The Kingkiller Chronicle
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One of the cover images of the first book in the series
|Language||English, various translations|
|Published||27 March 2007–present|
|Media type||print (hardcover)|
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 makes up 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.
- 1 Books in the series
- 2 Structure
- 3 Settings
- 4 Characters
- 5 Mythos and history
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Books in the series
As of April 2015, the first two books have been released. A release date for the third book hasn't been announced, but a release in 2016 has been cited as most probable.
- 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 involve the chronicling of Kvothe's life from where The Wise Man's Fear left off until an unknown time 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.
As of October 2014, Rothfuss has released three other works set in the Kingkiller Chronicles world:
- "How Old Holly Came to Be" in Unfettered (2013), edited by Shawn Speakman - experimental short story
- "The Lightning Tree" in Rogues (2014), edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois - a novella about Bast
- "The Slow Regard of Silent Things" (2014, ISBN 978-0756410438) - a novella about Auri
Another novel is in the works:
- A novel about Laniel Young-Again (100,000-120,000 words)
The series is framed as the transcription of the three-day long verbal autobiography, with each day depicted in discrete books, of Kvothe: a renowned musician, magician, and adventurer now living anonymously as a rural innkeeper. The autobiography is book-ended and interspersed with interludes describing the interaction between Kvothe and Chronicler (the scribe recording the account).
The world is called the Four Corners of Civilization in the book, and officially named "Temerant" by Patrick Rothfuss in his blog. Kvothe often travels, and the books follow his adventures across multiple lands.
Tarbean is the capital of the Commonwealth, and (informally) divided into two sections: Waterside and Hillside, whereof Waterside is similar to a slum and home to beggars, thieves, and whores while Hillside is home to solicitors, politicians, and courtesans (thus, an ironic equivalence distinguished by wealth). Kvothe spends 3 years living on the streets in Tarbean after his family and troupe are killed, and before he attends the University.
Situated across the Omethi river from the town of Imre, the University is the center of higher learning. The people of the university are well respected and even feared. Master Elodin hints that the University is very old, with the subject of Naming (intuitive psychokinesis) having much more importance in the earlier days.
Subjects studied at the University include the following:
- Algebra and Geometry
- Sympathy: A form of sympathetic magic
- Sygaldry: A form of sympathy based on runes and engineering
- Naming: another type of magic, based on true name folklore
During Kvothe's time at the University, the faculty are nine Masters (similar to "Roke Island" of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series), each specializing in a different field. One of the masters also holds the title of Chancellor, which confers additional administrative authority. Graduates of the University are known as "arcanists."
Vintas is an ancient and wealthy kingdom southeast of the University.
A harsh, barren, rocky, and windy land inhabited by the Adem people, famous for the fighting force called the 'Adem mercenaries'. It has many schools which teach different styles of fighting, and a philosophical school known as the Lethani; similar to Chinese martial arts and Chinese philosophy. The people of Ademre communicate emotion with little or no facial expression (other than laughter and tears), and use gestural language to communicate emotions, believing that showing emotion is a natural thing, and thus barbaric, while controlling emotion, and displaying it through a constructed sign-language is civilised, as civilisation is a constructed concept.
A parallel reality inhabited by faeries and other species. In the Fae, the sun neither rises nor sets; but one can walk from lighter areas to darker areas, from morning to evening to night and back toward morning, or vice versa. The story's moon oscillates between the world of the Fae and the world of mortals; therefore, Fae can enter and exit the latter world easily during Full Moons, whereas mortals can become trapped in the Fae on moonless nights.
Kvothe: Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as quoth with the "kv" sounding as in the Yiddish kvetch, is the protagonist of The Kingkiller Chronicle. At a young age he is orphaned and forced to survive alone. Through skill and talent he attends 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 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.
At Kvothe's inn
Devan Lochees: Also known as Chronicler, Devan convinces Kvothe to dictate his memoirs to him. Devan 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: Kvothe's assistant and pupil; a Fae disguised as a man. Bast's hope is that by recounting his life and adventures, Kvothe will return to his former heroism.
