Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 118-120

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Let’s see what’s in store for Kvothe in this chapter! Will he have sex some more??? On an entirely unrelated topic, we are now well over 75% of the way to the end.

VASHET AND I FOUGHT, moving back and forth across the foothills of Ademre.

This is conjuring up really weird mental images of Kvothe and Vashet having a huge Dragonball Z-style battle. Actually given DBZ’s abysmal pacing that’s a pretty apt comparison.

“Why do we spend so much time on my hand fighting?” I asked Vashet as I made Picking Clover.

Would martial artists really refer to it as “hand fighting”? It sounds like they’re having thumb wars.

Anyway they’re fighting and some bullshit happens, I don’t really care any more, Kvothe keeps fighting Celean and usually gets his ass kicked, only managing to beat her for the first time after three days of sparring.

That’s an interesting verse to add to the long story of my life, isn’t it?

“Interesting”, eh? You really want to start pulling on that thread?

To my horror Kvothe does indeed compose a little poe- I mean, song, about defeating Celean for the first time.

And of the time he bravely fought A twigling girl no more than ten. And listen how it came to pass, The mighty blow he bravely dealt

That knocked her sprawling to the grass, And of the glow of joy he felt.

I am choosing to interpret this as “Kvothe enjoys hitting kids” and nothing anyone says will change my mind.

Seriously though, this does raise the question of how safe it actually is for Kvothe to be fighting Celean. I know she’s supposed to be way better at fighting, but Kvothe has a point when he says he’s physically stronger- it would only take one lucky shot to potentially do serious damage, especially since they appear to be doing full-contact sparring.

There, in the long shadow of the sword tree, she showed me her two-handed variant of Breaking Lion as a reward, flattering me with the familiarity of an impish grin.

I think this might be one of the worst sentences we’ve come across so far. Yes, worse than that one. And that one too. And- okay it’s up there, alright?

After one of their fights Celean dashes under the canopy of the sword tree, which if you remember has hella sharp leaves that will cut you real bad if they touch you, and uses her martial arts prowess (or possibly bullet time) to swat the falling leaves away before they damage her.

She didn’t shout out in triumph as a Commonwealth child might have, but she jumped into the air, hands raised in victory. Then, still laughing, she did a cartwheel.

Gosh that totally doesn’t sound like something a real kid would do, the Adem sure are a vibrant and well-developed fictional culture.

Vashet shows up and is all pissed, so I guess people aren’t supposed to do this. And…. then the chapter ends. Well that sure had a reason to exist.



Vashet arranges for Kvothe to talk to people to improve his Ademese some more.

There was a garrulous old man who spun silk thread while chattering endlessly, telling strange, pointless, half-delirious stories.


(Image unrelated to preceding text)

Kvothe talks to a cook in the fantasy cafeteria who used to be a mercenary until he got most of his fingers cut off on a mission. He’s there to lay some Truefacts on Kvothe, who’s been hesitant in sword practice in case something happens to his hands, him being a musician and all.

I think: What if I had not taken that contract? I think: What if I had lost my left hand? I could not talk, but I could hold a sword.

Wait, are they using their sword one-handed? Doesn’t most sword combat require two hands? I know there are one-handed swords but it was my understanding they were used with one hand to hold a shield in the other hand, and there’s been no mention of the Adem using shields.

Then he said, “When I dream, I have two hands.”

😦 😦 😦

I feel more emotion for this guy, who shows up in all of two pages, then any other person we’ve seen so far.

Celean had a lesson of her own to teach me. Namely that there are opponents who will not hesitate to punch, kick, or elbow a man directly in his genitals.

Celean is rapidly becoming my favourite character.

Kvothe tries to get Vashet to teach him more sword fighting instead of “hand fighting” and she goes off on an utterly nonsensical rant about how the purpose of the sword isn’t to win fights, and having a sword doesn’t actually make you more likely to win against an opponent who’s also carrying a sword (pretty sure it actually does).

“Why do you carry anything? So you can use it.”

Vashet gave me a look of raw disgust. “Why do we bother to work on your language, then?” She asked angrily, reaching out to grab my jaw, pinching my cheeks and forcing my mouth open as if I were a patient in the Medica refusing my medicine. “Why do you need this tongue if a sword will do? Tell me that?”

