Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 88-92

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Back at the camp story time continues, with Hespe finishing her story about Jax and his quest for the moon. Incidentally this is one of the fifteen or so times I would have thrown the book in a furnace if I was reading it for leisure.

In the story Jax walks until he comes to a cave where on old man lives, who arrived there while “chasing the wind”. Circles, within circles. The old man offers to teach Jax how to “listen” so he can catch the moon.

Jax shook his head. “Too long. If I can catch her, I can talk with her. I can make—”

“Well that’s part of your problem right there,” the old man said. “You don’t really want to catch her. Not really. Will you trail her through the sky? Of course not. You want to meet her. That means you need the moon to come to you.

Metaphor for Kvothe and Denna’s fucked up relationship, got it.

The story actually nice a touch of the surreal about it that’s way more interesting than anything that’s been in the actual books so far, but it’s also long, tedious and cloyingly twee.

Hearing it, the moon came down to the tower. Pale and round and beautiful


Jax gets a piece of the moon’s name in a metal box, so she has to return to visit him every so often, and that’s way the moon disappears from the sky. Earlier Elodin asked Kvothe where the moon goes when it’s not in the sky so I guess this is where.

Unfortunately, that peaceful evening was like the lull that comes in the center of a storm

Fuck yeah, bandit attack!

The next day Hespe made a comment that sent Dedan off in a huff


Then it rains. Exciting.


Losing the Light

Losing the Plot

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the Kvothe brigade are miserable, oh God I don’t care can we please just get to the bandits already.

Kvothe returns to camp to find that the fire has been allowed to burn out, so he’s all wet and cold and can’t dry his boots. I’m kind of surprised that they can even start a fire if it’s been raining for days or that they’d want to considering they’re trying to stay hidden but whatevs.

Kvothe nearly has to wizard at Dedan to stop Dedan from attacking him, but just then Tempi and Marten come back looking agitated, Marten because he’s got a bad cold and Tempi because he totally iced too dudes in the woods.

I handed him his tea, and Tempi stirred in his seat by the edge of the fire. “I killed two men today,” he said.

dear God please let this be the bandits

Kvothe suspects that this is in fact the bandits so him, Tempi and Marten head off to check it out while Dedan and Hespe stay behind to drown in unresolved sexual tension.


To Sing a Song About

So then they kill the bandits, Kvothe finds the Chandrian and pulls the sword from the stone and becomes king, well that was fun see you all for the next Let’s Read!

Okay, no. (And no I’m not actually reading the Gor books)

They hike back to the bodies and Tempi stops Kvothe from disturbing them because disturbing the dead is not “of the lethani” or whatever.

These were not disgruntled farm boys. These were veterans

Well at least they’re not Champions.

Everyone else plays Guild Wars 2 and understand that joke, right? If you don’t just assume it’s hilarious.

They start to follow the bandit’s trail but then realize they’re being followed.

I smiled and stripped water from my face with a wet hand


Kvothe suggests they set up a trap for the bandits.

Try to leave one of them alive if possible, but we can’t have them getting away or making too much noise.

The implication here is that if they take one of them prisoner for questioning they’ll have to murder him in cold blood afterward, a prospect that doesn’t seem to particularly bother Kvothe, who if you recall has never actually done this sort of thing before.

Luckily it’s just Dedan and Hespe, here to annoy us all some more before this fucking side plot finally gets wrapped up.

Dedan manages to convince Kvothe to let them come along, but first Kvothe scares the bejeesus out of him by using some light magic and claiming to have stolen Dedan’s name like in the story they were listening to earlier.

They all creep up on the bandit’s camp. The bandits! We’re finally getting to the bandits guys. I am literally giddy with excitement here.

An inconvenient flash of lightning illuminates a sentry about to spot them but luckily Marten manages to pull off a sick-nasty shot to the heart and drops the guy with no fuss.


Flame, Thunder, Broken Tree




Yeah so it turns out the camp is just stuffed full of bandits, at least ten and possibly as many as thirty. Kvothe decides to wait for Dedan and Hespe, who had been told to follow ten minutes behind.

Things had been happening more quickly than I can tell them aloud


No seriously Rothfuss, you’re killing me here. “Things happening”, what a riot.

