CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR
Oh good, more names.
Kvothe passed the test, the day is saved, all the Adem are super impressed with Kvothe, blah de blah blah.
She looked at me, her expression trapped between disgust and amusement. “Seriously, it’s like you stepped out of a storybook.”
Oh, how clever. Do you even see how meta this is?
Vashet and Kvothe go to meet Shehyn and we are once again told how super impressive Kvothe was.
“That may be true, but those who watched from hiding will doubtless say what they have seen. Celean herself will have already told a hundred people unless I miss my guess. By tomorrow everyone will expect your stride to shake the ground as if you were Aethe himself come back to visit us.”
The Adem have no actual substance or character; they exist solely to set up temporary road-blocks for Kvothe and tell him how awesome he is.
Shehyn says that Tempi told her all about Kvothe’s adventures at the bandit camp and that he fought a being she calls a Rhinta, which Kvothe works out after a moment is the Adem word for the Chandrian.
I felt hope rising within me. “I have also heard them called the Chandrian,” I said.
Hot-diggity, are we finally going to advance this plot some more? I mean it’s once again a case of Kvothe just ambling around wasting time until someone randomly drops information in his lap, but at this point I’ll take anything I can get.
“Shehyn, I have a great desire to know more of these Rhinta.”
Shehyn was quiet for a long moment. “I will consider this,” she said at last, making a gesture I thought might be trepidation. “Such things are not spoken of lightly.”
No just tell him now. Don’t make me come in there.
Unfortunately more Chandrian info will have to wait, because now it’s time for Kvothe to take part in some sort of naming ceremony. It’s probably going to be something dumb isn’t it, like “Wind Song” or “Blood Shadow” or “ChaosWolf_79xxx”.
There’s an old woman who does the naming.
“I would hear you say something,” she said, still looking intently at my hand.
“As you will, honored shaper of names,” I said.
On a scale of one to ten how much do you want to punch Kvothe right now?
She gives him the name Maedre, but doesn’ tell him what it means.
After the naming Kvothe goes to fight for his right to party at Penthe’s house, where they all get drunk and sit around grinning.
I was pleased to learn the Adem impassivity dissolved quite easily after a few drinks, and we were all grinning like barbarians in no time.
Penthe wants to bone Kvothe because she’s a woman of boneable age who has been in his presence for more than five seconds, Kvothe asks Vashet if it’s okay to bone her when he’s already done boning with Vashet, Vashet is like “yah wtf are u talking about” and explains that it ain’t no thing for Adem to go around boning everyone they want to willy-nilly, because their culture exists solely for Kvothe to learn how to fight and have tons of sex.
“It is a healthy thing for you to do. Why would I be offended? Do I suddenly own your sex, that I should be worried about you giving it away?”
I’m not sure whether to read this as a healthy openness in about sex or a repudiation of the idea of a monogamous relationship. I have no problem with polygamy as long as everyone involved is comfortable with it, but what would happen if an Adem wanted an exclusive relationship with their partner? Would that be seen as weird? How does this affect Adem families, are there tons of multiple-parent setups? Oh there I go again, forgetting this is a culture created entirely to facilitate the protagonist’s needs!
Yeah so to the Adem sex is more or less like a handshake. Are you wondering how this doesn’t result in rampant STDs and unwanted pregnancies? Are you? Well believe it or not, we’re going to get an answer to that question!
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE
caesura (plural caesuras or caesurae)
- A pause or interruption in a poem, music, building or other work of art.
- In Classical prosody, using two words to divide a metrical foot.
A pause or interruption? What part of this book hasn’t been a pause or interruption?
Kvothe wakes up all hung over after the previous night of hard grinning, then Vashet and Shehyn take him to get his Cool Sword. As his teacher Vashet must choose which of the Cool Swords will be Kvothe’s Cool Sword, an idea she seems oddly bothered by.
They were all slender and deadly, each subtly different from the others. Some were curved, some longer or thicker than others.
This seems a little odd, wouldn’t they have a standardized sword type that had been designed specifically to work with their fighting style? Way too many people have this idea of swords as unique works of art lovingly molded by master craftsmen, whereas it’s my understanding that in reality swords throughout history that were actually intended to be used in combat occupied the same position as guns do today- mass produced tools. I know variation existed since this was mainly a pre-industrial era we’re talking about and standardized manufacturing wasn’t really a thing, but different sword types were made for specific situations or soldiers occupying certain roles on the battlefield, not so warriors could choose a unique, signature weapon style that they carried with them into battle. Think of how weird it would be if you had a modern army and every single soldier was carrying a different primary firearm based on personal preference.
Anyway, what follows is the second scene in the trilogy to remind me strongly of the wand selection bit in the first Harry Potter book, as Vashet has Kvothe hold a bunch of different swords and Ketan moves with them. Again, the idea that she needs to find the “right” sword suited just to him makes no sense to me, surely he’d just learn to fight with a standard sword type everyone else used? And why exactly aren’t the rejected swords suited to Kvothe, it’s not like the Harry Potter thing and he’s establishing a magical bond. It’s a sword, if one person can use it anyone with the right training should be able to.
