The Kingkiller Chronicle
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One of the cover images of the first book in the series
|Published||27 march 2007–present|
|Media type||print (hardcover)|
The Kingkiller Chronicle is a fantasy trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973), telling the autobiography of Kvothe an adventurer, arcanist, and famous musician. The plot is divided into two different action threads: the present, where Kvothe tells the story of his life to Devan Lochees (known as Chronicler) in the main room of his inn, and Kvothe's past, the story in question, which comprises the majority of the books. The present-day interludes are in the third person from the perspective of multiple characters, while the story of Kvothe's life is told entirely in the first person from his own perspective. The series also contains many metafictional stories-within-stories from varying perspectives, most of which are recounted by Kvothe, having been heard from other characters in his past.
Books in the series 
As of 2012, the first two books have been released, with the release date of the third still unknown.
- Day One: The Name of the Wind (April 2007)
- Day Two: The Wise Man's Fear (March 2011)
- Day Three: The Doors of Stone (working title) It will most likely involve the chronicling of Kvothe's life from where 'The Wise Man's Fear' left off until an unknown time (likely the present) and will be the third and final day of the story. Patrick Rothfuss has said that this will be the end of this particular arc in the story.
The series is essentially the biography of a famous musician, arcanist, and adventurer named Kvothe. After gaining notoriety at a young age, he disappears from public life and is eventually tracked down to a backwater inn by Devan Lochees, who is known as the Chronicler. After some persuasion, the Chronicler convinces Kvothe to tell him his life story, which Kvothe announces will take three days (hence the name of the novel—The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day One—and its division into volumes). However, Kvothe's tale is occasionally punctuated by interludes set in the story's present day, during which it becomes clear that faerie folk, known to the locals as demons, are showing up uncommonly frequently. Meanwhile, Kvothe's friend and apprentice Bast is unwilling to let the Chronicler record all of Kvothe's story, and Kvothe is implied to be an untrustworthy narrator. The story thus proceeds on two levels: Kvothe tells his life story via first-person narrative, while the framing device hints that his life story may not actually be complete yet. The three books are just divisions in the same narrative, none of them standing alone in the story.
The world is referred to as the Four Corners of Civilization in the book. Kvothe commonly travels, and the books follow his adventures across multiple lands.
Tarbean is described as the capital of the Commonwealth, and is (informally) divided into two sections: Waterside and Hillside. Waterside is the poorer section of the city, described as being similar to a slum and home to beggars, thieves and whores. Hillside is the more affluent section of Tarbean, home to solicitors, politicians and courtesans.
Situated across a river from the town of Imre, the University is the main center of higher learning described in the story so far. Students come from far and wide to study here. Master Elodin hints that the University is very old, with the subject of Naming having much more importance in the earlier days.
Several subjects taught at the University include the following:
- Algebra and Geometry
- Sympathy: A form of sympathetic magic
- Sygaldry: This is a form of sympathy based on runes and engineering
- Naming: another type of magic taught at the University, which appears to be based on true name folklore
- Medicine: at the Medica
During Kvothe's time at the University there are nine Masters, each specialising in a different area. One of the masters also holds the title of Chancellor, which confers additional administrative authority. Graduates of the University are known as arcanists.
A harsh, barren, rocky and windy land inhabited by the Adem people. Ademre is famous for the reputation of its powerful fighters known as Adem mercenaries. It has many schools which teach different paths, or styles of fighting. The people of Ademre practice a philosophy known as the Lethani. The culture and fighting styles of Adem show similarities to Chinese martial arts and Chinese philosophy.
The people of Ademre communicate with little facial emotion (though basic emotions like laughter and tears are not suppressed). They believe it to be 'barbaric' to use facial expression and use a type of sign language to communicate emotions more specifically, reducing the need to interpret expressions.
The Fae 
The world of faeries and other creatures that do not originate in the world of men. In the Fae, the sun does not move across the sky. Instead, one can walk from lighter areas to darker areas, moving from morning to evening to night then back toward morning, or vice versa.
The moon sways between the world of the Fae and the world of men, tethered tight to both. The ancient Creation Wars were prompted by one of the shapers of the Fae, who pulled the moon into the world of the Fae. When the moon is full, the two worlds are close; it is then an easy matter for one of the Fae to enter into the world of mortal men through one of thousands of doorways between the worlds. Conversely, when there is a new moon, mortals can accidentally enter the Fae (at their peril). This is why wise men fear a moonless night.
