Characters / The Kingkiller Chronicle

Characters for "The Kingkiller Chronicle"

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The trilogy's main character. He currently goes by the name Kote in the village of Newarre, hiding his true identity and living as the inkeeper of the Waystone Inn.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Kvothe feels like this in the first book in the Arcanum dorm, as his quick promotion makes the others jealous.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Kvothe's briefest recollection of awesome deeds becomes the tagline for the book.
    • Kvothe says a few times that he has an alar like a bar/blade of ramston steel.
  • Badass Cape: Kvothe wears them. A green cloak in the first book, which is ultimately replaced by his shadow cloak in the second book.
  • Becoming the Mask: Bast is afraid that Kvothe is truly becoming Kote the innkeeper.
  • Berserk Button: Don't insult the Edema Ruh in front of Kvothe. He's not big on poetry either. It's just a song without music, and therefore soulless!
  • Broken Ace: He can learn languages overnight, master skills the first time he tries them, charm almost anyone without half trying. However, he does have significant and real flaws. His talents and intelligence make him arrogant, make him stand out, make other people jealous, and generally make him a catalyst for all kinds of nastiness. He ends up becoming a Living Legend, but by the time Chronicler finds him, he's a broken shell of a man.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Kvothe is unable to tell Denna his true feelings, even when she's high on denner resin and unlikely to remember anything he says.
  • Chick Magnet: Denna, Fela, Mola, Devi, Penthe, Vashet, Felurian, and various side characters all show some degree of romantic or sexual interest in him. While some of these interactions are more significant than others (the fact that Vashet slept with Kvothe, for example, doesn't mean much due to the Adem's almost utilitarian attitude toward sex), the books make it clear that Kvothe is very popular with women, even at fifteen.
  • Circus Brat: He was raised in a traveling troupe of entertainers.
  • Consummate Liar: Kvothe notes with satisfaction that he's an excellent liar due to his acting experience. He lies quite a lot throughout his story, though Denna seems to see some of his lies easily.
  • Cool Sword: Caesura in the past. Folly in the present.
  • Constantly Curious: As a child, he was the Elephant's Child, who learned very quickly and cracked puzzles like they were chestnuts, so his father would give him Shaggy Dog Stories to puzzle over. He's still curious as an adult.
  • Cruel Mercy: What he did with the waterskin to one of the false Ruh: gave the man with an abdominal wound that would kill slowly enough for him to begin dying of thirst too, and left the skin within crawling distance. Every movement that dying man makes will tear open his wound again...
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is prone to dry witticisms both in his story and in his narration.
  • Failure Hero: He believes this about himself.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • His impatience.
    • His arrogance.
    • His temper.
  • Fiery Redhead: He has a flaming mop of red hair, which characters occasionally comment on.
  • Genre Blind: At times. His inability to see Elodin as the Trickster Mentor he is causes him a lot of grief, especially after beginning Elodin's class.
  • Genre Savvy: Due to his Edema Ruh upbringing, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of stories, which he occasionally draws on for wisdom when he finds his experience lacking. He gets mixed results.
  • Guile Hero: He solves most of his problems through wit and trickery, though he becomes quite the fighter in the second book.
  • Heroic Bastard: His parents were never formally married.
  • Infallible Narrator: Downplayed: Kvothe explicitly tells Bast that he's not above exaggeration for effect during the interlude after his meeting the Ctheah. Also, there are numerous subtle clues that he might not be entirely forthcoming with Chronicler.
  • Living Legend: He's a legend in his own time, though he's popularly assumed dead.
  • Master Actor: He's able to act with such meticulous skill that he can talk himself out of urchin-hood and into the nobility (or at least the semblance thereof).
  • Meaningful Name: Has named himself "Kote", which we later find out means "Expect Disaster". We also later find out that he's spoken to the Cthaeh, and anyone who interacts with the Cthaeh will go on to bring disaster and catastrophe wherever they go.
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Kvothe the Kingkiller. Kvothe the Bloodless.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: He mentions this as one of several motivations for attending Wizarding School. (How truthful he was being is currently unknown — especially since the series isn't finished yet.)
  • Oblivious to Love: Kvothe doesn't notice that Fela is in love with him and brushes off everyone's attempts to point this out. Whether or not he's right about slow-playing Denna has yet to be seen, but we do know that he doesn't end up with her.
  • Photographic Memory: While his memory is not infallible, as displayed in his own story, he does have an excellent memory. He also claims to be vividly relating moment-by-moment details of his life many years after the fact.
  • Really 17 Years Old: During much of his adventures, he adds a few years to his age. He's in his mid-to-late teens during his time at the University. In Newarre, the framing device, he's only in his twenties, despite being a Living Legend.
  • Redhead In Green: He wears a green cloak in the first book.
  • Renaissance Man: Has the skills of singing, acting, playing the lute, woodcraft, law, Sympathy, begging, thieving, and seduction.
  • Retired Badass: Not if Bast has anything to say about it.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: His red hair and green eyes are his most distinctive traits.
  • Stepford Smiler: After telling the story of his parents' deaths, he puts on a big act of having long since gotten past it, only to make an excuse to go outside where he starts weeping.
  • Too Clever by Half: His ambition and cleverness often land him in hot water.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Throughout his story, Kvothe is almost constantly collecting extremely useful skills, from woodcraft to swordsmanship to magic.
  • Training from Hell: His time among the Adem.
  • Unreliable Narrator: A discussed trope. Just how honest Kvothe is being in his narration is left ambiguous, though he does seem to be conveying a "warts and all" tale, never glossing over his failings.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Has an epic one with Denna. They are both obviously smitten with each other, yet Denna's aversion to prolonged intimacy causes Kvothe to keep their relationship chaste, so that she won't ditch him like the rest of her lovers. Whether this is a good strategy isn't clear.

