let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 65-67

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A Beautiful Game

Kvothe gets some fancy new rooms to show that the Mayor thinks he’s a swell guy.

It was a nice gesture, but I couldn’t help but think that these rooms were even farther from the kitchens. My food would be cold as a stone by the time it made its way to me.

Maybe I’m mis-underestimating how gigantic the Mayor’s palace is, but I don’t think food gets cold that quickly. And surely Kvothe could just go down to the kitchens to get his food and find someplace nearby to eat it? Although he seems to think he’s not allowed to leave without permission for some reason.

I opened the door to see Bredon’s dark eyes peering owlishly out at me from the halo of his white beard and hair


Bredon tucked his chin and chuckled, looking even more owlish than usual


Old Guy, during a conversation that involves a lot of chuckling and grinning and more chuckling and shaking of heads (I will never understand how this got published), is super impressed with Kvothe’s mystery ring he got from Stapes.

But the giving of rings goes back quite a ways. The common folk were doing it long before it became a game for the gentry

I really don’t think “the common folk” in ye olde times would have a ton of rings lying around. Old guy says that the rings made by the 99% crowd were traditionally created from common materials you could find lying around, but I don’t think poorer people would waste time, energy and resources making tons of rings just to give them away when they could be doing something that would help them survive.

Anyway the white ring is made of bone, which signifies that Stapes owes Kvothe a great debt. I’m not sure why he didn’t actually tell him that since Kvothe doesn’t know about the rings and would have no idea that’s what it means.

Something just occurred to me about the longer chapters- they’re paced sort of like tv show episodes or serialized mini-novels. There’s usually some sort of arc, with characters returning home at the end of the chapter and a period of time passing at the start of the next one. I get the sense details like what the ring means get left out out of some weird idea that the chapter will be too long or have too much happening in it (pfffft) even though this is a book and the chapters can be as long as you want them to be.

Traditionally, a ring such as this is carved from the bone of a deceased family member

Seriously? You’re telling me a member of this society’s working class, probably a subsistence farmer or someone toiling away just to scrape enough food up to survive, is going to start cutting flesh off their dead family member’s corpse so they can go to the trouble of carving a ring out of one of their bones? Or are there specialized ring-makers who’ll create rings out of whatever random material you bring them?

It’s not a part of games the gentry play, and not the sort of ring you should display.” He gave me a look. “If I were you, I’d tuck it safe away.”

….. is there a reason those sentences rhyme?

“You’ve been such help,” I said. “I wish I could repay—

What the fuck? Are they about to burst into song or something?

Kvothe and old guy play fantasy chess some more and Old Guy kicks Kvothe’s ass and goes into cliched mentor guy mode.

“Again,” Bredon said, a note of command in his voice I’d never heard before.

Old Guy spouts some nonsense about game strategy that, speaking as someone who’s spent a fair amount of time playing chess, sounds like total nonsense, then abruptly vomits out a dizzying array of vacuous bullshit:

Tak reflects the subtle turning of the world. It is a mirror we hold to life. No one wins a dance, boy. The point of dancing is the motion that a body makes. A well-played game of tak reveals the moving of a mind. There is a beauty to these things for those with eyes to see it

I’m guessing this doesn’t actually mean anything and Old Guy is just stoned out of his gourd.

He lifted his hands and shrugged


I swear Rothfuss was brought up in a concrete bunker by robots and has never actually seen another human before.

That’s all that happens in this chapter. I really hope this fantasy chess stuff has some kind of point.


Within Easy Reach

Kvothe lounges around his new rooms for a while. Strangely they no longer seem quite so ill fitting to him.

My new rooms were preferable because they had several cushioned, armless chairs that were perfect for playing my lute

No one fucking cares oh my god

Also just sit on your damn bed if you’re having trouble playing the lute, or if you’re really desperate sit on the table that the armless chairs were presumably designed to fit under.

I decided to dub the room with the good chairs my lutery. Or perhaps my performatory.

Kvothe is just so ker-aaaaaazy and randomroflolol I’m going to go post this on reddit so me and my cheese monkey bros can guffaw at it till our lungs explode

(why no I don’t have a chip on my shoulder why do you ask)

Kvothe drinks wine and plays music in the sun in a scene that I am convinced must have been written while Rothfuss was totally baked, then the Mayor enters.

He sat on a nearby couch

If you had a fucking couch why are you making such a huge deal about the chairs?

