IT IS THE END OF
ALL THINGS LET’S READ THE WISE MAN’S FEAR
Before the grand event begins, some programming notes. Since the third book isn’t out yet I’m going to be moving onto something non-Kvothe related for my next Let’s Read, however before that I’m going to let the batteries recharge for a while. Specifically I’m going to take a break from the Let’s Reads until about December or so. I’m sure you can hold out till then. I believe in you. Between then and now I’ll be doing a full review of The Wise Man’s Fear, with EXCITING BONUS CONTENT.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN
Okay people, we’re nearing the finale! What adventures will our dashing hero get into now?
SINCE I HAD A great deal of free time on my hands, midway through the term I hired the use of a two horse fetter-cart and headed to Tarbean on a bit of a lark.
Wait, no. Something’s gone horribly wrong.
Kvothe does some stuff that’s not important so we’re going to skip right over it.
What did surprise me was the strange nostalgia I felt for this place that had been so cruel to me.
Yeah, remember that time you got raped by the street urchins and bashed that dude’s head in with a brick? No? Oh I forgot, that’s only canon when Rothfuss is being possessed by George RR Martin. What? Yeah, I know he’s still alive. They’re switching souls. That’s why nothing happens in the latest Song of Ice and Fire book.
After wandering around a bit and visiting the places where his childhood was destroyed immediately following the violent death of his parents with misty-eyed nostalgia he trolls Ambrose by writing him a letter purporting to be from a pregnant lover. Oh, that Kvothe. This takes way longer than it really should this close to the end of the book.
People all over Tarbean are telling ridiculous stories about Kvothe. Like, everyone. He goes into the taproom of the random inn he’s staying at and people are in there telling stories. Multiple people. The only way this scene makes sense is if everyone in the city is telling stories about Kvothe literally all the time. I mean think about it, imagine that you’re some massively famous person at the height of their public recognition. If you picked a random cafe or resteraunt and sat down, what are the odds you’d hear conversations about yourself? Probably very slim, because people have their own shit to talk about. Not in Kvotheland! In Kvotheland no one else ever does anything interesting, and so every deed of Kvothe’s is amazing and noteworthy and is talked about fervently months and months after it happens.
Just then an attractive dark haired woman (Denna) bursts into the room with her boyfriend. The mysterious woman (who is Denna) can’t breathe and need immediate medical assistance from Kvothe (because it’s Denna).
So yeah, Denna is back. Just all of a sudden, I guess. I’m going to start throwing quotes at you now, because you need to experience the next few chapters yourself:
I turned back to the woman and watched as her perfect mouth opened.
I looked deeply into her eyes. They were like dark pools.
he room was still enough that I could hear the velvet rush of her second desperate breath.
When she looked down her hair cascaded off her shoulders, falling around her face. It smelled warm and rich, like sunshine and cider.
“Now instead of roses they give gold, and in the giving they grow sudden bold.”
“At least you’re being bored by men of means,” I said consolingly.
“Who wants a mean man?” she pointed out. “Little matter if his wealth is above or below the board.”
I laid a gentling hand on her arm. “You must forgive these men of mercenary thought. These poor, rich men who, seeing that you can’t be caught, attempt to buy a thing they know cannot be bought.”
What the fuck is going on with that last bit?
Of all the characterization flaws in these books, I think Denna turning into this blushing, simpering wet blanket whenever Kvothe looks at her is by far the worst.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED FORTY-EIGHT
The Stories of Stones
Kvothe and Denna head back to Imre while pointedly avoiding discussing their previous argument in Vintas. This is like some sort of manual for how to not conduct a relationship.
There’s a whole lot of bullshit about Kvothe and Denna splashing water at each other in a brook and making twee rhyming quips and they come agonizingly close to finally having sex, but it doesn’t happen. It’s heavily implied here that Denna clearly wants to touch Kvothe’s wizard staff but is for some reason afraid to. That better not be because of the usual reason women in fantasy novels have hang-ups about sex.
God, remember when Kvothe first met Denna and she was this cool, mysterious, intelligent person who could run rings around him? What the fuck happened?
Kvothe finally gets around to actually doing something about the whole abusive patron thing now, months and months after first learning of it.
And for the first time in my life, I was in a position to offer her a way out. With Alveron’s line of credit and my work in the Fishery, money would never be a problem for me. For the first time in my life, I was wealthy. I could give her a way to escape….
Or you could just track the guy down and fucking murder him, you’ve killed people for way less than this before.
Just as he’s about to finally say something Denna notices the scars on Kvothe’s back.