The trilogy's primary female character and Kvothe's Love Interest. She is poor, homeless, and prone to wandering, but manages to make a decent living with her voice and charm. Men have a fatal attraction to her, an attraction she can never seem to return. When a man gets too familiar with her, she will often leave town quickly and silently.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She is described as beautiful, dark-haired and very elegant and graceful.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: She's fairly pale, unless she's been tanned by recent traveling, and has very dark brown hair.
  • Gold Digger: Although Denna doesn't exhibit some of the more extreme characteristics of the trope, such as self-entitlement. Somewhat justified as it is one of the few options available to a woman with no dowry, though Denna does seem to enjoy the game.
  • Harp of Femininity: Eventually starts learning to play one, at Kvothe's recommendation.
  • Hero's Muse: Most specifically she inspires Kvothe's love songs he gives to the Maer. When she's not around, he has writer's block.
  • Ill Girl: She was born with weak lungs, and periodically has trouble breathing, sometimes to the point of being bedridden.
  • Living Lie Detector: In spite of Kvothe being a Consummate Liar, she sees through his lies.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: She implies to Kvothe in fairly plain terms that he can pursue her if he wishes, but also shows no shame in shacking up with other guys right on front of him and makes it clear through her behavior that she's a "love them and leave them" type of girl. Kvothe ends up convinced that, in spite of her fondness for him, pursuing her would ultimately drive her away.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Denna's real name is unknown but everyone calls her by some other name she gave to them, usually along the lines of Dianne or Dineh or some other "d" word.
  • Pet the Dog: On several instances, she sells expensive gifts or gives away her money, things that would guarantee her some much-needed financial security, in order to do kindnesses ranging from people she knows well like buying Kvothe an extravagantly awesome lute case, to acquaintances like giving a foolish young man her gifted emerald earrings so he can settle a debt to a dangerous loan shark, to complete strangers like using all her current money to help a young woman running away from home and getting assaulted on the streets to get home or a new profession.
  • Tsundere: She clearly likes Kvothe, no one doubts this, but at other times...
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: She's obviously in love with Kvothe, but neither will make the first move into elevating their relationship to a romantic one.
  • Unwitting Pawn: There is evidence that she was sent to the wedding in Trebon as a spy.
  • Walking the Earth: She's constantly moving from place to place for unclear reasons. She occasionally references that she's researching things and learning secrets.
  • Women Are Wiser: Well, she's certainly street wise.

Kvothe's Friends

A close friend of Kvothe's. He is skilled in alchemy and poetry.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Compared to those around him, at least.
  • Class Clown: "Technically he played the joke on the lute." ... "Sorry."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Being a fourth son of duke, his father planned a career as diplomat for him which is why he was sent to the University. While studying, however, he found his love for alchemy and poetry and entered the Arcanum, which displeased his father. Because of this, Simmon never goes home.
  • Genius Ditz: He's very naive and airheaded in a lot of ways, but he's not dumb. He really knows his alchemy. He also surprises his friends with his knowledge of Eld Vintic and skill at poetry.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Kvothe states that people assume Sim is stupid because he's friendly.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness
  • Nice Guy: His defining trait is that he's a sweet, nice guy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Wilem. Simmon is the Red Oni.
  • Serial Romeo: Can't keep a girl to stay with him for more than a week until Fela.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Son of a duke, yet one of the most humble and friendly people in the series.

