Welcome back Pagerinos! Jeremy here. This is only our 11th blog post, but in it we cross our first Chandrian of pages… Pages of the Wind that is! What I mean is that we’re over 100 pages, or roughly 1/7th through the book… because the word Chandrian has linguistic roots that imply the number 7…
You’ll have to forgive me – I’m tired and punchy from all the non-stop excitement our li’l adventure affords. Thanks for sticking with us this far – we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of this series.
Now, onwards, to the glistening gristle and raw red meat of our post! Name of the Wind includes one of my favourite elements of fantasy literature, that delights me every time I see it. Namely, fairies. But Rothfuss’ Fae are not twittering Tinkerbells or knavish Robin Goodfellows.
No, the Folk of The Kingkiller Chronicle are far more like Oberon, or Titania or the the Sidhe of Irish myth. (From which Rothfuss probably derived the name Sithe, since he says it wasn’t Star Wars.) Powerful, tempestuous, nature spirits, that could bring a mortal riches and fortune – but more often led them to ruin.
Bast is the only one of the Folk we meet in The Name of the Wind, and Rothfuss does a great job of teasing out his strangeness over the first hundred pages. The hints are there early on. Bast is described as moving with a fluid grace. We see his capricious and mercurial personality, the way he shrugs off responsibilities and clearly has a way with the ladies. Those are recognizably fey characteristics. Not to mention the off-hand references to “you people”, and his preference for bone-needles and shunning of iron – all those elements mark Bast as being not-entirely-human. (In particular, an aversion to iron – “cold iron” in particular, is a classic mythological weakness of faeries and spirits.)
Patrick Rothfuss trusts his reader to be familiar with genre tropes – and furthermore, the myths those tropes of the genre spring from. If you’re an eagle-eyed reader, you’re probably already on board with the idea that Bast is a supernatural being even before his startling display of power on page 101. But if you’re not, Rothfuss takes great relish in the big moment, indulging in a shorter-build up as he pulls back the curtain, and reveals everything he’s been failing to mention about Bast up until now. His eyes are briefly glossed over earlier in the book – but here Rothfuss takes care to emphasize their somewhat unnatural qualities. Likewise, we don’t really get a good look at Bast’s feet – because unless we were looking at them closely, unless our attention was called to them, we’d think they’re ordinary. They’re not, obviously. His cloven hooves tie Bast to Satyrs of Greek myth – who were powerful nature spirits in their own right.
Rothfuss’ reveal of Bast as being of the Fey is, in it’s own way, a work of magic. We see what we’re expecting to see because that’s what Rothfuss and Bast want us to see. Until we don’t. Until Chronicler, a trained Arcanist, sees the truth that is before his eyes, and makes a very foolish mistake. (Not for nothing, but I also love the sheer menace Bast exudes in this section of the book – and it definitely won’t be the last time.)
However, I’ve rambled on about the fey long enough for now – I can already see Nick coming with his big red editing pen! Until next week, Pagerinos!
(Nick’s note: This week contains our Kingkiller podcasts’ 100th episode! No one – least of all us – believed we’d get this far. Here’s to another 600 and change!)