Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 96-98

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CHAPTER NINETY-SIX

The Fire Itself

Let’s just get this over with, seriously.

Kvothe awakes from his post-fairy-coital slumber in a place with trees overhead and silken pillows below.

while a few feet away Felurian lay, her naked body loosely splayed in sleep.

Kvothe is all in awe of Felurian’s bodacious hawtness and strangely unconcerned with the fact that her whole thing is killing men (I’m starting wonder if he fell asleep during Dedan’s story and missed that part) and that he somehow has survived sleeping with her. I assume a sensible explanation for that will be coming along any minute now.

Her closed eyelids were patterned like a butterfly’s wings

The fuck?

swept in whorls of deep purple and black with traceries of pale gold that blended to the color of her skin. As her eyes moved gently in sleep, the pattern shifted, as if the butterfly fanned its wings.

I’d be more inclined to find this terrifying than sexy, I have to say.

I ate her with my eyes

Um

You may have noticed a sharp uptick in the shittiness of the writing (I know, I’m surprised it could get any worse too).

She is what men dream of. All the places I have been, all the women I have seen, I have met her equal only once.

Is it Denna

Because dude, I know Denna is a swell lady and all but I’m fairly certain she’s not supernatural-sex-goddess swell.

Kvothe finally snaps out of his lust-induced coma and realizes that he’s in quite a spot of bother (and also that Felurian totally licked his wizard staff multiple times but the less said about that the better) and prepares to make his escape. Unfortunately Felurian wakes up.

Asleep she was a painting of a fire. Awake she was the fire itself.

….

She smiled like a knife in velvet

THIS IS BAD WRITING

YOU DO NOW KNOW HOW TO WRITE LEARN HOW TO WRITE

The round fullness of her breasts was lifted by the motion of her arms, and suddenly I felt like a stag in rut

WANK HARDER READERS, WANK UNTIL YOU CAN WANK NO MORE

Kvothe’s reaction to all of this seductive stretching is, hilariously, to start composing a song to Felurian in his head. I’m thinking Denna might have been lucky her and Kvothe never confessed their feelings to each other. The lyrics to this song are actually quoted in the text, but I’ll save it until we presumably get the full version.

 “why are you so quiet, flame lover? have I quenched you?”

Jesus this wri-

Wait, what?

 “a poet! I should have known you for a poet by how your body moved.”

….. why is none of her dialogue capitalized? Is this like Ultimecia from Final Fantasy VIII and her “time kompression”?

Now I’m imagining Felurian looking like this and nothing Rothfuss says will change my mind:

Ultimecia2

Felurian’s voice is all soft and beseeching and shit, which Kvothe naturally finds irresistible.

There was only one person I’d ever heard whose voice was similar to this. Elodin.

Scandal rocks Wizard School! Teacher-Student affair revealed!

No it’s just that Elodin speaks “as though the world itself were listening”, whatever that means.

Felurian sees Kvothe’s lute (and his musical instrument as well) and runs off to bring it to him, “like a child with a new toy” because all women must be infantalized.

As I took it, I saw her eyes were wide and … wet?

I looked into her eyes, and in a flash of understanding I realized what her life must be like. A thousand years old, and lonely from time to time. If she wanted companionship she had to seduce and lure. And for what? An evening of company? An hour? How long could an average man last before his will broke and he became as mindless as a fawning dog? Not long.

And who would she meet in the forest? Farmers and hunters? What entertainment could they provide, slaved to her passions? I felt a moment of pity for her. I know what loneliness is like.

Are you fucking serious

Also dude, she’s a naked magic sex fairy who can do sex with such mind-blowing prowess that it literally kills people, pretty sure she could get all the company she wants. Also note how the possibility of what would happen when a homosexual woman stumbles on Felurian is never discussed.

Felurian is delighted with Kvothe’s singing in more creepy child-like ways. Can we please drop this infantalization at least with the women Kvothe has just had sex with.

And lovely, of course. I concentrated on my fingering so as not to think about it.

Okay, I’ve been making dumb lute jokes this entire time but that one has to have been intentional.

