Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 141-146

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I took a sneak peek at the following chapters and it looks like a whole lot of bullshit goes on in them, so in the interest of me not losing my mind we’re going to power through this at warp speed.



A Journey to Return

Kvothe is on a ship with some sailors. They somehow heard about him boning Felurian, he makes friends with the sailors.



Kvothe returns to wizard school. Ah, wizard school. You seem like a sweet reprieve after the nonsense we’ve been wading through for most of the book.

I’d been gone for three-quarters of a year. In some ways it seemed much longer, but at the same time everything here felt so familiar that it felt like hardly any time at all had passed.

I beg to differ.

Kvothe goes to visit Simmon and it turns out that everyone thought he was dead after his ship sank on the way to Vintas. He could have easily cleared this up by sending a letter but forgot to,

The thought of writing home was utterly alien to me.

I refuse to believe you’re really still so immersed in the nomadic mindset that it wouldn’t occur to you to inform people that you’re still alive.

He grinned

Hey Kvothe how about another murder spree right about now?

Kvothe pulls some kind of scam by arranging for the University bursar to draw way more money from the Mayor’s bank account than necessary and split the extra. I can think of a whole load of reasons why that wouldn’t work, but I can’t be arsed to go through them right now.

Kvothe goes through admissions and is quite rusty on some subjects. I’m not sure why this matters since he now has literally infinite money to pay his tuition but whatever. After that he wanders around a bit aimlessly in the extremely vague hope that he’ll run into Denna. Just like the good old days!

But even looking for her and not finding her was comforting in a way. In some ways that seemed to be the heart of our relationship.

Hey remember how Denna is basically enslaved to a man who beats her on a regular basis? Forget about that though, no need to interrupt your pathetic Nice Guy stalking.

After that Kvothe goes to visit Moon Fey-chan, whose existence I had successfully managed to expunge completely from my mind so thank you Wise Man’s Fear for bringing those memories back.



Kvothe goes back to the artificing workshop and it turns out they’ve been mass-producing his arrow catching thing (now called a “bloodless”) and selling them like hotcakes, so Kvothe has built up more than 20 talents in commissions while he was away.

I grinned.

After that Kvothe takes his money and goes to see Devi.

The door cracked open and a single pale blue eye peered out at me. I grinned.

Did no one even read this before it went off to the printers?

Devi is shocked Kvothe is alive. She blamed herself for his “death” since she assumed Ambrose had had his ship sunk in revenge for the room-burning incident, Devi being the one who actually set the fire.

“His father’s barony is called the Pirate Isles.

That sounds fucking awesome, can we go there in the next book?

Anyway Kvothe pays off his loan and gets his talent pipes and Denna’s ring back (bet you wish you had given her that sooner, huh?).

Then he realizes….. something.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with money,” I repeated. I looked at her books. Her collection had to be worth five hundred talents if it was worth a penny. “You use the money as bait. You lend it out to desperate folks who might be useful to you, then hope they can’t pay you back. Your real business is favors.”

I’m really not sure why this is supposed to be important.


Sword and Shaed


It was strange not having to live like a miser. I had clothes that fit me and could afford to have them laundered. I could have coffee or chocolate whenever I wanted. I no longer needed to toil endlessly in the Fishery and could spend time tinkering simply to satisfy my curiosity or pursue projects simply for the joy of it.

This paragraph reveals way more about Rothfuss and his level of privilege than I think he intended.

Kvothe meets Elodin and Elodin asks where he got the Shaeadeaeadedead from so they go to a pub so Kvothe can fill him in on the hot fairy sex.

We sat near a warm radiator and sipped mulled cider

Wait, what the fuck? A radiator? Wikipedia tells me that modern-style radiators were invented in the mid-19th century and having now seen more of it there is no way in hell that Kvothe’s world is at that level of technology yet.