A close friend of Kvothe's. Wilem is Cealdish and works as a scriv in the University Archives.
  • Afraid of Blood: He hates being in the Medica and admits that he doesn't like the sight of blood.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Thanks to his Cealdish accent, most everything he says sounds deadpan, and is not above using this to enhance his sarcasm.
  • Funny Foreigner: Finds some of the Commonwealth's standards to be silly, but that is where the University is.
  • Never Gets Drunk: He drinks with the rest of his friends, but he holds his liqueur well and affects a lack of intoxication.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Simmon. Willem is the Blue Oni.

One of Kvothe's few female friends at the University.

A member of the Arcanum who works in the Medica. She is always the one to take care of Kvothe when he's hurt.
  • The Cynic: She is pretty grumpy, in contrast with the rest of the female characters — possibly because she's the one who has to sort out and glue together Kvothe's bits after his latest spectacular crash.
  • Dr. Jerk: She's blunt and quick to anger, though realizes when she's crossed a line.
  • Hospital Hottie

One of Kvothe's best friends at The University. He has been at The University for thirty years and seems to have no interest in advancing.
  • Author Avatar: Rothfuss' bio says that he was an undergrad for 9 years before being politely asked to graduate. He also has a "marvelous facebear" (i.e. beard).
  • Cool Old Guy: He may be the lowest rank of student at the University and stay there longer than anyone expects, but he associates with people much younger than himself (because no other students are his age) and is happy to mentor them and see them grow.
  • Dismotivation: He loves being a student at the University so much that he actively avoids graduation. In fact, he avoids trying to move up the ranks because despite the additional privileges that might bring him it would also mean his tuition would go up and he wants to keep it to something he can afford in perpetuity.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: He has more experience working in the Fishery than anyone besides Master Kilvin, and seems to make a living (including his tuition) off working there. He might not have authorization to use some of the more esoteric stuff the Fishery can produce, but is masterful at the basics.
  • Kavorka Man: He may seem to have put his casual romance years behind him, but when he puts his mind to it he can approach women younger men might think out of his league and thanks to his confidence actually woo them.

A former University student who has gone "cracked" and lives in hiding in passages beneath the university. Auri is frightened by strangers, loud noises, and direct questions, but is befriended by Kvothe and is shown to greatly enjoy Kvothe's singing and lute-playing.

The Edema Ruh Troupe

Kvothe's father and the leader of the Edema Ruh troupe that carried the patronage of Baron Greyfallow.
  • Posthumous Character: Most of what we learn about him is after he dies.
  • Skeptic No Longer: When he starts work on a song about the Chandrian, he consults Abenthy for any stories the man may have, and exchange that is overheard by the young Kvothe. Abenthy refuses to offer any help and tries to warn him against continuing with this song, stating that horrible things have happened to people who try to research the Chandrian, but Arliden brushes him off. He pays for his mistake with not only his life, but the lives of his entire troupe, save for his young son.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He was attempting to compose a song about Lanre and the Chandrian, and had been gathering folk stories about both for over a year. In the process, he stumbled upon some of their True Names and whilst practicing the song, repeated them many times. This led the Chandrian to massacre the troupe, leaving Kvothe its sole survivor.
  • Wandering Minstrel

Kvothe's mother. She was a noble before following Kvothe's father Arliden to become one of the Edema Ruh in the year before Kvothe's birth.
  • Good Parents: A few sequences show that she's a caring mother who is very involved in his education.
  • Fallen Princess: Except she apparently jumped rather than fell.
  • Posthumous Character: She dies very early in the story, but Kvothe reflects a lot about her over the rest of the story.
  • Uptown Girl: She was a noble who fell in love with Arliden and ran away with him.
  • Wandering Minstrel

Kvothe's first teacher of sympathy and science, an arcanist and alumnus of the University.
  • Cool Old Guy
  • The Mentor: Teaches Kvothe a lot of what he needs to know to join the University.
  • No Brows: He usually doesn't have eyebrows because he keeps burning them off in the course of his various experiments as an arcanist. Kvothe comments in his narration that this made Abenthy look perpetually surprised.

A member of Kvothe's troupe, mentioned when discussing Knacks.
  • Posthumous Character: Dies early in the story.
  • Rule of Seven: Trip throws sevens on dice. This is not an example of Lucky Seven, as seven is not a lucky number to throw when playing dice (because it's only an average throw, and you can never roll doubles).