Kvothe suggests he should go but Felurian instantly uses her lust-driven mind control powers to ensnare him. Doesn’t this suggest that she was basically raping him earlier, since it’s implied he wasn’t really in control of his actions? We do in fact get some vague recognition of this in the next chapter, although I’m guessing it’s not going to stop Kvothe from characterising the whole experience as woahoh way hawt.

CHAPTER NINETY-SEVEN

Blood and Bitter Rue

The part of me that was still Kvothe raged, but I felt my body respond to her presence. With a horrible fascination I felt myself crawl through the cushions toward her. One arm found her slender waist, and I bent to kiss her with a terrible hunger.

Felurian is naked, boobs, Kvothe manages to keep himself away from her somehow, boobs, Felurian can’t understand how Kvothe is resisting her, boobs.

So hey remember waaaaay back in the first book when Kvothe implied he had been raped by older street urchins in Tarbean? No? Well that totally happened, go back and check. In the middle of Felurian mind-and-literally-raping Kvothe we get a bizarre, wildly out of place super-grimdark flashback to one time when some older boys pinned Kvothe down and cut his clothes off, so he fought his way free and caved one of their heads in with a cobblestone.

What the fuck?

Why hasn’t this ever come up before? Why are we suddenly flashing back to it now, in the middle of a skeezy wish fulfillment section about Kvothe having sex with a hot older women?

I felt cold. Detachedly, I gathered up the pieces of my mind and fit them all together. I was Kvothe the trouper, Wagon Bro born. I was Kvothe the student, Re’lar under Elodin. I was Kvothe the musician. I was Kvothe.

Kvothe unlocks the hidden power inside himself and ascends to his Ultimate Battle Mode or something, I don’t know. It doesn’t make any more sense in the book. This is so god-awful and amateurish, I swear to God I feel like I’m reading bottom of the barrel Fictionpress garbage.

She was of the Fae. She did not worry over right or wrong. She was a creature of pure desire, much like a child.

Oh my God stop comparing her to a child what the fuck is wrong with you

Standing, she was not tall or terrible. Her head was barely level with my chin.

Remember, women can be totally hot and sexually aggressive but eventually they have to reveal that they’re actually child-like waifs who cry easily around our rugged male hero.

The arch of her bare foot said more of sex than anything I’d seen in my young life. Another step. Her smile was fierce and full. She was as lovely as the moon. Her power hung about her like a mantle. It shook the air. It spread behind her like a pair of vast and unseen wings.

This goes on for quite some time. Her feet! The arch of her hip! Power! Shadows and moonlight!

She met my eyes, and in the twilight written there I saw again the four clear lines of song.

Eyes unlike anything I had ever seen […] …a sort of twilight blue

looking into Felurian’s twilight eyes

smiling-woman

Kvothe sings the twee little song he composed earlier in a “voice filled with rage” which comes across a lot sillier than I think it was supposed to. Really wondering how the TV series is going to portray this.

Felurian gave a startled cry and sat so suddenly that it was almost like a fall. She curled her knees toward herself and huddled, watching me with wide and frightened eyes.

fuuuuuuuuuuccckkkk yoooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu

I seriously can’t believe we’re doing this. The sex goddess as old as time itself is cowed before the might of a fucking sixteen year old boy, who, remember, she is significantly shorter than. I can’t remember how tall Kvothe is supposed to be but if she’s only up to his chin she could easily only be as tall as a child in the 10-12 range. I know plenty of adult women can be quite short, but combined with all the other bullshit we’re seeing here it’s super creepy.

If you think this whole situation is bad now, just wait. We’re rapidly approaching the event horizon here.

Kvothe gets his wind powers on again and manages to immobilize Felurian. He realizes he has the power to kill her but decides not to.

Killing her would be destroying something strange and wonderful. A world without Felurian was a poorer world

I’m pretty sure you don’t have to feel bad about killing someone who is holding you prisoner and seems quite intent on sexing you to death if she manages to get out of your little wind prison.