I’ve been thinking, the only way that this book’s setting makes sense is if it was equivalent to some real-world countries in the 19th century that had remained isolated for a long time and hadn’t gone through industrialization but traded and imported technology to a limited degree that they would have lacked the means to mass-produce. That would explain why the area around the University seems to have more advanced gizmos than anywhere else and possesses specialized knowledge that doesn’t seem to have spread to anywhere else- it’s the main trade hub and point of contact for the exchange of goods and information with the outside world. People in Vintas don’t know anything about magic because magic was imported from somewhere else and is still rare and mainly confined to the elite. Maybe people are distrustful of wizards (as we were told way back in the first book even though this has yet to ever be demonstrated) because magic was introduced by an aggressive foreign power?

But of course that’s not the case. As we’ve discussed before it’s not clear that there even is anywhere else besides Kvotheland or that if there is they’e more technologically advanced. Although frankly given how the main persecuted minority in this setting are white middle-class intellectuals I’m amazed Rothfuss didn’t jump at the chance to apply colonial motifs to his setting’s Europe analogue.

Wait didn’t I say this was going to be quick?



So it turns out that conveniently Kvothe still can’t call the Name of The Wind unless his burning anime passion is high enough, Elodin says he actually called Felurian’s name during their magic battle which makes Kvothe super special awesome, he starts learning Yllish after experiencing the mystery of the Lockless box and its story knot.

I have a vast weakness for secret things.

I’d describe it more as an entitlement complex.

This is super hard to do, but it’s okay because the head linguist and chancellor of wizard school, Master Herma, offers to tutor Kvothe personally! Because of reasons.



Uh oh it’s Ambrose time! Still can’t tell whether we’re supposed to view him as buffoonish comic relief or an actual threat.

My tuition was set at eighteen talents and five, earning me four talents and change from the Bursar.


Sales of the Bloodless had slackened over the winter, as there were fewer merchants visiting the University. But once snows melted and roads grew dry, the handful that had accumulated in the Stocks sold quickly, bringing me another six talents.

Okay, Rothfuss, you realize we don’t actually give a shit about where Kvothe is getting his money from right? If you didn’t keep bringing it up I would have completely forgotten about it.

Also hang on a second, Kvothe’s plan with the Bursar is that they’d split any amount over ten talents that he drew from the Mayor’s account, so Kvothe gets 4.25 talents out of 8.5. But does that mean only ten talents went toward his tuition? How, when he still has to pay the full 18.5? Is the idea that the Bursar is drawing 8.5 extra talents and then splitting that with Kvothe? If they’re just taking out more money than they need why do the whole “anything over ten talents” thing, why not just draw a fixed amount every time, like ten? Or twenty? Or hell, why not just take a hundred? Is there some reason why the tuition cost – 10 talents is going to be harder to detect or something? Or wait hang on, is the Bursar just artificially increasing the amount that Kvothe has to pay on the ledgers? But the Masters decide the tuition, not the Bursar. Also that would only work if Kvothe’s actual tuition was always set at exactly ten talents, which it isn’t. The only way I can see this actually working is if the Bursar was withdrawing the money from the Mayor’s account, taking anything over ten to split with Kvothe and then using University money to shore up the difference, except that would be really obvious and he’d totally get caught. And wait, why


Kvothe describes all the neat stuff he spends his money on lavishly while still having plenty to spare, even though a) I distinctly remember him having roughly this much (about ten and a half talents including money from Bloodless sales) in the past and not being nearly as well off, and b) given the kinds of prices we’re told of (one and a half talents for a single old book) it doesn’t seem like his money would cover six suits of fine clothes, paper, engraving tools, ink, clothes for Moon Fey-chan, meals for his friends and a whole lot else.

Auri had new dresses and bright ribbons for her hair

Way back in the first book Moon Fey-chan knew something about the Amyr she shouldn’t have. And she has blonde hair, doesn’t she?

Ordal, the youngest of them all, who had never seen a thing die, stood bravely before Aleph, her golden hair bright with ribbon.


Stories about Kvothe and Felurian reach the University and he laps up the attention because he’s an arrogant dick. Incidentally from the descriptions of the distorted version of Kvothe rescuing the two teenagers from the Bandit Bros I’m fairly certain this is where the “I have rescued princesses from sleeping barrow kings” thing comes from. Note that once again Kvothe’s deeds have stopped being ordinary acts blown into legends; in fact what he really did is arguably more impressive than the story versions, which state that he fought against enormous odds to rescue a number of captured maidens. This is pretty much what actually happened, just with more grimdark.