Tempi suggests they kill a few bandits then get the rest to chase them and set up an ambush. Now what I’d do in this situation is get Dedan and Hespe to hide a few minutes down the trail, but Kvothe sends Marten off to tell them to go back, under the apparent belief that more bandits means they should have less people with them for some reason. Oh and Tempi says this method will involve hunting down bandits for several days, because of course it will. Got to have three more chapters of eye twinkling and banter.

But uh oh, Dedan and Hespe accidentally followed the wrong set of foot-prints and are headed straight for the bandit camp! Do you think they’ll have a sexy adventure and realize their feelings for each other, or will Rothfuss pull one of those genre subversions he’s so fond of? I guess having the characters sit around and moan for weeks on end is technically a subversion, but it really just goes to show why most writers leave that shit out of their books: no one cares.

Men were swarming from the low tents like hornets from a nest. There were at least a dozen of them now, and I saw four with strung bows. Long sections of planking appeared from nowhere and were leaned against the posts, making crude walls about four feet high

There were these posts in the ground, which I guess the bandits use for instantly constructing walls? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Also “appeared from nowhere” makes it sound as if the planks literally materialized into being.

Kvothe doesn’t have any heat to wizard with so he can’t magic the bandits to death. Note how sympathy is supposed to work on transferring and converting energy (I think) but in practice this seems to just mean using sources of heat to do whatever. I can think of more than a few neat tricks Kvothe could pull with the storm overhead if he was actually just using energy, but I guess it for some reason needs to be heat.

I drew my long, slender knife of good Ramston steel and fixed the image of the bowman in my mind. I set my teeth and stabbed the dead sentry in the kidney

Wait, how is that working? Kvothe has done this before but only when he had hair or whatever belonging to the person he was targeting. Now he just needs a random body?

Anyway kvothe totally stabs the shit out of everyone by proxy, descending deeper in the Heart Of The Stone (mental state for sympathy) than he ever has before. Somehow. Just because. This is like the whole calling the wind thing from the end of the first book, it’s this book character moment that just comes completely out of nowhere.

This scene is by far the goriest thing that’s happened in the trilogy so far, with Kvothe cutting open eyeballs and sawing through tendons, but of course it doesn’t faze him yet because he’s a total badass. Just because.

The level 80 Elite bandit leader spawns in and Marten shoots him in the leg with an arrow, but he’s an even more super badass and just pulls it out.

He stood in plain view, not bothering to crouch behind one of the protective walls. He gestured to his men, and something in that motion was terribly familiar….

Is it…is it The Chandrian? I had almost started to believe that I dreamed that part of the first book, where stuff happened and I didn’t want to destroy all genre fiction forever.

The leader discovers their position and dudes start firing arrows. Kvothe uses wizard power to break most of their bowstrings, but he needs to use his own body heat to do it and could lapse into hypothermia if he doesn’t get warm. Hey Kvothe, the air in front of a lightning bolt is hotter than the surface of the sun. Just saying. I bet you could do some cool stuff with that.

Marten has been praying to Tehlu and (unknown to him) the As…. Asur? Asyr? Jesus it’s been so long since we even heard about them I can’t remember what they’re called. The dudes. This seems to get an odd reaction out of the commander.

Their leader turned his head as if to search the sky for something. Something about the motion seemed terribly familiar

I do believe we have a Chandrian on our hands! And it only took like an entire long novel’s worth of pages to get here!

Kvothe tells Marten to shoot the tree in the center of the camp. Kvothe uses the arrow to call a lightning bolt down to the tree, which I guess he can do somehow.

There was a whiteness. A brightness.

A lightness? A tightness?


Taborlin the Great

Can I just say how dumb it is that the legendary wizard is named “Taborlin”?

Kvothe wakes up somewhere, hears Dedan and Marten going on about how awesome he is for killing all the bandits with magic, then falls asleep again. That’s all that happens.

I find it pretty implausible that Kvothe could kill over a dozen people with a single bolt of lightning considering how rare it is for lightning to hit even one person. Was the tree made out of dynamite or something?



12 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 88-92

  1. zephyrean

    “He gestured to his men, and something in that motion was terribly familiar….”
    “Something about the motion seemed terribly familiar…”

    Something about that collocation seemed terribly familiar….

    > Wait, how is that working? Kvothe has done this before but only when he had hair or whatever belonging to the person he was targeting. Now he just needs a random body?

