"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep."
"You may have heard of me."
The Kingkiller Chronicle is set to be a trilogy of Heroic Fantasy books written by Patrick Rothfuss.Kvothe, the eponymous kingkiller, is a living legend after having given up his former life and gone into hiding as the innkeep Kote. He is being sought out by Chronicler, a famous scribe, who wishes to write down Kvothe's life story. Kvothe declares that telling this story will take three days, thus providing a Framing Device for the trilogy, the vast majority of which is told in first-person narration. While this oral discourse is the main focus of the novel, frequent interruptions make it clear that his journey is not yet at an end.
The Name of the Wind is the first day. It describes Kvothe's youth with his parents in a band of traveling entertainers, who are killed when Kvothe's father begins to do research into a band of semi-mythical destroyers called the Chandrian. He travels to The University to not only further his education, but to attempt to learn all he can about them.
The Wise Man's Fear details Kvothe's travels abroad during a sabbatical: in Vintas, where he gains the patronage of a rich if somewhat egotistical nobleman; with the Adem, a Proud Warrior Race; and with Felurian, a fae seductress who leaves her lovers either dead or mad.
The third book has a working title of The Doors of Stone and no set release date, but it will presumably wrap up Kvothe's recitation.
There will also be a shorter novel (that originated as a NaNoWriMo novella by Rothfuss), set in Modeg in the same world and featuring a new protagonist, released sometime before book 3. * As mentioned from about 1:38:30-1:42:00 in this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjlJDzpQn5c
The series as a whole provides examples of:
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Owing to the novels' lengths, the framing device for the stories doesn't actually work. Each is supposed to be Kvothe reciting the story to Chronicler over the course of a single day, after they wake up and including breaks from interruptions and finally going to bed after. Unless Kvothe speaks very, very quickly, this is impossible. In particular, the audiobook for Wise Man's Fear is a whopping 43 hours long, yet is told in perhaps 18 hours in-story.
The Ace: Young Kvothe excels at just about everything he tries to do, from music to magic to fighting to performing arts. A great portion of the story so far is Kvothe learning various useful skills far more quickly than most anyone in the world. He has difficulty only with things that bore him, like higher math, and extraordinarily difficult things, like Naming. The trope is made palatable by the foregone conclusion that, for all his knowledge and talent, Kvothe has become a failure.
Aerith and Bob: Most of the characters have unusual names such as Kvothe, Abenthy, Arliden, Fela, Meluan, Skarpi and so forth. However, there are a handful of minor character names like Basil, Benjamin, Carter, Graham, Ellie, Jake, Jason, Pete and Seth, who have standard real-world names.
All Myths Are True: Partially averted. Most of the myths mentioned in the book have some shade of truth to them such as the weaknesses of the Fae and Mael. However, others such as the number of Chandrian and their origin vary from place to place and by necessity some of them must be wrong.
Alternative Calendar: Weeks are eleven days long in this world and called a span. Months are 72 days long, but still called months. Days have names like Felling, Cendling, and Mourning, etc.
Arc Number: Seven. Trip has a knack for rolling sevens, there are seven Chandrian, "seven things stand before the entrance to the Lackless door", Threpe gives Kvothe seven talents as a lucky number and Elodin states that there are seven words to make a woman fall in love with you. Denna also jokes that Kvothe is always saying things to her in sentences made up of seven words, presumably because he is trying to find those seven words to use on Denna even if he does not realize it.
Aristocrats Are Evil: Most aristocrats are stuffy, elitist and selfish. Ambrose is a particular example, but Kvothe meets quite a number more like him. The Maer, though by no means a cruel person, is selfish and used to getting his way. There are some aversions, such as Bredon and Simmon.
Bast calls Kvothe "Reshi". "Rishi" is Hindi/Sanskrit for the composer of Vedic poems/hymns or a 'seer' - a Rishi is understood to be a very wise person.
Aleph, the briefly mentioned creator-god who Named all things, is probably named after the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Incidentally, the letter aleph is silent on its own, but it's still a necessary component of many words; for instance, it begins the Hebrew words that mean "fire," "man," "woman," and "earth."
The demi-gods are called the Ruach, Hebrew for spirit/wind/breath.
In both Gaelic and in-universe, "Deoch" means "drink."
In the second book, Kvothe tells a story about a man named Sceop who knows stories even the Edema Ruh have never heard. "Sceop" is an Old English word that can be loosely translated as "bard."
Both books in the trilogy so far have both opened and closed with a prologue/epilogue about "A Silence of Three Parts." Each chapter varies slightly in mood, but they all conclude with "the patient, cut-flower sound of a man waiting to die."
Bast reciting the "Elderberry" counting rhyme in Literature\The Wise Man's Fear. At the beginning, it's to choose what bottles to pick for a mixed drink. At the end, it's to decide which of the soldiers to kill first, with which random implement about the camp.
