Exploring The Kingkiller Chronicle II: The Wise Man’s Fear


By: Angela Russo (@NerdGirlForever)
The second installment continues the chronicling of Kvothe’s legendary history. After admissions, our flame-haired hero attempts to persuade Elodin to train him. The quirky master-namer rebuffs his entreaties, citing his penchant for rash impatience, but later relents after witnessing acts of selfless attentiveness. Having regained entrance to the archives, Kvothe wastes no time voraciously scouring the stacks for information about the Chandrian and the Amyr. Unfortunately his troubles with Ambrose are far from over. As the term progresses, things between the rival students escalate from sabotage to breaking and entering to malfeasance, culminating in Kvothe’s arrest and subsequent trial for inadvertently breaking Ambrose’s arm last term. Although Kvothe is cleared of all charges, the masters counsel him to take a term off from the University to let the heat die down.
In a rare act of wisdom, Kvothe heeds the advice of his elders and travels to the court of Maer Alveron in Severen. There he quickly finds favor by foiling an attempt on the Maer’s life, and wooing a bride for his patron through his bardic talents. Meanwhile, Kvothe and Denna clash over the controversial history of Lanre, and the two part without reconciling. Kvothe leaves Severen and leads a band of mercenaries to take down a camp of bandits in the countryside and has his second encounter with a member of the Chandrian. After a bloody battle, the mercenary group claims victory.
However, Kvothe’s return to the Maer’s court is diverted several times as he is drawn into the Fae by Felurian and follows his companion Tempi to Ademre where he receives training in the Ketan and the way of the Lethani. After yet another skirmish on the road, Kvothe finally returns to Severen, but his rash provocation of Meluan Lackless earns prompt dismissal, and he returns to the University. In the present, Kvothe finds that he still cannot open the thrice-locked box.

University Antics

Elodin is easily one of the most beloved characters at the University. One of the funniest moments is arguably the scene where Kvothe is haranguing him for training while Elodin blithely burns another master’s clothing. His methods seem harebrained and unconventional, but in truth he is a font of priceless wisdom to our aspiring namer. As ridiculous as his antics seem, Elodin is clearly the wisest master on staff. When Kvothe returns from his travels Elodin instantly recognizes Kvothe’s cloak as a Shaed, demonstrates familiarity with the gestural Adem language, and drops knowledge that the reader can just feel in their bones is likely to come back around as carrying massive significance.

Adventures in Fae and Ademre

While The Name of the Wind spent a substantial amount of time on Kvothe’s studies at the University, the action-packed sequel takes a very different tack. The majority of the magical methodologies taught at the University have a practical application grounded in logic and structure, but the philosophies that Kvothe experiences while “chasing the wind” are all deeply emotional and instinctual — much more akin to the practice of Naming.
Glammourie: the art of making something seem like something else. This casting changes both the appearance of something but also impacts how the other senses will perceive how it feels and smells — a temporary casting.
Grammarie: the craft of making things “be” by enhancing the natural traits of something, like making a fire hotter and hungrier. Powerful practitioners can use it to craft things into an object that uses those traits for the benefit of the user to wield, like the Shaed cloak Felurian makes for Kvothe. This is a more permanent kind of casting.

Spinning Leaf

Meditative mental state where the user simply “goes with the flow,” letting his mind free to wander wherever it wants. A pure state of feeling, apart from ordered thought — the opposite of the Heart of Stone. This technique is crucial to enhancing Kvothe’s connection to the sleeping mind which is necessary to the mastery of naming.
The Lethani is a philosophy practiced by the people of Ademre. To live by the Lethani, is to live and act with a deep understanding of what is right and wrong.

What is Kvothe’s Destiny?

The entirety of Kvothe’s nature is characterized by how he repeatedly defies the norm. His depiction as a walking contradiction progresses as he accomplishes things no other has done before and lived. Kvothe is the first to cavort with Felurian and survive, the first to speak with the Cthaeh and walk away, and the first known outsider to truly receive Adem training. As hotheaded as Kvothe is, one would hope that the lessons of mindfulness and self-control in Ademre would be instructive for him in his dealings moving forward. However, Shehyn’s concern over the name Maedre and her hopeful commentary that the sword Saicere, (later renamed Caesura the poet killer) will serve to balance him out clearly foreshadows whatever disaster occurs prior to him becoming the Kote we know in the frame. Time will tell what role these events play in the history of our young hero.
The knowledge Kvothe acquires in his travels builds on the mythology we have had teasingly fed into our ears by Rothfuss since the chronicle began. The Wise Man’s Fear draws the reader deeper into the intricacies of the narrative. There’s truly no tale, legend, magic, or philosophy that is irrelevant to the evolving story of Kvothe, how he came to be Kote, and the mystery of the thrice-locked box looming upstairs at the Waystone. The Wise Man’s Fear is a bridge story that tantalizes us with riddles and mysteries just waiting to be unraveled in the long-awaited Doors of Stone.

    One Comment

  1. Eric Flapjack AshleyAugust 11th, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Great article, Angela!

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