    And when I thought the book couldn’t get any worse, after the poison plot and the bandit plot, it just did. For all we keep bashing Rothfuss for adhering to roleplaying tropes, this is the part where he could have used some TTRPG design practices.

    It takes very little energy to kill a dude, WAY less than other level-appropriate wizardly feats. Character abilities have to be Magic systems that make practical sense (those of the playable roleplaying games) go out of their way to ban or limit “creative” applications of magic (I deal 1 damage to his aorta) while encouraging actual clever thinking. Now, in single-author fiction without a preset magic system, the two will be inevitably mixed, the holy grail clever wizard archetype tarnished on contact with things the author pulled out of his ass. However, from the beginning of TNotW, there was an honest attempt at demarcation between sympathy and Real Magic(tm), and a gentleman’s agreement that sympathy would be only used for mundane, low-level actions and Real Magic(tm) was only to be called upon in exceptional circumstances.

    And now it’s all out of the window. Kvothe is balls-out infinitely powerful (and unlike Superman, he doesn’t even have a moral compass for some options to not be on the table). Anything you can imagine, Rothfuss has technobabble his way through. From now on, nothing makes sense, nothing is of consequence.

    Much of TWMF is boring filler. Some very offensive things have happened and are yet to happen, and there are a number of them you missed (such as the bit in the moon story where the moon automatically assumes Jax wants to fuck her). But this is the place where the narrative outright disintegrates. It’s the difference between playing a game with chainmail bikinis and watching Rothfuss play a game with noclip and godmode one-handed and never shutting up about how great a player he is. This is seriously the second-worst episode in the whole damn book (second only to Kvothe’s money laundering, which shits on real-world logic and is yet to come).

    1. katz

      Admittedly, failure to define clear limits as to why you can’t just do anything with magic is a common problem in fantasy. Even Harry Potter never established why you can’t just do anything by waving a wand and saying a fake Latin word.
      But at least, in practice, some spells are treated as more advanced (though how waving a wand and saying a word can be more or less advanced is beyond me) and she consistently makes younger wizards unable to cast the more difficult (ie, broken) spells.

  2. katz

    Kvothe’s lack of moral compass is actually another factor that makes it feel like an RPG: The bandits are evil-aligned, so there’s no problem with killing them all. It’s an encounter; that’s what you do! Nobody debates with their group whether it’s really necessary to kill this goblin warband.

  3. lampwick

    What I wondered was — Why didn’t other wizards in other wars use Kvothe’s gruesome stabby techniques for killing their enemies? I mean, we know there have been other wizards and other wars for hundreds (thousands?) of years, and wars always give birth to extreme technology, so how come no one else ever thought of this?

    Just kidding — I know the answer. It’s because Kvothe is awesome, and he does everything better than everyone else.

  4. ronanwills Post author

    If anyone’s wondering why I start talking about Gor books halfway through the post for no reason….. there was, uh, supposed to be an image there. It didn’t show up for some reason. Whoops!

  5. katz

    Things had been happening more quickly than I can tell them aloud

    Translation: “When our role-playing group did this, it took eight hours.”

  6. Reveen

    You know, after all that buildup I was expecting these bandits to actually be cool. Like a bunch of metalhead guys wearing wolf skins, getting drunk around a giant lute bonefire, shredding Enter Sandman on electric guitars powered by captured tinkers running on giant hamster wheels.

    Aaaaand they’re all dead. Thanks Kvothfuss!

    Actually isn’t this, like, the first use of serous sympathy in a while? And he’s using it to rip people apart like Michael Myers and roast people with lightning. If Rothfuss means for us to think Kvothe is a sociopath he’s doing a good job. But I’m guessing we’re still supposed to by him as a kindhearted romantic with a musical soul.

    1. sonamib

      after all that buildup

      Yeah, they’re chasing bandits since Chapter 74. After 17 chapters, Kvothfuss needs not just one, but two Deus (Dei?) Ex Machina to kill them all!

      Agreed on Kvothe sociopathy. I mean, he could just have scared them all with his lightning and voodoo doll and tried to arrest them or something, but nooo, he just goes straight to murdering them.

    2. ronanwills Post author

      I think we’re just meant to think Kvothe is srsly badass liek woah

      I still don’t get how he actually managed to do all of that in the first place, it’s way more powerful than anything he’s ever done up to this point.


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