A kindly old man who lives in the basement of a burnt out building and feeds and tends to the needs of street children.
  • Barefoot Poverty: He wears no shoes, for anything but the absolute bare necessities he would sell and spend the money on the children he takes care of.
  • Friend to All Children: He seems to have taken it upon himself that his calling in life is to care for those who others cannot. His basement serves as a sort of safe-haven for the street urchins of Tarbean. Any food he has is given freely, and sickness he can comfort he does so, and the only thing he asks in return is that those children who can contribute some material or effort to help the other children who cannot should do so.
  • Good Shepherd: It is implied, with mentions of his gray robes, that he is (or at least was) some kind of priest of the Tehlin church.
  • The Storyteller: He's one of the few who still remembers the stories of the Chandrian.

A famous storyteller who is said to know every story in existence. He is also an associate of Chronicler, and was allegedly instrumental in discovering Kvothe's whereabouts after he assumed the identity of Kote.

The Masters

Chancellor of the University and Master Linguist.

Master Namer.
  • Barefoot Loon: His tendency to go barefoot is one of the signs that he's a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Barefoot Sage: A wise and gifted magician with a prominent aversion to shoes, which is but one of his many eccentricities.
  • Broken Ace: Sim defines him as one. In fact, in light of his many experiences and knowledge fields, Elodin could be considered an example of what Kvothe could become.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: A Master Namer who was once an exceptionally brilliant student. He also happens to be either quite insane, or only moderately insane and very committed to acting like he's crazy. Some of it might be explained by his specialty, which is known to do strange things to people. ...Some.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The kind where it's hard to judge the true extent of his cloudcuckooland-dwelling. It's stated several times that he is clinically off his rocker, and he both says and does ridiculous things. However, see Obfuscating Insanity below — it might simply be that he can get away with it.
  • Eccentric Mentor/Trickster Mentor: A classical example of both tropes. He gives Kvothe cryptic lessons and once deceives him into breaking into the Master's rooms to show Kvothe why he is reluctant to take him as a student.
  • Mysterious Past: None of the students know what happened to send him to the madhouse. They just know he spent years there before learning the Name of his walls and walking out.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: It's implied in Book 2 that he may not be as much of a Cloudcuckoolander as he's obviously convinced everyone he is.
  • The Quiet One: He doesn't speak very much during the masters's meetings. Judging from their reactions when he does, they prefer it that way.

Master Artificer and one of Kvothe's most influential mentors.

Master Archivist.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In a world with actual magic and fae creatures and the like, he doesn't believe in the Chandrian or Haliax and disapproves that Kvothe's first request of the archives was information on them.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kvothe uses him as example of the third thing all wise men fear: the wrath of a gentle man.
  • Berserk Button: He flips out over just about any breach of protocol in the Archives. Generally there's a damn good reason (open flames and paper books do not combine well), but he's very slow to forgive.
  • Scary Librarian: His great height, stony expression, and unforgiving nature as Master Archivist put him right in this trope.
  • The Stoic: His face is almost always expressionless, his voice almost always even. Even when his Berserk Button is pushed, it comes out in a Tranquil Fury.

Master Rhetorician.

    Elxa Dal 
Master Sympathist, who looks just like an evil wizard from fairy tales but is actually a nice guy.
  • Beard of Evil: Has one that makes him look evil.
  • Cool Teacher: A nice guy who teaches his subject well and also provides some life lessons to Kvothe.
  • Large Ham: According to Kvothe (who was raised with entertainers), he's a gifted showman, and his lessons reflect his flair.
  • Nice Guy: He's one of the nicest characters in the series. He has an easy-going temperament and goes out of his way to help Kvothe on several occasions.

Master Physicker.

Master Arithmetician.
  • Flat Character: His only characterization is being Hemme's toady and his passion for mathematics.
  • Yes-Man: Does everything Hemme tells him to.

Master Alchemist.
  • Out of Focus: Gets the least screentime and characterization of all the masters, mainly because Kvothe is not very interested in alchemy.

Imre and the University

The partner of Stanchion and co-owner of The Eolian in Imre.
  • Bi the Way: Suspected by Denna, who says his partner is Stanchion. The latter is never confirmed, however.
  • Bouncer: His role at the Eolian is working the door. His massive arms show that he's not to be trifled with.

The partner of Deoch and co-owner of The Eolian in Imre.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Denna believes he and Deoch are in a relationship, but it is never confirmed. Unlike Deoch, he is not shown to have female companions.
  • Nice Guy: A reasonable and kind man.
  • Threshold Guardian: For up-and-coming musicians, he's the one to impress if they want to win their pipes.

