CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE
When Words Fail
To tell a good story? To make sense? To be engaging in any way? We’ve certainly be having a lot of that.
Kvothe goes to Vashet’s house to do whatever.
Empty-handed, I knocked softly on her door. After a moment, she opened it. She still wore her mercenary reds, but she had removed most of the silk ties that held it tight to her body. Her eyes were tired.
Her mouth thinned when she saw me standing there, and I knew if I spoke she would refuse to listen. So I gestured entreaty and stepped backward, out of the candlelight and into the dark. I knew her well enough by this point to be sure of her curiosity. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously as I stepped away, but after a moment’s hesitation she followed me. She did not bring her sword.
Yeah, when the guy you just announced your intention to have put to death shows up at your door at night and tries to lure you into the darkness you should totally follow him. There is no way this could go badly.
We walked more than a mile before we came to the place I had chosen. A small grove of trees where a tall jumble of stone would keep any noise from carrying back toward the sleeping town.
So Kvothe is going to murder her, right? Like that’s actually going to happen? Yes I know it would be despicable, but I am more than ready for some grimdark after the chapter upon chapter of twee bullshit we’ve been getting. Whatever happens just don’t let it be fucking twee.
Then I sat on the other bench, bent, and worked the clasps on my lute case. As each of them snapped open, the lute within made a familiar harmonic thrum, as if eager to be free.
I brought it out and gently began to play.
God damn it.
Without pausing, I moved on to “Violet Bide,” then “Home Westward Wind.” The last had been a favorite of my mother’s, and as I played it I thought of her and began to cry.
Then I played the song that hides in the center of me. That wordless music that moves through the secret places in my heart. I played it carefully, strumming it slow and low into the dark stillness of the night. I would like to say it is a happy song, that it is sweet and bright, but it is not.
“This is why I do not have knives instead of hands, Vashet,” I said quietly. “This is what I am.”
THIS IS WHY I DO NOT HAVE KNIVES INSTEAD OF HANDS
THIS IS WHY I DO NOT HAVE KNIVES INSTEAD OF HANDS
SWEET MOTHER OF CHRIST
Just….. let’s just move on.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-TWO
The next morning Kvothe goes back to Vashet’s house again and watches her but on her boob bondage gear.
She picked up a long piece of dark silk and wound it around her torso, over her shoulders and across her naked breasts, supporting and holding them close to her chest. Then she tucked the end of the cloth into itself and it somehow remained tightly secured. I had seen her do this several times before, but how it actually worked was still a mystery to me.
Gosh I wonder why this scene is in the book.
Anyway the whole issue has been settled due to the POWER OF ROCK and Kvothe and Vashet go back to training as though nothing happened.
After more weeks of training (SURE HOPE NOTHING BAD’S HAPPENING TO DENNA) Vashet announces that Kvothe’s test- the one to decide if he’ll be mutilated and banished from the town- is to happen the next day, as the Adem are getting super fond of Kvothe- of course- and they might balk at the idea of his fingers being cut off or whatever if they grow any more attached to him.
Aaaand that’s all that happens. I do not get the point of these tiny short chapters, just put a * or something to indicate time is passing. Surely Rothfuss is just making a ton of extra work for himself coming up with chapter titles.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE
The Spinning Leaf
The next day it’s test time.
So, here’s a question for you: if you were in college studying for a bachelor’s degree would you expect your final exams to test your knowledge of the material you’d been studying for the last four years, or something tangentially related but which you had never actually studied in-depth before and couldn’t possibly have prepared for?
Because it turns out Kvothe’s test is sort of like that. Specifically he has to do the sword tree thing that Celean was doing earlier.
Penthe didn’t say anything, merely gripped my arms in an open show of support. Then she hugged me tightly. I was surprised when her head only came up to my chest. I’d forgotten how small she was.
So is anyone excited for the Breaking Bad finale? Boy I sure am! What? What quote? I have no idea what you’re talking about.
There are several items tied to the trunk of the sword tree; Kvothe has to run in, grab one and come back without getting cut to ribbons in the process. I am totally calling it now that one of the objects is his lute and he’ll have to leave it behind as a test of character (I haven’t read ahead to confirm this).
To make the test even more unfair the actual criteria for passing are extremely vague; basically they’re going to look at a combination of how Kvothe acts during the test, what object he chooses to bring back and what he does afterward and then somehow come up with a pass or fail depending on how they feel about it all.
You’ve probably already guessed what happens- Kvothe magically re-acquires his wind powers again. I love how that only comes up in specific scenarios where Kvothe needs to do something he couldn’t otherwise, and then is promptly forgotten when it’s time for a challenge to provide actual drama.
Kvothe doesn’t use it to actually move the branches and leaves out of his way, he just predicts the motion of the wind and walks calmly through the branches like a badass.
Astute readers will notice there’s been something of a change in the tone of the book lately- namely, Kvothe is no longer an ordinary guy using trickery and wits to do things that other people ascribe to super special awesome magic powers, he really does just have super special awesome magic powers. The Adem watching this likely won’t know exactly how Kvothe did it but when they inevitably run off like headless chickens to start spreading the story all over the place they’ll be broadly correct in stating that Kvothe was hella awesome liek zomg and did something that should have been impossible.
Then I came to the other side of the tree and saw my lute case leaning casually against the trunk.
Once Kvothe sees this he is filled with dark and terrible anger and he loses the name of the wind again because reasons. He tries to sort through which item to bring back but can’t think one would reflect well on him or which one would be interpreted in a negative light. Also, no matter what he takes he doesn’t stand a chance of making it out unscathed without wind powers.
Natrually this is a Rothfuss production so the way Kvothe gets out of this predicament has to be incredibly stupid.
In the middle of that anxious moment, I was suddenly aware of nothing as much as the sudden, urgent pressure of my bladder.
Thus it was that in the center of a storm of knives, in the midst of my test that was also my trial, that I thought of urinating up against the side of the sacred sword tree while two dozen proud and deadly mercenaries watched me do it.
It was such a horrifying and inappropriate thought that I burst out laughing. And when the laugh rolled out of me, the tension knotting my stomach and clawing at the muscles of my back melted away.
I’m chortling away merrily here while my eyes twinkle with mirth, let me tell you. Hey how close are we to the point where this thing should be reaching its climax? That close? Really? Alrighty then.
Kvothe uses wind power again to make the tree grow still and leaves with nothing, deliberately cutting his hand open on the way.
I extended my left hand, bloody palm up, and closed it into a fist. The gesture meant willing. There was more blood than I’d expected, and it pressed between my fingers to run down the back of my hand.
After a long moment, Shehyn nodded. I relaxed, and only then did the wind return.
Well that was an anticlimactic drama-free sequence. These books mostly consist of endless waffling and time wasting followed by a dilemma or action sequence which Kvothe solves by pulling a random ability out of his ass, followed by more endless waffling and time wasting (and head shaking and twinkling of eyes).