The Mayor asks Kvothe to keep playing as he wants to hear the music Kvothe will use to win over whats-her-face who we wants to marry (remember her?).

A passage connects them to my own rooms. We will need to meet frequently in order to discuss my courting

You could launch so many Kvothe/Mayor slash fics based on this premise.

Fingering his lute: An erotic thriller of three parts

Speaking of the courting, I’m confused about how this is supposed to work. Is Kvothe going to beguile this young woman with his music and lack of distinguishing personality features and then, when she’s fallen head over heels for him, announce that he actually wants her to fall in love with this other guy who she’s never met before? Honestly the Mayor would probably be better off emptying bags of money at her feet until she agrees to marry him.

Kvothe disses poets some more and then asks the Mayor for leave to visit the lower city whenever he wants, implying that he apparently had been confined to his rooms before now for whatever reason.

Naturally this is just an excuse to go talk at Denna some more.

A cat does not think of stretching, it stretches. But a tree does not even do this. A tree simply sways without the effort of moving itself. That is how she moved.

Shut the fuck up Kvothe.

Kvothe and Denna share some twee banter that involves Denna comparing a smile to “a faerie woman slipping between the trees”- I’m really starting to suspect Rothfuss was on something when he wrote this shit- and there’s a lot of talk of sunlight shining through pale dew and whatever the fuck. I’ve noticed the purple prose from the beginning of The Name Of The Wind is back in force.  Also of note is that Kvothe and Denna basically straight out say that they fancy the socks off of each other, but I’m assuming we’re still going to drag this particular plot thread out as long as it will go.

Then….. the chapter ends. I guess we just needed to be reminded that Denna exists? Rothfuss seems to believe that if she doesn’t show up once every few chapters we’ll forget who she is.


Telling Faces

Stapes drills Kvothe on

Wait I just realized what that sounds like

Fuck it I’m leaving it in

Stapes drills Kvothe on dinner etiquette and then we get to one of those bits that you can tell Rothfuss wasn’t interested in because he blows past it with almost no description, namely a dinner party with Meluan Lackless.  Kvothe is convinced he’s seen her before but can’t put his finger on where he could have.

If the Lackless lands weren’t a thousand miles away, I would have thought I knew her from the University. But that was ridiculous. The Lackless heir wouldn’t study so far from home.

Is it the door? It’s the door, isn’t it? You can travel through it and get to the one in the library, by passing through, I don’t know, Fairy World. Also Ambrose lives far away and studies at wizard school. Also also, Kvothe has heavily implied the University is the only such establishment in the world so where else would she go?

She was strikingly lovely, with a strong jaw

I bet there’s some sort of statistical correlation between the frequency with which a book features the phrase “strong jaw” and “almond shaped eyes” and how much it sucks.

The line of her neck was

Oh that’s another one.

Kvothe (who is totally bad with women you guys they’re sooooo scary) artfully puts the moves on Meluan, who we are also told has deep red lips with no need for makeup, because only fake ugly harpies have to use makeup, Real Women are naturally beautiful with no effort at all.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this come up in fiction. It’s a pretty unfair cultural pincer-move that the trope presents, complementing the also-prevalent idea that women must spend hours and tons of money on making themselves look attractive with the notion that this also makes them second-rate.

Kvothe lets rip some more quasi-romantic banter while expertly analyzing Meluan’s personality (but he’s so bad with women no really). Earlier I mentioned the idea of Kvothe being a sort of fantasy Sherlock Holmes type, and between this and the thing with the poison I kind of wish Rothfuss had gone more in that direction, because it’s a lot more entertaining than “self-centered wanker who doesn’t do anything” which is what we usually get.

Meluan is also pretty interesting, in that she actually has a personality and doesn’t instantly become sucked into the gravity well of Kvothe’s massive ego the instant she lays eyes on him. I have a feeling that won’t last.

“The roads are always thick with Wagon Bro bandits this time of year,” Meluan said coldly.

Uh oh

Riding the faux pas train all the way to awkward-town station

Yeah so she really seems to hate the wagon bros for some reason. Earlier she made some remark about not liking certain performers so I’m guessing she got upstaged during an audition, as opposed to something interesting. It would have been pretty cool if the Wagon bros actually were bandits in some parts of the world, and Kvothe had just failed to mention this until now. You know, maybe get into some of that subverting of expectations that’s supposed to be going on here by portraying them as an actual realistic culture with positive and negative qualities instead of a two-dimensional childish fantasy.