Brick Joke: In the first book, Elodin asks Kvothe, "Do you know the seven words that will make a woman love you?" Several examples pop up: "I was just wondering why you're here", "I need you to breathe for me", "you know, I could have carried you", "for all that, she lacked your fire"). The lesson is that the right words depend entirely on context. As does most of Naming magic.
Broken Ace: Kvothe is brilliant and excels at everything he tries, but tears himself apart so badly in the process that by the time Chronicler finds him, he's a shadow of his former self.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": A wide, wide variety of things (and people, countries, currencies, holidays, etc.) all seem suspiciously familiar, but under a different name.
"Ophalum" / "denner resin", which grows in a tree, but has effects resembling a mishmash of several real drugs, notably opium.
Even graduate students and post-docs have their own names at the University.
Zombies are shamblemen
Birds resembling hummingbirds are called sipquicks or flits in Vintas.
Cast from Hit Points: Using the heat of your blood to power sympathy. Drawing too much heat can lead to shivers, hypothermia and death. Using body heat in general does this too, and is far safer, but blood provides more heat faster.
Auri, Kvothe's friend from the tunnels under the University.
Elodin is a classic case.
Compelling Voice: Partial subversion - learning the name of something allows people to use this on the objects that they know the name of.
Contemptible Cover: Tell me, if you saw this cover◊ without context, would you think it was a serious fantasy book or a romance novel? Luckily, the hardcover came with two covers, the other of which was much more respectable. And upon the release of the 5th edition, we got the cool current cover.
Does Not Like Shoes: Actually many. Kvothe and Denna have walked around barefoot voluntarily at least two times (in Kvothe's case, it's probably due to the memory of his lack of shoes during his life in Tarbean), and characters like Auri, Elodin and Puppet have it as a habit (albeit Puppet wears socks).
Doublethink: While learning sympathy, a sympathist must be able to split his/her mind to believe contradicting beliefs at the same time. The most skilled sympathists such as Kvothe and Devi can split their minds 6 or 7 ways to reinforce the strength of their will.
Double Standard: From the rules of the University : only boys may be punished by whipping, girls only pay the fine. "A little unfair", indeed.
Dub Name Change: Foreign traslations of the books often change names of characters and concepts for no apparent reason. For example, the Blac of Drossen Tor is changed to "Nagra of Vessten Tor" in the Spanish translation.
The Edema Ruh are clearly based on the Roma, or maybe, considering their light hair and complexions, Irish Travelers, with their performing, their nomadic lifestyles living in caravans, and their unfair reputation as thieves.
Ademre has a lot of parallels with China. The Ketan is based on martial arts and Tai Chi, and the concept of the Adem mercenary and and the schools that teach them parallel the operation of many historical martial arts schools in China. Similarly, the Lethani is highly reminiscent of Daoism. The descriptions of how the Adem language works (it's tonality, and its emphasis on deciphering meaning over precision) also strongly resembles Chinese. The hand-gestures/facial-expressions may be a tip of the hat to Asian inscrutability, the famed inability of Westerners to read Asian facial expressions. To top it all off, the Adem are all known for having the same hair color (sandy instead of black). However, other traits of the Adem (the sexually liberated culture, the matriarchal society) don't match China at all.
The ancient Aturan empire, with its centralized city, massive scope and spread of the series' counterpart to Christianity resembles the ancient Roman Empire, while the modern day Aturans seem to resemble the Holy Roman Empire of early modern times.
The Yllish are a rather unique and fairly under-described culture, but the fact that they come from an island and are known for having red hair makes them similar to the Irish, which is intensified by the fact that Deoch has a Yllish background and a name that means "to drink" in both Yllish and Gaelic. Other aspects of their culture, such as the use of knots as a written language, don't match up, though this may be related to Celtic knots.
Fantasy Gun Control combined with a form of Medieval Stasis. There are hints that there was a higher level of technology in the past, among them rusted and unrecognizable hulks in the tunnels and the remains of an extensive sewer system. Something seems to have knocked them back. Sections at the University suggest that science and technology is currently around early 19th century levels, possibly a little better in some areas and worse in others. For example:
Kvothe knows that steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, rather than something you get from processing iron in a particular way with coke.
Medicine in general is well developed in the Arcanum; Arwyl and Kvothe know that bleeding a person is almost never beneficial, and Kvothe repeatedly resorts to charcoal to counteract ingested poisons. He can also compute dosages by body weight. Kvothe knows enough about nutrition to know that sea salt contains chromium, bassal, malium, iodine, and other trace minerals. Simmon identifies the plum-bob drug as "lipid soluble" and knows that this means it will hang around in the body for a while, causing flashbacks. Kvothe adds that it removes "behavioural filters", very much a late 20th century expression. And people know what proprioception is, despite it being obscure enough in our world that most people have never even heard the word.note It's the seventh of your five senses—the sixth being your balance from your inner ear—and is what lets you know where your body parts are in relation to each other. Proprioception is what lets you clap your hands in the dark.
