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The Kingkiller Chronicle is set to be a trilogy of Heroic Fantasy books written by Patrick Rothfuss.

Kvothe, the eponymous kingkiller, is a living legend after having given up his former life and gone into hiding as the innkeep Kote. He is being sought out by Chronicler, a famous scribe, who wishes to write down Kvothe's life story. Kvothe declares that telling this story will take three days, thus providing a Framing Device for the trilogy, the vast majority of which is told in first-person narration. While this orial discourse is the main focus of the novel, frequent interruptions make it clear that his journey is not yet at an end.

  • The Name of the Wind is the first day. It describes Kvothe's youth with his parents in a band of traveling entertainers, who are killed when Kvothe's father begins to do research into a band of semi-mythical destroyers called the Chandrian. He travels to The University to not only further his education, but to attempt to learn all he can about them.
  • The Wise Mans Fear details Kvothe's travels abroad during a sabbatical: in Vintas, where he gains the patronage of a rich if somewhat egotistical nobleman; with the Adem, a Proud Warrior Race; and with Felurian, a fae seductress who leaves her lovers either dead or mad.
  • The third book has a working title of The Doors of Stone and no set release date, but it will presumably wrap up Kvothe's recitation.

"The Kingkiller Chronicle" has examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Kvothe finds it best if he doesn't follow up on Denna's request to join her for a swim in the lake after she's been subject to denner resin.
  • The Ace: Young Kvothe excels at just about everything he tries to do, from music to magic to fighting to performing arts. A great portion of the story so far is Kvothe learning various useful skills far more quickly than most anyone in the world. He has difficulty only with things that bore him, like higher math, and extraordinarily difficult things, like Naming. The trope is made palatable by the foregone conclusion that, for all his knowledge and talent, Kvothe has become a failure.
  • Affably Evil: Devi has a reputation as a ruthless loan shark who takes a vial of blood as collateral, giving her the power of life and death over her deadbeat clients. However, she's a young, attractive and perfectly courteous woman who even has a soft spot for Kvothe. It's eventually revealed that her willingness to harm her deadbeat clients with sympathy is mostly just a scare tactic. She uses it to gain favors, which is what she's really after.
  • All Myths Are True: Partially averted. Most of the myths mentioned in the book have some shade of truth to them such as the weaknesses of the Fae and Mael. However, others such as the number of Chandrian and their origin vary from place to place and by necessity some of them must be wrong.
  • Alpha Bitch: Apart from being male, Ambrose fits this to a T.
  • Alternative Calendar: Weeks are eleven days long in this world and called a Span. Days have different names as well, amongst other things.
  • Always Someone Better: Kvothe learns everything far, far faster than just about everyone else, but he's still very young, so he's still not as good as many experts. Devi beats him in a sympathy duel, and he doesn't make it past the first round of an Adem testing ritual.
  • Anachronism Stew: Rothfuss is able to justify most of it, but his world still combines aspects of social, political and scientific progress from all over the map, feudal heirarchies co-existing with early-20th-century medical terminology.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Kvothe believes the Amyr might be this; his friends are skeptical.
  • Apothecary Alligator: Caudicus has one.
  • Arc Number: Seven. Trip has a knack for rolling sevens, there are seven Chandrian, "seven things stand before the entrance to the Lackless door", Threpe give Kvothe seven talents as a lucky number and of course the seven words to make a woman fall in love with you (Kvothe makes several applicable seven word sentences to Denna throughout the books).
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Most aristocrats are stuffy, elitist and selfish. Ambrose is a particular example, but Kvothe meets quite a number more like him. The Maer, though by no means a cruel person, is selfish and used to getting his way. There are some aversions, such as Bredon and Simmon.
  • Armor Is Useless: The Adem don't wear armor. It apparently would just slow down their perfect martial arts moves. Armor also doesn't seem to be much use against them.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Carceret is a female version.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Kvothe makes an impression in Vintas as follows.

  I was one of those. I meddled with dark powers. I summoned demons. I ate the entire little cheese, including the rind.

