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Kvothe Dissonance (spoilers)

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jun 2011, 13:07:21 BST
Ian Kirk says:
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?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Nov 2011, 17:26:37 GMT
Bookworm says:
My own pet theory: Rothfuss keeps dropping hints about some traumatic event coming up that scars Kvothe terribly and presumably causes him to abandon his life and become the innkeeper Kote. (Not Koth incidentally.) I strongly suspect Denna ends up dead, not least because otherwise Kvothe/Kote would still be living somewhere where he could meet up with her. So I think the trauma causes Kvothe to lose his magic. Remember when he tries to open his thrice-locked chest and can't - he's described as being like a man who receives bad news he long expected. So he thought his magical ability was gone but now he's tested it. It's not like he already knew he couldn't do magic and he was faking it with Chronicler.

I read the combat vs mercenaries fail bit as a reminder that he's only human - a lot of his back story basically shows him doing impressive things by quasi-trickery, knowing one important thing other people don't know and then bigging up his reputation afterwards. Like when he rescues the girls from the pretend Edema Ruh by poisoning them, but drops hints to everyone that he just fought a dozen men and won. So he really is a good fighter - he does great against the spider-demons - but he's only human and now he's weak from loss of blood and he can't beat the mercenaries. Although part of it might be him taking his cover too deep and forgetting his skills too.

What does everyone else think?

Posted on 10 Oct 2012, 12:10:20 BST
Jeremy Bee says:
Reasonable arguments. It's made clear that Koth has lost a lot, and that Kvothe is a story teller, but there's references in the text during the bar fight (the attempt at sympathy magic; the explicit reference to the Ademic technique) that suggest there is some continuity between the characters; I had considered theory 1, but I think it would require authorial cheating to be true. The hammering of the predictive faery tree link, as well as Bast's reaction to it, suggest that we're supposed to be looking for a tragic angle: hubris & lack of self awareness, which the Kvothe of book 2 has in spades, are classic tragic flaws, and option 3 makes sense if he is trying to escape or hide from (by truly taking a new name) the consequences of a tragic act. I find it pretty hard to care, though, after the second book. If it's an unreliable narrator sting, Rothfuss forgot to keep the narrator interesting.
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Participants:  3
Total posts:  3
Initial post:  13 Jun 2011
Latest post:  10 Oct 2012

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The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2
The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2 by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover - 1 Mar. 2011)
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