Partick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles is told through a first-person point of view. Kvothe tells the story of his life. He is as complex as it gets: a hero, a villain, an anti-hero, all in one. The world is well thought-through. Above all, it’s a wonderfully written (two books up to this point, and I am eagerly waiting for the final one).
It’s a detailed account of an absorbing life. But what really adds to these books, making them so compelling are the female characters. How wonderfully they balance Kvothe’s life.
The first important woman in Kvothe’s is Laurian – his mother. She there for only a short amount of time, before her brutal death at the hands of the Chandrian. Her voice beautiful and possessing a mastery over words, she passed her gifts to her son. She taught him nice manners, and she always encouraged him to be someone great.
Laurian certainly played a huge role in our hero’s development.
As a poor student at the University with only a handful of friends, Kvothe encounters a lonely, barefooted and somewhat deranged ex-student living in tunnels below the University, called Auri.
Auri appears to be a wretched little thing living in her own world. She likes to sit on rooftops, watching moon. Although protective of it, she lets Kvothe in. They sit together on tops of houses, share modest meals, exchange gifts and ponder the Universe. Kvothe plays lute for her, he cares about her a lot in a friendly way.
Auri is very careful but she let Kvothe into her little world. Their relationship has nothing erotic whatsoever to do with it. It’s a pure friendship, and everybody needs friends. I suspect that Auri might be the very best friend Kvothe’s got in his life. They share many traits.
In a way, they need each other to stay sane. In Auri’s company, Kvothe is always relaxed and himself. There is nothing fake about the way they behave with each other.
Auri has even got a short novel of her own (The Slow Regard of Silent Things).
Ginger Little Devi
Misery made Kvothe seek Devi. A cute little thing, but don’t be fooled, she’s a moneylender. And a very capable one at that. Although generally flirtatious and outgoing in demeanor, she does not want to engage on a personal level with her customers. She is strictly professional. She knows how to earn her living. Her interest rate is fifty percent every two months. Oh, yeah, she is really dangerous and appears somewhat crazy.
Another University’s ex-student, and a former member of the Arcanum, Devi is very powerful. She was expelled from school for malfeasance. This little girl is more powerful than Kvothe ever expected. At one instance, Kvothe and Devi engaged in a contest of will, a battle of wits. Having accused her wrongly for attacking him, Kvothe tried to surprise her, striking at her with a mommet. And the innocent-looking Devi won. She is definitely a very interesting personality.
Then the big love appeared. He met her in a caravan from Tarbean to the University. At Eolian’s she joined him for a duet, helping him win his set of silver talent pipes.
Denna is so complex. I honestly can’t give a fair account of her. I would always miss some layer of her persona. She’s Kvothe’s biggest romantic interest. Going under several variations of her name, she is both a whore and a gentle soul. She is poor and basically homeless. Endlessly charming, and attractive, she dates numerous noble men, each of them for a short time. Needless to say, she gets gifts from them. She definitely knows how to use her attractiveness. She is the kind of person who seems to know everybody. However, when a man gets to know her a bit more, she vanishes.
Highly independent, she appears every now and then and disappears as if on a whim. She is secretive about her life, and why would she share all the details with Kvothe? He probably wouldn’t like them. She seems to have the power to enter and leave Kvothe’s life when she wishes.
It appears as if she is giving Kvothe false hope. But it isn’t quite so. It’s that she is merely limited in the sense of how much she can open herself to a man before she disappears. After all, it’s not her fault that he’s such a desperate child that he doesn’t even make his move.
In a strange non-sexual way, Denna and Kvothe are loyal to each other. He’s childishly honest with her, clearly in love. She finds him adorable in a way. And she doesn’t lie to him; she merely avoids unpleasant subjects. They like to spend time in each other’s company. Denna’s kindness seems honest. She bought him a lute case spending everything she had and more on him.
As a matter of fact, Kvothe might be Denna’s only relationship based on sheer liking. Her other relationships with men are how she actually makes her ends meet.
Felurian the Nymph(o)
Then came a connection that completely altered the way Kvothe behaves around women. Behold the glorious Felurian! At last, some real luck for our hero!
Kvothe met her in a forest. Completely naked. Described as the essence of a sexual woman, with her full lips, ever smooth skin and curious eyes. A sexual goddess. A lascivious siren. A faery. He chased after her. She’s known to make men completely mad or leading them to their death through sexual exhaustion. What a great way to die?
But this destiny didn’t befall Kvothe. He outfoxed her. He wrote a song for her. And he couldn’t finish it. She is his first sexual experience and he needed to compare her to other girls in order to finish the song. She wanted her song finished one day. So, reluctantly she had to let him go.
Felurian is 1 000 years old, and yet she is ageless, looking young and beautiful. Her disposition is overly erotic. Extremely capricious and unpredictable, she behaves almost as a child. The concept of responsibility is foreign to her. She is naked all the time and doesn’t understand why anyone should wear clothes. Nor does she care about the World outside of the Fae.
Felurian is profoundly lonely. She needs men, and men want her. Kvothe has spent just the right amount of time with her.
Felurian teaches Kvothe everything he needs to know about the art of love-making and more. They spend a lot of time having sex. Kvothe barely made himself leave her. He came out of the Fae a grown man. It was a transcendent experience. She also made him a protective cloak using her World’s materials.
Before he encountered her, he was ridiculed by a wench in a tavern for being too childish for anything sexual or intimate. After he returned to the same barroom, enriched with the experience and knowledge he gained from Felurian, Kvothe was suddenly mature. He was a man. He knew what to do around women, he had in his eyes. And this time, he went his way with the lass. Anyone who had an experience with a woman who is one tenth of Felurian will know what I am talking about. I suspect that Rothfuss had a similar luck at some point in his life. The chapter feels written by a guy who did.
Rothfuss’ novels owe a lot of their appeal to these female characters. Who would want to know all the details of Kvothe’s life without getting to know the women that shaped it? It would have been such a dull story.