Central Characters 
Kvothe: Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as quothe with the "kv" sounding as in the Yiddish word kvetch, is the main protagonist of The Kingkiller Chronicle. Kvothe is born as an Edema Ruh, wandering entertainers who are often despised and mistrusted. At a young age he is tragically orphaned and forced to survive as a street-rat. Through skill and talent he is able to attend the University and learns combat from the Adem. This eclectic upbringing has provided Kvothe with a variety of skills that include musical mastery (particularly the lute and vocals), acting, memorization, storytelling and showmanship, lockpicking, magic (both sleight of hand and the exceedingly complex forms of real magic present in the story), swordsmanship, hand-to-hand combat and survival skills. Kvothe is also noted for his determination, willpower, and intelligence. According to Kvothe, his most defining attribute is perhaps his memory.
Denna: A young woman who shares romantic feelings with Kvothe. She values freedom highly and refuses to be tied down to one spot or person, occasionally causing strained relationships. Like Kvothe, Denna does not speak about her past; she also changes her name frequently as she takes on different personas. Beautiful, graceful, and intelligent, she is also a talented musician and singer. She has currently secured the support of a mysterious wealthy patron. This patron has harmed her purposefully in the past so she would avoid suspicion for her being the sole survivor of a massacre and later for his own pleasure.
At Kvothe's Inn 
Devan Lochees: Also known as Chronicler, he is rescued by present day Kvothe, then taken unconscious to the small inn owned by Kvothe. After some prodding, Devan is able to convince a somewhat reluctant Kvothe to dictate his memoirs to him. Devan left the university after being ridiculed by the master namer. He is the author of the first book Kvothe ever read at the university's Archives, and is considered to be the foremost biographer of his time.
Bast: Bast helps Kvothe run his rural inn. Although he passes himself off as human, Bast is actually from the Fae; he has been traveling and learning from Kvothe. Recently he has grown concerned over Kvothe's mental state. He fears that Kvothe is no longer "acting" as Kote the innkeeper to preserve his anonymity, but is instead wholly becoming Kote. Bast's greatest hope is that by recounting his life and adventures, Kvothe will cease being Kote and return to the man he originally was.
At the University and Imre 
Ambrose Jakis: Ambrose is the firstborn son of a powerful and wealthy baron; he and Kvothe take an immediate dislike to each other. Ambrose holds Kvothe in contempt because Kvothe is young, poor, and not nobility; Kvothe hates Ambrose's arrogance and presumptuous attitude. Their rivalry deepens to dangerous levels and they attempt to sabotage one another.
Master Kilvin: Master Artificer and one of Kvothe's most influential mentors. Kilvin is a large Cealdish man with a large beard and large hands. Kilvin's prized possession is a collection of "ever-burning" lamps; Kilvin is attempting to discover a legendary substance that can burn forever.
Master Elodin: Master Namer. Eccentric but brilliant. The Chancellor before Master Herma, Elodin was 14 when admitted to the University, 18 when he graduated. However, an "incident" happened that the Masters don't speak of, and Elodin was locked up in the University's asylum until he regained most of his senses. He teaches Kvothe how to find the name of the wind. While Kvothe initially feels that Elodin's classes are a waste of time, he later begins to see the value of Elodin's teachings.
Master Hemme: Master Rhetorician. He hates Kvothe for embarrassing him during Kvothe's first term and tries to make Kvothe's life in the University as difficult as possible. Hemme replaces Herma as Chancellor near the end of The Wise Man's Fear.
Master Herma: Chancellor of the University and Master Linguist. Herma falls ill near the end of The Wise Man's Fear and his duties are taken up by Master Hemme.
Master Lorren: Master Archivist. Keeper of the University's vast and legendary Archives, the largest library in the known world.
Simmon: Often called Sim. A close friend of Kvothe. Simmon is skilled in alchemy and poetry. He's often considered rather naive, despite his quick intellect, and is a close friend with Wilem.
Wilem: Often called Wil. A close friend of Kvothe. Wilem is Cealdish and works as a scriv (librarian of sorts) in the University Archives. He and Simmon are the first to befriend Kvothe and are the closest of friends.
Manet: A middle-aged student who has remained at the University for thirty years. He taught Kvothe artificery in The Name of the Wind.
Fela: A beautiful young woman at the University. Kvothe and Fela have helped each other out on several occasions, and Kvothe once carried Fela out of a burning building. Fela had romantic interest in Kvothe, but Kvothe leaves for an extended period of time and she pairs up with Simmon.
Auri: A young woman and 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. "Auri" is not her real name, and she will not tell anyone her real name, so Kvothe named her Auri, thinking that the word meant "sunny", matching her personality.
Devi: A moneylender in Imre who makes loans to Kvothe so that he can pay his tuition. A former University student, she is extremely skilled in sympathy, and many locals fear her. Their relationship is largely business, though they are cautious friends. It is known that Devi, Fela, and Mola are good friends as well.
Mola: A high-ranking student at the University. She works in the Medica and has helped Kvothe with his injuries on multiple occasions.
Count Threpe: A patron of the musical arts, living in Imre. He wants to help Kvothe, and tries without success to find Kvothe a patron. He is eventually able to recommend Kvothe to the service of the Maer.
