Headscratchers / The Kingkiller Chronicle

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    The Creation War 

  • Skarpi (Name of the Wind) and Felurian (Wise Man's Fear) both say the Creation War happened so long ago that history has forgotten it. The Cthaeh says to Kvothe that "Haliax has been alive five thousand years," implying that the Creation War took place around 5000 years before the book's events. How is it that nothing from that era is remembered? In real life, we at least know of the existence of ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Mesopotamian, etc. civilizations, even though they existed around 7000 years or more ago. Kvothe even finds massive ruined structures underneath the University. Do archaeologists not exist in the Four Corners?
    • Back in the Dark Ages and other medieval times, archaeologists were not really present. While the Four Corners may be more advanced, with the University, archaeology still probably doesn't have much of a presence. It isn't helped by the fact that much of the ancient stuff is liked to magic, which is feared by most, speaking of the Amyr, which has been hidden for some reason, dealing with the Fae, which is dangerous, or connected to the Chandrian, which is a sure route to death.
    • On top of that, the civilizations that took part in that war were explicitly and deliberately destroyed, except for one city. And so many people died in one battle in that war, that there were more deaths than there are people alive in the world currently. Its not hard to imagine that something as traumatic and destructive as that was not something people talked about much after it finally ended(I mean even today its much harder to find a war vetern or refugee who wants to talk at length about what they saw, than one who is more concerned with putting that terrible time behind them and trying to piece their life back together, and the conflicts most militaries are involved in today are not on nearly the same scale as what we are talking about here), and over the centuries it just gradually faded from public knowledge. On top of which, the written records of that time have also been deliberately removed/destroyed from the places they were kept. I mean the records of someone has hugely significant as Lanre, or the events of something as world shaking as the Creation War don't all just... vanish without somebody specifically setting out to do so, same with the Amyr, its just that with them, they are recent enough that the missing records are noticed whereas the Creation War may have just been gradually phased out over time, and with less and less people even being familiar with it in the first place, wasn't noticed nearly as much.
    • There are two other.
    • First, the Cthaeh lives in a place where times doesn't flow as it does in the real world, so "5000 years" to him might have a completely different meaning for the Four Corners. Second, Skarpi and Felurian. Felurian, old as she can be, is not quite interested in history, so she most likely just doesn't know (not everyone would know when the punic wars were actually fought, most would just know it was really a long time ago), and Skarpi is still a storyteller, he himself admits to have changed some details to make the story sound better, and "so long that no one remembers it" sound better than "something more than 5000 years ago" (plus, over 5000 years ago might mean two or three hundreds years, even more if you consider that the resulting empire is ruled by Aleph, by some believed the actual god who created the whole world).