The second ending was more popular. It involved me calling down fire and lightning from the sky after the fashion of Taborlin the Great.

Except you did call down fire and lightning, you just did it earlier. Hey how exactly did that work, again? I’m kind of iffy on that.

Oh also Kvothe might have aged by a few years while he was in Fairyland. Or something.



You know what we need six chapters from the end of the sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy novels in recent memory? A long discussion of a made up language.

You couldn’t merely say “the Chancellor’s socks.” Oh no. Too simple. All ownership was oddly dual: as if the Chancellor owned his socks, but at the same time the socks somehow also gained ownership of the Chancellor. This altered the use of both words in complex grammatical ways. As if the simple act of owning socks somehow fundamentally changed the nature of a person.

See, this is what happens when you invent a language whose sole function is to be wacky as opposed to actually making sense.

Kvothe’s other failure is advanced chemistry, which he likes but he resents the fact that it involves having to write numbers down.

He would make me perform the same titration four times simply because my notation was incorrect. Why write a number down? Why should I take ten minutes to write what my hands could finish in five?

Are you fucking kidding me? When I did lab work you did everything in triplicate until the results matched to within a single decimal place in all three instances, and if that meant repeating experiments seventeen times until you got three good results then you repeated the experiment seventeen times, because you don’t just wing it in science. Holy shit.

Kvothe also doesn’t like advanced maths because he doesn’t like purely theoretical maths. I have some sympathy with this since I struggled pretty hard with some of the more advanced stuff in college as well, but the way he expresses it still comes across as arrogant and pompous.

Also Kvothe has casual sex with tons of women. This is supposed to be self-depreciating because he can’t maintain a relationship with anyone for very long, but come on Rothfuss you’re not kidding us with this shit.

Remember how implausible it was that Kvothe’s sword would survive three thousand years? Well we get an explanation of that now, which is: “Eh, whatever”. The University has a collection of objects with strange properties that don’t seem to be magical in nature but can’t be explained otherwise, and apparently the sword is like those. Other examples include two cubes that can create force-fields. My, that totally original and not-at-all like other fantasy novels magic system sure seems like it was worth establishing now, yes indeed.

After that we get a ludicrous series of comedy capers involving Elodin that somehow let Kvothe call the wind some more. Not even sure if we’re supposed to be taking this seriously now.

You may not think these terribly impressive feats of naming, and I suppose you are right. But I called the wind a third time that spring, and third time pays for all.

Is this going to be as exciting as that time you pushed Ambrose around a bit? Because I’m not sure if I can handle anything more thrilling than that.

So I’ve been saying for a while now that we’re taking awfully long to get to any sort of climax for this book. Well I took a quick gander at the chapters ahead and guess what, as far as I can tell there isn’t one! Not even in the framing story, like with the possessed guy in the first book.

Or rather, there was a climax. We passed it already. It was Kvothe defeating the bandits. Just as a third of this book seemed like it was really the end of the first book, half of Wise Man’s Fear has really been part of the book three. I really do think that. Evidently Rothfuss initially planned this out as one giant brick and then didn’t give a whole lot of thought to where the dividing points were going to be.

Anyway, it’s very likely that I’m just going to cram the remaining chapters into one last mega-post, which makes this the penultimate installment of Let’s Read The Name Of The Wind! I can hardly believe we’e almost at the end.


41 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wise Man’s Fear ch. 141-146

  1. Gowan

    Regarding the “anti capitalist language” – thing … aren’t there a lot of real languages where there is NO ownership?
    Like, ownership is described in terms of “this thing is in the same place as that person” and you don’t actually have a special word for it?
    So, it’s not “the Chancellor’s socks” but “The socks that are with the Chancellor” or something.
    (A translator whose mothertongue is Russian said something about Germans being bound to their property because they own it, while for Russians, they just are in the same place as their money and stuff, and can walk away easily.)
    Hey … maybe Kvothe’s mothertongue is actually something very different from English, and the wacky language is … English? Could that be? It’s some time since I read the book, so I don’t know whether it’s plausible, but that would be a cool twist.