In Vintas 
Maershon Lerand Alveron: Also called the Maer. Ruler of a major portion of Vintas, and descendant of the King of Vintas. Kvothe serves for a time as his romantic adviser and occasional arcanist. The Maer is ultimately forced to dismiss Kvothe from his services due to his new wife's revulsion for the Edema Ruh. However, he allows Kvothe to travel and perform anywhere within his lands and pays for Kvothe's tuition at the University.
Meluan Lackless: Heiress of the Lackless family, an ancient family of Vintas. In the oldest part of their estates there is rumored to be a secret door without a handle or hinges. She possesses an unusual box without handle, lid, or hinges meant to safeguard its unknown contents. She has a deep hatred of Edema Ruh because her sister eloped with a Ruh. When Kvothe first sees her, he thinks that he has seen her before somewhere else.
Stapes: The Maer's manservant and most trusted friend since childhood. Initially hostile to Kvothe, Stapes has a change of heart when Kvothe saves the Maer from Caudicus's poisoning.
Caudicus: An arcanist and alchemist in the employ of the Maer. Kvothe discovers that Caudicus has been killing the Maer slowly for many years by means of lead poisoning and warns the Maer. Caudicus kills several of the Maer's personal guard and escapes for a time, but is eventually killed by the Maer's servant, Dagon.
Bredon: A Vintas noble who lives at the Maer's court and befriends Kvothe by teaching him the game of tak (possibly similar to Go) and teaches him court customs. According to the rumors circulating in court, Bredon is involved in pagan frolics.
In Tarbean 
Skarpi: A relatively minor character in The Name of the Wind, though he has (in the present day) befriended Chronicler, and was instrumental in discovering Kvothe's post-kingkilling whereabouts. He enters Kvothe's narrative in Tarbean as an eccentric old man who will tell any story asked of him.
Trapis: A kindly old man who lives in the basement of a burnt out building and feeds and tends to the needs of street children. Kvothe befriended Trapis during his three years living as a street urchin in Tarbean following the murder of his troupe.
In the Fae 
Felurian: One of the magical Fae, she is 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. Kvothe spends time with her and eventually uses his wits to convince Felurian to allow him to leave. Before he leaves, she gives him a magical cloak called a shaed which she makes from shadows sewn together with starlight.
Cthaeh: A malicious entity living in a great tree in 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. Kvothe unknowingly speaks to the entity and is affected by its revelations.
In Ademre 
Ademre is a barren land of little value populated by the matriarchal Adem society for several thousand years because they were forced out of every other land they tried to settle. The Adem are highly skilled mercenaries who are trained to fight in schools and send their earnings back to their homeland to support their schools and families. The Adem follow a philosophy called Lethani and a barehanded/sword-fighting style called the Ketan.
Tempi: An Adem mercenary whom Kvothe meets in Vintas, under the employ of Maer Alveron. Tempi introduces Kvothe to the Ketan and Lethani, though because he does so without permission of his teachers, he faces rebuke and expulsion. Tempi is a capable fighter, but is revealed to be only mediocre by Adem standards.
Shehyn: 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.
Vashet: 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. Vashet teaches Kvothe how to fight barehanded and with a sword.
Penthe: A young woman, she is a highly capable fighter and beats Shehyn in a sparring contest. She is the first among the Adem to speak to Kvothe of her own free will.
Carceret: A female Adem who is the first to rebuke Tempi for teaching Kvothe their secrets. She hates Kvothe and considers him a secret stealer. She hates him even more when he is given the sword that once belonged to her mother.
Celean: An exceptionally talented student of the Ketan who becomes Kvothe's sparring partner. She is only 10 years old and much smaller than Kvothe, but wins their sparring matches on a regular basis. By the time Kvothe leaves Ademre, Celean enjoys his presence and talks about him often to her friends.
Magwyn: Grandmother of Vashet, Magwyn gives Kvothe the name Maedre, which can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree. Later, Magwyn helps Kvothe memorize the history and names of the carriers of his sword, Caesura.
Mythos and history 
Origin of the Lethani 
The Adem seek to live by the light of the Lethani, an understanding of what one should do and how one should act, much like Bushido or chivalry. The Lethani was developed from the 99 tales which Rethe told to Aethe. Before the Lethani, it was not uncommon for an Adem to kill another out of jealousy, pride, or proof of skill.
As Aethe and his school became wealthy and arrogant, his best student Rethe argued with Aethe to change his ways. Aethe, angered, agreed to a duel, in which Rethe allowed herself to be shot. While dying, Rethe spoke of wisdom and restraint in battle and Aethe repented of his action. Rethe lived three more days, during which she dictated 99 stories to Aethe which became the basis for understanding the Lethani and the root of Ademre. Aethe lived forty more years but never killed again. He continued to train his students to be masters of the bow but also taught them wisdom, and the nine-and-ninety tales became the first Lethani to be known by Ademre.