I made a tearing motion and the silver flame that once had been my breath became three notes of broken song and went to play among the trees.

‘Scuse me a second, breaking out the alcohol.

My power rode like a white star on my brow.

I have to assume Rothfuss was eyeball-deep in LSD when he wrote this chapter.

Then Kvothe abruptly forgets the name of the wind, again, he’s all distraught and stuff, blah blah.

CHAPTER NINETY-EIGHT

The Lay of Felurian

Ha ha.

Kvothe starts to play his lute, just because. Keep in mind he is now sitting naked on a pile of silk cushions in a magical fairy-forest surrounded by butterflies while playing the lute. If drugs were not involved in the creation of this scene I’ll eat my keyboard.

I struck a chord out of habit, then made it minor so the lute seemed to be saying “sad”.

[…]

Without thinking or looking up I began to play one of the songs I had written in the months after my parents died.

If you remember, the last time Kvothe talked about his lute music embodying emotions or concepts was waaaaaay back at the start of the first book, before he even got to Tarbean. We’re suddenly seeing the return of a lot of stuff from that part of the story, which I’m guessing indicates that the Felurian sequence was written around the same time, before all of the intervening events. Either that or Rothfuss just has no idea how to plot a story.

Felurian is moved to tears again by Kvothe’s music and appears to change her mind on the whole “boning him to death” thing.

However, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the way she referred to me as “her” Kvothe.

And yet, Kvothe refers to Moon Fey-chan as “his” multiple times. Hypocritical, much?

Kvothe sings for Felurian while she blushes and looks at the ground bashfully, then offers to write a song for her. Now Kvothe explicitly states that he’s “one of the best” song-writers in history (really- he compares himself to Illien, who is to song in Kvothe’s world what Shakespeare is to writing in our’s). There’s a long-standing piece of advice in writing that if you describe a character as “the best [x]” then you don’t actually show them being the best [x]. If they’re the best comedian we don’t hear their jokes, if they’re the best writer we don’t see their writing, because unless you yourself are the best comedian or the best writer in the world then it’s going to fall flat.

Needless to say we get to read the lyrics of Kvothe’s masterpiece and it’s… well, just read them for yourself.

Flashing moon silver, midnight blue her eyes

The lids were subtle-colored butterflies.

Her hair swayed, a dark scythe swinging

Through the trees with the wind singing.

Felurian! 0 Lady Fair,

Blessed be your forest glade.

Your breath is light upon the air.

Your hair is shadow-dappled shade.

She danced in dancing shadows candle cast

She held my eyes, my face, my form, full fast. Her smile a snare ten times as strong

As legendary faerie song.

O Lady Fair! Felurian,

Your kiss is honeysuckle sweet.

I pity any other man

Unknown to you and incomplete.

A master song-writer, indeed. I guess we could interpret this as Kvothe being an unreliable narrator and wildly over-estimating his abilities, but everyone else reacts as though he’s just the shit as well. In fact Felurian claims later that people will “sing the song for a thousand years”. Well maybe, in the same way that The Room will never be forgotten.

Kvothe has some sort of plan going on here that basically involves negging Felurian, so he ends the song with lyrics implying that her prowess at sexing is just sort of okay and he’s had better. Of course, it’s not like an immortal sex goddess could ever be made to feel insecure by criticism from a sixteen year old virgin-

“what?” Even though I was expecting the interruption, the ice in her voice startled me into a jangle of notes and sent several butterflies into flight.

And then.

And then.

We come at last to THE SCENE.

For a while now I’ve been teasing that something monumentally dumb was going to happen in this book, and here it finally is! I’m just going to quote this entire section:

“my skills `suffice’?’ She hardly seemed able to force out the last word. Her mouth formed a thin, outraged line.

I exploded, my voice a roll of thunder. “How the hell am I supposed to know? It’s not like I’ve ever done this sort of thing before!”

She reeled back at the vehemence of my words, some of the anger draining out of her. “what is it you mean?” she trailed off, confused. “This!” I gestured awkwardly at myself, at her, at the cushions and the pavilion around us, as if that explained everything.