The owner of Anker's, the inn where Kvothe lives and works while he studies in the University.

A moneylender in Imre who makes loans to Kvothe so that he can pay his tuition. Also, a former member of the Arcanum; she was expelled for reasons that are, as yet, unknown.
  • Affably Evil: She might have a reputation as The Dreaded Loan Shark but that does not mean she is not a gracious host to her clients.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Throughout the first two books, it is not clear what her ultimate agenda is, far she will go to achieve it, or just what she might do to those who default on her. At times, Kvothe even suspects with good reason that she might be behind some of the misfortunes that befall him. By the end of Wise Man's Fear, her character is a little better understood.
  • Badass Adorable: She is relatively young and attractive, but also one of the best sympathetic duelists of her generation of students.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Her meetings with Kvothe are always framed as sparring of wits, which they both seem to take some joy in.
  • The Dreaded: She's referred as "Demon Devi" by several people, all of whom chastise Kvothe for getting mixed up with her.
  • Fiery Redhead: Rarely shows the fiery side, but when she does, it's enough to run.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: She really wants into the Archives, but we have no idea why.
  • Loan Shark: She loans money to desperate students, in exchange for a drop of their blood as... collateral. By the end of Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe figures out that she is not in the business of lending money so much as being owed favors.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: How she explains her attraction to Kvothe, though it's very likely she was being sarcastic.

A shady black market dealer at the University.

    Count Threpe 
A patron of the musical arts who looks out for Kvothe, and gets him in touch with Maer Alveron.
  • Cool Old Guy: Everyone loves him at the Eolian.
  • Uncle Pennybags: He really, really wants to help Kvothe out, he just doesn't have the money to spare for another patronship.

    Ambrose Jakis 
The firstborn son of a powerful and wealthy baron and the nemesis of Kvothe in the University.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Kvothe's friends remind him that Ambrose is not subject to the same discipline as the rest of the students, as punishing him would incur his father's wrath.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
  • Smug Snake: He's very impressed by his machinations, but he's not as cunning as he thinks he is. Kvothe notes that Ambrose would never pass up an opportunity to gloat about his success over a victim.


A strange man who appears to live in the Archives, and is a constant source of information for Wilem and Simmon.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Walks around in costumes and puts on elaborate puppet shows. Is also one of the most well-informed people when it comes to the Archives. The University just does that to people.
  • Creepy Doll: He likes to make puppets, to the extent that his room is full of them.

The Maer's Court

    Maer Lerand Alveron 
The Maer, and essentially king of Vint due to an old and complicated agreement with the actual king of Vint.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He knows very well the deeper implications of nobility, and how ultimately fragile that power is. Thus he takes measures to ensure he is constantly in control.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Wears simple yet extremely well made and always brand new clothing. Kvothe realizes it's a subtle but extreme show of privilege to be constantly wearing and discarding expensively tailored clothing.
  • Too Clever by Half: Invoked, in those exact words, by Kvothe as narrator, besides being true.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Subverted. When it seems he'll kick Kvothe out of the city to please his bigoted lady wife, he actually writes a letter of apology and officially agrees to be Kvothe's patron. Then he kicks Kvothe out.

The Maer's retainer, who initially greatly distrusts Kvothe.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Stapes' well-intentioned removal of the dead flits during Kvothe's attempt to test Caudicus' poisonous "medicine" almost results in Kvothe's execution.
  • Old Retainer: He's known the Maer since they were both children.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Maer.

The Maer's soldier.
  • Bald of Awesome: Though Kvothe's knee-jerk initial impression is Bald of Evil. And given that the Maer calls him a mad dog on a short leash...
  • The Stoic: The only words Kvothe ever hears him say are "Yes, Your Grace," with a soldier's composure.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Dagon's approach to his job, according to the Maer.

    Lady Meluan Lackless 
A young noblewoman the Maer wishes to marry. She seems familiar to Kvothe, but he can't quite place why...

The Maer's physician.
  • Meaningful Name: Probably a double subversion. The similar-sounding caduceus (☤) is a symbol often used in America for the medical industry. However, this usage is historically incorrect: the caduceus is rather a symbol of commerce, and is considered inappropriate as a symbol of medicine because commerce often involves theft, deception, and death.

A noble who Kvothe befriends quickly.
  • Blue Blood: Despite not introducing himself with any title, Bredon was obviously born to great wealth, as Kvothe is quick to notice.
  • Cool Old Guy: We quickly befriends Kvothe in spite of their age difference.

