Just finished The Wise Man's Fear, and the differences between the capabilities of Kvothe in the backstory (gifted Sympathy user, highly persuasive, student of Adem combat) and the actual performance of Koth in the "present" (Sympathy fails, persuasion fails, combat vs mercenaries fails) has me wondering.
Now that could simply be down to one of the major plots points; Koth is a cover personna, and Kvothe doesn't want to blow that cover. On the other hand (if we assume the "present" scenes aren't filtered via an unreliable narrator), for some of the things Koth fails at it looks like he is actually trying to make them work, and expects them to...but they don't.
I can think of a few possible reasons for this:
1) Koth isn't really the legendary Kvothe at all; he's just an inn owner with red hair that's faking it. The sword on the wall that doesn't quite match the sword in the backstory might back this up. On the other hand Bast seems quite convinced his Reishi is/was the real deal, and he put up a pretty good show against the spiderthings at the start of NotW.
2) As Bast says in NotW, perhaps Kvothe has taken the cover a bit too deep, and is forgetting/rusty with many of his skills.
3) My own pet theory, and maybe with some overlap with #2; Kvothe's actually changing his Name and truly becoming Koth, an inn owner that really does lack the abilities of Kvothe. Possibly backed up by Elodin's alarmed comment when he thinks student Kvothe might be about to try changing his Name - that suggests such a thing is at least possible.
Anyone else got any thoughts on this?