The last of the anger left her as I saw realization begin to dawn, “you …”

“No,” I looked down, my face growing hot. “I have never been with a woman.” Then I straightened and looked her in the eye as if challenging her to make an issue out of it.

Felurian was still for a moment, then her mouth turned up into a wry smile. “you tell me a faerie story, my kvothe.”

I felt my face go grim. I don’t mind being called a liar. I am. I am a marvelous liar. But I hate being called a liar when I’m telling the perfect truth.

Regardless of its motivation, my expression seemed to convince her. “but you were like a gentle summer storm.” She made a fluttering gesture with a hand. “you were a dancer fresh upon the field.” Her eyes glittered wickedly.

Yeeeeep. I feel like I can’t really express how idiotic this is better than the Ferretbrain review already has:

That’s right, Kvothe was so amazing at doing sex that the ancient sex goddess of sex and death was actually unable to believe that he was a virgin because he was so amazing at doing sex.

Once again, I say this. The next time you hear anybody complain about the fact that – in certain popular novels targeted at young women – hundred year old vampires fall for sixteen year old schoolgirls, point out to them that in one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy novels of the twenty-first century a faery creature of unbridled sexual potency, as ancient as time itself, who lures men to their deaths with her irresistible beauty and insatiable lovemaking has her mind blown by the sexual prowess of a sixteen year old virgin.

This alone condemns the entire trilogy to the garbage bin of the genre, along with anything Rothfuss has ever written or will ever write. It’s such brazen, blatent wish fulfillment wank fodder that the scene might as well just be an ASCII art image of Rothfuss’ flaccid dick. All of the pretensions at being serious business fantasy fall away with this scene, revealing the entire project to be nothing more than self-insert masturbation by an author who appears not to have mentally aged beyond about fourteen or so.

Oddly enough this trope, a male virgin who finally has sex (although Kvothe is only sixteen so I’m not sure what he’s so embarrassed about) and then turns out to be a sort of boning savant, has appeared in fantasy before. The Game of Thrones TV series has two instances of it; one of them is played for laughs and obviously not meant to be taken seriously, but the other is played absolutely straight. And people wonder why epic fantasy is to often characterized as cheap fodder for immature man-children.

(and this is completely off topic but “I felt my face go grim”? Is this like when Ghost Rider transforms into a skeleton?)

Felurian realizes that Kvothe is holding the unfinished song ransom, trying to play for time by stringing her along with the promise of more sick tunes if she doesn’t sex-murder him (this sounds oddly familiar). Kvothe agrees that if she lets him leave he’ll come back and sing the rest of it for her. Then they have sex some more.

I’ll give Rothfuss this tiny benefit of the doubt, of everything we’ve seen so far this is the most likely to actually turn out to be Kvothe bullshitting Bast and Chronicler. I’m not saying it would repair my opinion of the book, but the possibility is there.

26 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 96-98

  1. isistiell

    I personally loved the books and enjoyed his writing however I listen to the audio so I can understand picking apart the text. I view this writer more like a story teller and in that regard I find him to be AMAZING. The whole thing with the sex fairy, in all fairness, was pretty lame. I think people should give them a chance, they are worth that at the very least.

    Reply
  2. Tyler

    Why? Why waste your time reading not one, but two books if you think they are so terrible and the writing is so bad? Sounds to me like you don’t spend your time doing very important stuff if you can afford to waste many hours on multiple books that you think are shitty just to write a shitty blog about how shitty it was. You must have a shitty life. Aside from that, I guarantee Patrick Rothfuss has a lot more fans and people who think his writing is amazing than people who think it’s shitty, which would put you in the minority here. In the end though everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I personally think The Name Of The Wind, and The Wise Man’s Fear are both amazing books that any fantasy lover should read, but to each his own. I’ve just never understood why people will spend their time doing something they don’t like just so they can go online and tell people they didn’t like it. If you don’t like something, just don’t waste your time on it, let other people come up with their own conclusion about it instead of trying to convince people to see it how you see it.

