Well the last post on my The Name of the Wind Tenth Anniversary Reread accidentally blew up Google Alerts for some folk but it also got John Granger (the literary critic) to buy a copy of The Name of the Wind, so I consider it a net good. This one will focus on some new details we didn’t have before that exist now in the tenth anniversary edition’s appendices and cover design.
By the way, if you haven’t downloaded the monograph I wrote on my assumptions for this reread, you’ll want to do that. Otherwise you’ll likely be lost. And yes, it has way more than the intro post in it.
A word on dedications:
The one to his mother reaffirms what I said at the start: that he sees his work as commenting on and building significantly on the fantasy tradition (Narnia and Middle Earth) and the tradition of genre surprise (Pern).
The one to his father — the whole do it right the first time? Based on the alchemical presumptions, I’d say it means If you can write your magnum opus first, do it. Magnum opus is another word for the great work of alchemy.
Jo Walton’s note seems to encourage a deeper reading.
Rothfuss’ note at the end is — of course — an author’s note that subverts authors’s notes. First time I’ve ever laughed at an author’s bio, for starters. But there’s something else going on: it’s the story of a bright eyed young man wanted to play with wizards and magic and getting turned down. Then seeking out how to tell stories in which those things happened and getting turned down. Then writing The Name of the Wind and succeeding — rags to riches. But there’s another story: one in which the riches become ashes int he mouth of him who succeeds. The old man who realizes that the quests of the young man were actually in vain and if he could only warn his younger self.
That may be true about Pat, but it’s infinitely more true about Kvothe. And there’s a reason for that.
And The Empire.
Is East up.
Perhaps that’s just so that it didn’t look ugly spread over two pages.
Perhaps it’s just a head-nod to times when the most important thing is at the top.
Or perhaps the most important thing really is at the top — coming out of the olden east. The empire map seems to affirm this where the Cealdish, Yllic, Modegan, and Ademre territories are untouched by the collapsed empire.
But the key at the end is that whatever religion… the town originally used was generally viewed as embarrassing and backward. Two generations after that? It was rarely remembered at all. …Many places (most of the commonwealth for example)—
I.E. Most of where this story takes place…
—Had spent nearly 200 years under Imperial rule. That’s nearly ten generations, which is more than enough to stamp out the majority of those old language and customs.
Regarding the months of the year:
Thaw — is what happens to ice that melts. And the thing that melts it is its love for that which heats:
Caitlyn — is the English form of Katherine which either comes from the Greek (via Etymonline):
Αικατερινη for either ‘Εκατερινη (Hekaterine), which came from ‘εκατερος (hekateros) “each of the two”; it could derive from the name of the goddess HECATE; it could be related to Greek αικια (aikia)”torture”; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name”. In the early Christian era it became associated with Greek καθαρος (katharos) “pure”, and the Latin spelling was changed from Katerina to Katharina to reflect this.The name was borne by a semi-legendary 4th-century saint and martyr from Alexandria who was tortured on a spiked wheel. The saint was initially venerated in Syria, and returning crusaders introduced the name to Western Europe. It has been common in England since the 12th century in many different spellings, with Katherine and Catherine becoming standard in the later Middle Ages.
That last bit should tickle the fancy of Tehlu fans. Assuming, again, that Rothfuss prefers layered meaning whenever possible, there’s no reason with my assumptions and tomorrow’s thesis that the day couldn’t mean all of these. But it’s of note that Hecate was the goddess of magic, crossroads, ghosts, and necromancy. Of particular import is that as Hecate Phosphorus (Venus) she lit the sky during the Siege of Philip II in 340, revealing the attack to the inhabitants. She’s a pre-Olympian chthonic goddess who was often depicted in three forms sharing the same body and requiring a holocaust. She’s essentially the liminal goddess. There’s tons of interesting stuff in the Wiki worth perusing.
Equis — As in the day of the horse. Also the day of the X — typically the things we draw over the eyes of emojis who have died. This will be important later on.
Solace — The day of comfort or consolation. For what? A death.
Lannis — “Lani” is Hawaiian for heaven.
Fallow — Is the thing we do to ground we plow and we harrow, but we leave unsown.
Reaping — Is the thing we do to a crop. As in the crop that matures in spite of being dragged to death by horses, mourned, gone to the afterworld, and left in the grave, but comes to life anyways. Kind of like a corn god.
Dearth — …And how even that falls short (at least in Rothfuss’ world) because it requires another death the moment it begins to Thaw again.
And then there’s seven days of high mourning. Why?
Religiously, because the Aturans require another year of sacrifice — the whole cycle must repeat.
Historically (or mythologically / in the realm of the fae) because the hero dies twice. That’ll be explained tomorrow.
What about the days of the week?
- Theden — The prince is
- Feochen — livestock
- Orden — literally ord meaning word but also point and en so “beginning and end.” As in that’s the point.
- Hepten — seven (Chandrian)
- Chaen — do not be
- Felling — cutting down tree
- Reaving — to steal spoils and plunder
- Kindling — either “into kindling” or “with kindling” leads to fire
- Mourning — …and mourning
Again, that’s going to have to be explained more tomorrow. But we’re getting somewhere. But again the key clue is:
“this causes a great deal of chaos. …There are a thousand other complications, too, such as the fact that it complicates long-term contracts being written up with any high degree of accuracy and makes the lives of historians a living hell.”
As in long long long term contracts.
And historians like Chronicler.
The last clue is “still, it’s better than the Yllish calendar. But that, as they say, is another story.” Kingkiller is also a story about common things like days of the week and months of the year, meaning that he might write about different calendars and the effects of mythology on the rhythms of life. Which is a noble way to spend a career, if you ask me.
