. Everyone else says it’s better this way.

    Honestly, I can’t imagine it going any other way.

  2. braak

    It kind of blows my mind that some group of executives read these books and thought “yeah, this will make for great television!”

    It would kind of blow my mind to find out that some group of executives had actually read these books at all.

  3. q____q

    It must be pretty harsh only to get a TV series when Twilight and Harry Potter and every other bullshit get „real“ movies, don’t you think?

    It least they can’t whitewash anything (hello, Earthsea) because everybody is already Aryan (if I’m not mistaken).

  4. sonamib

    Isn’t this exactly the same bullshit Elodin has been pulling for the rest of the book? Now I’m really starting to feel like Rothfuss just has some sort of weird aversion to moving the plot forward for some reason.

    I couldn’t make it to last time’s comments, but didn’t we basically learn that Rothfuss’s rough draft had entire chapters going like this:

    Chapter 727329
    [Stupid title needed]
    some bullshit happens

    He had years to pad out that book. Any plot it might’ve had was drowned by the 150,000 words of meaningless fodder he added to the rough draft. It’s terrifying to think that he worked hard to overdilute his own book, with the approval of his very own editor!

    And I might just hate-watch some of the TV series if it does happen. I don’t know if you’ll be able to stomach that after reading a gazillion pages of this Kingkiller drivel.

  5. magpiewhotypes

    I could see a Kingkiller Chronicles series being pretty good, if they scrapped most of the books’ content and just made it about Kvothe and his sidekick Bast roaming the land and putting wrongs right with their awesome powers, like a fantasy “Kung Fu” or “Macgyver.”

    If the producers faithfully adapt the books, it would be brainnumbing. Scene after scene of a kid freaking out over a lute.

    1. braak

      It should actually be about Chronicler, going from town to town, having adventures while he gets the stories of other adventurers throughout history, and then it could end when he meets Kvothe.

      1. magpiewhotypes

        OK, so Chronicler is travelling to meet Mighty Hero Kvothe, but he keeps getting waylaid. Finally he meets up with Kvothe, who turns out to be the windbag we all know and er, love from the novels.

        Chronicler is disappointed in Kvothe, but then he realizes that while he was trying to meet Kvothe, HE WAS HAVING THE REAL ADVENTURE ALL ALONG. So he skips out on Kvothe’s lameass story to hit the open road once more!

  6. Reveen

    Just as I figured, wealth is bad and shallow and blah, blah up until they let you dress like a dickhead.

    The colors were good on me, leaf green, black, and burgundy, with silver workings on the cuff and collar.

    Anybody else think this would look pretty stupid? I mean, I don’t have a whole lot of fashion sense but I’m pretty sure green and burgundy wouldn’t look good together.

    1. Andrea Harris

      It sounds like Rothfuss is one of those people who have no idea what colors go with other colors. Of course, I don’t know what the clothing pieces are like – are they robes, or a tunic, hose, and surcoat, or a more 18th-19th-centuryish vest and frock coat and knee pants look? Rothfuss hasn’t really established the setting so we don’t really know how people are dressed. Have they invented buttons? I think in Europe those started being used some time in the 1400s though I’m not too sure. Or does everyone wear togas? As it stands, I’m just going to envision everyone looking like Rothfuss in his gnome outfit, including Denna.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        This chapter explicitly states that people use buttons. Apart from that it’s a lot of boots, cloaks and miscellaneous “shirts”- ie the sorts of clothes you’d find in a D&D campaign. Also he mentions brocade at one point, if that helps at all.

        I’m actually picturing everyone wearing latter half of the 19th century clothing, as in the nobility are dressing similarly to Bismarck or something, although that’s probably not what Rothfuss had in mind. It will be interesting to see what direction the tv series goes in.

        “As it stands, I’m just going to envision everyone looking like Rothfuss in his gnome outfit, including Denna”

        This is the best comment

      2. braak

        If he’s wearing a coat with a collar and cuffs for everyday wear (and assuming that 1) the fashion history of Kvotheland roughly parallels fashion in Western Europe and 2) that by collar he doesn’t mean “ruff”), then it probably ought to be mid-17th century to mid-18th century.

        I don’t remember the book in that much detail, but while I know Kvothe talks a lot about shirts, he doesn’t say much about “doublets”; likewise, I don’t remember how they talk about pants, but whether it’s “breeches” or “trousers” is roughly the line in the 18th century.

        Of course, it’s all weird; once coats came into fashion for everyday fashion, they also tended to displace cloaks for outerwear, and we know Kvothe loves his fucking cloak. Obviously there’s no principle reason why fashion in Kvotheland HAS to follow the history of fashion in western Europe, what a great opporunity to try exercise the fantasy muscles and imagine a whole new history and style of dress — an opportunity that’s wasted on someone who can’t even be bothered to figure out what the weather in his fantasyland is like.

        I suppose we ought to be grateful that there’s no evidence that the Fedora has been invented yet.

  7. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    Personally I prefer subterfudgally. It’s sneaky and delicious.

    So once again Kvothfuss is in trapped in a plot that only makes sense because the author wants the characters to act in a very specific and artificial way. How exciting.

    1. Sevansl Canzate

      But can you not see the mark of great, epic storytelling genius??? Verily, you must be blind!

      (Also, those fucking rings aren’t overcomplicating anything at all, no way…)


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