  2. dollsgarden

    I’ve had this simmering suspicion the whole time but the Pirate’s Isles thing just brought me to that weird realisation. I guess you are familiar with Alanna The Lioness, from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series? It’s about a redhead with awesome magical powers who goes to a boarding school to become an expert in what suits her most (Knighthood, in her case) even though she’s not actually supposed to be there, less for money reasons and more for vagina reasons. Over the course of the series the meager remains of her family die. Her name, BTW, is Alanna of Trebond. During the series, she goes to a Shaolin-esque but white society from far away and learns pseudo Asian martial arts there because by chance she met one of this society on her travels. And, yea, by the end of the series she becomes baroness of Pirate’s Swoop. It’s sort of sad that Rothfuss might have copied here from a series that so loudly says “You Go Girl”.

    1. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

      I can’t tell if that would make this book better or worse. Well with Rothfuss at the helm, anything would be worse, but that’s independent of the subject matter he chooses.

      Now if Ambrose is from a land infested with state sanctioned pirates, it seems like he would suffer more shunning than Kvothefuss would. After all Kvothefuss is just a member of a group of oppressed, White, middle class, traveling artists who totally aren’t a rip off of those pacifist people from Wheel of Time, while Ambrose’s family makes its money off of piracy. Yet another missed opportunity on Rothfuss’ part. Take a another drink.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        Half the time when random shit like the evil tree or the pirates comes up I’m not even sure we’re supposed to take it seriously.

      2. braak

        Let’s see. A kid with no particular talents except a knack for lies and a flair for the dramatic bluffs his way into wizard school, looking for answers about the murder of his parents. He makes friends with a local loan shark, a magic-school drop out trying to cut it in a man’s world, who helps him get access to the magic-school’s secret archives. There, he learns about a magic tree in faerieland that can tell the future. He also runs afoul of the Pirate Prince, also at magic school, and to escape his adversary he apprentices himself to one of those guys who travels the world in search of rare books. He goes to Vintas and then to faerieland, where he meets the tree only to find out that it is EVIL. He escapes faerieland but is conflicted about returning to magic school, now that he knows that speaking to the evil tree means that all of his actions will result in catastrophe.

        Instead, he travels farther into the mountains where he meets the town of Kung Fu People, who teach him the lethani — which philosophy allows him to understand the philosophical dead-end that believing the evil tree had caught him in. He returns to Vintas, only to find that the Pirates have tried to seize control of the city, but he helps defeat them using kung fu and trickery.

        I don’t know how the book is going to end, though, so let’s say something about dragons and Chandrians.

        (Maybe Rothfuss will accidentally think of a better over-arching antagonist than Chandrians, I guess Ronan will have to just read book three and let us know.)

  3. Satu

    Totally off topic, sorry:

    “But bi-lingualism is frowned upon in the US, so I guess it’s not really his fault.”

    Really?? That sounds utterly baffling to me, but then of course I’m from a country of 5,5 million people so who’d speak my language out there, as opposed to the pazillions of people speaking English. But yeah, English is actually my third language. Do bi- or trilingual foreigners get frowned upon as well or is it just seen as a waste of time for native English-speakers to bother learning a second language?

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I think the anti- bilingualism sentiment is mainly aimed at spanish-speaking immigrants. It’s the whole “speak English or get out” thing

    2. braak

      It’s not “frowned upon” exactly, I am exaggerating a little bit there. But it IS certainly true that there is a lot of animosity aimed towards Spanish-speaking immigrants, and a lot of cultural and political objection to accommodating people who don’t speak English — so, whenever a state or something wants to print up voting ballots in Spanish or Vietnamese, or if they want the healthcare website to be in French and Chinese and German, there’s a vocal percentage of the publication that objects to it. It’s not the case that bilingual people are frowned on, so much as it is that the idea that we might live in a society that uses more than one language is frowned on.

