February 9, 2014

The Wise Man's Fear


   "So tell me. How does it work?"
   "It?" I asked.
   "Magic," she said. "Real magic."
   Wil, Sim, and I exchanged glances.
   "It's complicated," I said.
   Denna shrugged and leaned back in her chair. "I have all the time in the world," she said. "And I need to know how it works. Show me. Do some magic."
   The three of us shifted uncomfortably in our seats. Denna laughed.
   "We're not supposed to," I said.
   "What?" she asked. "Does it disturb some cosmic balance?"
   "It disturbs the constables," I said. "They don't take kindly to that sort of thing over here."
   "Th masters at the University don't care for it much either," Wil said. "They're very mindful of the University's reputation."
   "Oh come now," Denna said. "I heard a story about how our man Kvothe called up some sort of demon wind." She jerked her thumb at the door behind her. "Right in the courtyard outside."
   Had Ambrose told her that? "It was just a wind," I said. "No demon involved."
   "They whipped him for it, too," Wil said.
   Denna looked at him as if she couldn't tell if he were joking, then shrugged. "Well I wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble," she said with glaring insincerity. "But I am powerfully curious. And I have secrets I am willing to offer in trade."
   Sim perked up at this. "What sort of secrets?"
   "All the vast and varied secrets of womankind," she said with a smile. "I happen to know several things that can help improve your failing relations with the gentler sex."
Young Kvothe
   Sim leaned closer to Wil and asked in a stage whisper, "Did she say failing, or flailing?"
   Wil pointed at his own chest, then Sim's. "Me: failing. You: flailing."
   Denna raised one eyebrow and cocked her head to one side, looking at the three of us expectantly.
   I cleared my throat uncomfortably. "We're discouraged from sharing Arcanum secrets. It's not strictly against the laws of the University--"
   "It is, actually," Simmon interrupted, giving me an apologetic look. "Several laws."
   Denna gave a dramatic sigh, looking up at the high ceiling. "I thought as much," she said. "You lot just talk a good game. Admit it, you can't turn cream into butter."
   "I happen to know for a fact that Sim can turn cream into butter," I said. "He just doesn't like to because he's lazy."
   "I'm not asking you to teach me magic," Denna said. "I just need to know how it works."
   Sim looked at Wil. "That wouldn't fall under Unsanctioned Divulgence would it?"
   "Illicit Revelation," Wil said grimly.
   Denna leaned forward conspiratorially, resting her elbows on the table. "In that case," she said, "I am also willing to finance a night of extravagant drinking, far above and beyond the simple bottle you see before you." She turned her gaze to Wil. "One of the bartenders here has recently discovered a dusty stone bottle in the basement. Not only is it fine old scutten, drink of the kings of Cealdim, it is a Merovani as well."
Kvothe is a brilliant musician
   Wilem's expression didn't change, but his dark eyes glittered.
   I looked around the largely empty room. "Orden is a slow night. We shouldn't have any trouble if we keep things quiet." I looked at the other two.
   Sim was grinning his boyish grin. "It seems reasonable. A secret for a secret."
   "If it is truly a Merovani," Wilem said, "I am willing to risk offending the masters' sensibilities somewhat."
   "Right then," Denna said with a wide grin. "You first."
   Sim leaned forward in his chair. "Sympathy is probably the easiest to get a grip on," he said, then paused as if uncertain how to proceed.
   I stepped in. "You know how a block and tackle lets you life something too heavy for you to lift by hand?"
   Denna nodded.
   "Sympathy lets us do things like that," I said. "But without all the awkward rope and pulleys."
   Wilem dropped a pair of iron drabs onto the table and muttered a binding. He pushed the right-hand one with a finger, and the left-hand one slid across the table at the same time, mimicking the motion.
   Denna's eyes went a little wide at this, and while she didn't gasp, she did draw a long breath through her nose. It only then occurred to me that she'd probably never seen anything like this before. Given my studies, it was easy to forget that someone could live mere miles from the University without ever having any exposure to even the most basic sympathy.
   The her credit, Denna recovered from her surprise without missing a beat. With only the slightest hesitation, she reached out a finger to touch one of the drabs. "This is how the bell in my room worked," she mused.
  I nodded.
Young Kvothe & friends
   Wil slid his drab across the table, and Denna picked it up. "The other drab rose off the table too, bobbing in midair. "It's heavy," she said, then nodded to herself. "Right, because it's like a pulley. I'm lifting both of them."
   "Heat, light, and motion are all just energy," I said. "We can't create energy or make it disappear. But sympathy lets us move it around or change it from one type into another."
   She put the drab back down on the table and the other followed suit. "And this is useful how?"
   Wil grunted with vague amusement. "Is a waterwheel useful?" she asked. "Is a windmill?"
   I reached into the pocket of my cloak. "Have you ever seen a sympathy lamp?" I asked.
   She nodded.
   I slid my hand lamp across the table to her. "They work under the same principle. They take a little bit of heat and turn it into light. It converts one type of energy into another."
Kvothe in the middle of another adventure
   "Like a moneychanger," Wil said.
   Denna turned the lamp over in her hands curiously. "Where does it get the heat?"
   "The metal itself holds heat," I explained. "If you leave it on, you'll eventually feel the metal get chilly. If it gets too cold, it won't work." I pointed. "I made that one, so it's pretty efficient. Just the heat from your hand should be enough to keep it working."
   Denna flicked the switch and dull red light shone out in a narrow arc. "I can see how heat and light are related," she said thoughtfully. "The sun is bright and warm. Same with a candle." She frowned. "But motion doesn't fit into it. A fire can't push something."
   "Think about friction," Sim chimed in. "When you rub something it gets hot." He demonstrated by running his hand across the fabric of his pants. "Like this."
   He continued rubbing his thigh enthusiastically, unaware of the fact that, since it was happening below the level of the table, it looked more than slightly obscene. "It's all just energy. If you keep doing it, you'll feel it get hot."