That doesn’t make any sense.

“Why do you have hands at all and not knives at the ends of your arms?”

That makes even less sense.

“Do you think I am teaching you the secrets of the sword so you can go out and use them?”

……yes? That is the point or learning how to fight with a sword, right?

Then she just walks off without actually explaining what the fuck she was talking about. I don’t think many competent teachers of any subject would agree that beating the shit out of your students when they make a mistake and then storming off in a rage is conducive to learning. It comes across more like Vashet has serious anger management issues.

God, this book.



Kvothe is moping in the fantasy-cafeteria when Centhe, the woman who beat Shehyn a while back, sits next to him.

For all that, she wasn’t very old. Perhaps it was her small frame or her heart-shaped face, but she didn’t look much more than twenty.



Penthe gave a small, shy smile, then covered her mouth with her hand, blushing slightly.

Denna has shed her mortal frame and taken another body! Run Kvothe, run!

Penthe speaks some Kvotheland-ese so she asks Kvothe to teach her how to smile and fill the void in her heart (presumably).

“This?” I asked, gesturing mild worry.

She nodded. “How do you make that with the face?”

She doesn’t remember how to make facial expressions? But the Adem so it when they’re younger, shouldn’t she still remember on some level?

“I understand,” I said. “I am very good at speaking in my language. I can make the cleverest meanings.

Sure, Kvothe. Whatever you say.

Penthe tells Kvothe that not all of the Adem hate him, then the book takes another trip into tweeville.

Penthe looked up at me and met my eyes then. They were huge in her small face, slightly darker grey than usual.


They were so bright and clear that when she smiled, the sight of it almost broke my heart.

Fuck this, let’s watch Breaking Bad.


Anyway they flirt awkwardly for a while and and Kvothe composes a song/poem to her, because we needed more of that.

Double-weaponed Penthe

No sword in hand,

Her flower-mouth curves,

And cuts a heart a dozen steps away.

Okay, this must be self-parody by now. “Double-weaponed Penthe”? Seriously?

Felurian had had a beautiful smile, but it was old and knowing. Penthe’s smile was bright as a new penny. It was like cool water on my dry, tired heart.

You’re fucking seventeen shut the fuck up.

Then Penthe composes her own poem that’s even worse but the gist of the scene is that they want to furiously bone each other. Of course.

Kvothe goes for his next lesson with Vashet and it turns out that she’s still super-mad about Kvothe implying that he wants to learn how to use a sword so he can use a sword better. For some reason.

“Early on I noticed a gentleness in you. It is a rare thing in one so young, and it was a large piece of what convinced me you were worth teaching. But as the days pass, I glimpse something else. Some other face that is far from gentle. I have dismissed these as flickers of false light, thinking them the brags of a young man or the odd jokes of a barbarian.

“But today as you spoke, it came to me that the gentleness was the mask. And this other half-seen face, this dark and ruthless thing, that is the true face hiding underneath.”


What is she talking about


Is this supposed to be about Kvothe killing all those bandits- you know, the thing he had to do to ensure the safety of him and the people he was leading? What exactly about Kvothe’s statements earlier reveal some sort of monster lurking below the surface? All he literally said was “if I knew how to fight with a sword better I could defend myself if my opponent has a sword” it’s not like he was expressing his intention to find the nearest orphanage and go on a killing spree.

Vashet tells Kvothe she’s considering having him killed due to THE DARKNESS WITHIN or whatever the fuck and she’ll reach her decision the next day.

This is seriously the worst book I’ve ever read. The Name Of The WInd was more boring, but this is just a god-awful mess. Rothfuss’ editor, his publisher and anyone who looked at this garbage before publication and reacted in any way other than to invent a time machine in order to retro-actively stop it from being created should hang their head in shame.

I swear to God, if this is another secret test of character. Do not even think about it, Rothfuss.

As I stared at myself in the mirror I felt a low anger flicker to life deep in my belly. I was, I decided, tired of waiting helplessly while others decided whether I could come or go.