      However, it’s probably also worth noting that, while a lot of American schooling has a nominal interest in making sure everyone knows a foreign language, no one really cares very much if you do, and there’s little cultural pressure behind ensuring that you do. “Aggressive,” “Self-reliant,” “Rugged,” “Tough,” are all things that Americans admire in a character. “Cosmopolitan” not so much.

      1. welltemperedwriter

        What braak said, pretty much. It’s even not so much that multiple languages are frowned on–but one of those languages had better be English and that had better be what you speak in public. And yeah, there’s a lot of static about things like multilingual voter ballots, despite the fact that there is no requirement to speak English to become a citizen (and boy aren’t there people who would love to change that). A lot of Americans simply assume that they will never have a need to speak any other language.

        I grew up bilingual as a result of a French immersion school, but I think immersion schooling is still pretty rare in the U.S. (I don’t have children so can’t really speak from experience there), at least for American-born English-speaking families. My sister-in-law is Thai-Chinese and speaks Mandarin as her first language; my three year old niece is functionally bilingual.

        Most Americans think “Cosmopolitan” is a magazine containing fashion advice and improbable sex tips.

      2. lampwick

        A lot of this is USian anti-intellectualism. When someone in the US reveals that they know more than one language, it’s considered showing off. Or as my brother-in-law said, “No matter what country I go to, I can always get by in English.”

        Or, welltemperedwriter’s last sentence.

      3. welltemperedwriter

        And the thing is, you probably CAN get by in English, at least to some extent, in touristy areas. I’m not that widely traveled but have been to maybe half a dozen countries where English isn’t the dominant language and I didn’t have too much trouble finding someone who spoke it to help me most of the time. (Though, again, touristy areas–I haven’t been anywhere particularly offbeat or remote.)

        To me it isn’t even that most Americans only know English–it’s a big country and a lot of us never leave it. It’s that we expect EVERYBODY else to, as well.

  4. Somhairle Kelly (@Eithin)

    > You couldn’t merely say “the Chancellor’s socks.” Oh no. Too simple. All ownership was oddly dual: as if the Chancellor owned his socks, but at the same time the socks somehow also gained ownership of the Chancellor. This altered the use of both words in complex grammatical ways. As if the simple act of owning socks somehow fundamentally changed the nature of a person.

    This actually sounds pretty reasonable to me – without examples, which of course Rothfuss hasn’t given, it’s nothing like as wacky as exists in real languages. I’m a bit surprised that he hasn’t gone for the standard western-fantasist stereotype of complaining about social/time-bound modifiers (ie. “the Chancellor’s socks” would be a different formation from “the peasant’s socks” or “the King’s socks”, and the Chancellor’s winter socks would be different to the Chancellor’s bed socks) or tonality. Actually, very few get as far as tonality. Or even just something like Welsh, where you learn the language, and it’s pretty easy, then the teacher says “of course, if you want to write literature, formal Welsh is a bit more complicated” and it takes a sudden left turn into cases and declensions.

    1. braak

      Yeah, I think the “dual-ownership” idea is what happens when you try to create a “wacky language” without actually having much of an understanding of how wacky language can be.

      “Can you believe it! The object of possession is morphologically different!”

      Of course, in a lot of languages ownership changes the possessor — in ENGLISH ownership changes the possessor. That’s why it’s “the Chancellor’s socks” and not, like, “socks de Chancelleur.” The fundamental change is that, no longer merely a Chancellor, THIS is a Chancellor who owns socks.

      But who could possibly comprehend the myriad complexities of a language in which you’d say “the Chancellor’s sockses”? This paradigm is blowing my mind, you guys.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        “in ENGLISH ownership changes the possessor. That’s why it’s “the Chancellor’s socks” and not, like, “socks de Chancelleur.””

        My knowledge of linguistics is completely lacking, but I assumed we were supposed to take Kvothe’s description of Yllish’s peculiarities to be a bit more literal than that- ie, owning socks in Yllish is supposed to be fundamentally altering the way the Chancellor’s nature is perceived in some way, beyond merely assigning ownership.