The Chandrian 
The Chandrian are also known as the Seven and, by the Adem, as the Rhinta. They are generally dismissed as a child's tale, but most people fear them and it is thought to be bad luck to speak of them. They will take drastic measures to ensure that writings, songs, and depictions of them are destroyed, along with the people possessing these things. As a result, factual knowledge of the Chandrian is extremely rare. No one knows whether they are human or otherwise, what their final goal is, or how to stop them.
In a tale of the Chandrian told by Skarpi, their leader is Lord Haliax, formerly known as Lanre. Once a great hero, Lanre, whose wife's love for him was so great that she brought him back from death, finds that after her subsequent death he can neither bring her back nor die to join her. Filled with despair, he conspires to destroy the world and so betrays the city of Myr Tariniel. He is resisted by Selitos, who curses him to be surrounded by shadow. According to another tale also told by Skarpi, Selitos gathers the survivors of Myr Tariniel and together they form the Amyr, opposing the Chandrian whenever and wherever they can.
According to legend among the Adem, there was once an empire of seven cities and one city. The seven fell and their names were lost. The one was also destroyed but its name remains, Tariniel (or Myr Tariniel). The empire had a great enemy who poisoned seven to make them betray the cities that trusted them. Six betrayed their cities. One did not betray a city and so it did not fall. The empire was left with hope, but even that city was forgotten. After the fall of the empire, the "land was broken and the sky changed." The names of the seven traitors and their signs are these:
- 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.
In "The Song of Seven Sorrows", composed by Denna with the assistance of her mysterious patron, Lanre is portrayed "in tragic tones" as a fallen hero "wrongly used". Kvothe and Denna had a chilly argument over which story is correct, resulting in a falling out in their relationship.
Among the Fae, it is held that before Lanre betrayed the empire he had spoken to the evil Cthaeh.
The Creation Wars and the Stealing of the Moon 
The Creation Wars ended with the world being split into two and the moon trapped between both worlds. According to Felurian, the stealing of the moon ended the last chance for peace. She told Kvothe that before men and the Fae, when there was still only one sky, "there were those who walked with their eyes open. They knew all the deep names of things", and lived in peace with the world, knowing the space between things. "Then came those who saw a thing and thought of changing it. They thought in terms of mastery. They were shapers and proud dreamers." The shapers became increasingly bold in reshaping things. When the old knowers told them to stop, the shapers refused and continued to create, forming the Fae realm "from whole cloth, a place where they could do as they desired." When the creating was finished, each shaper fashioned a star for empty sky. For a time there were two worlds and two skies. But then the first and greatest of the shapers, a shaper of the dark and changing eye, chose not to just fashion his own star, but instead to pull the moon into the sky of the Fae. But he could not make her stay, so she moves between the worlds of man and of the fae. It was this act that provoked a war between the old knowers and the shapers.
A variation on this tale is told by Hespe, a female mercenary. In this tale, an unhappy boy named Jax bet a tinker that he could not make Jax happy. The tinker lost, but in the course of the contest, Jax looked upon the moon and decided that the only thing that would make him happy was to possess the moon. So taking his winnings, all of the tinker's packs and his hat (an unlucky sign), Jax traveled long and far to capture the moon. Many years passed and he met a wise man with knowledge of names. When Jax asked the old man's name, he declined to give it, explaining that knowing even a small portion of a true name gives power over that person. When the old man learned of Jax's desire to possess the moon, he told him, "When you love something, you have to make sure it loves you back, or you'll bring about no end of trouble chasing it." The old man then offered to teach the young man how to listen to the moon to see if he is loved. But faced with the prospect of a couple years to learn how to listen in this way, Jax went on his way. After climbing to the highest peaks, he built a crooked mansion and called to the moon by playing a sad song on a magic flute found in the tinker's pack. The moon came to him, she was beautiful and Jax had the first moment of happiness in his life. When the moon went to leave, Jax said, "I have given you three things. My song, a house, and my heart," and asked for three things in return. She answered that while she possessed nothing, if she had what he asked of her, she would give it. So he asked for a touch of her hand, a kiss, and her name. After she told Jax that her name was Ludis, Jax brought out a black iron box and trapped her name in it, proclaiming that, now that he had captured her name, he had power over her. Though he had not captured her entirely, he did catch a piece. This is why the moon must always return to him, yet always slips away again. This is what accounts for the changing of the moon.
- "How to pronounce Kvothe's name". February 19, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
- "I said I’d tell you when I knew...". April 18, 2010. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
- "sffworld.com's Interview with Patrick Rothfuss".
- "Patrick Rothfuss Interview...". SSF World Interview. March 26, 2007.
- "SF Signal Podcast Episode 153...". The SF Signal Podcast. September 27, 2012.