    Lord Praevek 
A noble at the Maer's court.
  • Gossipy Hens: Most of the Maer's Court is this, but Lord Praevek is the most gossipy of all of them.

The Mercenaries

A Vintic mercenary who usually works with his companions Hespe and Marten.
  • The Big Guy: Tall and stocky, though a bit quicker than he looks.
  • Everyone Can See It: He's in love with Hespe, but can't see her obvious affection for him.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Kvothe pegs him as a dim-witted thug at first and quickly changes his opinion.

A mercenary who usually works with Dedan and Marten.
  • Action Girl: A female mercenary, which is rare, but not that rare.
  • Everyone Can See It: She's in love with Dedan, but apparently doesn't notice his affection for her.
  • Hidden Depths: She knows a story about Jax, the Namer who stole the moon, though she only knows a fairy tale version of it.
  • The Lad-ette: The's the female of the mercenary company.

A mercenary who usually works with Dedan and Hespe.
  • The Archer: The only archer in the group. It's his preferred weapon.
  • Cool Old Guy: The first of the mercenaries Kvothe actually befriends, due to his appreciation for quick wit and humor.
  • Divine Intervention: His terrified praying appears to be what makes Cinder flee in the confrontation with the mercenaries.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: He's an excellent tracker and scout, to the point that he trains Kvothe and Tempi.

An Adem mercenary who is the first to teach Kvothe about the Ketan and the Lethani.
  • Butt-Monkey: Though he's definitely competent, the other Adem hold him in some contempt.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Kvothe assumes this is the reason why Tempi initially doesn't speak much.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: We learn that "Tempi" literally means "little iron," which is a reference to him being such a troublesome student.
  • Funny Foreigner: Sometimes played straight; at one point invoked by Tempi himself when he defuses a tense moment by pretending not to understand the word "balls."
  • The Quiet One: Subverted. He's the quiet one in the mercenary band, but for an Adem, he's a motor mouth.
  • The Stoic: Subverted. He appears to be, but only because the Adem emote using hand language rather than facial expressions.

The Adem

An old woman and master of the Ketan fighting style as well as the head of the school in Haert, where Kvothe stays. She approves of Kvothe being taught the Ketan and the Lethani.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She's a consummate martial artist even at her advanced age.
  • Nice Hat: She wears a goofy hat made by her granddaughter. Kvothe eventually states that he likes it, which makes Vashet think he's an idiot.
  • Old Master: She's the master of the school.
  • Woman in White: Wears white as a sign of her authority, the better to reward her opponents if they make her bleed.

A female Adem who first rebukes Tempi for teaching Kvothe their secrets.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Her anger and arrogance are her defining attributes.
  • The Bully: She seeks Kvothe out to taunt him regularly and vows to cripple him during his stone trial.

Nicknamed "the Hammer", she is the teacher assigned to Kvothe to determine if he is worthy to become one of the Adem and so to learn their ways.
  • Hot Teacher: Her student Kvothe is very attracted to her, and they have sex regularly.
  • Mr. Exposition: About the Ketan and the Adem.

A young woman who beats Shehyn in a sparring exhibition and is the first among the Adem at Haert to speak to Kvothe of her own free will.

An exceptionally talented student of the Ketan who becomes Kvothe's sparring partner. A ten year old girl.
  • Groin Attack: Her go-to move. Vashet criticizes her for using it too often, making her predictable.
  • Little Miss Badass: Ten years old and able to outfight boys twice her size.

The Fae

The most beautiful and sensual woman in either the world of mortals or the fae. She crosses over into the mortal world to seduce men and brings them into her own world. There, she proves her power over them by driving them to madness and/or death through excess of yearning and sexual debauchery.
  • all lowercase letters: Her dialogue is all lower case, except for the word "I", her own name, and the Cthaeh. Other names (like Kvothe) are not capitalized.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Kvothe notes that Fae are like humans the way alcohol is like water. They may look similar, but they are fundamentally different, making them somewhat unfathomable to humans.
  • The Fair Folk: And quite a traditional variant in that she is proud, mercurial, possessive, and unaware that mortals have any value beyond the amusement they give her.
  • Glory Seeker: Although the glory she seeks is not the typical one for this trope.
  • Horny Devils: She's an insatiable lover.
  • Pretty Butterflies: Often she is surrounded by butterflies, which seem to pick up on her emotions somewhat — they land on her when she's contented and scatter when she's angry.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: She is always naked, although how much she know about nudity taboos is up for debate.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: She and Kvothe have an exchange in which they rhyme to each other.
  • Time Abyss: She's been around since before Lanre's Betrayal, at least.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Of two worlds.