Fucking finally, Kvothe decides to actually do something instead of sitting around waiting for the plot to come to him. And it only took the dumbest plot development in the history of the written word to make it happen.

Kvothe steals various objects he intends to use for wizarding. It’s been so long since Kvothe did any wizarding I was actually starting to forget he could wizard.

I closed my fist tightly around the last. Most people don’t understand how much heat water holds inside it. That is why it takes so long to boil.

The boiling point of a liquid is entirely relative depending on the pressure of the surrounding environment. Water boils at toom temperature in a vacuum.

Despite the fact that the scalding-hot pool I had pulled this from was more than half a mile away, what I held in my hand was of better use to a sympathist than a glowing coal. This water had fire in it.

Then why the fuck didn’t you do that back at the bandit camp? Also that makes no sense with what we’ve been told of how sympathy works. Did no one actually read this before it went off to the publishers?

So Kvothe is going to do something drastic with magic. Whoopee, something’s finally happening.

Next chapter!


12 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 118-120

  1. braak

    It is because kung fu…er, Ketan (?)…is actually about teaching you SPIRIT POWER, rather than just how to fight.

    I mean, ostenisbly. I think Kvothe still just ends up learning to fight with it.

    1. M. A. Valentine

      That’s kind of my beef with a lot of these “strange, mysterious, superfighting” society tropes in fantasy novels. They teach some supposed amazing way of fighting through altering the character’s perception of fighting, yet the character is rarely changed. They might become a better fighter in action, sure, but none of the actual lessons do anything to the character’s personality or worldview. They carry on as a superfighter and don’t think about all the other shit they learn.

  2. katz


    If these people are so damn sexually liberated, they wouldn’t make a bunch of shitty small talk when they wanted to fuck someone. They’d just walk up and say “Want to fuck?”

  3. ghosthelwig

    I know this is just a little thing, and it’s possible I’m wrong, but don’t we already know what currency this world uses? And if we do, what exactly is a “penny” to Kvothe? I didn’t think they existed in this book; although it’s possible they do and I missed that info, since my brain checks out every time he rambles about money. If I’m right, though, then I suspect Rothfuss just wrote the phrase (since it is common) without thinking about what it meant. Surprise, surprise.

    1. Austin H. Williams

      If anything seems indicated by most of Kvothfuss’s earlier adventures, it’s that currency has the exact value that Rothfuss needs in order to contrive as much drama as he desires.

      Notably, he doesn’t seem to desire too much drama at any given point.

  4. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

    I for one, am glad that someone recognizes that Qin Shi Kvothedi is a violent sociopath who has no respect for the Adem’s culture and only wants to master their super special martial arts so he can pursue his vendetta. I mean that’s what the books want us to think, actual implementation leaves something, if I feel inclined to be extremely generous, to be desired.

    Also this is just something I’ve been thinking about, it doesn’t have anything to do with the chapters above, but given the beliefs the Adem have about reproduction, have there been any lesbian separatists? If they believe men are unnecessary then why would they feel the need to stick around with the men, especially since women are the bringers of civilization etc. I’m glad there aren’t since a certain someone would probably come along and fuck them straight etc. but it’s just another area where Rothfuss drops the ball.

  5. Sevansl Canzate (@Chackludwig)

    And then this happens and the series gets handed over to a much more talented author like Lukianenko:

    Devan had been wondering for quite some time now, when Kote would notice he had put down his pen and stopped transscribing. He even cracked his knuckles, rather loudly, but the innkeeper kept on talking, as if he was chiefly entertaining himself. It was at the point when the “story” devolved to description after redundant description of the women of Ademre and their “gasping moans” that Devan noticed something was off. The innkeeper’s movements, grandiose and not unlike a jester’s seemed… wrong. Inhuman in a way that sent a tingling sensation through Devan’s skin now that he paid attention to it. The glow of Kote’s eyes was all wrong, no human eyes -not even Arcane ones- could shine from within, unless… unless of course, there was old magic at work. Hot sweat began to run down the chronicler’s forehead, as he tried to remember what little he had learnt about old magic: curses, shadow-stepping, the undead… iron charms could not keep them at bay. Doubt seeped into Devan’s mind. What if he was being tricked? While the true reason the duke and his laymen had issued a bounty on the head of Kvothe, called King-Killer, was unknown to him, it was bound to have something to do with the murder of, well, the king and it was most likely to have been a political decision. And even if he felt like being humble, Devan knew that his word -he was “the” Chronicler of the Aturan Protectorate by the grace of Oba Aigbekaen after all- weighed more than that of a duke he didn’t even know to the liege of that man. Gall stormed up his throat as he realised: He had been lead on. Whatever dark powers the duke or one of his subordinates had used to set up this trap, it had worked and he, Devan Lochees, had fallen for it like a blind buck. A knock on the door seemed to have caught the possessed innkeeper’s attention. One knock, a second one and a gust of wind -the Name of Gale- tore the door right from its frame and sent it to the floor, revealing a tall woman wrapped in a tattered cloak. Hair red as untainted copper framed her shark-like, lined face. “Gale” she called again, lifting the innkeeper off his feet -of course he had tried to run away- and snapping his neck with a wet cracking sound like a child would snap a twig. Instinctively, Devan called Steel to strike down the fairy boy. Only when he stopped foaming from the mouth did he finally stop. He threw up all over his robes at the sight. “I hear you’re looking for a certain outlaw and murderer, Eghanin Chronicler”, the intruder said, her voice raspy as an old iron file and carrying a worn out laugh within. “Well, you found her.” “I must say, this whole affair WAS getting suspicious.”

  6. zephyrean


    This pisses me off super hard. As I was growing up, children three years younger than me always looked like *babies*. I remember looking up at big scary freshmen when I was in high school, and I remember laughing at tiny toddler-like freshmen as I was graduating. So far, Rothfuss was entirely unaware of this perception, having adult human women (wizardesses, ninjas) find a snotty teenage Kvothe invariably hawtt. It’s not something I can relate to, but fine. Then he goes, whoa, Penthe’s not too old, she’s 20. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS, ASSHOLE.

    > I feel more emotion for this guy, who shows up in all of two pages, then any other person we’ve seen so far.

    What about poor Devan, who has to write down all of it at Rothfuss’ whim?

    > Seriously though, this does raise the question of how safe it actually is for Kvothe to be fighting Celean.
    Talking from experience/anecdotally here: very unsafe. That pedo slip from before actually had some truth to it: it is really damn dangerous to spar with untrained/badly trained opponents. They don’t know whether they are hurting you trying to twist your arm out of the socket, and neither do you. Plus, neither knows whether they are doing it right at all. I’ve fought regional champions for fun (and lost several fights per minute when they weren’t holding back — it’s like a ride in an amusement park), and never have I been hurt as much as when a newbie, instead of throwing me, tried to lower me gently on the floor by the belt so as not to do much harm.

    > The boiling point of a liquid is entirely relative depending on the pressure of the surrounding environment. Water boils at room temperature in a vacuum.

    I assume Rothfuss means the thermal capacity of water, which is indeed unexpectedly high — to people who have just heard about thermal capacity but haven’t yet seen the numbers for various substances. In my experience (I can outRenaissance Rothfuss on a good day), high schoolers invariably go orly when they look at the numbers for water and, say, copper (per unit of mass).
    HOWEVER: that is not an observation Kvothe is capable of making. Being surprised by thermal capacities is a supremely transient moment because you get to see the numbers for common substances right away, and you can’t be wrong about the numbers if you have no concept of the measurable quantity itself. Kvothe was taught by Abenthy one-on-one so he couldn’t have possibly seen a classroom of pre-wizard-school students making the same (wrong) intuitive assumption, arrrrrrgh it huuuuurts…….

    (And no, that’s not how sympathy works. I stopped caring since the bandit camp, though.)

    1. katz

      Devan decided hours ago that he’s just going to throw the whole thing out when he leaves. He’s only staying because Kvothe threatened to kill him.

    2. braak

      Also, like, presumably just HOT water holds a lot of heat inside it. Cold water probably doesn’t hold a lot of heat, which is why it’s cold.

      If…if water already had a lot of heat inside it, it wouldn’t take very long to boil. Because it would be hot.


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