  • Artistic License Martial Arts: The Adem mercenaries practice a martial art that is so powerful that 10-year-old girls can kick the snot out of men. The Adem also claim that being morally superior makes women better fighters.
  • Attempted Rape: Implied rather strongly with Kvothe, in a flashback to his beggar-orphan days. He manages to fight them off, and the memory of it saves him from Felurian's mind control
  • Badass Boast:
    • Kvothe's introduction when he begins to recount his life to the Chronicler
    • Bast to Chronicler, later in the first book.
  • The Bard: The Edema Ruh are a society of travelling entertainers including many bards.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty: Things said by other philosophers are often attributed to Teccam.
  • Bedlam House: Treatment in the Rookery is actually quite humane, but the asylum in Tarbean plays this straight.
  • Berserk Button:
    • God help you if you do anything that can be interpreted as possibly harmful to the books in the Archive around the normally-unflappable Lorren.
    • Don't forget--Kvothe is telling you his story. You will write it exactly as he says. Oh, and Bast really wants his master's story told.
    • Don't accuse Devi of Malfeasance without proof. It will end badly.
    • Don't pretend to be Ruh and go around kidnapping and raping young girls. There won't be much left after Kvothe is done with you.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: "There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man." (Of course, does Kvothe really count as a "Nice One"?)
  • Big Bad: Lord Haliax and the Chandrian. However, in the second book it's implied that the Cthaeh may be The Chessmaster behind everything.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Bast calls Kvothe "Reshi". "Rishi" is Hindi/Sanskrit for the composer of Vedic poems/hymns or a 'seer' - a Rishi is understood to be a very wise person.
    • Aleph, the briefly mentioned creator-god who Named all things, is probably named after the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Incidentally, the letter aleph is silent on its own, but it's still a necessary component of many words; for instance, it begins the Hebrew words that mean "fire," "man," "woman," and "earth."
    • In both Irish and in-universe, "Deoch" means "drink."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Summed up near the end by Kvothe himself: "Prince Gallant kills the dragon but loses the girl and the treasure." Then again, this is only the beginning of the trilogy.
  • Black Box: There are certain rare items that are usable in Kvothe's time, but cannot be manufactured since they require magic that has been lost. Examples:
    • Caesura, as well as other Adem swords, never get dull.
    • Kilvin shows Kvothe a pair of cubes called wards that can form an invisible shield. In fact, Kilvin invokes the trope himself to explain why Kvothe's efforts on the Bloodless are useful despite the existence of the wards: unlike the wards, the Bloodless can be replicated.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Felurian. Kvothe specifically notes that she's not evil, it's just her nature. The Fae overall seem to play by a different set of rules. Bast seems to understand basic human morality, though he occasionally chooses not to follow it.
  • Book Ends: both books in the trilogy so far have both opened and closed with a prologue/epilogue about "A Silence of Three Parts." Each chapter varies slightly in mood, but they all conclude with "the patient, cut-flower sound of a man waiting to die."
  • Brick Joke: In the first book, Elodin asks Kvothe, "Do you know the seven words that will make a woman love you?" "I need you to breathe for me." (and also "I was just wondering why you're here," "you know, I could have carried you" and "for all that, she lacked your fire"). The lesson is that the right words depend entirely on context. As does most of Naming magic.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: A wide, wide variety of things (and people, countries, currencies, holidays, etc.) all seem suspiciously familiar, but under a different name.
    • "Ophalum" / "denner resin", which grows in a tree, but has effects resembling a mishmash of several real drugs, notably opium.
    • Even graduate students and post-docs aren't free from being Smeerped.
  • Call Back:
    • When Vashet tells Kvothe, "I will admit, I've never had a student offer himself up for a vicious beating in order to prove he's worth my time," Kvothe replies, "This was nothing. Once I jumped off a roof." This is a reference to Elodin's test of recklessness in The Name of the Wind.
