Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 116-117

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CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED SIXTEEN

Height

Last time on The Wise Man’s Fear: something bad might happen to Kvothe, maybe, at some point in the future, and he needs to be awesome at fighting.

Kvothe continues on his path to warriorhood. He’s now progressed to the point where he doesn’t completely 100% faceplant is Vashet so much as looks at him.

I was still no sort of challenge to her, of course, but after days of humiliating nonchalance on her part, she was finally having to put forth a shred of effort to keep ahead of me.

For all that Kvothe is a blatant Gary Stu, and even though he possesses some mysterious insight into the Lethani because reasons, I do like the fact that Rothfuss doesn’t have him be a savant at fighting. We know that Kvothe eventually becomes super good at fighting but it feels like he’s earning it, and it seems pretty clear that he’s not going to end up being better than Adem who’ve been training all their lives.

Oh also, Kvothe wants to bone Vashet.

What I mean to say is that she smelled like sex. Not as if she’d been having it, as if she was made of it.

Jesus christ man, you spent weeks shagging a naked sex fairy keep your dick in your pants.

Then this happens (no, I did not make this up or take it from a porn fanfic, this is really in the book):

“Would you like to take care of it yourself?” Vashet asked easily. “Or would you prefer a partner?”

“I beg your pardon?” I said stupidly.

“Come now.” She gestured to my hands. “Even if you could keep your mind away from that, it would doubtless throw your balance off.” She gave a low, throaty chuckle. “You’ll need to tend to it before we continue

your lessons. I can leave you to it, or we can find a soft spot and see who can pin the other best two of three.”

So remember how I said the Adem’s open nature around sex and nudity was just going to be an excuse for Kvothe to look at naked women and have tons of sex with hawt chicks? Remember? What do you think are the odds of Kvothe being approached for sex by someone he doesn’t want to bone, or even seeing someone naked who he wouldn’t find attractive?

She stripped off her mercenary reds without the least fanfare or teasing, revealing a few scars, and a body hard and lean and corded with muscle. Which isn’t to say that she wasn’t also round and soft as well.

We might have interpreted this as meaning Vashet is burly and muscular and doesn’t conform to traditional notions of femininity and we can’t be having that.

Anyway they have sex then continue on with the training as though nothing happened.

Neither did she feel obliged to treat me with any newfound tenderness. This became clear somewhere around the fifth time she managed to lure me off my guard, catch me with Thunder Upward, and throw me roughly to the ground.

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No nudity taboo. They didn’t consider physical contact particularly intimate.

Then how come more of them aren’t walking around naked? How come apart from a handful of formalized greetings the Adem never seem to touch each other except when having sex? It’s almost like this is an author’s wank fantasy instead of a fleshed out society!

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN

Barbarian Cunning

Kvothe continues his training, occasionally having sex with Vashet whenever he gets too horny. Let’s quickly move away from this topic and never speak of it again.

One day Kvothe discovers a large complex of communal hot spring baths, which I guess at last counts as a realistic expression of the Adem’s lack of taboos on nudity. Of course, Kvothe gawks at all the nekkid women.

Vashet eventually finds Kvothe a sparring partner named Celean, which he’s all excited about until he actually meets her.

when I first saw them approaching, I had a moment of confused panic when I thought the small figure at Vashet’s side was Penthe, the woman who had beaten Shehyn. Then I realized it couldn’t be Penthe. The figure approaching with Vashet was short, but the wind revealed a straight, lean body with none of Penthe’s curves.

I like how Kvothe identifies women based on their boobs instead of their faces.

It turns out Celean is like ten, because Kvothe is so inexperienced he’s on the level of a child. I’m going to skip right over how much time is spent harping on how tiny and wispy and waif-like Celean is (also how she does the Adem hand signal thing even though we were told earlier kids don’t use them) because what follows is undoubtedly the greatest scene in the entire trilogy, which I will now provide choice quotes of for your reading pleasure:

I wasn’t ready. Celean darted forward, catching me flat-footed. Her arm drove out in a punch straight toward my groin. Raw instinct made me crouch so it struck my stomach instead.

[…]

It turned out Celean wasn’t skittish at all. She didn’t back away. Instead she slipped alongside my leg and struck me squarely in the thick knot of muscle directly above the knee.

[…]

She set her hands together, braced her feet, and struck me with Threshing Wheat. The force of it knocked me over backward.

[…]

She faked a kick and I fell for it, giving her the opportunity to hit me right above the knee in the same place as before.