   Denna somehow kept a straight fce. But Wilem started to laugh, covering his face with one hand, as if embarrassed to be sitting at the same table with Sim.
   Simmon froze and flushed red with embarrassment.
A cute Kvothe and Denna
   I came to his rescue. "It's a good example. The hub of a wagon wheel will be warm to the touch. That heat comes from the motion of the wheel. A sympathist can make the energy go the other way, from heat into
motion." I pointed to the lamp. "Or from heat into light."
   "Fine," she said. "You're energy moneychangers. But how do you make it happen?"
   "There's a special way of thinking called Alar," Wilem said. "You believe something so strongly that it becomes so." He lifted up one drab an the other followed it. "I believe these two drabs are connected, so they are." Suddenly the other drab clattered to the tabletop. "If I stop believing, it stops being so."
   Denna picked up the drab. "So it's like faith?" she said skeptically.
   "More like strength of will," Sim said.
   She cocked her head. "Why don't you call it strength of will, then?"
   "Alar sounds better," Wilem said.
   I nodded. "If we didn't have impressive-sounding names for things, no one would take us seriously."

This is a short passage from Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two, explaining the basics of Sympathy, one of the major arts that the hero learns at the University, to the girl of his dreams.
From Patrick Rothfuss's own website

The Chandrian, Kvothe, and Bast
It had been a while since I'd read the First Day in the Kingkiller Chronicle, The Name of the Wind, so I must admit that at first I had a little trouble getting to recall all the rules of this world, as well as piece together what had happened previously. But once I got past that, I really got suckered into the book.

The Wise Man's Fear is like a Storynception! It picks up right where the first book left off, with the present-
day Kvothe (aka Kote aka Reshi) dictating his youth to the scribe Chronicler. And while telling of his time at the University, followed by his adventures to the "edge of the map" (and even off it, if you count Fae land), he also adds a number of other tales and stories that constitute "The Four Corners of Civilization"'s mythos, including the ones he finds out about "The Chandrian" (the evil people responsible for the gruesome death of his parents).

The Great Patrick Rothfuss
himself


I can't help but wonder if those tales don't hide different keys to what's about to happen in book three (the last of this series, if Rothfuss happens to keep his story as a trilogy--I know other authors who changed their minds midway) and give away the key to Kvothe's whole quest. Then again, I tend to be rather optimistic, and am keeping my fingers crossed that Rothfuss doesn't pull a G.R.R. Martin on us... In any case, I'm very much looking forward to reading Book 3, whenever it comes out!

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