    • In The Name of the Wind, Bast sneaked into Chronicler's room at night and opened a discussion with the line, "We need to talk." Mostly, Bast talked and Chronicler listened. In this book, it's Chronicler's turn.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Even if that home is mobile, apparently.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Played perfectly straight. Kvothe is afraid of throwing himself at Denna because of the number of boy friends she's had. He thus does not confess his true feelings to her. He is unable to even when she is high of denner resin and thus unlikely to note or remember anything he says.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Kvothe keeps a Cool Sword in his inn, but when it comes to dealing with the Scrael he prefers a reliable cudgel of pig-iron. This is probably due to the Scrael being made of a hard pottery like substance, and a cudgel would damage them more readily than a sword.
  • The Casanova: Subverted--Kvothe discovers that, even though All Women Are Lustful, their idea of what constitutes a working relationship involves more emotional commitment than he can offer.
  • Cassandra Truth: Kote tries to convince one of his friends in the village not to head off to war by telling him the truth about who he is and why Chronicler is there. He is not believed. It's implied that some of the other things the boy has been told (his mother is sick and his girlfriend is pregnant) have also been dismissed.
  • Cast From Hit Points: Using the heat of your blood to power sympathy. Too much can lead to shivers, hypothermia and death. Using body heat in general does this too, and is far safer, but blood sends heat faster.
  • Character Development: One example of major character development is Felurian who was a narcissistic personality when she "met" Kvothe. Even after they came to a truce, her lessons and other nice things she did for him were motivated by how it helped her. However, after Kvothe's ordeal with the Cthaeh, Felurian was moved to genuine pity for Kvothe, something that was apparently so rare for her she hadn't any idea how to comfort him.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Most of the Chekhov's Guns are presented as legend, folklore or instruction from Kvothe's studies.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: As of book two, Kvothe Really Gets Around, but he's very careful not to make any unwanted advances, and he has nothing but disgust for men who treat women poorly.
  • Circus Brat: Kvothe grew in a troupe so his extended family included a very interesting bunch of people.
  • Closer to Earth: A founding principle of the Adem is that women are morally superior to men. Only women teach the Lethani because they understand it better and are better fighters because of it. Their culture is a strict meritocracy, suggesting that this belief is vindicated when put into practice. However, the Adem are factually wrong about pregnancy, so who knows.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Auri, Kvothe's friend from the tunnels under the Arcanum; also Elodin to a certain extent. And Puppet.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Lord Haliax rebukes Cinder for not killing cleanly.
  • Comic Sutra: Felurian has lots of colorful names for sex and/or foreplay acts: playing ivy, a thousand hands, waves upon lilies, etc. (Felurian once apparently administered waves upon lilies to herself, and quite well.) Kvothe gets in the act as well and invents swaying against the wind.
  • Compelling Voice: Partial subversion - learning the name of something allows people to use this on the objects that they know the name of.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Fela and Kvothe playfully have an exchange like this after he saves her from horrible fiery death.
  • Consummate Liar: Kvothe, due to his expertise as an actor, which is really just applied lying, after all.
  • Contemptible Cover: Tell me, if you saw this cover without context, would you think it was a serious fantasy book or a romance novel? Luckily, the hardcover came with two covers, the other of which was much more respectable. And upon the release of the 5th edition, we got the cool current cover.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Denna and Kvothe run into each other a whole lot...
  • Cool Old Guy: Abenthy (mentioned to be pushing sixty) speaks the titular name of the wind on his very first appearance, and he's the one who first teaches Kvothe about sympathy. And Bredon quickly befriends Kvothe by teaching him to play a strategy game and giving him advice on how to manuever through court politics. Bredon doesn't seem to care what other nobles think of him, and might even indulge in pagan orgies.
  • Cool Sword: Kvothe has a sword named "Folly" hanging on the wall of his Inn.
  • Cruel Mercy: What Kvothe did with the waterskin in The Wise Man's Fear.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Tehlu, and the whole religion based on him.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Played with and subverted. Kvothe remarks several times that Elxa Dal, the Master Sympathist, physically resembles a a classic, foreboding evil wizard due to his outfit, black hair and groomed goatee. Dal turns out to be intelligent, friendly, relatively easygoing, and helpful to Kvothe.
  • Doomed Hometown: Kvothe's traveling troupe.