I really don’t have the time I’d like to go through the currency section tonight, but as it’s the longest I… kind of dread passing it up because I might not get back to it. Please, if you find something, drop it in the comments or shoot me an email.
Right now, I want to point out one line:
It is interesting to note that the Commonwealth, alone of all the four corners, does not mint a gold coin as part of its currency.
Whatever the reason, it has to do with the presence of the University.
1. The lack of gold could be because fairy gold’s notoriously unreliable, appearing as gold when paid but soon thereafter revealing itself to be leaves or gorse blossoms or gingerbread cakes.
2. The lack of gold could be because the University is full of alchemists who could turn any bit of lead into gold. Or maybe they’re not that expert…
3. Or the lack of gold could be because gold is where you store your life or, much more often, your death.
In any of these cases, having a bunch lying around isn’t the best idea. Iron would serve them better.
The pronunciation guide.
Two things about this: for one, he says:
“Sometimes there’s more than one viable pronunciation. This is especially true with the names of locations. The basketball team the Boston Celtics is not pronounced the same way as, say, Celtic knot work. And the way I say Milwaukee is not the way most of you do.”
Which means, of course, that in a pronunciation guide that includes “Iax” but omits “Jax,” he’s pretty much saying “Yeah, they’re the same guy.” If you want to know if any two characters with weird names are the same, I would take that as a good place to start.
He’s also very picky about Kvothe’s name having a silent “e.” That’ll be important in chapter seven.
I didn’t like the digital cover but the in-person gilded cover complete with all its alchemical delectables tickle me. It’s a pretty book and I like having pretty books next to my Harvard Classics and whatnot, so that’s great. The cardinal with milk white wings was a great touch. For one, it’s as close as you can get to a phoenix with a real bird. But it’s also alchemical as a standalone, representative of the whole work and the wedding of the Red King and White Queen.
Before we get too deep into the quotes, you’ll need to know at least that alchemy unbinds platonic forms and principles behind life and matter in order to first strip the philosopher (Kvothe) down from his baser self (lead) into a receptive vessel (the raw stuff of creation or “prima materia”), fill him with divine wisdom (mercury / water of life / light of heaven / baptism / etc.) in order to turn him into quintessence (gold and the resulting blood-red action that implies).
That’ll at least get you started if you refuse to download the assumption bit.
The Bird of Hermes symbolizes the mercurial vapors as they ascend in the alembic during distillation and sublimation, and descend as celestial rain or dew, washing the black earth (dead bodies) below. Calid wrote that during the calcination, when the matter in the vessel has been heated for a week in the sand-bath, ‘the Volatile ascends into the Alembic which we call Avis Hermetis’ (Books of the Secrets, 119). The Bird of Hermes is the name of the philosophical bird or chick born from the vessel of the philosopher’s egg. The birth of the philosopher’s stone from the union of male and female substances at the chemical wedding is frequently compared to the birth of a bird.
Philalethes wrote, ‘Join heaven to earth [male and female] …and you will see in the middle of the firmament the bird of Hermes.’ The birth of this bird during the sublimation of the matter is described by Aristotle: ‘Therefore burn it with a dry Fire, that it may bring forth a Son, and keep him warily lest he fly away into smoke; and this is that which the Philosopher saith in his Turba. Whiten the earth, and Sublime it quickly with Fire, until the Spirit which thou shalt finds in it god forth of it, and it is called Hermes Bird; for that which ascends higher is efficacious purity but that which falls to the bottom, is dross and corruption.’ Aristotle identified the Hermes Bird with the white foliated earth, the quintessence.
…During this process known as the citation, the newly born bird is nourished with ‘milk’ (mercurial water) and placed in a sweat bath where he looses all his feathers and is tamed.
Looks to me like that cardinal on the cover is flinging fresh milk off of its wings.
You know what else the word cardinal means?
That’s going to be important later.
One final note: one of you noticed on the cover the word “VALARITAS” so let’s get this out of the way right now:
What does Valaritas mean?
One of you on reddit noticed the black engraving inside the book jacket:
I could be wrong about this word valaritas, but I think I’m right. Rothfuss seems to me to give everything in his world the feel of reality while saving time from, for instance, inventing new languages. One of the ways you do this is by giving different characters different pronunciations, interpretations, and experiences with words, money, and the other things of life (see my worldbuilding checklist for the full list).
That said, when it comes to old words, he tends to take the shortcut I take which is trace a word he likes back to its root etymology — often Proto-Indo-European roots — and then to work forward to create a new word that embodies those puns.
In the case of VALARITAS, Fela’s dream is right: it is the tomb of an old king. But that’s not all that it is.
The word could mean, in no particular order:
1. Vale (or valley)
2. Valor (or strength)
3. Value (or worth)
4. Well (or “healthy)
5. Wish (with the above, it’s obvious where we get “wishing well”)
7. Roll (or tumble)
9. Walk Around
11. Vulva (or womb)
12. Vulgus (or common / commoners)
13. Valva (a double folding door)
14. Wall (or rampart)
15. Volume (or scroll – a thing you wind or coil)
Because their root — welH — all mean “to wind, to turn, to coil” and, most importantly, to be killed in battle.
Wellness, worthiness, wombness, wellness, voluminous, vale, and valor all have a root in this idea of killed in battle while winding or coiling. Imagine duelists spinning round and round… before one of them falls.
That’s the root welH.
You killed my father, prepare to die.
Could be one of the reasons Spanish speakers love the book so much. That and Maedre. Or he could have just gotten a good translator who captured his poetry for a poetic people.
You might not see yet what Valaritas, the list of words above, and the idea of a priest have in common, but that — and the secret of the locked door — are for tomorrow. If you haven’t read the assumptions download, you might want to do that.