The people also seem to have the laws of motion and thermodynamics worked out (except, possibly, entropy, as that may be negated by the magic in the books); at one point students attempt to solve a problem a Master sets to determine where a stone thrown with a particular force and at a particular angle will land using math, implying familiarity with some form of Newton's laws of motion, conservation of momentum, and the laws of gravity.
Fire is described by Kvothe to a Master as "an exothermic chemical reaction". There are many other examples which could be cited. Yet despite all this no one seems to have discovered gun powder or built a steam engine. The teachers are, however, strongly against using combinations of magic with martial technology.
Magnets are mysterious and rare objects in Kvothe's world, and Master Kilvin's lifelong quest for an "everburning torch" in a glass globe makes it clear that current arcanists have never heard of electricity.
Fatal Flaw: Impatience seems to be Kvothe's fatal flaw. A hell of a lot of the trouble he gets himself into could have been avoided oh so easily if he only bided his time. Most of the rest of the trouble he lands himself in can be put down to his pride and refusal to back down in his feud with Ambrose.
Fearless Fool: Referenced. Kvothe says that only priests and fools are fearless.
Generic Cuteness: Every woman in The Name of the Wind is described as beautiful, good-looking, ect. Lampshaded by Bast ("All the women in your story are beautiful"), which indicates this trope might simply be caused by Kvothe finding every woman he sees attractive. The Wise Man's Fear eases up on this, introducing such characters as the old, practical Shehyn and the boyish Hespe.
Gold Silver Copper Standard: Applies, but not evenly. Kvothe has specifically named gold "marks," silver "talents", both iron and copper "pennies", and "shims," "drabs" and "jots" in Tehlu only knows what sort of metal. Additionally, Kvothe travels through a number of different nations, and their differing forms of currency, without bothering to differentiate which coin comes from where. And, of course, not all the breakdowns are straight decimal.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kvothe is covered with attractive, smooth and pale 'good guy' scars that are hidden under his clothes. "All the scars were smooth and silver except one."
I Know Your True Name: Probably the most difficult branch of magic, with most arcanists knowing no names, and a very few knowing one or two. Searching for names has the potential to drive you insane.
Infallible Narrator: Being The Ace as well as a trained storyteller, Kvothe recollects every detail of his story. Before he's even willing to begin, he demands proof that Chronicler will be able to transcribe every detail perfectly.
Kaleidoscope Eyes: Kvothe's green eyes are noted to change color from pale "like green frost" when afraid (or possibly adrenaline-pumped) to dark, muddy green when angry.
Lampshade Hanging: Throughout the story, Kvothe and various characters give nods to some common fantasy tropes from time to time. Kvothe is quite Genre Savvy due to growing up as part of a performing troupe.
Magic A Is Magic A: Knacks, Sympathy, and Naming all work by concrete rules, which are explained at length. Alchemy is pointed out as being distinctly different from chemistry, but Sympathy and Sygaldry bear more in common with physics and calculus than with traditional magic.
Magitek: Sympathy lamps and clocks, a sygaldry fridge. Most common in the Commonwealth because its only source, the University, is located there.
The barkeep Deoch, is named for the Irish word "deoch"—a drink.
Kvothe calls himself "Kote" when playing the role of an innkeeper. A conversation with one of his teachers towards the end of The Name of the Wind reveals that kote is an in-universe Siaru word meaning disaster. He's also currently hiding in the village of Newarre, in the middle of nowhere.
Denna. Kvothe compares her to a wild thing: skittish, and drifting about like the wind. At one point in the book, Kvothe mentions "the ever-changing name of the wind." Denna changes her name constantly. Her name is also very similar to denner, and Kvothe is arguably addicted to her.
Kvothe at one point says that the Adem called him "Maedre", which means either "The Flame, The Thunder or The Burning Tree, depending on how you pronounce it." That sounds relatively innocuous until you find out that the trilogy itself was originally named "The Song of Flame and Thunder," until being given its current title to avoid confusion with A Song of Ice and Fire. Kvothe's own name was formerly a Title Drop.
The Master Artificer is Kilvin, and among the things he deals with are lamps and fire, heat and chemistry. The real life Lord Kelvin was a physicist/chemist, who dealt extensively with thermodynamics, the movement of heat, and other things. Kilvin is introduced as being unable to solve the problem of an ever-burning lamp. The real Lord Kelvin was, somewhat famously and retroactively, completely stymied by the problem of the sun, as nuclear physics was as yet undiscovered and there's no purely chemical way for the sun to burn for billions of years.