  • Double Meaning: When he meets the false Ruh, Kvothe makes a series of misleading statements to them that all have a chilling double meaning.
    • When Kvothe persuades Anne to let him try the stew before it’s ready, she says it won’t be her fault if he gets stomach ache. He laughs and says, "No, Mother, it won’t be your fault." It will be his own fault, because he is secretly adding poison to it.
    • Kvothe declares, "Anyone who does not enjoy this fine stew is hardly one of the Ruh in my opinion." The false Ruh who eat the stew will not enjoy it, because it is now poisoned.
    • He asks them if they know how to play "Piper Wit." When they don’t, he picks up his lute and says, "Let me. It’s a song every one of us should know." A real Ruh would have known the song.
    • When they ask how long he will travel with them, he replies, "Until no one objects to my leaving." After he kills them all, he asks their corpses if any of them object to his leaving.
    • He declares, "I swear on my mother’s milk, none of you will ever make a better deal than the one you made with me tonight." None of the fake Ruh will survive to make another deal.
  • Doublethink: In order to use sympathy, one must be able to hold two opposite beliefs at once. It sounds simple at first, but it's also one of the reasons most Arcanists go at least a tiny bit mad.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: The Adem are like this. They consider sex to be nothing particularly special, to the point where Kvothe's teacher asks the question almost verbatim when she realizes he is Distracted by the Sexy. In contrast, the Adem also have strict cultural taboos against showing emotion and playing music in public.
  • Dramatic Pause: Kvothe likes to use this. For instance:
    • As narrator, he pauses expecting a response after he claimed to have seen a dragon, and was quite disappointed not to get one.
    • When singing his song to Felurian, he pauses to get her to attention right before serving her with a Backhanded Compliment.
  • Elopement: Kvothe's parents in the Backstory.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Denna
  • Evil Albino: Cinder.
  • Exact Words: Many of Kvothe's statements to the false Ruh have a Double Meaning, with the implied meaning being a False Reassurance and the Exact Words being a threat.
  • Eye Scream: After Lanre's betrayal and the resulting devastation, Selitos stabs out his own eye in grief.
  • The Fair Folk:
    • Bastas, son of Remmen, Prince of Twilight and the Telwyth Mael
    • Also implied to be the root cause of what most people call demons.
  • Fallen Hero:
    • Lanre/Haliax.
    • Possibly our eponymous Kingkiller as well.
  • False Reassurance: Several of Kvothe's statements to the false Ruh sound like he's completely on board with their behavior, but his words have a dangerous Double Meaning.
  • Fantastic Drug: Denner Resin works suspiciously similarly to opium
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Edema Ruh are clearly based on Roma, with their lively singing and dancing, their nomadic lifestyles living in caravans, and their unfair reputation as thieves.
    • Ademre has a lot of parallels with China. The whole concept of the Ketan is clearly based on the martial art of Tai Chi, and the whole concept of the Adem mercenary and and the schools that teach them parallel the operation of many historical martial arts schools in China. Similarly, the concept of the Lethani is highly reminiscent of Daoism. Moreover, the descriptions of how the Adem language works (it's tonality, and its emphasis on double meaning over precision) also strongly resembles a lot of Chinese languages. To top it all off, the Adem are all known for having the same hair color (sandy, instead of black). However, other traits of the Adem (the sexually liberated culture, the matriarchal society, the use of hand gestures in lieu of facial expressions) don't match China at all.
  • Fantasy Gun Control combined with a form of Medieval Stasis. There are hints that there was a higher level of technology in the past, among them rusted and unrecognizable hulks in the tunnels and the remains of an extensive sewer system. Something seems to have knocked them back. Sections at the University suggest that science and technology is currently around early 19th century levels, possibly a little better in some areas and worse in others. For example:
    • Kvothe knows that steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, rather than something you get from processing iron in a particular way with coke.