Kvothe returns to his room to write. Apparently the way this plan is actually going to work is that Kvothe will gather intel on Meluan and then write letters and songs and stuff that the Mayor will pass off as his own, which has the rather obvious drawback that Meluan might just fall in love with Kvothe instead.

In a handful of days there will be a dozen men in the estates who would gladly take her to wife, am I right?

I know “take her to wife” is technically a legitimate way of phrasing this statement but it still sounds totally awkward and weird to me.

“I know nothing of this,” he said with a hint of petulance.

Neither does Kvothe, supposedly. We’re actually supposed to believe that a 16 year old geek with absolutely no romantic experience who specifically and repeatedly states that he is bad at talking to women can run rings around a middle aged high-society aristocrat? How? Why? Where is Kvothe getting all of these mad dating skills from? He tries to wave it away as learning stuff from reading plays and watching Simmon unsuccessfully flirt with women, but I’m not buying that for a second. He comes across in these scenes like a god damn romantic savant. How did Rothfuss or his editor not notice the glaring discrepancy between how Kvothe is described and his actual personality?

I have a strong feeling I know why all of this “Kvothe doesn’t know how to women” stuff is being harped on constantly, but I’ll save it for a Certain Scene I know is coming up.


37 thoughts on “let’s read the wise man’s fear ch. 65-67

  1. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    I cannot wait for the fan outrage when Rothfuss inevitably announces that he will have to extend the series beyond three books because his incompetence-I mean genre deconstructions, mean he won’t be able to wrap everything up in his typical, highly decompressed style with only one more book.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I believe Rothfuss has made some statements to the effect that the third book is going to be the end of this particular trilogy, but maybe not the Kvothe series in total.

      Whenever he does get around to resolving the plot it’s not going to change the fact that upwards of 50% of the series is dead air.

  2. Sam Hanawalt

    I couldn’t help but think that these rooms were even farther from the kitchens. My food would be cold as a stone by the time it made its way to me.

    When I read that I couldn’t help but think how dumb that was. Do they not have covers for their food? Is it really such a long slog for the servants? No dumbwaiters? Do the Maer and the other nobles tolerate their food cold?

    Rothfuss just thoughtlessly applies his vaguely folksy, dim view of luxury and wealth to situations, and ends up getting daft observations like this.

    In fairness, they’re more like annoying burrs under the collar of a jacket made entirely of burrs, considering TWMF’s many other problems. But they certainly contribute their stings to the annoyed prickles I got when reading this book.

  3. Tams

    Who ever makes all those rings, must make a fair amount of profit though. My theory is that this entire gift of rings is one big scam and the origins story is just advertisement. I wonder if Rothfuss was making a statement, but that would just be strange at this point.
    The more I think about these worldbuilding details, the less I understand the people, culture and this book.

    Oh well, looking forward to the upcoming chapters! ಠಠ

    1. Reveen

      Honestly, I’d find the entire story far more easier to swallow if every single major character was running some sort of scam, including Kvothe and his entire reputation. I mean, Kvothe’s moon fey buddy is clearly pretending to be quirky and mystical to lull him into a false sense of security. One second he’s going to be talking to her and the next he’ll wake up without his kidneys.

      Weird, I’ve never specifically wished organ theft on a shitty protagonist before.

  4. Reveen

    I guess it was inevitable that Rothfuss would move from writing annoyingly quirky characters to creating an entirely annoying quirkiness based culture.

    1. katz

      At least there hasn’t yet been an entire culture where everyone’s like “this apple is made of dreams and moonlight.”

  5. braak

    Did someone say that Rothfuss built this whole thing up as the foundation for an RPG?

    I actually literally cannot imagine a more tedious RPG experience.

    “Stapes gives you a ring.”

    “I examine the ring.”

    “It is made of bone.”


    1. braak

      “Are we going to fight a dragon ever, Pat?”

      “You’re going to fight a fucking dragon RIGHT NOW!”

      “Awesome! I get out my swo–”

      “Calculate how many grams of unrefined resin you’ll need in order to effect the metabolism of a reptile of approximately thirty-five feet long.”

      “Uh. How much does it weigh?”

      “Role for geometry.”

      1. braak

        “You are in the library looking for books.”

        “I roll a 17 on library sciences.”

        “You do not find any books.”

        1. ronanwills Post author


          More likely the rp sessions involved Rothfuss and his buddies getting attention from hour quirky women.