        I could be wrong on that, and maybe Rothfuss is just making a big deal out of nothing. I’m doubtful he has any more linguistic knowledge than I do, but of course Uncle Tolkien taught us that all fantasy authors are automatically linguists and map-makers and song-writers as well.

      2. braak

        @Ronan: I’m sure it IS something like that (my guess is a setup for a really, really skeevy comment on his relationship with Denna), but the way he describes it is just making me peevish, since I get irritated with people — especially fantasy writers — who write about how strange and different another language is without fully understanding the peculiarities of their own language.

        What it sounds like he wants to describe is actually a sort of anti-capitalist society, in which there’s no one-sided ownership: all ownership is a mutual-relation of possession in which subject and object are equally responsible to each other. Which, fine. A good thing to point out is how in English, the linguistic structure of ownership is inevitably one-sided — things own or owned, but not both.

        Except he’s trying to use language as a window into philosophy despite not having a strong grasp of linguistics in the first place, and apparently not having a real strong grasp of the rules underpinning his own language in the second.

        I guess, in his defense, in America we don’t learn grammar in a very rigorous way; you learn English grammar in high school so that your sentences have commas in the right places, but you don’t really learn it as part of a fundamental system of linguistics unless you also formally study ANOTHER language. (In my experience, Latin was really good for that, because there’s no conversational Latin; all Latin is formal language.) But bi-lingualism is frowned upon in the US, so I guess it’s not really his fault.

  5. zephyrean

    > I’m really not sure why this is supposed to be important.

    In the first book, Devi was this evil evil loan shark who’d kill poor poor Kvothe to squeeze the monies out of him. Because Rothfuss’ intended audience is trained to think every antagonist is irredeemably evil by default, now that Devi’s on Team Kvothe, additional reassurance is required that she didn’t really mean to kill him and was always good. In Rothfuss’ mind, this qualifies as an epic twist.

    > This paragraph reveals way more about Rothfuss and his level of privilege than I think he intended.

    It also shows Kvothe’s level of privilege and makes me hate the character more than I thought possible. Having seen the whole world and having actually lived in poverty, the ohsooldandworldweary Kvothe still has no grasp of how life is for other people.

    “I have a vast weakness for secret things.”
    > I’d describe it more as an entitlement complex.

    No, he doesn’t, and that’s the problem. 2k pages is five volumes of Harry Potter. Five. How many secrets has Kvothe uncovered? How much of a hack one has to be to fail at ripping off Harry Potter?

    > Wait, what the fuck? A radiator?

    Everything that doesn’t require advanced scientific knowledge and doesn’t necessaitate drastic changes in the setting is okay. Radiators are fine. Flush toilets are fine. Hay balers, invisibly present in more fantasy settings than you’d expect, are a no-no.

    > And wait, why

    This is literally the stupidest episode in the books. There are implausibly stupid scenes. There is contradictory worldbuilding. Most fans of the genre have learned to deal with it by applying copious amounts of mind caulk. But this is a blatant, in-your-face, math and logic fail.

    To the readers: there’s a long, torturously protracted scene describing in detail how the worse Kvothe performs at the exams, the more money he gets. This is presented as Kvothe’s ultimate victory over “haters” and “trolls”, a bright young mind’s intellectual triumph over stuffy old academia.

    I would say that scene made me stop caring about the plot, but that’d be too weak. It doesn’t just do that, it retroactively invalidates any plot the books might have had. Next page, an Easter bunny might swallow the sun. There’s no past, there’s no future, no cause and effect, nothing. From now on, the book might as well be madlibs, and, what with having been written by the same person, it has always been madlibs. (zomg what a twist)

    > See, this is what happens when you invent a language whose sole function is to be wacky as opposed to actually making sense.

    I’m sure there’s some deep philosophy in it that we poor mortals can never hope to grasp, because we don’t understand magic and music and Rothfuss.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      “To the readers: there’s a long, torturously protracted scene describing in detail how the worse Kvothe performs at the exams, the more money he gets.”

      Wait, really? I didn’t actually see that.