    • Medicine in general is well developed in the Arcanum; Arwyl and Kvothe know that bleeding a person is almost never beneficial, and Kvothe repeatedly resorts to charcoal to counteract ingested poisons. He can also compute dosages by body weight. In selecting food for Auri, Kvothe knows enough about nutrition to choose the most nourishing things. Simmon identifies the plum-bob drug as "lipid soluble" and knows that this means it will hang around in the body for a while, causing flashbacks. Another character adds that it removes "behavioural filters", very much a late 20th century expression. And people know what proprioception is, despite it being obscure enough in our world that most people have never even heard the word.[1]
    • The people also seem to have the laws of thermodynamics worked out (except, possibly, entropy, as that may be negated by the magic in the books); at one point students attempt to solve a problem a Master sets to determine where a stone thrown with a particular force and at a particular angle will land using math, implying familiarity with some form of Newton's laws of motion, conservation of momentum, and the laws of gravity.
    • Fire is described by Kvothe to a Master as "an exothermic chemical reaction". There are many other examples which could be cited. Yet despite all this no one seems to have discovered gun powder or built a steam engine. The teachers are, however, strongly against using combinations of magic with martial technology.
    • Magnets are mysterious and rare objects in Kvothe's world, and Master Kilvin's lifelong quest for an "everburning torch" in a glass globe makes it clear that current arcanists have never heard of electricity.
    • Finally, note that this is science and technology at the University, the cutting edge of progress. The rest of the world is much further behind.
  • Framing Device
  • Functional Magic: Sympathy and Naming. Sympathy is almost like a science, while naming requires a very particular view of the world that few can achieve, and can even drive you crazy.
  • Genre Savvy: Kvothe knows about things he's never really tried before because he's read about them or performed in plays about them.
  • Gold-Silver-Copper Standard: Applies, but not evenly. Gold is rarely used, silver is the primary trade unit, and copper is common for smaller transactions, but there are also at least two types of iron coin and even the odd piece of bronze. Also, each kingdom has different coinage and not all the breakdowns are straight decimal. You could have fun going through the books with a pencil and trying to figure out how the currencies work.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kvothe is covered with attractive, smooth and pale 'good guy' scars that are hidden under his clothes. "All the scars were smooth and silver except one."
  • Hermit Guru: Elodin. Lampshaded by Kvothe on several occasions.
  • Heroic Fantasy
  • The Hero's Journey: The overall point of the story.
  • I Have Many Names: Kvothe, quite obviously.
  • Infallible Narrator: Being The Ace as well as a trained storyteller, Kvothe recollects every detail of his story. Before he's even willing to begin, he demands proof that Chronicler will be able to transcribe every detail perfectly.
  • Insistent Terminology: While many are okay with the common folk referring to the art of sympathy as magic, arcanists among themselves take great pains to point out the large difference between the fairy tale magic of Fae and the more rigorously studied sympathy.
  • The Knights Templar: The Amyr seem to be based on the Templars. Also described as being Knight Templars in the trope sense.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Throughout the story, Kvothe and various characters give nods to some common fantasy tropes from time to time. Kvothe is quite Genre Savvy due to growing up as part of a performing troupe.
  • Living Legend: Kvothe and the yet-to-be-seen Oren Velciter.
  • Living Lie Detector: Denna for Kvothe.
  • Loan Shark: Devi is actually quite pleasant, but her preferred method of collateral is a small vial of her client's blood, ensuring that she can do terrible things to them with sympathy magic should they fail to make payments. Ultimately Kvothe discovers that she's more interested in getting favors out of her clients than money.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Knacks, Sympathy, and Naming all work by concrete rules, which are explained at length.
  • Magic Music: Oddly, averted. Our hero is obsessed with music, and he uses it as a metaphor for everything. It's implied that the "true names" of faeries sound like musical notes. And yet no one uses songs for spells, or suggests it's even possible, except for the Adem (who consider singing indecent), who mention "songs of power" in one very old story. (presumably related to the music fae names)
  • Magitek: Sympathy lamps and clocks, a sygaldry fridge.
  • The Magnificent: Kvothe the Bloodless/the Arcane/Kingkiller
  • Meaningful Name: Many of them, some in-story:
    • The barkeep Deoch, is named for the Irish word "deoch"--a drink.
