Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch.79-81

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Rothfuss is now naming these chapters by looking at random objects in his immediate vicinity, thus explaining the existence of Chapter 80: Cat and Chapter 81: Cloud That Looks Like a Urethra

Anyone can spot a piece of torn shirt hanging from a branch or a footprint gouged into the dirt, but those things never happen in real life. They make for convenient plot devices in plays, but really, when have you ever torn your clothing so seriously that you’ve left a piece of it behind?

Yes, okay, we get it. You’re deconstructing genre tropes. Although this is less genre tropes than cartoon-tropes. Presumably next Kvothe will explain that when people run into walls really quickly they don’t break holes in the surface shaped like themselves.

Of course we can’t just get to the bandits. First Marten has to teach them all how to track dudes in the forest. Kvothe carves a whistle that makes bird-calls, which he can apparently do now despite never demonstrating either of those skills before (knowing wizard-engineering doesn’t mean you can carve wood or mimic bird calls), so they can all keep in contact but the type of bird he chose isn’t native to the region.

Instead he uses sympathy to bind two twigs together like Sim and Kvothe did back when he was breaking into Ambrose’s rooms. You remember, back in 1870 or so when we were on that part of the book. This spooks the hell out of everyone else, making me once again wonder how common magic is in this world. Is the University the only wizard school? How many wizards are there? Kvothe seemed to have had a basic idea of what sympathy is when he was a kid but Marten doesn’t recognize the term.

The old huntsman was a surprisingly good teacher. He didn’t belabor his points, didn’t talk down to us, and didn’t mind questions

So the opposite of Kvothe then.

This is probably as good a place as any to point out that in my last post I revealed myself as a filthy craven liar by claiming that Kvothe said Marten was stubborn and argumentative and it didn’t fit his personality; it was actually Dedan, which makes much more sense.

Anyway, I’m wondering why Marten didn’t think to teach them this before they got to the bandit-infested murder forest, or why the Mayor didn’t just hire four people with pre-existing tracking skills.

 I’d thought searching the Archives had been tedious.

I thought so too!

Kvothe randomly stumbles on signs of the bandit’s passage almost immediately, which is pretty far fetched but I don’t care because I’m just happy we didn’t have to sit through five chapters of inane banter in the woods. Note that this is the very first time Rothfuss has been presented with an opportunity to pad the story out and decided not to take it. Maybe this is a sign he’s growing as a writer!

Good lord, boy. These aren’t real trail signs. So obvious, all so close together.” He gave me a long look. “I left them. I needed to make sure you weren’t going to glaze over after a few minutes of looking.


They go back to the camp and trade inane banter.

It was a familiar story, and listening to it reminded me of days long gone, back when I had a home, a family.

Remember that guys, when Kvothe’s family was violently murdered in front of him? Man, those were the days.



The Rothfuss household printer was out of toner, that’s why the “r” is missing.

Tempi and Kvothe are along in the camp so Kvothe asks Tempi to teach him some of his language. Tempi agrees, after frowning and fidgeting and smiling and more fidgeting. Kvothe can’t get the pronunciation of a word right, which results in several pages of the two of them playing fantasy conlang ping pong.

His face flushed a burning red, and a dozen emotions ran wild and un-disguised over his face: astonishment, horror, embarrassment, shock, disgust

Yes, in real life people signal each exact emotional shift with a corresponding facial expression. These characters are basically rage comics now.

Kvothe asks Tempi to sing an Adem song so the twee factor of this chapter will increase, but Tempi won’t because of Mysteries.


The Jealous Moon

The gang all sit around telling stories, blah blah.

A tale of Felurian.

Oh Jesus, here we go.

Cloven-hoofed pucks that dance when the moon is full. Dark things with long fingers that steal babes from cribs. Many’s the woman, old wife or new, who leaves out bread and milk at night. And many’s the man who makes well sure he builds his house with all his doors in a row.

Can we switch to a book about people trying to stave off fairy attacks? Please?

This is a story of Felurian. Lady of Twilight. Lady of the First Quiet. Felurian, who is death to men. But a glad death, and one they go to willingly

Spoiler: Felurian is a magical sex fairy who has sex with men and then kills them, with sex. Can you guess what’s going to happen later? Can you? You can, right?

Dedan tells a story about a boy whose father and uncle were out walking in This Very Woods. Dedan goes on about how totally hawt Felurian is and Hespe gets all jealous and possessive because that’s what women do apparently.

Hespe’s eyes were dangerous slits by this point


People totally do this in real life, yes indeed.

Before Hespe can deploy her Danger Eyes against Dedan she gets up and decides to storm off in a huff, because everything is like TV high school.

Dedan let his hands drop heavily into his lap. His expression moved from confused to injured to angry in the space of a breath

Either these parts were written way before the rest or Rothfuss is actually getting worse the more he writes.


13 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch.79-81

  1. zephyrean

    “why the Mayor didn’t just hire four people with pre-existing tracking skills”
    We all know the answer, one character with a high Survival rank is more than enough. The real question is, why don’t they have a cleric?

  2. Reveen


    And how the hell did Rothfuss get it into his head that a face can visibly go through a dozen emotions like that? Is he blind? Has he really never met a normal human being before? I seriously want to email him to ask what the fuck. That really is something Data would do.

  3. q____q

    „or Rothfuss is actually getting worse the more he writes.“

    Well, he’s doomed then, isn’t he ^_______^

  4. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    I don’t know about torn clothes but I’ve left gouges in mud before. Sounds like Rothfuss is writing about something he doesn’t understand again. The funny thing is most writes hide their ignorance of a subject by glossing over it while he seems to think clothing it in a metric ton of purple prose will do the trick.

    1. welltemperedwriter

      I can’t figure out if Kvothe is supposed to be speaking from a position of knowledge there–I mean, if he has woodcraft (I know, the months he spent living alone in the woods might as well have never happened), then he would know how to track, but then he shows himself to be a n00b after Marten’s teaching. I’m no expert but have a tiny amount of training, so take this for what it’s worth, but while for instance a person is unlikely to leave huge swatches of fabric behind, they can and do leave small fibers (much as an animal would leave bits of fur). And one fantasy trope that is actually real world true is that most people make a ton of noise and leave a swathe of broken branches and crushed debris behind them in the woods.

      And people and animals both definitely leave prints; the latter were my clue to leave an area I was hiking alone in several months back, because while I’m not good enough to tell the difference between a bobcat and a cougar at first glance, I could tell that a big goddamn cat had been through the same valley within the past few days. A bobcat is no big deal, but cougars occasionally attack people, especially lone hikers. (It also left poop–nobody ever mentions this in these kinds of novels, but poop is one of the best and most obvious clues–and yes, fur.)

      The foregoing represents very, very rudimentary knowledge–what you get from some Girl Scouting years ago, reading a few books, and taking a two-day wilderness survival course. Someone who hunts or does search and rescue would be way, way better at this than I am.

      So is Kvothe supposed to be mocking a conventional view of tracking? I mean his description sounds like something from a Hollywood movie. But I can’t tell.

      1. braak

        Pursuant to that, what the hell books is he reading where people leave swatches of fabric stuck on tree branches?

        The only time I can think of something like that happening — and of course I remember the event but not the book or movie that it came from — is when, like, a kidnapped person decides to leave a trail behind them.

        This is like in the other book where he goes on and on about how there were no CLUES because only STORIES have CLUES, except he lives in a world in which no one has invented Sherlock Holmes.


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