      2. braak

        “For performance luting, do I add my bonus in ‘improbably good at all the skills’ or my ‘being a smug fucking prick’?”

        “Whichever is higher.”

        “I roll a 26 to lute.”

        “You are the best lutist.”

  6. q____q

    If I ever write a novel (which I won’t) I’ll give it to you to review before I (don’t) publish it. And ACrackedMoon.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I promise to be 100% fair and objective in accordance with how much money is wired into my swiss bank account before the review is written.

  7. Andrea Harris

    Re “Living Tak” — more than Harry Potter, living chess games are a common feature at Renaissance Fairs, which I’m sure Rothfuss has been to more than a few of. (Full disclosure: so have I, I used to love those things.)

  8. Austin H. Williams

    Wow. I had a lot of thoughts and reactions to these chapters…

    Here they are in bulletpoints.

    • Thank you for the nightmare fuel with that second picture. No! Seriously! Sleep is for losers, anyway..

    • “The rings” thing is something else that could be fascinating, nay, even interesting if Rothfuss was not so ham-handed about incorporating his original ideas into the text. There’s room for all types of subtlety, intrigue, and drama here. It could be one of those little nuances of worldbuilding that add to the mystique of a made-up culture.

    But instead he dives into an implausible völkisch origin for the rings tradition, and presents these even more implausible and/or confusing symbols and meanings behind them, doesn’t take advantage of Kvothe as a “fish out of water” to properly explain the meanings so we can get on with the story, and, ultimately, like every-damn-thing else, the whole thing caps off with it being just another sign of how Spectacularly Awesome® Kvothe is.

    • The way this Tak-master (why do I fear some terrible pun coming up soon in the text…) is going on about his game, it reminds me of a lot of the zen-applications of Go. Not that I want to accuse Rothfuss deserving credit here, but perhaps the strategies he advises would work better in Go than in chess?

    • Regardless of whether it’s Go or chess that Tak is supposed to emulate, any decent writer would, at the very least, google some tips, or peruse a book on chess or Go strategy before having a character who’s supposed to be an expert provide a bunch of amateur advice. I’m sure at this point, too, Rothfuss could just jump onto Reddit and ask, “Hey, so, I’m working on a character who’s supposed to be a chess expert – what kind of advice would he give to a novice?”

    • Actually, what the good writer who isn’t a strategy board-game master would do, is simply write, “And he showed me some expert tactics, and continued to develop me as a gameplayer, and a strategist,” and avoid bogging us down in details of a game that holds no other relevance to the plot than to show that Kvothe is becoming an expert strategist.

    • Last thought totally invalidated if there is some sort of “Living Tak” game that Kvothe has to win later on, a la Harry Potter. All things considered, I’m half expecting this to happen.

    • When I read “The Lutery,” I thought to myself, “I used to have roommates who would totally give a room that name. They’re also the same kind of mouthbreathing, porn-addicted ‘nice guys’ that Kvothfuss seems tailor made to appeal to.” It actually gave me a slight headache.

    This, perhaps more than anything, is what made me realise that Rothfuss was that guy sitting outside the dormhall, playing his guitar, wearing a Phish shirt, who actually thought this would impress people who were not just carbon copies of his own personality and win him friends and fame. Or worse yet, Rothfuss wants desperately to be one of those guys!

    • And naturally, we get treated to passages of bad strategy-game advice, but something as human as dinner etiquette (not to mention, something that’s actually rife for friction and drama) gets overlooked.

    • Evidently teleportation magic isn’t realsies in this world, either, so of course no one from bootleg Hogwarts could just use a spell to instantaneously travel or whatever. BOOM. Deconstructed.


    “She was strikingly lovely, with a strong jaw”

    I bet there’s some sort of statistical correlation between the frequency with which a book features the phrase “strong jaw” and “almond shaped eyes” and how much it sucks.

    “The line of her neck was”

    Oh that’s another one.

    -Lol’d at this.

    • Concerning your observations about these echoes of the Make Up is Evil trope, spot on.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      ” Last thought totally invalidated if there is some sort of “Living Tak” game that Kvothe has to win later on, a la Harry Potter.”

      I totally thought of that as well XD

      I wonder if I’m being slightly unfair with all the Harry potter connections? I story isn’t even really similar at all, it’s just all these little things I keep noticing.

      1. Austin H. Williams

        Even if the story is radically different from any of the Harry Potter books, there are a lot of these similar elements that keep cropping up, too many, it seems, so, yeah, still half-expecting the Living Tak game.