    • Kvothe calls himself "Kote" when playing the role of an innkeeper. A conversation ("expect disaster every seven years") with one of his teachers towards the end of the novel reveals that kote is a foreign word meaning disaster.
    • Denna. Kvothe compares her to a wild thing: skittish, and drifting about like the wind. At one point in the book, Kvothe mentions "the ever-changing name of the wind." Denna changes her name constantly.
    • Kvothe at one point says that the Adem called him "Maedre", which means either "The Flame, The Thunder or The Burning Tree, depending on how you pronounce it." That sounds relatively innocuous until you find out that the trilogy itself was originally named "The Song of Flame and Thunder," until being given its current title to avoid confusion with A Song of Ice and Fire. Kvothe's own name was formerly a Title Drop.
  • Memetic Badass: Kvothe himself, in-universe. People are telling tales about him, and getting it wrong due to hearsay distortion, in his own inn, to his face.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Fela uses one (and not very effectively) when Kvothe calls upon her in her dorm room late one night.
  • Mood Ring Eyes:
    • Bast's blue eyes change as well, brightening and the pupil shrinking based on mood; this is justified however as he's not human in the first place and the change is at least partly the glamour slipping.
    • Kvothe's green eyes are observed and commented on multiple times through the book as changing shade depending on his mood. This is interpreted by many readers that his mother, a highborn runaway, was a fae.
  • Mook Horror Show: Near the end of the second book Kvothe dispassionately hunts down and kills the false troopers who have kidnapped and raped a pair of girls while pretending to be Ruh (believing he would find this to be normal behaviour). Recognising the brutality of what he has done actually gives him nightmares wherein he sees himself as a pitiless monster hunting down his actual family.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Bast, as lampshaded in a comic summary of the novel posted on Rothfuss' blog.
  • No Conservation of Energy: Averted. One of the main premises of Sympathy is that you need energy, and the weaker the link, the more energy is lost in the process. As already mentioned, when in a pinch, some characters (mostly Kvothe) have used the heat from their own blood for an energy source.
  • Nice Guy: Kvothe admires Simmon for being this.
  • Oblivious to Love: Just about the only thing Kvothe isn't naturally good at is handling female emotional attention. Even after he learns bed skills and starts sleeping his way around, he's still completely unaware of being the target of two long-standing crushes (from Denna and Fela). His reluctance to fully court Denna, however, comes from her history of rejecting suitors that pursue her directly.
  • Punctuation Shaker: The University's ranks. At least they confine themselves to just apostrophes, no accents or umlauts lurking about.
  • Reconstruction: The book does a wonderful job of answering questions about the genre before they're even asked. For example, the Framing Device involves Kvothe dictating the story to Chronicler. Well, people can't write as fast as they can talk, but most books just quietly ignore that. Here, however, Chronicler has invented a shorthand cipher specifically for the purpose of allowing him to write faster than people can talk, justifying something so omnipresent we don't even have a trope for it.
  • Redheaded Hero: Kvothe has "true red" hair, rather than than the brownish-orange that most people describe as "red hair." It's his most distinctive feature.
  • Red Right Hand: It's implied that all of the Chandrian have one. Cinder, has white hair, black eyes and a Slasher Smile. Lord Haliax is described as being totally shrouded in shadow, even in bright light. They also leave signs of their presence in the area, such as flame turning blue, drops in temperature, animals going hysterical, plants withering, etc.
  • Retired Badass: Kvothe fakes his death, moves to small village, opens an Inn, and retires into his "Kote" persona. Notably, he's retired well before thirty.
  • Rewriting Reality: Invoked by Kvothe, who told Old Cob a fib that Chronicler had this power.
  • Rich Bitch: Ambrose again.
  • Roma: The Edema Ruh are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture.
  • Schedule Slip: Book 2 was a long time coming.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Ambrose. Made especially clear when, to repay a slight, Ambrose convinces someone to buy the tavern Kvothe works at, just to get him fired.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kvothe casually asks a band of Ruh if they know the song "Piper Wit." The fact that they do not confirms to him that they are not who they say they are.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A character at the Arcanum using "thaums" as a unit of measurement (for heat in this story) might be a reference to Discworld.