It was only then I realized what I was saying. The masters whipped me. Her patron beat her. And we both stayed. How could I convince her my situation was different? How could I convince her to leave?
Seriously? Seriously, Kvothe? You’r going to compare a privileged academic position that you freely chose to enter into to a person being held under the sway of a powerful authority figure based on what seems very much like emotional and psychological abuse?
They come close to having another falling out because…. something. Denna is pissed because Kvothe had tons of sex even though as far as she knows he has no idea she’s into him. Also Denna is in love with Kvothe (she stated this explicitly at the end of the first book while drugged, remember) but she regards any attempt by him or any other man to woo her as “tying her down” and “trapping her”. Which makes me very curious as to what form the relationship she actually wants with Kvothe would take.
Anyway Kvothe finally gives her the damn ring back, hooray.
I nodded and we left. Clouds cast their shadows across the field behind us as we went.
This would be a very dramatic and evocative image in a book that actually had a plot. I guess it’s supposed to symbolize the emotional baggage growing between them, but I don’t actually care about either of them or their awful relationship.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED FORTY-NINE
This chapter is sponsored by The Walt Disney Company
Kvothe goes to Anker’s to discuss Denna with Fela and Sim.
I looked behind the bar, caught Laurel’s eye, and gestured for her to bring me some of whatever was in the pot.
Who the fuck is Laurel?
Who the fuck is Laurel? Have we actually seen this character before?”But since you came back it’s almost physical,” Fela said. “Now when you look at me, there’s something happening behind your eyes. Something all sweet fruit, shadows, and lamplight. Something wild that faerie maidens run from underneath a violet sky. It’s a terrible thing, really. I like it.”
Why do people in these books devolve into sub-Shakespearean nonsense whenever they’re talking to people they want to have sex with? I thought it was just Denna and Kvothe, but apparently not.
I shook my head. “I refuse to throw myself at her like every other man she’s ever met. She hates it. I’ve seen what happens.”
This is what I don’t understand about Denna’s character. When Kvothe says she hates men “throwing themselves at her” what he means is that she’s averse to any sort of romantic gesture at all, and yet she hasn’t ever expressed a total aversion to men or relationships, and she clearly desires one with Kvothe. She keeps talking about not wanting to be “tied down” by a man, but I don’t understand what she means by that. Her lifestyle of constantly moving from place to place appears to be based on necessity rather than something she enjoys doing, so what is it she’s so afraid to lose by forming a genuine and long-lasting relationship?
The truth is Denna appears to have been written this way solely to provide an excuse for Kvothe to be be able to continue admiring her from afar. Like so much else in the story, this plot point is being continuously put on hold until some later stage when it can finally be resolved.
Fela tells Kvothe what all of the women have been saying about him, namely that he’s charming and handsome and great at sex but is like the wind (oh do you see), never staying with anyone for long. This is framed as a character flaw even though having tons of sex with a succession of attractive women without any of that emotional attachment or responsibility nonsense getting in the way is an obvious male fantasy.
“I never said I was in love,” I interjected. “I never said that. She confuses me, and I’m fond of her. But it doesn’t go further than that. How could it? I don’t know her well enough to make any earnest claim of love. How can I love something I don’t understand?”
Nope, still not buying it.
Kvothe goes to see Elodin to ask what he’d think of a girl who keeps changing her own name, and Elodin mistakenly thinks he’s talking about Name names instead of ordinary names and get all flustered and ah ha ha ha, I bet Kvothe in the framing story has somehow altered his True Name to stop someone from using it against him, and that’s why his magic is gone, and possibly why he’s become so depressed. The ultimate aim of Bast’s ploy must be to convince Kvothe to accept his original name again by reminding Kvothe of his glory days.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED FIFTY
Denna goes off somewhere again, and the chancellor of wizard school falls ill and has to retire. Not-Snape steps up to the plate. Oh, what miseries will he visit on poor Kvothe? If this turns into a money thing again I am going to burn the planet down.
I went through the questioning with the same careful artifice I’d maintained for the last two terms. I hesitated and made a few mistakes, earning a tuition of twenty talents or so. Enough to earn some money, but not enough to embarrass myself too badly.
I was talking with some people in the comments about this, and I still don’t get how Kvothe’s money-making scheme is supposed to work. In particular, the fact that him and the Bursar are splitting anything over ten talents baffles me- I do not understand why that stipulation is in there, and it makes even less sense when Kvothe goes into more detail about it here.
The masters had their usual muted conference. Then Hemme read my tuition: fifty talents. Apparently the Chancellor had greater control over these things than I had ever known.
