Welcome back Pagerinos! Jeremy here with your latest installment of the Page of the Wind blog! This week’s episodes cover pages 181-187, in which we learn the final fate of Encanis, dark times pass in Tarbean, and, in the frame narrative, Kvothe answers some nitpicky questions from Bast and Chronicler. This week, I want to talk about the Devil.
Okay, so there’s no “Devil” in The Kingkiller Chronicle. But there are several figures who could stand in for the Devil. Encanis, the lord of demons, who causes mischief and woe all over the world until brought low by Tehlu, is the most obvious. But Lanre, aka Haliax (?!) is another – a tragic villain whose ego and pride lead him to do terrible evil. Lanre and Encanis are both the ostensible villains of the stories Kvothe hears about them – but are they really so bad?
In our reading, we note that Tehlu strikes a grim and unforgiving figure, and that we sympathize, to some extent, with Encanis’ suffering on the wheel, and his defiance in the face of his certain doom. Lanre’s reasons for destroying the ancient cities and murdering all those people are understandable – he’s suffered a horrible loss and he’s lashing out as a response to his grief and rage. Not condonable, maybe – but we can sympathize with the things that drove him to those dark deeds. And because we sympathize with these characters, we’re forced to examine the context of those stories. Who is really the villain? Who wrote this story? Why did they write it? These are questions that Patrick Rothfuss wants us to be thinking about.
The Name of the Wind is a book that constantly warns us to question our assumptions about who is right and who’s telling the story, and for what end. And Kvothe, with his charming mien, his cunning, his trickster personality and his hair true red, red as flame, invites not a few comparisons to old Hob himself. As we dive deeper into our close read, you can be sure that the Devil is in the details.
Of course, this also ties into a long and storied tradition of narratives about “sympathy for the devil”. From Milton’s tragic, rebellious Satan in Paradise Lost, to the world-weary androgynous Lucifer of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to the anarchic rock-star Lucy of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked and the Divine – and let us not forget, The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” – the Biblical Adversary has always held an important place in pop culture.
As we come to reexamine the stories that shape our culture and our world, the role of the Devil has evolved. The Devil represents the trickster, change, anarchy, rebellion, chaos, anti-authoritarianism, freedom, temptation, the “worse” angels of our nature – all depending on who you ask. The Devil ultimately serves as his own advocate, forcing us to consider the other side of the coin, and tempting us to agree with him.
That’s all we got for this week, folks. Chime in in the comments, or let us know what your favourite depiction of the Devil is on Facebook or Twitter @pageofthewind, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org! May the Devil take the hindmost.