    Reply
  3. Orryia

    My sister and I were talking about the way these books could theoretically be improved, and we came up with some idle suggestions for the Felurian section, assuming you have to keep the same premises.

    If you’re shooting for an immortal sex goddess who drives men insane, you could at least be creative about it. For example, if Felurian had limitless shapeshifting abilities, it would be apt to drive people insane much faster. Just think of the possibilities: some bloke would be lured by her attractive young woman form only to find himself mating with a man, an old hag, an animal, a child, incomprehensible Lovecraftian horrors, and unable to stop until he’s done.
    (But of course we can’t have that, it would be a major turnoff for the vast majority of our readership.)

    An interesting followup would be if Kvothe actually did go insane. After a page or two of nonsense we’d cut to the framing story, and Kvothe would say something along the lines of: “And after a year someone from the University found me wandering naked on the streets of Bwruhaha and it took them two years to nurse me back to health, but sadly I lost all my magical powers for good.”
    *Spoiler* And that would serve as a more convincing explanation of why Kvothe went off to be trained as a warrior than “ah, he just needs to be more awesome”.

    Reply
    1. Sevansl Canzate (@Chackludwig)

      But you can’t just have the player pay for DLC and grind for hours to get their Cloak of Shadow Concealment (+40 Att./+35 Def./Invisibility in dim and dark light conditions/Swiftness buff) and then make them lose all their well spent Ability Points.

      The point being: if this was actually a vidya gaem and not just a novelisation of one, it’d be far superior.

      Reply
  4. Sevansl Canzate (@Chackludwig)

    I think I have an idea: Make every single person (not just males, every PERSON) who wants to write genre fiction read the Neverending Story first. Not watch the films, read the book. Read it and re-read it once more, because Michael Ende already did the juvenile wish fulfillment, he did it better than any neckbeard from Wisconsin could hope to and he subverted it way more elegantly too. The parallels are uncanny, with the slight difference being that Bastian is actually a real dumbass, makes people shun him and suffers for it, all while being recognisable as a human and a jerk. He is the Ur-Gary Stu. He was Kvothe before being Kvothe or Jorg or Lyannen or Ender was cool.

    Reply
  5. redsilkphoenix

    >.<

    Don't know if I should be happy or digustemated that I called that about Kvothe's virginity last post. 😛 There better be a reveal coning reeeeaaaall soon that the ancient sex goddess was actually pulling Kvothe's leg when she claimed he was too good in the sack to bs a virgin, or else Rothfuss had better drop the 'it's all a subversion' line when talking about this series. Yeeesh.

    As to why the plot point of Kvote sucessfully beating off his wound-be rapists years ago only came up now, I'm guessing that since Kvothe is supposed to be the wish-fulfillment Alpha Male reader insert, Rothfuss belated realized that having the pet Gary Stu's first sexual contact be involuntary would not go down well with his (male) fans once they remembered it happening. So to save face with these fans, Rothfuss retconed in Kvothe's saving his V-card so he could legitamtely give it to the hot ancient sex fairy instead, like many of the male fans wished they could have done with their V-cards.

    As to the ancient sex fairy acting like a little girl as a way to seduce men, I'm going with the idea that the fairy-lady can 'see' into the minds of her targets to figure out what female archetype turns them on, then becomes that archetype to seduce them. That is, if a guy's fantasy woman is a ball-busting BAMF, then she becomes one for him. If a guy's fantasy woman is Shy Little Girl, then she becomes that for him. Hey, since we're not likely to get anyone else's POV on what kind of personality Felurian really has, I can go with this and not fear being contradicted by a later canon reveal. 😀

    Reply
  6. magpiewhotypes

    I assume that Felurian’s lying about Kvothe’s amazing sex powers–she seems to be something akin to a succubus. If her prey starts doubting the wisdom of epic fuck sessions with a probably deadly immortal creature, a little flattery can’t go astray, right?

