There exists a series of books in this world that currently has my undying love: The Kingkiller Chronicles. This series is as of now unfinished and still being written, with 2 books out of 3 already published by the author Patrick Rothfuss. The first two books are The Name of the Wind, and The Wise Man’s Fear. Buy them. The only thing that you’ll regret about this purchase is that the third book has not been published yet, leaving thoughts of how this story will conclude to keep you up at night like a crack addict jonesin’ for his (or her! Equal opportunity, folks) next hit.
The story is a story within a story, following the life and adventures of one Kvothe, Arliden’s Son. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just put up here the way in which he introduces himself in the first book (it’s also written on the inner leaf of the book):
My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as “quothe.” Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I’ve had more names than anyone has a right to.
The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it’s spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or the Broken Tree.
“The Flame” is obvious if you’ve ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it’s unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
“The Thunder” I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
I’ve never thought of “The Broken Tree” as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
My first mentor called me E’lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant “to know.”
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
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.
Badass. Anyway, one of the telltale bits of this series seems to be that there are many little bits of lore scattered about the book from legends of the world being built by Rothfuss. Some are meant for foreshadowing. Some are simply meant for entertainment. All are interesting to me. So, I’ve decided to copy some of those stories on to here in what is yet another series of posts on my blog.
The first story is set in the Waystone Inn, the main setting of the whole shabang, and is being told by what appears to be the village storyteller, Old Cob. From the first couple pages of the book:
“When he awoke, Taborlin the Great found himself locked in a high tower. They had taken his sword and stripped him of his tools: key, coin, and candle were all gone. But that weren’t even the worst of it you see…” Cob paused for effect, “…cause the lamps on the wall were burning blue!”
Graham, Jake, and Shep nodded to themselves. The three friends had grown up together, listening to Cob’s stories and ignoring his advice.
Cob peered closely at the newer, more attentive members of his small audience, the smith’s prentice. “Do you know what that meant, boy?” Everyone called the smith’s prentice “boy” despite the fact that he was a hand (~4 inches) taller than anyone there. Small towns being what they are, he would most likely remain “boy” until his beard filled out or he bloodied someone’s nose over the matter.
The boy gave a slow nod. “The Chandrian.”
“That’s right,” Cob said approvingly. “The Chandrian. Everyone knows that blue fire is one of their signs. Now he was–”
“But how’d they find him?” the boy interrupted. “And why din’t they kill him when they had the chance?”
“Hush now, you’ll get all the answers before the end,” Jake said. “Just let him tell it.”
….skipping past some outer story exposition….
“Now Taborlin needed to escape, but when he looked around, he saw his cell had no door. No windows. All around him was nothing but smooth, hard stone. It was a cell no man had ever escaped.
“But Taborlin knew the names of all things, and so all things were his to command. He said to the stone: ‘Break!’ and the stone broke. The wall tore like a piece of paper, and through that hole Taborlin could see the sky and breathe the sweet spring air. He stepped to the edge, looked down, and without a second thought he stepped out into the open air….”
The boy’s eyes went wide. “He didn’t!”
Cob nodded seriously. “So Taborlin fell, but he did not despair. For he knew the name of the wind, and so the wind obeyed him. He spoke to the wind and it cradled and caressed him. It bore him to the ground as gently as a puff of thistledown and set him on his feet softly as a mother’s kiss.
“And when he got to the ground and felt his side where they’d stabbed him, he saw that it weren’t hardly a scratch. Now maybe it was just a piece of luck,” Cob tapped the side of his nose knowingly. “Or maybe it had something to do with the amulet he was wearing under his shirt.”
“What amulet?” the boy asked eagerly through a mouthful of stew.
Old Cob leaned back on his stool, glad for the chance to elaborate. “A few days earlier, Taborlin had met a tinker on the road. And even though Taborlin didn’t have much to eat, he shared his dinner with the old man.”
“Right sensible thing to do,” Graham said to the boy. “Everyone knows: ‘A tinker pays for kindness twice.'”
“No no,” Jake grumbled. “Get it right: ‘A tinker’s advice pays kindness twice.'”
The innkeeper spoke up for the first time that night. “Actually, you’re missing more than half,” he said, standing in the doorway behind the bar.
“A tinker’s debt is always paid:Once for any simple trade.Twice for freely-given aid.Thrice for any insult made.”
….skipping outer story exposition…
Old Cob nodded before he cleared his throat and launched back into the story. “Now this amulet was worth a whole bucket of gold nobles, but on account of Taborlin’s kindness, the tinker sold it to him for nothing but an iron penny, a copper penny, and a silver penny. It was black as a winter’s night and cold as ice to touch, but so long as it was around his neck, Taborlin would be safe from the harm of evil things. Demons and such.”
“I’d give a good piece for such a thing these days,” Shep said darkly. He had drunk most and talked least over the course of the evening. Everyone knew that something bad had happened out on his farm last Cendling night, but since they were good friends they knew better than to press him for the details. At least not this early in the evening, not as sober as they were.
“Aye, who wouldn’t?” Old Cob said judiciously, taking a long drink.
“I din’t know the Chandrian were demons,” the boy said. “I’d heard–”
“They ain’t demons,” Jake said firmly. “They were the first six people to refuse Tehlu’s choice of the path, and he cursed them to wander the corners–”
“Are you telling this story, Jacob Walker?” Cob said sharply. “Cause if you are, I’ll just let you get on with it.”
The two men glared at each other for a long moment. Eventually Jake looked away, muttering something that could, conceivably, have been an apology.
Cob turned back to the boy. “That’s the mystery of the Chandrian,” he explained. “Where do they come from? Where do they go after they’ve done their bloody deeds? Are they men who sold their souls? Demons? Spirits? No one knows.” Cob shot Jake a profoundly disdainful look. “Though every half-wit claims he knows…”
The story fell further into bickering at this point, about the nature of the Chandrian, the signs that showed their presence to the wary, and whether the amulet would protect Taborlin from bandits, or mad dogs, or falling off a horse. Things were getting heated when the front door banged open.
I think that’s a good start. Next time, whenever that is, the beginnings of this world’s belief in the god Tehlu.
I don’t know if I need this here, but screw it let’s do it anyway. All parts and excerpts from the Kingkiller Chronicles are property of someone that isn’t me. Patrick Rothfuss maybe? DAW Books? Regardless, I don’t own this. Hell I wish I did. Then I’d have published it and made a fortune!