    Adem Pregnancy 

  • The Adem don't know that sexual intercourse causes pregnancy because they have so much sex that no one never linked the two. However, they do practice animal husbandry. Wouldn't that have clued them in? Without selective breeding, they would not be able to domesticate their livestock. All of their animal products, like meat, leather and wool, would be inferior to those outside their borders.
    • Kvothe makes the comparison to cats, and the woman in question points out that humans and cats are not the same—which Kvothe admits is true, he was using a fallacy. They just think they're different that way. After all, humans don't give birth in litters either.
    • The Adem don't believe that animals reproduce through sexual intercourse either. They believe that sex has nothing to do with reproduction. They don't even have a word for father. If they did conceed that animals reproduce sexually, just not humans, then the argument would have been much different. The culture would also have a word for father, because they'd need to use it for animals.
    • I wonder if there's something resembling celibacy in the Four Corners. Granted, the Adem probably wouldn't believe Kvothe something like that exists, but the general idea that celibate women don't get pregnant is quite hard to counter.
    • Patrick actually answered this:
      Fan Questioner: Have you read about the Trobriand Islanders, the matriarchal society whose diet serves as birth control for the population?
      Fan Questioner:Did you deliberately choose recessive traits for the Adem peopleís general appearance?
      PR: Yup. Because Iím awesome.
    • As you can see in both the fictional and real society matriarchal mothers pass along the secret of a child bearing diet completely controlling reproduction.
    • Adem women secretly controlling their pregnancies through diet is never even hinted at in the books. That would be a pretty major lie at the center of their society. Also, as I recall, the only cook we meet in Four Corners is a man. How do Adem women secretly control their diet when there are men making their food? Also, Adem women spend a lot of time away from their homeland fighting. How do they maintain a contraceptive diet when food resources are limited? Also, none of this addresses my previous concern that animal husbandry reveals the link between sexual intercourse and pregnancy.
    • The Adem don't have sex outside their own society, since they're afraid of STD's. The most likely possibility is that the contraceptives are a naturally occurring part of their diet, some herb they use to spice their foods, not a vast conspiracy. Still not sure about animals, but maybe they're affected by the contraceptive too, so the Adem don't really have animal husbandry? Been a while since I read the book, so I don't recall how much detail was given there.
    • First off, Adem do have sex outside of their own society. Kvothe has sex with them. They also talk about having sex with other outsiders. Secondly, the Adem must have animal husbandry because they have leather and meat and aren't a hunter/gatherer society. Kvothe comments on the quality of their food and various possessions. If their livestock were wild animals, their products would be inferior to what Kvothe is accustomed. Thirdly, if the Adem diet is a natural contraceptive and everyone is always eating it without realizing that it's affecting their fertility, that would really only explain why Adem women aren't perpetually pregnant. It would also mean that Adem would be much more fertile when they're away from their homeland, which would mean that all their recessive traits wouldn't make any sense. Almost all of their children would be from women having sex with foreigners in distant lands while they're off their contraceptives.
    • The Adem explicitly do not have sex when they are away from their homeland. They don't trust random outsiders not to have diseases. Outsiders they invite into their lands for training are an exception, not the rule.
    • Except, of course, when they do. Vashet spent quite a long while talking about her Poet King. Explicitly an outsider she had sex with.
    • Keep in mind, Vashet is frikken weird by Adem standards, because she herself is someone rather well traveled. The Adem are a culture, not a monolyth, and individuals are going to accept some norms of Adem society and reject others, like literally any other culture in the world. To think otherwise is to stereotype. So when the Adem say they don't have sex with outsiders as a rule, that's perfectly true. But that doesn't exclude the possibility of exceptions. Also, as far as her Poet King goes, we have no idea the circumstances of Vashet's relationship with him. Who knows, maybe she only consented when she drove enough Outsider out of him.
    • Vashet isn't "weird" and specially not because she's "well-traveled"; by the very nature of their business, all of the Adem have to be well-traveled: their main source of income is being paid swords. And nothing in Vashet's mentions of her poet king remotely implies that he even so much as trained a bit, unlike Kvothe, so, yes, he was an outsider. And this contradicts the second-level bullet anyway: It means the Adem don't explicitly not have sex with strangers; they can and will, making all of their ideas about pregnancy even more nonsensical. And there's no such thing as "stereotyping" fictional cultures; we don't expect consistency in real life because it's real life. Fiction isn't real life and, thus, if a culture is described, it should be consistent. If not, then we might as well drop the headscratchers section of every work altogether.
    • The Adem are a bunch of liars and hypocrites, they are aware their society doesn't make sense and don't care about it. Vashet explicitly said that she didn't care for the truth.
  • Kvothe mentions offhand that he eats a herb as a contraceptive. Vashet's "poet king" likely did similar. One can be wrong without also being a liar and a hypocrite. Anyway, it's not as if it's the silliest thing any culture has ever believed about human reproduction.

    Kvothe and the fight at the inn 

  • At the start of book 1, Kvothe still appears to have some sort of magical power, destroying a bottle of wine just by making a fist in the air. He then states after the incident with Bast (where he is capable of restraining the Fae) that he would break Chronicler's calling of Iron if he did not release it. Afterwards, Bast is physically hurt by Kvothe's grip. However, later on in the story, not only is Kvothe said to have lost his magic, being unable to light a person on fire, but he is also easily defeated by an ordinary soldier in hand to hand combat (Bast tries to justify this by noting his wounds from a fight several days ago, but Kvothe seems to disbelieve that was the reason, only accepting it to make Bast feel better). Did Patrick forget about the earlier events?
    • It was implied that halfway through the fight, Kvothe realized it was a trick by Bast to make him reveal himself, so he intentionally stopped fighting effectively. There's clearly something wrong with his magic, judging by the fact that he can't open his chest, but we have to wait for the third book to know for sure.
      • This is supported by Kvothe chuckling "Forgot who I was there for a minute." after the fight is concluded. He started fighting well, then realized he is supposed to be "Kote" and not know how to fight.
    • Kvothe's really impressive feats in-story involve randomly knowing or discovering Names even without study, possibly implying some third-party source of knowledge (along with his strangely rapid acquisition of other skills). It's possible, and given that he's now living with one of the Fae (their queen being one of the Names he pulled from the air) that it's the Naming/inspiration part of his power that's on the fritz... meaning that he's "just" a skilled sword-mage and sympathetic magician/binder. Given that he's the Ace and possibly even something of a Mary Sue, he can be crippled pretty thoroughly without losing his ability to wipe the floor with a couple supernaturals.