[…]

Celean made Break Lion. But it wasn’t the version I had learned. Hers used both hands, striking and twisting so quickly that my hand was stinging and empty before I could think. Then she grabbed my wrist and pulled, lashing out to kick my leg in a fluid motion. I leaned, buckled, and she stretched me out flat above the ground.

onlythedead

Aaaaaahhhhh. That’s the stuff.

Let’s read it again!

I wasn’t ready. Celean darted forward, catching me flat-footed. Her arm drove out in a punch straight toward my groin. Raw instinct made me crouch so it struck my stomach instead.

[…]

It turned out Celean wasn’t skittish at all. She didn’t back away. Instead she slipped alongside my leg and struck me squarely in the thick knot of muscle directly above the knee.

[…]

She set her hands together, braced her feet, and struck me with Threshing Wheat. The force of it knocked me over backward.

[…]

She faked a kick and I fell for it, giving her the opportunity to hit me right above the knee in the same place as before.

[…]

Celean made Break Lion. But it wasn’t the version I had learned. Hers used both hands, striking and twisting so quickly that my hand was stinging and empty before I could think. Then she grabbed my wrist and pulled, lashing out to kick my leg in a fluid motion. I leaned, buckled, and she stretched me out flat above the ground.

I now want the TV series to get made and reach the second book just so I can watch this scene on an infinite loop from now until the end of time.

“You really aren’t very good,” she said with brutal honesty.

High-five, Celean!

Anyway after this Kvothe sadly explains that in his society women and girls don’t fight due to the patriarchal gender norms that Kvothe actively participates in and has shown absolutely no condemnation of so far. Also Vashet has a secret version of the Ketan I guess. It probably involved mid-fight boning or something, given where the book’s priorities have been lately.

“The Lethani is like water,” I responded without thinking. “It is itself unchanging, but it shapes itself to fit all places. It is both the river and the rain.”

Oh my God Kvothe shut the fuck up. Break his nose, Celean!

 

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11 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 116-117

  1. Marcus Livius Drusus

    “….She faked a kick and I fell for it…”
    Rothfuss clearly should be spending a few more years polishing his manuscripts if this is what he comes up with.

    Reply
  2. Reveen

    Okay, that’s not fair. His minor or nonsensical accomplishments are instantly the stuff of legends but his asskicking at the hands of a preteen is lost to the sands of time?

    If I were Chronicler I’d totally go around telling people about that, wouldn’t even mention she was Adem.

    Reply
    1. Sevansl Canzate (@Chackludwig)

      “Now, the most curious story I have managed to pick up during my travels of the lands beyond the Stormwal hails from Beghniol -a lovely place if you don’t mind pet hyenas and spicy food is your thing. My teacher once told me that the truth about our heroes -“ihen” as she used to call them, being Eghanin- was far more likely to be found in the tales our enemies or rivals tell of them. So let me tell you a story of “ihen” Kvothe Willowwalker, like the Eghanin of the fair river-crossed land of Beghniol told it to me.”

      Chronicler wiped his brow and inhaled sharply, as if to pump himself up like a rooster. No questions asked, the crowd at the inn was hooked. After all, starting off with a boast like this IS excellent bait.

      “They say great “ihen” Kvothe, who was cloaked in shadow half the day and in willow-wool the other half came to the village of Uash-it Sheen, high atop the mountain range. He travelled on foot and in the company of a Red Mountaineer, seeking to cross the Stormwal into Eghanin lands. They say he arrived in Uash-it Sheen during the winter, when food was scarce and the children were ill with fever and cold. “I hear you are good people”, he said to the stewart, “if I could just stay here for the night, I will bring you gold from the land behind the mountains when I return.” “A bed I can spare”, spoke the stewart, “but not one who has sought to conquer the land beyond has ever returned.” You see, the stewart, an honest and considerate woman did not recognise him, not even by his carrot-coloured hair, because she could only see in shades of grey. This of course greatly angered Kvothe who drew his sword from his back and roared “I am the Flame, the Thunder and the Gale, and I will purge you from Earth’s face!” And lightning and storm came upon the village of Uash-it Sheen, louder than ever before or after. “I will not be mocked!”, he said, for his temper was as easily lit as a match’s head.”

      He paused and looked around. Some of them were clearly fearing for the lives of the villagers as if they were their own spouses or children.