    The Cthaeh 
A malicious entity living in a great tree in the Realm of the Fae. The Cthaeh sees all possible futures and uses this power to manipulate people into making life decisions that will cause the most suffering.
  • And I Must Scream: It doesn't often get to talk to people, what with the Sithe around, and can't leave its tree: it's an eternity of solitary confinement.
  • Badass Boast: I am Cthaeh. I am. I see. I know. At times I speak.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: If Bast is to be believed, the Chthaeh is indirectly responsible for the existence of the Chandrian, as well as the Creation War and various other awful historical events.
  • Butterfly of Doom: It uses prophesies to set these up. Also referenced: it spends its spare time very precisely killing specific butterflies.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Justified. The Cthaeh knows exactly what to say and do in order to bring about the most destructive possible chain of events.
  • The Dreaded: According to Bast it's even more dangerous than the Chandrian. The Sithe are so scared of it they'll kill you just for trying to talk to it.
  • For the Evulz: Seemingly one of its goals is to spread suffering just because it likes to. It can see how the future will unfold, and does what it can to manipulate events to create the maximum amount of destruction and misery possible. During the conversation it shares with Kvothe, it delights in Kvothe's pain as it tells him about the murder of his parents, and of Denna's abuse at the hands of her patron.
  • Kill All Humans: Its actual motivations are somewhat mysterious, but appear to be along these lines.
  • Knight of Cerebus: In-Universe. Bast mentions that when the Cthaeh tree appears in the background of a Fae play, it's a signal that everything is going to end in tragedy and disaster.
  • Eldritch Abomination: An ancient, omniscient entity whom even The Fair Folk, specially the fair folk, absolutely dread, treated as a thing man was not meant to know, living eternally locked to its tree and that enjoys causing the most destruction and despair possible.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Or at least a tree.
  • Shout-Out: In the audiobook version, Nick Podehl adopts a dead-on vocal impression of Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight when voicing the Cthaeh. Possibly just for the Rule of Cool, but also a possible reference to the two characters' shared ability to predict and manipulate the actions of those around them in order to create chaos and misery.
  • The Omniscient: According to Bast.
  • Time Abyss: It's been around since before Iax stole the Moon, at least.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Cthaeh's conversational partners all become this.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Though it wasn't the one who murdered Kvothe's parents, since it's a sadist, it uses its seeming omniscience to mock him for their deaths. it says his father "begged and blubbered" and that Cinder did "terrible things" to his mother.

The Chandrian

"When the hearthfire turns to blue,
What to do? What to do?
Run outside. Run and hide."
"When your bright sword turns to rust?
Who to trust? Who to trust?
Stand alone. Standing stone."
"When his eyes are black as crow?
Where to go? Where to go?
Near and far. Here they are."
"See a woman pale as snow?
Silent come and silent go.
What's their plan? What's their plan?
Chandrian. Chandrian."
"See a man without a face?
Move like ghosts from place to place.
What's their plan? What's their plan?
Chandrian. Chandrian."

Cyphus bears the blue flame.
Stercus is in thrall of iron.
Ferule chill and dark of eye.
Usnea lives in nothing but decay.
Grey Dalcenti never speaks.
Pale Alenta brings the blight.
Last there is the lord of seven:
Hated. Hopeless. Sleepless. Sane.
Alaxel bears the shadow's hame.

Seven demons, or humans, or immortals, or who knows what. They are assumed to be nonexistent by most scholars and learned people, due to the amount of effort they have gone to in order to destroy any records of them. They slaughtered Kvothe's family.

  • Black Eyes of Evil: Cinder's defining trait are his black eyes along with his white skin.
  • Blob Monster: Kvothe compares Cinder's movements to the motion of quicksilver. It remains to be seen whether Cinder actually can move like mercury, or just looks like he can.
  • The Dreaded: People fear even saying their names, for good reason.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Especially since they murder anyone who seems to be finding out too much about them.


The leader of the Chandrian, and according to at least one legend, was once the hero Lanre. His most distinguishing feature is that his face is obscured by shadow even in broad daylight.


