Day Two of the Kingkiller Chronicles: The Wise Man’s Fear
The Wise Man’s Fear
As you may have read I recently finished the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. I was so impressed that I finished the second book; The Wise Man’s Fear, shortly after and have been trying to put into words what I thought about it. Kvothe develops greatly in this installment and it is hard to sum up because he feels like different people throughout the story.
To recap this trilogy is based on the true telling of the main hero Kvothe’s life. He recounts his life over three days (three books) to Chronicler, a traveling scribe, in order to have the truth out in the world instead of the lavish exaggerated tales. The world in which Kvothe lives contains science, magic and adventure. He attends the university (there is only one) and learns sympathy; a form of alchemical magic. This magic proves most useful in many of his adventures and helps to mold his legend.
This particular installment is filled with Mercenaries, the Fae, Sympathy and so much action you feel a bit dizzy at times. This story has a great message that is used to further the story and helps to develop Kvothe. The thing that keeps this story exciting is that Kvothe is one person in the present who is obviously lost spiritually and in the past is just a boy who is learning about life through his mistakes and amazing adventures. Neither one of these versions of our protagonist is fully realized and it is exciting to ponder where he may end up by the end.
What I got from this story… (Spoilers ahead)
Names are just labels for how the world identifies or understands people, places, and things. When Kvothe is learning naming under Master Elodin he begins to understand that names come from a part of the mind that sleeps. I feel like this is just a way to understand that these perceptions are subconscious and names are a way to bring them to the fore. Kvothe’s perception of himself changes dramatically throughout his life as we are shown by his childhood versus his innkeeper alter ego Kote. Kote is born from a sense of punishment and fear instead of Kvothe who has so many nicknames it is ridiculous. (Kvothe the: bloodless, Arcane, Kingkiller, etc.)
One of the most memorable moments in this book was his brutal slaughter of the Edema Ruh imposters. They said all the right words and welcomed Kvothe to their family as was proper, but a slip of their treacherous nature shattered the illusion. Kvothe Killed and marked the corpses for stealing the name of his people. This had an eerie parallel to the way his parents were murdered for using the name of the Chandrian in what was going to be an epic song. Perhaps chasing the Chandrian is leading to Kvothe’s evolution into a king killer? Most of the major actions in this journey came from names.
In the first book Kvothe makes an enemy in Ambrose by failing to treat Ambrose with the fear/ respect that Ambrose felt was due to him because of his family’s place in the succession for the crown. Ambrose hates Kvothe because of his intelligence and even perhaps for his poverty. Ambrose is spoiled and entitled without having actually earned it and Kvothe rose quickly through the ranks of the Arcanum because of his hard work and knowledge. This opens the two up to be perfect rivals and that is exactly what they have become. The resent each other and their constant underhanded fighting becomes a great source of trouble for Kvothe both inside and outside the University.
Another example of names and meanings having a great importance in this story is the troubles that Kvothe encounters through his friendship with Tempe. Tempe teaches Kvothe about his culture in order to better communicate, but that knowledge is forbidden for “barbarians” and only through grueling trials of strength and knowledge is Kvothe considered worthy of an Adem name and the gift of their language and ways. This turned the outlook of the social structure upside down. The Adem do not speak, emote, or really interact with anyone outside their own people. They are thought of as overpaid, yet, deadly mercenaries and are to be avoided at all costs. Then when we meet Tempe he explains that it is because all others are barbarians, he even equates them to children or dogs. You learn about the disciplined culture and find the beauty in their ways through the eyes of Kvothe who has earned respect and is most certainly not a “barbarian”.
So all in all, when reading these two books I have given a lot of thought into how our own perceptions mold the world around us. It can be applied to almost everything going on in the world. Perhaps it would help us communicate better with others and save ourselves the trouble of repeat mistakes by understanding who we are personally and trying to understand how those around us view our actions.