      “But one of the children in the village was not frightened by wind, rain and thunder. Her mother called her Shelne, “the Lion”, and like her namesake, she did not know fear. Like the stewart of her town she did not know “ihen” Kvothe and like a true mountain dweller she was quick-footed and loud-spoken. She said to him “Why don’t you leave us alone? You’re a bad man and bad men don’t get to sleep in our beds.” As you can probably imagine, this did not help soothe the temper of Kvother, it had quite the opposite effect: his face twisted into a red grimace of fury and he called Wind -whose name he’d known since childhood- to rip little Shelne to shreds. But the girl was too small and too quick for Wind to catch her, and could not harm her. So he called Thunder, his unwilling servant, to smite her, but Thunder would not hurt a girl as brave as Shelne, so it missed her -purposely!- just by a hair’s breadth, and didn’t harm her. Now Shelne was just a mere arm’s length away from the great “ihen”, who grew angrier -teeth-grinding, eye-rolling, vein-popping- with every inch she moved closer, so he called upon Fire, the trusted ally, to burn Shelne to ashes. But with the storm he had called, rain had come and the clouds of Uash-it Sheen let loose all the water they could to put out the flames before they reached the girl, and so she remained unharmed. Being a man of pride, Kvothe thought he could easily use his fists to stop this “threat”, but when he tried to raise them, they did not obey. Gale, Thunder and Flame had taken all the strength he had and he could not raise a finger. The magic that flowed through his body, it had understood what his head could not see: that shaded Halmash, not the Pale One or the other Sheien-dhan were the opponents of a hero, but Shelne of Uash-it Sheen was the opponent of a fiend, and the magic would not serve such a being. With one kick -to the shin!- she felled great “ihen” Kvothe who was left to lie on town square for three days and three nights, crying and howling like a wounded dog until the magic came into him again and as soon as he could run, he ran. “Never”, he said, “never shall anyone hear of the day I did battle with a child and lost!” But, as Shelne said, he was a bad man, and a bad man’s word counts for naught.”

      Reply
  3. phylakes

    Harking back to a topic from a previous post, I think the flowery names for fighting moves does the same thing Jordan’s did. It obfuscates the fact that his descriptions of fight scenes are actually quite vague and saves on having to write specific actions which may strike the reader as implausible.

    Rothfuss, however, seems a lot worse at this than Jordan was. ‘Bull rushes down the mountain’ (Jordan) evokes the image of a strong, aggressive attack, while ‘break lion’ sounds like something Rothfuss got out of a random phrase generator.

    Also, the movement this suggests is amusing:

    “She set her hands together, braced her feet, and struck me with Threshing Wheat. The force of it knocked me over backward.”

    Reply
  4. Signatus

    ““I beg your pardon?” I said stupidly.”

    This is… this is just bad writing. Very bad writing.

    Anyways, while I was pleased to see that Kvothe doesn’t get a magical insight in everything he does, he does learn new skills impossibly fast. To most skills, it takes years of training to reach an aceptable level (I do not know swordfighting, but I’m sure it is not much different than horseriding, and horseriding is not as easy as it seems). The Adem know this, for they start training their kids as soon as they stop crawling, so it is absurd they would consider a total foreinger to be able to catch some acceptable fighting skills (hand to hand combat AND swordfighting) in two months.
    Unless they were actually hoping he would fail to have an excuse to execute him and ban Tempi, but, let’s be serious, that’s reading waaaayy too much into the book, and this is not the sort of masterpiece with hidden meanings or anything.
    If I remember correctly from the first book, he did catch on magic pretty rapidly as well, didn’t he? And improved his lute playing skills somehow while sitting on the forest and doing photosynthesis for 6 months.

    The fight with the little girl master fighter… OMG, never seen that before! (Sarcasm*)
    At this point, I cared nothing for the main character, so I couldn’t care less if he got hanged from a willow branch and was used as a boxing bag by the rest of the Adem.

    Reply
    1. welltemperedwriter

      It took considerably longer than several days for my kung fu teacher to have to put forth any effort in handing me my ass. I once saw him toss a star pupil across the room one-handed, and that guy was thirty years younger, a foot taller and had been training with him for years.

      Reply
  5. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    As satisfying as it is to see the Kvotheankvothe get his ass kicked yet again this whole fight seems like it’s supposed to seem even more humiliating to the reader than the characters. Since the Adem consider women to be better fighters than men for all we know Celean might be their star pupil or something, so being beaten by a prodigy would lessen the sting some what. Not that I saw any indication that Celean was some how the best or something, just that by being female she is already better qualified in the eyes of the Adem than her male peers.

    Where as to the average Western reader it’s going to be more hilarious for Kvothe to be beaten by a little girl for reasons I don’t need to go into. In short Rothfuss can’t help but ruin everything, even moments that should be enjoyable.

    Reply

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