    Denna and the Chandrian 

  • Towards the end of the first book, Denna, with Kvothe, finds evidence that the Chandrian are real, and that they were the ones who attacked the wedding party. This was well before she got dosed with denner resin, so she shouldn't have any trouble remembering it. About halfway through the second book, when Kvothe objects to her song sympathizing Lanre on the grounds that he became one of the Chandrian, she gets all mad at him for believing in silly children's tales. What gives?
    • When investigating the wedding party attack, the Chandrian theory seemed to be to Denna just that, a half-serious, half-silly theory. She never explicitly states she believes in them. Still counting as a incoherence, however, as the proofs were clear enough to make Denna realize when she was researching for his song. Idiot Ball?
    • It's possible that it has something to do with her patron. He's clearly a pretty skeevy guy, and a lot of the talk about him on the WMG page has him connected to the Chandrian or Amyr in some way. It's possible that Master Ash has been manipulating Denna's views on the Chandrian and the validity of the children's stories since the wedding.
    • In any case, Denna doesn't know the Chandrian-Lanre connection. Kvothe objects to it on the sheer grounds that Lanre was an asshole, the Chandrian connection kept private. Denna may or may not believe in the Chandrian (given her interaction in the wedding and also the various implications of her life story, I would guess she's aware of them), but even if she has come to do so, it doesn't mean she will believe all folk tales. As far as I can tell, Denna just thinks she made a song about an obscure but otherwise random folk hero, and Kvothe is getting huffy for no reason she can understand because he won't tell her.
    • Kvothe explicitly mentioned the Chandrian as the root of his criticism of Denna's song. It was then that Denna called him a child.
    • The plot hole is not only Denna's complete change in attitude about the Seven in comparison with the first book but Kvothe himself calls it childish in the narration. He seems not to remember that Denna accepted the Chandrian once before.

    Wax Doll 

  • In The Wise Mans Fear (p.796), while Kvothe is with the Adem, he makes a wax doll, and it's implied he is going to use it on Vashnet, as he took some hairs from her earlier. However he never uses it or gets rid of it and we never hear of it again. Has Rothfuss forgotten it or have I just missed something?
    • If I'm not mistaken, that was an intentional red herring. It was used to indicate how nervous Kvothe was getting around the Adem, and that fighting his way out may have to be an option, raising the tension. In the end, it wasn't necessary, but it illustrated how uneasy things got.
    • Exactly. The whole scene indicated that Kvothe having to fight his way out was a very real possibility; not only did he have the doll, but he also gathered spare sword-iron and a vial of hot water (to power his sympathy). The scene was meant to illustrate how desperate things almost got.

    Training with Abenthy 

  • When Kvothe foolishly formed a sympathetic link between the air in his lungs and the air outside, why did Abenthy have to call the wind to save him? Abenthy certainly had a stronger Alar than Kvothe at this point, so he could have just countered the link.
    • I think that the way Sympathy works, one would have to contest the link to break it. This would imply that Abenthy would have to link himself with the air as well in order to break it. Although he obviously is a more experienced sympathist, linking your air supply to anything would maim pretty much any Namer, so one can see where he would get his reluctance from.
    • Energy would still be needed, Sympathy only adds a cause for movement and such, but otherwise follows physical laws, particularly the conservation of energy, while onomancy ignores these rules.
    • Plus, you can't just break a link, what they actual do is identifying what the link is and focus their alar in believing such a link does not exist, and Abenthy didn't know what exactly Kvothe linked its breath to, so perhaps he just decided not to risk it (after all, there are no drawbacks in using onomancy, the only problem is the prejudice surrounding it, but it was established it wasn't a problem with the Edema).

Alternative Title(s): The Wise Mans Fear