I forced myself to bite my lip to keep from laughing, and arranged my face in a dejected expression as I made my way to the basement of Hollows where the bursar kept his counting room. Riem’s eyes brightened at the sight of my tuition slip. He disappeared into his back room and returned in a moment with an envelope of thick paper.
I thanked him and returned to my room at Anker’s, maintaining my morose expression all the way. Once I had the door closed, I tore open the heavy envelope and poured its contents into my hand: two gleaming gold marks worth ten talents each.
Okay, so the Bursar is taking the illicit money from the University itself, it seems, which is the only way he could have just collected it right then and there, the idea apparently being that…. what, he takes forty talents out of the wizard-coffers and then draws 90 talents from the Mayor’s account to cover the tuition fee as well as the withdrawal? Again, wouldn’t it be really obvious that that had happened? I know they don’t exactly have computerized databases automatically recording deposits and withdrawals, but surely someone else besides just the Bursar is keeping an eye on these things?
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE
KVOTHE DREW A DEEP breath and nodded to himself. “Let’s stop there,”
The three most beautiful words in the English language.
Our three storytime bros turn in for the night. When Bast is in his room he hears a tapping at his chamber
doorwindow and opens it to find Chronicler.
Chronicler is confused about the whole evil tree thing (you’re not the only one, dude) and it seems we are indeed supposed to accept that Kvothe wandering naked into a field to talk to an evil tree is an important and consequential part of the story, as opposed to something Rothfuss came up with while high.
“I would rather fight Haliax himself,” he said. “I’d rather face all the Chandrian together than have ten words of conversation with the Cthaeh.”
No, look, the evil tree is stupid. I don’t care about it. Is this supposed to make up for the fact that the Chandrian plotline didn’t get advanced at all during the book?
Chronicler slaps Bast to prove that, like, the evil tree can see the future but it’s pointless to worry about it or whatever the fuck, I’m not even going to bother summarizing this bit, this makes no sense. Also during this conversation Bast sighs like a million times.
Bast sighed, finally pulling his eyes away from the fireplace.
“It’s not coincidence.” Bast gave a short sigh.
Bast gave a weary sigh, and looked up at Chronicler, his expression utterly empty of all hope.
Bast looked thoughtful, then sighed.
Getting excited by all this sighing, Bast decides that if the evil tree has fucked everything up he may as well just do whatever he wants and leaves on some mysterious errand.
Meanwhile Our Hero takes out a small wooden box (the Lackless mystery box?) and opens it to reveal two keys, one copper and the other iron. He tries to open the chest he showed Bast earlier with them, but nothing happens.
His expression, however, showed no surprise, no grief. It was merely resigned. It was the expression of a man who has finally received bad news he’d already known was on the way.
I think this is supposed to be a sort of JK Rowling Thing where we get a clue about something in an earlier book that we only learn is important later on, but for that to work you need to take one of two approaches- either don’t tell us that that the clue is important so it’s a surprise and all the people who noticed it at the time can feel like clever dicks, or have the clue be obviously related to something important to the story so we know it’s worth getting excited over. As it is I have no idea what this chest is about or why I should care.
(By the way I’m aware that Rowling didn’t exactly invent this idea, nor am I holding her up as the best practitioner of it, it’s just that whenever I want to compare these books to something else Harry Potter keeps springing automatically to mind for reasons I just can’t quite put my finger on)
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-TWO
OKAY LAST CHAPTER HERE WE GO
Those two soldiers from earlier who beat the shit out of Kvothe are camped by the side of the road. Bast arrives and WOAH it turns out they were collaborating together on a Clever Ruse to do…… something. Rob Kvothe? I think? They’re talking about splitting the money they stole with Bast. Maybe Bast wanted them to try to rob the Inn so Kvothe would have an excuse to re-awaken his ninja powers and beat them up?
Well anyway it implies Bast is going to kill them THE END I GUESS
HIT THE MUSIC
A Silence of Three Parts
IT WAS NIGHT AGAIN.
This sentence still seems really weird to me.
The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a steady rain it would have drummed against the roof, sluiced the eaves, and washed the silence slowly out to sea. If there had been lovers in the beds of the inn, they would have sighed and moaned and shamed the silence into being on its way.
I’m quoting this just to remind you all of how horrendously bad these little prologue/epilogue things are. In fact- if we can turn on the mood lighting and get nostalgic here for a second- it was reading the first Silence Of Three Whatever that made me want to do this post series in the first place. It was so bad I realized that I could write paragraphs unpacking every single sentence, and then a light-bulb went off in my head and I said “yeah, let’s do it!” and now it’s months later and I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words about this trilogy.
The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.