    2. Signatus

      “No, he doesn’t, and that’s the problem. ”

      That’s, indeed, one of the main reasons why the plot doesn’t advance a bit. Qvothe saw his parents die horribly, and years after, he’s moving through the world like a Skyrim gamer.
      I am supposed to go find the Elder Scroll to defeat Alduin, but lets see first whats in this cave, the Scroll to defeat the World Eater can wait.

      One would have said his priority would be the Chandrian and the Amyr, and yet he’s demonstrated more curiosity (in a childish way) for the Lethani than for anything concerning the guys who killed his parents. The fact that he showed intrigue for the Lethani is not even that he was curious, it was more that he was forbidden that knowledge and hes an arrogant, selfish child who feels entitled to whatever he wants just because.

  6. Signatus

    I thought the scam was done by overcharging the Maer’s account, but since I’m math challenged, I admit I didn’t think much about it. I was happy enough that Qvothe’s money issues seemed to be over.

    There is not much to say about this last chapters. They are boring, useless, and nothing of relevance really happens so I’m not really sure why they were included at all. A two paragraphs prologue in the third book would have been enough to tell us how the Maer was paying Qvothe’s tuition and how his invention was reporting him a good chunk of cash to live and get that fancy new iPhone.

    Since my copy was not in english I don’t remember that radiator part (or how it was translated). Might have been radiator for all I know, and I just didn’t realize upon reading (which kind of shows how interested in the book I was). Unfortunately, I lent my copy and I still didn’t get it back, so I can’t check.
    As a hypothesis, maybe he didn’t even realize. Maybe he was just writing and didn’t notice that radiators had not been invented. However, he should have noticed it upon re-reading, so either it was intentional, or he was placing as much attention in the re-read as I was simply reading it, which is really sad.
    In any way, I’m not giving him much credit in worldbuilding. He’s shown quiet masterfully that he doesn’t understand how a world works.

  7. Elspeth Grey

    I’m in the humanities and I’m so staggeringly appalled by that casual dissing of proper experimental procedure. That’s not showing your character’s “genius,” Rothfuss, that’s showing that anything he does or makes should actually be SHIT and get SHIT results.

    And a side note, but I’ve realized that Moon Fey-chan reminds me of Drusilla from Buffy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rothfuss actually wanted to include a “good” Drusilla. Except, you know, in a book you don’t have an actress there to make those kinds of lines work (if Rothfuss’ could, which they can’t).

  8. Andrea Harris

    Radiators. Why do I get the feeling Rothfuss fobs off anachronistic stuff like that with “Tolkien had hobbits smoking pipes and wearing waistcoats!” — i.e., as fantasy whimsy just because.

    Anyway, Rothfuss having his character hate math strikes me as the sort of thing an immature teen who preferred reading to doing “boring math homework” than that of a grown-ass college instructor. But then again, that attitude is common America. The division between English majors and the STEM set is higher and more guarded here than the Berlin Wall ever was.

    Also yes, both Kvothe’s tribulations and the things he counts as luxuries are just so much a marker of middle-class white privileged dude who has someone (mom, wife, girlfriend) to do his laundry so he can go to Starbucks and pose with his iPad. What I can’t get over is how dull and commonplace and unimaginative and almost completely lacking in fantasy his setting and scenario characters are. And. All. That. Talk. About. Money. One reason people read fantasy is to get away from the dreary preoccupation in the Western world with money. If you think that’s irresponsible and people shouldn’t “escape” reality that way that’s one thing, but write a book about the tax code or something, not a fantasy novel.

    1. rmric0

      I didn’t find the radiator thing to be very jarring, didn’t the shitty Inn where Kvothe was living have a magic fridge?

      1. ronanwills Post author

        It did, but the radiator doesn’t appear to be magical in nature- I think it’s just an ordinary radiator. Which is weird because these people don’t even seem to have invented guns yet.