I took it carefully, but the grip wasn’t right for my fingers.
… why not? I know I’m harping on this a lot, but it’s totally nonsensical. Is there something about Kvothe’s fingers that are different from everyone else’s? Wouldn’t the person designing the sword make a grip generic enough that anyone could use it?
Eventually they find the right sword and Vashet is clearly troubled by it for some reason but like the name Kvothe got earlier they take a maddeningly long time to explain why.
Then she turned and held it out to me. “This is named Saicere.”
“Caesura?” I asked, startled by the name. Wasn’t that what Sim had called the break in the line of Eld Vintic verse?
Was it? How long ago did that happen? It feels like it’s been years since Kvothe was in Imre.
I slid it back into its sheath and the sound was different. It sounded like the breaking of a line. It said:
The epic, almost mythical tone this book goes for so often is completely at odds with the fact that the story mostly consists of a teenager farting around the place doing nothing.
With a dogged and humorless persistence, Vashet taught me how to care for my sword. How to clean and oil my sword.
This seems like it would be the first thing you’d learn about sword-fighting, not the last.
I asked what I should do if the sword broke. Not the hilt or the guard, but the blade itself. Should I still bring it back?
Vashet gave me a look of dismay so raw it verged on horror. She didn’t answer, and I made a point of not asking any more questions for the rest of the morning.
Okay, we get it. There’s something weird about the sword. Although maybe this is Vashet’s bizarre “oh noes he’s contemplating the vague idea that he might actually use this to fight at some point in the future, hypothetically” deal again.
Man, I still can’t get over how dumb that was.
After this Kvothe has to go and learn the story of his sweet new blade.
“In Ademic it is Atas. It is the history of your sword. Everyone who has carried it. What they have done.
Wait, what? They’re not giving him a new sword? Why? Wouldn’t it be liable to break or something? How long can you keep repairing one of these things, wouldn’t it eventually just become unusable?
The sword-story-person, am old woman named Magwyn who is remarkably similar to the earlier old woman who did the naming ceremony, pulls out a big heavy book and starts to narrate the sword’s story (in first person, which annoys me more than it probably should), getting Kvothe to repeat it back to her so he can memorize it.
The history of the sword is extremely long, comprising well over thirty owners, nearly all of whom died in combat. Oddly, there seem to be a whole lot of elderly Adem living in peaceful retirement even though the sword’s history would seem to imply that most of them are killed in battle. Maybe the sword is cursed or something.
“Do not presume to meddle with her name. It means to break, to catch, and to fly.”
Still not going to explain why Vashet is getting so hot and bothered by it? Okay.
Since Kvothe is an arrogant little shit he decides he’s going to re-christen the sword Caesura because the name the people who made it and have been using for it for what seems like several centuries gave it is “wrong” and Kvothe, who got it less than 24 hours, knows what it’s “true” name is.
I don’t mention enough how unpleasant a character Kvothe is. He’s not a raging sociopath like some famous fantasy characters are, but he’s got this quiet, low-key dick-headedness about him. He regards himself as entitled to certain types of knowledge and information not because he desperately needs them to find the Chandrian or avenge his parents but simply because he wants them and whatever he wants he should be given. He doesn’t actually learn the Lethani, he takes it and makes it his own. When he finds out about Naming magic he seems to regard it as his birthright to learn it even after being told how few people are permitted to do so. He jealously hoards music, looking down on people who don’t do it the “right” way, like he does. If I knew Kvothe in real life I would not want to be associated with him in any way.
Besides, if I was to be a namer, I decided I could damn well choose the name of my own sword.
well sure, no one’s going to stop you. But you shouldn’t, because you’re an outsider being granted the extraordinary privilege of being inducted into another culture as one of their own. The sword and its attached cultural value aren’t yours; you’re being permitted to borrow them. You fucking asshole.
Anyway, it turns out that the sword has had a whopping two hundred and thirty six previous owners and you cannot convince me that anything could survive that amount of constant use. Even if each owner only used it for a single year that would still make it more than two centuries old, and since the actual survival rate of each owner is likely much longer and after you factor in time spent hanging up waiting for someone else to claim it you could be talking a ludicrously long time. Even if it was only used on average for ten years that would still make it more than two millenia old.
Then I realized what this truly meant. If each owner had kept Caesura for ten years, and it had never sat idle for longer than a day or two, that meant Caesura was, at a very conservative estimate, more than two thousand years old.
I honestly didn’t expect this to get pointed out in the text. But Rothfuss wins exactly zero browney points for noticing this but failing to realize how fucking stupid it is. Surely sword-making techniques would have advanced hugely from then?
Kvothe is surprised to learn that he’s to sleep and eat in Magwyn’s place until he’s learned all of the names and the circumstances under which their owner died, which seems like a gigantic waste of time to me (is it even possible for someone to memorize that much information?) but whatever.