At the University and Imre
Denna: Described as dark haired and beautiful, she is a young woman who is romantically interested in Kvothe, but rejects long-term attachment. Denna changes her name frequently according to role. Beautiful, graceful, and intelligent; also a talented musician and singer. She has secured the support of a mysterious wealthy patron, to whom she and Kvothe refer as "Master Ash". This patron has harmed her purposefully in the past so she would avoid suspicion for having been the sole survivor of a massacre, and Kvothe is informed that her patron continues to beat and whip her as a test of her attachment to him. "Master Ash" is always careful to hit her in areas that will not be exposed though. She has many other names she goes by like Dinay, Dianah, Dinnah, and many more.
Ambrose Jakis: Kvothe's rival at the University, and the firstborn son of a powerful and wealthy baron. Throughout the story, Ambrose and Kvothe often commit sabotage and subterfuge against each other.
Master Kilvin: Master Artificer, one of Kvothe's most influential mentors. Kilvin spends much of his time inventing and fabricating devices, and has made numerous attempts to produce an "ever burning lamp".
Master Elodin: Master Namer, an eccentric but brilliant professor, considered insane by most of the students. Later initiates Kvothe into the discipline of 'Naming', which enables control over objects by utterance of secret names.
Master Hemme: Master Rhetorician, who resents Kvothe for embarrassing him, 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 by Master Hemme.
Master Lorren: Master Archivist. Keeper of the University's vast and legendary Archives. He notoriously bans Kvothe in his first semester for having a lit candle in the archives.
Simmon: Often called Sim. A close friend of Kvothe. Simmon is skilled in alchemy and poetry. Considered naïve, despite his quick intellect, and is a close friend with Wilem.
Wilem: Often called Wil. A close friend of Kvothe, and minor librarian in the University Archives. He and Simmon are the first to befriend Kvothe at the University.
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 on several occasions. Fela is romantically interested in Kvothe, but later pairs with Simmon.
Auri: A young woman and likely former student who lives in hiding in passages beneath the university. Auri is frightened by strangers, loud noises, and direct questions, but is befriended by Kvothe. Her name is bestowed by Kvothe himself, in a language he does not remember, meaning 'sunny'. Kvothe calls her his "little moon fae" and plays his lute for her in the middle of the night.
Mola: A high-ranking student at the University. She works in the Medica and has healed Kvothe's injuries on multiple occasions.
Devi: A moneylender who makes loans to Kvothe to pay his tuition. A former University student, she is extremely skilled in sympathy, and many locals fear her. It is known that Devi, Fela, and Mola are good friends as well.
Count Threpe: A patron of the musical arts, living in Imre. He tries without success to find Kvothe a patron. He is eventually able to recommend Kvothe to the service of the Maer.
Maershon Lerand Alveron: Also called the Maer; ruler of a major portion of Vintas, and descendant of the King of Vint. Kvothe serves for a time as his adviser and occasional arcanist. The Maer is ultimately forced to dismiss Kvothe; but he allows Kvothe to travel and perform anywhere within his lands, and pays for Kvothe's tuition at the University. He is aided by Kvothe in various ways including helping him woo his wife, the Lady Lackless.
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. She resents the Edema Ruh (Kvothe's ethnicity) for a past injury, and therefore arranges Kvothe's dismissal.
Stapes: The Maer's manservant and most trusted friend. Initially hostile to Kvothe, Stapes softens 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, but is eventually killed by one of the Maer's generals, Dagon.
Bredon: A Vintas noble who lives at the Maer's court and befriends Kvothe by teaching him the game of tak and teaches him court customs.
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 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 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.
Pike: An orphan boy who lives in Tarbean. He was Kvothe's enemy in The Name of the Wind.
In the Fae
Felurian: One of the Fae, who enters the mortal world to seduce men into her own, where she reduces them to madness or death through excess of yearning and sexual debauchery. Kvothe spends time with her and eventually persuades her to allow him to leave. Before he leaves, she weaves him a magical cloak called a 'shaed'. The only reason Kvothe is permitted to leave is because she wants him to spread the song he wrote about her throughout the land.
Cthaeh: A malicious entity living in a great tree in the Fae. The Cthaeh sees all possible futures and uses this power to cause anguish and pain. It manipulates in order to set those it encounters on "the most disastrous path" possible. Kvothe unknowingly speaks to this entity, and may have been affected by its revelations. Bast says that the Cthaeh is the most dangerous creature in existence and that all who talk to it are doomed.