    Reply
    1. Sevansl Canzate (@Chackludwig)

      But that would require Rothfuß to actually put himself in the mind of a female character, an adult woman nontheless, which means it’s probably just an oversight on the editors part, like the one where she actually thought this was ready for print.

      Reply
  7. Signatus

    One would have thought a thousand year old succubus would know how to lure men an drive them mad with lust. If her strategy is running like a shy doe and behaving like a little girl… there is something really wrong with that society, and this must be what men find desirable.

    Reply
  8. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    So is the implication that Felurian will kill Kvothfuss when he returns? Perhaps she’s playing a prank on him, telling him how great he is so that he can go back and have lots of terrible sex. Doesn’t explain why she likes the song unless that is literally the only music she has heard in ever.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      To be honest I’m really not sure what’s going on in this chapter. Sometimes Kvothe acts as though she’s going to kill him then and there, other times it’s like he’ll die from heartache after he leaves. The whole thing is kind of a fever dream, and not in a good way.

      Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      Nope, not that I can recall. Thanks for alerting me to this, I’m going to reply to him in that thread.

      Reply
      1. thistlepong

        This is why Funyuns outsell Responsibilityuns. Thanks for taking the time to respond, Ronan. I wasn’t so much complaining as asking about the format. I’d taken this for granted as a default since it’s the only blog of its type that I read. When I saw praise from someone who’s really quite thoughtful, I experienced some dissonance.

        Katz disallowed my participation on No More Dead Parents and I kinda assume that’ll happen here, but I did wanna offer something of a mea culpa.

        Reply
      2. thistlepong

        I’m just a commenter on the reread. You might wanna correct that tweet before it gets way out of hand. I’d appreciate you not posting this, but y’know, whatever. Jo Walton’s a kind woman and an acclaimed author who doesn’t deserve that kind of accusation.

        Reply
  9. Andrea Harris

    My power rode like a white star on my brow.

    I have to assume Rothfuss was eyeball-deep in LSD when he wrote this chapter.

    More likely he was deep in Lord of the Rings. That “white star on my brow” is a straight rip-off of one of JRRT’s favorite images, he uses it several times. It’s not even subtle plagiarism. I’m amazed the Tolkien foundation didn’t sue.

    Reply
  10. braak

    “Flashing moon silver, midnight blue her eyes
    The lids were subtle-colored butterflies.
    Her hair swayed, a dark scythe swinging
    Through the trees with the wind singing.”

    See, this is what I’m talking about. Look at this fucking song.

    Four lines, two with ten syllables, two with eight. Look at the meter of this, just assuming that emphasis is falling on the good words (i.e., nouns, verbs, not articles or prepositions).
    ‘ – ‘ ‘ – ‘ – ‘ – ‘
    – ‘ – ‘ – ‘ – ‘ – ‘
    – ‘ ‘ – ‘ ‘ ‘ –
    – – ‘ – – ‘ ‘ –
    Does that remind you of anything? No, of course it doesn’t, because it doesn’t look like any recognizable meter in the history of verse.
    I know this dude hates poetry, but isn’t he also an English teacher? He’s got to at least know how it WORKS, right?

    This is to say nothing of the random, seven-syllable line in the middle of his chorus, of “danced in dancing shadows”, or how hair can swing like a “dark scythe.”

    Reply
    1. braak

      Kvothe invents a new meter of the top of his head, it’s called the jumbleode, you just say whatever dumb thing pops into your head and hope it rhymes.

      Reply
      1. braak

        See, if he just invented kvothambic kvothameter, and then just said, “Look, if you’ve never had to compose an ode to a naked faerie sex goddess off the top of your head, you couldn’t POSSIBLY understand,” at least that would be funny.

        Reply
    2. Andrea Harris

      For a guy who hates poetry Rothfuss sure seems to not understand that song lyrics are also a form of poetry. Often bad poetry, that need the noise of instruments to make bearable.

      Reply
    3. lordsaintserpopeflittner

      My lord this was amazingly funny. I’m kind of ashamed I still like the book though.
      I mean, I get the book sucks from a critical standpoint… but I still enjoyed reading it. Tis odd.

      Reply

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