Elodin, the Master of Names. The god Odin is possessed of more than 200 names.
The music hall where Kvothe performs is called the Eolian. "Eolian" means "relating to, caused by, or carried by the wind" in English.
Memetic Badass: Kvothe himself, in-universe. People are telling tales about him, and getting it wrong due to hearsay distortion, in his own inn, to his face.
Bast's blue eyes change, brightening and the pupil shrinking based on mood; this is explained by the fact that he's not human and the glamour is slipping.
Kvothe's green eyes are observed and commented on multiple times through the book as changing shade depending on his mood. This is interpreted by many readers that his mother, a highborn runaway, was a fae.
Nested Story: Kvothe's dictation of his autobiography contains a number of stories. Storytelling is a theme in the series.
No Conservation of Energy: Averted. One of the main premises of Sympathy is that you need energy, and the weaker the link, the more energy is lost in the process. As already mentioned, when in a pinch, some characters (mostly Kvothe) have used the heat from their own blood for an energy source.
Oblivious to Love: Just about the only thing Kvothe isn't naturally good at is handling female emotional attention. Even after he learns bed skills and starts sleeping his way around, he's still completely unaware of being the target of two long-standing crushes (from Denna and Fela). His reluctance to fully court Denna, however, comes from her history of rejecting suitors that pursue her directly.
Kvothe's trial, during which he allegedly learned enough Tema in a day and defended himself brilliantly. He glosses over it because it was tedious to live through, and the transcripts would be available as a matter of public record.
The "unfortunate complications" of the journey to Severen probably could have filled half a book...
In brief, there was a storm, piracy, treachery, and shipwreck, altough not in that order. It also goes without saying that I did a great many things, some heroic, some ill-advised, some clever and audacious.
Averted by the Tehlin Church, in which the angels are heavenly beings rather similar to generic Judeo-Christian angels, although with some pantheon-like elements.
But, according to Skarpi, the beings who became the angels were originally survivors of the Creation War that forswore their earthly lives to gain great power to mete out justice.
Perpetual Poverty: A continuing theme is that Kvothe is nearly broke and just barely manages to get his tuition paid and his survival needs met.
Punctuation Shaker: The University's ranks. At least they confine themselves to just apostrophes, no accents or umlauts lurking about.
Reconstruction: The book does a wonderful job of answering questions about the genre before they're even asked. For example, the Framing Device involves Kvothe dictating the story to Chronicler. Well, people can't write as fast as they can talk, but most books just quietly ignore that. Here, however, Chronicler has invented a shorthand cipher specifically for the purpose of allowing him to write faster than people can talk, justifying something so omnipresent we don't even have a trope for it.
Red-Headed Hero: Kvothe has "true red" hair, rather than than the brownish-orange that most people describe as "red hair." It's his most distinctive feature.
Red Right Hand: It's implied that all of the Chandrian have one. Cinder, has white hair, black eyes and a Slasher Smile. Lord Haliax is described as being totally shrouded in shadow, even in bright light. They also leave signs of their presence in the area, such as fire turning blue, iron rusting, wood rotting, etc.
Retired Badass: Kvothe fakes his death, moves to small village, opens an inn, and retires into his "Kote" persona. Notably, he's an almost-mythical legend and retired well before thirty.
Starting soon after his acceptance into the University, Kvothe began starting the rumors about himself that would grow into this. By the time he tells Chronicler his story, patrons of the inn are telling tales about him in front of him without knowing it. Some people even think that he's only a myth and never really existed.
The Chandrian, partly because they kill people who learn too much about them. No one seems able to agree on who or what the Chandrian are, and even the ways to identify them vary from story to story.
To illustrate a point, Kvothe starts a few myths about Chronicler himself. Immediately, the villagers pick up their cue and start embroidering "Lord of Stories" tales on their own.
The Story Teller: All over. The Edema Ruh love telling stories (they're a traveling troupe). Skarpi, who told stories in an inn in Tarbean in exchange for money. Cob tells stories at the inn in Newarre. Kvothe is telling the trilogy as the story of his life.
All three book titles have already been dropped, though this does not rule out Rothfuss changing the working title of Book 3 at some later point.
The title of every chapter is usually dropped within a few pages. They serve as Chekhov's Guns in that sense.
Unfortunate Names: Some translations have Edema Ruh changed to "Edena Ruh", for obviously aesthetic reasons.
Unreliable Narrator: Kvothe gives a glowing description of Edema Ruh that is obviously colored by his personal prejudices. He's deliberately lied on at least one occasion and has certainly omitted parts of the narrative. Bast also counters that Denna isn't quite as perfect as Kvothe seems to think she is, but love is blind.
Wizarding School: The University includes the Arcanum, which teaches various magical skills. Some students, however, come to the University just to study less exciting subjects such as math, chemistry, sculpture, and so forth.