    • At one point he shouts "As above, so below" thinking it a joke that only those in the University would get. This is one of the rules of magic known in the Unseen University in Discworld.
    • At one point, a girl begging for a story about "the dry lands over the Stormwal, with sand snakes and dry men who drink blood" sounds like a reference to Dune.
    • On more than one occasion, the word "Edro!" is used as an attempt to open something - the Elven word for "Open" in Tolkien's Middle-Earth (shouted by Gandalf in frustration at the Doors of Moria).
    • Kvothe leaves Trebon via the Evesdown docks.
  • Shown Their Work: Many have lauded Rothfuss for his descriptions of music in his books -- despite this, however, Pat claims that he can't play one to save his life.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • Starting soon after his acceptance into the University, Kvothe began starting the rumors about himself that would grow into this. By the time he tells Chronicler his story, patrons of the inn are telling tales about him in front of him without knowing it. Some people even think that he's only a myth and never really existed.
    • The Chandrian, partly because they kill people who learn too much about them.
    • To illustrate a point, Kvothe starts a few myths about Chronicler himself. Immediately, the villagers pick up their cue and start embroidering "Lord of Stories" tales on their own.
  • Shutting Up Now: Master Hemme was shamed into doing this after it came out that this accusation of malefeasance against Kvothe was unfounded. Also, Simmon did this once after one of his jokes bombed.
  • Slasher Smile: Cinder.
  • Smug Snake: Ambrose is smart, charming, capable, and seems like he should have been able to be a Magnificent Bastard. However, his pettiness, his glee in picking on people who can't defend themselves, and his insistance on exploiting every last scrap of unearned privilege he's got, is enough to make the readers cheer whenever something bad happens to him.
  • Stealing From the Till: Kvothe's arrangement with the University's bursar allows them both to embezzle money from the Maer.
  • The Storyteller: All over. The Edema Ruh love telling stories (they're a traveling troupe). Skarpi, who told stories in an inn in Tarbean in exchange for money. Cob tells stories at the inn in Newarre. Kvothe is telling the trilogy as the story of his life.
  • Story Within a Story: A main theme. Chronicler is writing down Kvothe's story, which contains many more stories that he recites from memory. They often provide Infodumps on the history of the world.
  • Sympathetic Magic: The more commonly practiced type of magic can be applied to both living creatures as well as inanimate matter.
  • Those Two Guys: Simmon and Wilem.
  • Title Drop:
    • All three book titles have already been dropped, though this does not rule out Rothfuss changing the working title of Book 3 at some later point.
    • The title of every chapter is usually dropped within a few pages. They serve as Chekhov's Guns in that sense.
  • Tortured Abomination: Haliax. After his lover died, he tried bringing her back, but ended up depressed and suicidal - but unable to die. He ended up insane and now goes around killing anybody who knows his name.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Aturan Empire
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Cinder. (If by "pretty" we mean "evil demigod who terrifies with a glance and will happily torture you to death unless his even nastier supervisor says it's time to leave...")
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Learning magic puts a lot of strain on a person's mind. This can result in anything from developing minor, temporary personality quirks, to falling into permanent, full-blown, need-to-be-strapped-down-to-avoid-hurting-yourself insanity. People like Elodin, Auri and Puppet fall somewhere in between the extremes.
  • Wizarding School: The University includes the Arcanum, which teaches various magical skills. Some students, however, come to the University just to study Math, Chemistry and so forth.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: The Adem. They have no cultural taboos about nudity or sex but are horrified if anyone were to even think about performing any kind of music in public. This stems from their belief that displaying emotion in public is uncivilized and should only be done in private with those you are closest to, as such their language involves intricate hand signals to get the meaning of your words across. Just raising your voice is extremely rude but showing your emotions with music, with just anyone, night after night for just a few coins would make you the equivalent of the cheapest, most tawdry kind of whore imaginable (calling someone an actual whore though is a great compliment).

Notes

  1. It's the seventh of your five senses--the sixth being your balance from your inner ear--and is what lets you know where your body parts are in relation to each other. Proprioception is what lets you clap your hands in the dark.
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