Spoilers for Kingkiller follow. Over on Reddit in response to the last post on Felling, /u/loratcha asked a question about Tehlu and Encanis:
Question: I scanned your blog post quickly, and you don’t seem to mention that Felling is related to the capture of Encanis…
On the eighth day, Tehlu caught and felled Encanis.
Your point about the specific mention of Felling is a good insight. From there we can infer that if KKC takes 3 days, then we’ll get…
KKC day 2: On the ninth day, Tehlu arrives in Atur and begins forging the iron wheel. (Reaving)
KKC day 3: On the tenth day, Tehlu binds Encanis to the wheel and the bonfire is built. (Kindling)
Fire, as you’re probably aware, is HUGELY important to the story — related to Illien, music, creativity, and creation in general.
The binding (as in both “I bind you in the name of…” and the Iron Law) to the wheel (as in Vashet = “the spinning wheel,” the Tehlin Wheel, and potentially also “broken gears taller than a man” in the underthing) also has major connections.
Great catch, Loratcha. You’re starting to catch on to how wide-ranging my thesis on the golden bough is regarding various aspects of the series. To summarize again:
Kvothe has bound himself by blood-oath to protect the Kingkiller equivalent of the temple of Diana of the Wood making him King of the Wood. He has killed the priest-king responsible for protecting her temple, making the former priest a human sacrifice, and has now taken that priest’s place. He is waiting to die because inevitably someone will come to claim him who is stronger or craftier than he is. They will kill him as a human sacrifice and take his place as priest-king. It’s quite possible that this will be his second — and final — death.
Instead of having me explain all of that again, I recommend reading the Felling + man waiting to die article.
This is repeated for every priest.
I couldn’t go into everything in that post because it crossed the 10,000-word range and that’s starting to push people’s attention pretty hard (same with the 13 assumptions PDF). So I just stuck with “It was Felling night” and the “man waiting to die.”
So for starters, I’d point out the first appendices post where I said:
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:
- Vale (or valley)
- Valor (or strength)
- Value (or worth)
- Well (or “healthy)
- Wish (with the above, it’s obvious where we get “wishing well”)
- Roll (or tumble)
- Walk Around
- Vulva (or womb)
- Vulgus (or common / commoners)
- Valva (a double folding door)
- Wall (or rampart)
- 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.
It’s the blood sport, again, of two priests circling one another for a duel. That proto-indo-european root of welH of two men circling one another like a coil, turning and turning to fight and one dying and the one who wins becomes King of the Hill — hill being the high place, the barrows where kings and ghosts are buried, where the ancestors are worship and the spirits are consulted — in Frazer’s opinion, all of those are based upon Diana of the Woods and the King of the Wood who was both her priest and, having become her priest, one of the fae / gods / demiurges / spirits / etc. It’s good at this point to mention that the word daemon in Greek means spirit and could be either good or bad. It came to mean bad spirits because of the idea of someone having a spirit in them for the same reason lust once meant unconditional love but came to mean the sex of that flows out of that kind of happy marriage (as Chesterton said, “A man imagines a happy marriage as a marriage of love; even if he makes fun of marriages that are without love, or feels sorry for lovers who are without marriage“) and therefore just meant the idea of a couple that has sex in it and then just the longing for it.
Angels and demons and the fae and gods are all likely synonymous in Rothfuss’ world.
And when you combine that to the idea that a wheel — say, the wheel of time in which one man must kill another — is a thing that turns, that welHs, then we start to get a pretty clear picture:
- KKC day 1: On the eighth day, Tehlu caught and felled Encanis. (Felling)
- KKC day 2: On the ninth day, Tehlu arrives in Atur and begins forging the iron wheel. (Reaving)
- KKC day 3: On the tenth day, Tehlu binds Encanis to the wheel and the bonfire is built. (Kindling)
How did he fell him? Well, if I’m right, he felled him in order to take over the priesthood of the King of the Wood and to guard the Kingkiller equivalent of Nemi. Which means that what he caught was the thing in which Encanis stored his death (or life or soul) and broke the tree that represented his wedding to Diana.
Which is a wehl, a sort of turning, spinning duel to the death. In this case, it was one power that began supressing the fae and therefore the wheel of time, the wheel of human sacrifice, was one of iron and not gold. Meaning that sword they must all pass down, that turning of iron blade on iron blade. But it’s called reaving, so what did he steal?
The mistletoe (or fern seed or sesame or golden bough) in which was stored the lightning and Encanis’ death (or life or soul). Binding him to the duel, the bonfire was built: literally the fire inside the broken tree. And he cast it down.
Meaning several things: Tehlu was once a man that became a god by taking over the priesthood that Encanis took from Lanre and so on.
Meaning also that Haliax is less a name than a title:
From Old Englishhalh-gefeaxe(literally “grassy corner”), compounded from halh + gefeaxe. Folk etymology suggests Old English hāliġfeax (literally “holy hair”), as compounded from halig + feax, from a local legend that the town is said to have received the name from the fact that the hair of a murdered virgin was hung up on a tree in the neighborhood, which became a resort of pilgrims.
Likely the name is a place name as well as a title. Haliax is the King of the Wood — whoever that may be at the time, the one who has the holy golden hair (perhaps the life is kept in the golden hair?) and responsible for the sacrifice, which is the current title holder and was formerly the title of the priest he killed. It’s King of the Hill. Think of it like the world champion wrestling belt of the fairy world.
Only it requires death.
And requires you wait for the person who will inevitably beat you.
So the belt gains weight with time and you start to regret having ever won it. The crown is quite heavy for a King…
That said, if true then Tehlu is Haliax. And so was Encanis. And so was Lanre. And now Kvothe is King of the Hill, King of the Grassy Corner, King of the Wood, the defender of the pilgrimmage site of human sacrifice. If I’m guessing, I’d say Tehlu means “clay brick” in Slovak, also a place name, a thing that’s red, and that which has yet to be burnt. And I’d say “Encanis” means “in reeds” like a snake or more likely like this guy:
Who goes by the other names “Pan” and “Puck.” Knowing how much Rothfuss loves Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I fully expect Pan to make a showing. And I’d also make another plug for Chesterton’s bit on mythology here.
Anyways if Haliax is a title, that likely means that the other titles of Chandrian are literal titles: dominions of the Fae. The signs — powers befitting the various offices of the seven — are passed down to the new bearers.
More to come. Check the reread posts to catch up with us.