  9. braak

    Denna is Meluan Lackless’ sister, and the vanished family heir. The family just thinks she was abducted by wagon bros because they don’t understand her.

    That is why Meluan looks familiar to Kvothe.

    1. magpiewhotypes

      The Internets tell me that Kvothe’s mom was Meluan’s older sister, which means that some ancient prophecy will be fulfilled or some shit.

      Denna is the moon because she’s MYSTERIOUS and also because Rothfuss’s conlang is basically English, so “Denna” equals “Diana,” the Roman name of the moon goddess.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        Wait that means Meluan is Kvothe’s aunt?

        (Also just a heads up, I would actually like to avoid spoilers as much as possible so I can react to things of the cuff rather than having pre-conceived notions)

      2. braak

        Oh, uh, I was just guessing, I don’t think that was a for real spoiler. Isn’t Meluan, like, sixteen though?

        1. ronanwills Post author

          Pretty sure she’s an adult at least, it would be a bit skeevy if the mayor was looking to marry a teenager (not that that would stop most fantasy authors)

      3. braak

        That is what I was confused about, I remember it seeming really skeevy to me when I read it. Like, the implication was just that Meluan was really, really young.

      4. magpiewhotypes

        No, dude, I am sorry! It’s not really a spoiler–just Internet speculation on the first part and my guess on the second part. Cause Denna is wild like the wind, er, the moon!

        Part of the series’ appeal seems to be that Kvothe, for all his supposed intellect, is not very good at figuring things out. This gives the readers the opportunity to play puzzle master and feel clever for figuring out the clues in advance of the narrator.

        1. ronanwills Post author

          Hey, don’t worry about it. It’s not like I’m particularly gripped by the plot anyway XD

          Besides I’ve already read about some of the really, er, notable stuff that happens later

      5. braak

        Oh, but interesting bit there, if that WERE true, the Kvothe would — as is usual for fantasy heroes, I guess — get to enjoy both that divine elitist quality by being born into a superior aristocratic family AND the narrative benefit of having been raised poor or working class. He gets to be both privileged, and from a victimized group of people so that no one can accuse him of privilege! Great!

  10. katz

    Okay, plenty of cultures have customs of giving people things by way of greeting (business cards, calling cards, etc), but the ring-giving thing is terrible. Some reasons:

    -Rings are expensive. Kind of a massive money drain to spend hundreds of dollars on a gold ring that you’re then socially obligated to just casually give someone (since ring-giving isn’t limited to a one-time thing or to very close friends).

    -The different rings mean different things…thus requiring you to have a constant stock of all of them just in case you need a particular one. What if you don’t have it when you need it? What if you can’t afford it? What if the jeweler is all out of dead ancestor bones right then?

    -And then you’re constantly getting relatively rare, valuable things from people, especially if they have to keep giving you new rings when your relationship to them changes. What do you do with them? Seems like a pretty big precious-metals sink if you just keep them. Can you regift them? But even if you could, people in different social positions would tend to end up with surpluses of a certain type that wasn’t the one they needed.

    -It doesn’t sound like the ring has anything on it that identifies the person who gave it to you, so it’s not that useful as a reminder of their relationship to you.

    -But if they did have an identifying feature, then regifting would be right out.

    In the end I just imagine there must be a “sorry, I don’t have the right ring” ring and eventually it would displace all the others.

    1. Austin H. Williams

      I still see ways that this “rings” thing could work. It would have to be done entirely differently, and would have to originated in the upper class, and certainly you just couldn’t go about throwing rings all over the place, but I imagine it could work in a manner similar to how flowers given to people had these coded meanings in the 19th century and all that.

      What I would have done:

      • Have the “rings” tradition go back to some popular courtier from a few centuries back
      • Indicate specifically that all the rings have emblems for each house/individual on them
      • Use the rings like calling cards, as a way of asserting authority or whatever for when you need to pull rank. “I have the gold ring of the Maer! Stand aside, peasant!”
      I would not have people making rings out of their dead family members!

      1. q____q

        I think in Kvotheland these rings are used to show off, you publicly display how many gold rings you have on some shelve or something and everybody is in awe (this wouldn’t work of course, since you could just make some rings yourself)

      2. katz

        Sure, the rings concept isn’t DOA. But it would need a major overhaul.

        Another thing: What about negative relationships? If someone owes you a great debt, do you have to give them a ring to say so? Do you give a ring to your sworn enemy? Or to tell someone to piss off?


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