      2. Rakka

        Things don’t need to be invented in the order they were invented in real Europe. Or re-invented – ancient Greek had steam powered machines but they were considered curiosities at best, and the Romans had central heating. It’s the “no knowledge ever travels” rather than “someone figured out how to transfer hot water around to heat rooms” that bothers me. (And the casual dissing of sympathy and not using it for, say, mass transit on rails, or personal weapons, or whatever.)

    2. ronanwills Post author

      ” One reason people read fantasy is to get away from the dreary preoccupation in the Western world with money.”

      I actually started reading The Name Of The Wind when I was in college and having occasional money struggles, and that stuff wasn’t particularly pleasant to read about.

      Or maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s “here’s your actual life, warts and all, except you can imagine yourself wielding arcane magics and scoring with an endless conveyor belt of hot women”.

      1. Andrea Harris

        That makes it even worse. It’s like that scene in The Shining where the wife picks up her husband’s manuscript and every single line is “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy” only instead, you pick up a book and instead of a story every page is your bank statement with its negative balance.

  9. rmric0

    I think the only part of the wheeze with the bursar that doesn’t make much sense is that “anything above ten talents” part.

    Presumably to get the money, Kvothe has to show a bill to his bankers (otherwise, he could just lie to them). So the bursar just writes out a fake bill on University Letterhead that includes the tuition plus the sweetener. It’s not going to be a hundred talents, because the bankers are used to dealing with students and know the typical range of tuition. Kvothe and the bursar split the sweetener and all that gets entered in the university’s ledger is the real amount of the tuition.

    I have no idea what the 10 and over cap is about.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      “Presumably to get the money, Kvothe has to show a bill to his bankers”

      The Bursar is the one drawing the money, though. That’s why he’s getting half of the extra.

      When Kvothe presents the idea to the Bursar he basically says “the Mayor doesn’t actually know what my tuition is, so we can take out extra money and just steal it” which seems pretty straightforward- if the tuition is twenty talents the Bursar takes out some amount more than that and him and Kvothe split it. But the “anything over ten talents” arrangement makes it seem like they’re only drawing the cost of Kvothe’s tuition from the Mayor’s account (otherwise why impose such a specific limit?) which in turn makes the entire plan sound nonsensical.

    2. braak

      Also, doesn’t the scan involve Kvothe somehow sandbagging himself at the tuition test, to drive the tuition up? In this scenario, he’d want to keep his tuition down, so there’d be more money left for him and the bursar.

    3. braak

      WAIT. I was looking back at this, and I think I figured it out.

      The only way this REALLY makes sense is if the Bursar gets a commission on the tuition he takes in — like, his salary is paid in “shares” of the university tuition. So, Kvothe cuts a deal with him ahead of time and says “look, I can sandbag my auditions and drive my tuition up, but you got to give me a cut of your share.” (This actually makes more sense if the Bursar is empowered to tack expenses onto Kvothe’s bill — he and Kvothe make up a list of things he needs to buy, inflate the prices, and the Bursar skims another percentage point.)

      IN FACT if all of the people at the university are paid in shares except for the administrators (the masters like Hemme and Elodin et al.) who get a fixed salary, then everyone starts to make more sense. The regular faculty don’t hate Kvothe because he’s too smart, they hate him because his stupid anti-tuition stunt is literally picking their pockets. Hemme doesn’t hate Kvothe and want to drive up his tuition out of jealousy; he is sympathetic to the faculty and is actually trying to be fair.

      So, see — now Kvothe is a kind of psuedo-anarchist, scamming a corrupt institution, but ALSO he’s in a morally ambiguous position because the more he thinks about it, the more realizes he’s actually directly hurting actual people, but ALSO ALSO it’s a commentary about how the American education system is financed.

      Man, there was such a good book to be written here.

  10. fnich

    Ambrose is a pirate prince (or whatever you call a larval baron), so why are we expected to hate him and not read about his adventures again? Oh, because he beats up on his girlfriends or something. Good thing we have violence against women around to solve these dilemnas for us!

    And did Kvothe just scam the shit out of the guy who had been fairly genenerous to him? Oddly enoigh if he did more stuff like that instead of grinning, infantalizing women and going on occaisonal killing sprees I’d probably like him more.


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