Ademre is a barren land of little value populated by the matriarchal Adem society for several thousand years. The Adem are highly skilled mercenaries who fight in schools and send their earnings 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. Tempi is a capable fighter, but 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 allowing Kvothe to be taught the Ketan and the Lethani.
Vashet: Nicknamed "the Hammer", she is the teacher assigned to Kvothe to determine whether he is worthy to learn from her people. Vashet teaches Kvothe how to fight barehanded and with a sword.
Penthe: A young woman and a highly capable fighter. She is the first among the Adem to speak to Kvothe willingly.
Carceret: A female Adem who rebukes Tempi for teaching Kvothe their secrets, and resents Kvothe when he receives a sword formerly belonging 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 talks about him often to her friends.
Magwyn: Grandmother of Vashet, Magwyn gives Kvothe the name 'Maedre' (meaning either 'The Flame', 'The Thunder', or 'The Broken Tree'). Later, Magwyn helps Kvothe memorize the history and names of the carriers of his sword 'Saicere'.
Mythos and history
Origin of the Lethani
The Adem paradigm, resembling Bushido, chivalry or virtue ethics; supposedly derived from 99 stories told by the dying 'Rethe' to her instructor 'Aethe' (cf. Bhishma), after she was mortally wounded in a duel against him.
The Chandrian are also known as the Seven and, by the Adem, as the Rhinta. Their character, origins, and purpose are unknown to most human characters; but they are presumed malevolent. Led by Lord Haliax, popular superstition describes "signs" of their presence, such as fire turning blue and the rusting of iron.
Skarpi tells a tale of Lord Haliax's origins as Lanre, legendary warrior, hero of the embattled Ergen Empire, and husband to the sorceress Lyra. Lanre is killed in the battle, but Lyra revives him with her magic, and they go on to win the war. However, after the war, Lyra dies mysteriously, and Lanre finds himself unable to revive her despite gaining great powers. Filled with despair, he changes his name to Haliax and resolves to destroy the world, betraying the great cities of Ergen. While destroying the last city, Myr Tariniel, Lanre reveals to its king Selitos that his power has rendered him unable to sleep, forget, go mad, or die. Selitos curses Haliax to be surrounded by shadow and troubled by any mention of his name, extending the curse eternally on Haliax and his followers. Another of Skarpi's tales has Selitos gathering Myr Tariniel's survivors to form the Amyr, sworn to hunt the Chandrian whenever and wherever they can.
The Adem's accounts
According to legend among the Adem, there was once an empire of eight cities, whereof seven are forgotten but the eighth is Tariniel (Myr Tariniel). The empire had a great enemy who poisoned seven other characters to betray the cities that trusted them. One did not betray a city and so it did not fall; but was later 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 argue over Denna trying to release the song to the public.
The Fae's account
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 (Fae and mortal) and the moon trapped between both worlds.
The stealing of the moon ended the last chance for peace; whereas before men and the Fae were divided, two factions existed: the knowers and the shapers, whereof the shapers created the Fae realm, and one of these (Jax) lodged the moon between the worlds. Among the Fae, it is held that before Jax stole the moon he had spoken to the Cthaeh.
A variation of this tale is told by Hespe, a female mercenary, in which an unhappy boy named Jax bet a tinker that he could not make Jax happy. In the course of the contest, Jax decided to possess the moon. Taking his winnings, all of the tinker's packs and his hat (an unlucky sign), Jax traveled for some years, until he met a wise man with knowledge of true names. Impatient to capture the moon, Jax 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; and when she left, Jax said, "I have given you three things. My song, a house, and my heart" and asked for a touch of her hand, a kiss, and her name. With these, he took her partially prisoner, which (in this story) explains the lunar cycle.
In other media
On July 18, 2013, Twentieth Century Fox announced that the Kingkiller Chronicle was optioned for a TV series. The production team includes Arnon Milchan, Andrew Plotkin, Brad Weston, and Robert Lawrence.
- "How to pronounce Kvothe's name". February 19, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
- Aplin, Marc. "Kingkiller Book 3 still in Limbo, but lots to look forward to…". Fantasy Faction. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- "I said I’d tell you when I knew...". April 18, 2010. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
- "sffworld.com's Interview with Patrick Rothfuss".
- "SF Signal Podcast Episode 153...". The SF Signal Podcast. September 27, 2012.
- "reddit AMA with Patrick Rothfuss". January 14, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2015.