Worshipped as a monotheistic deity in the Aturan Empire, the Commonwealth, and parts of Vint. Some storytellers have different ideas...
  • Badass Boast: "To ash all things return, so too this flesh will burn. But I am Tehlu. Son of myself. Father of myself. I was before, and I will be after. If I am a sacrifice then it is to myself alone. And if I am needed and called in the proper ways then I will come again to judge and punish."
  • God: According to the Tehlin church.
  • Messianic Archetype: In Trapis' Encanis story. In Skarpi's story, too, for that matter.
  • Our Angels Are Different: According to Skarpi, Tehlu became a powerful winged being who gave up earthly life to mete out justice.
  • Overnight Age-Up: In Trapis' story, Tehlu grows to an adult a few weeks after he is born.

Legendary characters (may or may not be fictional in universe)

    Taborlin the Great 
A Folk Hero who knows the name of all things, possesses a cloak of no particular color, whose three tools are coin, key, and candle, and who carries a copper sword (though the last point is disputed).
  • Escape Artistnote 
  • Hammerspace: Taborlin's cloak of no particular color is described as this.

An ancient powerful Shaper who allegedly provoked the Creation War.
  • Monumental Theft: He stole the freaking moon. Well, he didn't successfully steal all of it, and in Hespe's story it was more like he kidnapped her, but it's still really impressive.

Most famous of the Edema Ruh.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Illien could apparently tame wild animals by playing music to them; this legend was amusingly played with by Kvothe's father.

A duke in the Aturan Empire who was said to have performed macabre medical experiments on living human subjects, killing thousands.

A legendary philosopher; wrote works such as Theophany and Underlying Principles; apocryphally said to have lived barefoot in a cave.

A powerful Namer or Shapernote  dating at least from the time of the Creation War.
  • The Maker: According to a Creation Myth that Kvothe alludes to (though it may have been a joke).
  • Meaningful Name: Kvothe says that Aleph is either a The Maker of everything (i.e. a god) or the first person to discover the names of all things, depending on the version of the tale. In real life, aleph is the the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but in mathematics it is used as the symbol for transfinite numbers (essentially different kinds of infinity).

Ruler of the city of Myr Tariniel, one of the most powerful Namers of his time. Legendary founder of the Amyr, according to Skarpi.
  • Eye Scream: Thrusts a pointed stone into one of his eyes as self-punishment for not seeing the darkness in Lanre's heart.
  • Handicapped Badass: After losing an eye, he gained vision.
  • Refusal of the Call: Apparently, Aleph tries to recruit him for his angels, but Selitos refuses in order to pursue the revenge of his beloved city.

Newarre (scenes from the framing device)

Real name Devan Lochees. A scribe, recorder, and scholar. After being saved by Kvothe, he manages to convince him to tell him his real story.

A student of Kvothe who assists him in running the Waystone Inn. He is actually one of The Fae. He is over 150 years old and his whole title is Bastas, son of Remmen, Prince of Twilight and the Telwyth Mael. Has a vignette devoted to him in the Rogues anthology.
  • Anything That Moves: Well, anything female. Considering that he's 150 and looks 20, he doesn't care too much about age, as long as they're pretty.
  • Berserk Button: Toward disrespect to Kvothe.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Beneath his goofy facade is a very old being willing to do horrible things.
  • The Fair Folk: The Mael are similar to Fae, but not the same.
  • Knowledge Broker: Acts as this to the town's children. They tell him things or give him things, and he gives them advice.
  • Handsome Lech: He's referred to as a womanizer multiple times, but does seem to respect women to some degree, as shown by his speech about how to make a girl feel beautiful.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Happily helps a boy in return for knowledge of where a pretty village girl bathes.
  • Glamour Failure: When dealing with iron.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Capitalizes on it happily, if the audience his bathing attracts is anything to go by...
  • Plucky Comic Relief: He's quick with a witticism and often behaves in a boyish fashion.
  • Poisonous Friend: Threatens to make Chronicler's life a living hell if he doesn't help Kvothe get back to his old self.
  • Pretty Boy: He's boyishly handsome and quite popular with the ladies.
  • Really 700 Years Old: He's actually over 150 years old.

One of the common patrons of the inn.
  • The Storyteller: His self-assigned role in the inn is regaling the regulars with popular tales. He gets offended when Kvothe tries to tell a story and takes over.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: His stories are all many times removed from their original sources, and he's not above simply making up parts that he doesn't know, even if that amounts to the entire story.

A blacksmith apprentice, and a common patron at the inn.
  • The Big Guy: Not only is he a blacksmith, he's also taller than Kvothe. Dude's huge.
  • Genre Savvy
  • Smarter Than You Look: He looks big and appears dumb (as Bast notes) but proves himself a little more watchful than anyone in town.