Signs- Thrall of Iron- Possibility 2
So, this is the fourth post in a sequence that started with analyzing every Rothfuss-blessed mention of the Chandrian’s signs. In the original post, I deemed three sources of information “reliable” within the narrative:
- Kvothe’s firsthand encounter
- The Trebon pot (although I did posit that not every piece of imagery was a on it was a “sign”)
- The Adem’s rhyme from Wise Man’s Fear
However, reliable does not mean perfect. I recently stumbled onto this reddit thread by user Mihel:
In it, they propose that Ferule/Ferula is not Cinder’s true name, it is the name of iron. I love this because it explains (and indeed I found the reddit thread while searching for explanations on) something that otherwise doesn’t make sense: If Ferule is Cinder’s true name, what is the significance of it sounding so much like Iron? As the deep speculators know, Ferule sounds a lot like the word ferrous, and if you research the real words ferule and ferrule, you will see they both have connections to iron. In fact one of the first definition of ferrule you can find on the internet describes it as a ring of iron “used for fastening, joining, sealing or reinforcement.” One might say… an iron binding.
One extremely important thing about the two reliable sources above where we heard “names” is that none of them involved anything written down. They are both what Kvothe hears. And in the case of the Adem poem, we are talking about a story that has been orally handed down for a thousand+ years. This allows the notion that it could have gotten just a little mixed up if someone was holding it in their head for 20 years before telling it to the next person (clearly the Adem don’t tell the rhyme often). Unlike a sword’s Atas, the listener can’t repeat it or ask questions. So if the listener misheard something, it could very well make it into the version that was passed along. We know per the end of NOTW Chapter 84 (Aerlevsedi) that people hear different things when a true name is spoken. What if the relevant part of the poem was actually (at one point in its evolution) as follows? “Stercus is in thrall of iron (ferule), chill and dark of eye.” In other words, Ferule = either iron, or binding of iron, but ultimately both phrases made it into the oral history because of the way people heard Ferule.
As Mihel’s reddit thread points out, there are several similarities to the way Bast reacts to Chronicler’s speaking the name of Iron, and the way Cinder reacts to Ferula. Cinder’s reaction is just more severe. Kvothe even describes what chronicler did as a “binding of iron.” It’s also worth checking out Bast’s description of what an iron binding feels like at the very end of NOTW Chapter 17 and comparing it to how Cinder reacts in NOTW chapter 16.
Shortly after Haliax says Ferula, he says “Who knows the inner turnings of your name, Cinder?” Most of us (including myself until I found Mihel’s thread) took that as confirmation that Ferula was Cinder’s name. But many have theorized the Chandrian’s signs are all a result of Selitos: “Your own name will be turned against you, that you shall have no peace. This is my doom upon you and all who follow you.” We know this turning of Lanre’s name against him is how he got his sign of Darkness. If Cinder’s name had been turned against him in such a way that he was extremely vulnerable to a binding of iron, “Who knows the inner turnings of your name, Cinder?” would also make sense after using that turning against him.
One other thing posited in Mihel’s thread is that Cinder is one of the Fae. It fits with his physical description, his quicksilver grace, having eyes of one solid color etc. While at some point I want to delve deep into the nature of the Fae, I’m not going to do it here. Instead let’s just say that I would alter this idea slightly, to the idea that he is something like the creatures that ultimately went to inhabit the Fae. Cinder probably predates the Creation War. We know Felurian does, but we also know she still doesn’t like iron.
Why do I mention this Cinder is Fae-ish idea? I mention it because of Bast’s description of grammarie in the Lightning Tree: “It’s about making something into more of what it already is.” In NOTW: “Selitos spoke the long name that lay in Lanre’s heart. At the sound of it the sun grew dark.” There was already something darkness-related in Lanre at this point. He came to Selitos in armor that “fit him closely as a second skin of shadow,” made from the carcass of the beast he’d killed at Drossen Tor, “whose breath was a darkness that smothered men.” The idea that Cinder was Fae and his name was turned against him to make him more vulnerable to iron matches the idea that Lanre’s was turned against him to make him more shadowed.
So, if we took this interpretation of “Thrall of Iron,” what does it mean to the Adem poem and its impact on the chart? Well, assuming that Cinder is still the Death card (which as I’ll expound in a future post, I think is correct) it means that one of the Chandrian is missing from the poem. Either the Storm-signed or the Strife-signed. I don’t think there’s enough hard evidence to make a call either way, but if we stick with the tentative connection between Dalcenti’s silence and madness/Strife, it would mean the Storm-signed is missing. (Presumably because someone forgot or jumbled the rhyme over its thousands of years of living only in peoples’ heads.) Personally I like the idea that the Storm-signed Chandrian originally was still described as something having to do with forces that act on Iron (per possibility one). If that’s the case, it’s easier to understand how perhaps that sign got jumbled over time with being strongly affected by iron (Cinder). That would make the grid:
Stercus could be another name for Cinder, or it could be the Storm-signed Chandrian.
Timethy C. in the Kingkiller Facebook group also made the excellent spot that Kvothe tells us in artificing runes that Fehr= iron and ule =binding. I think that officially sells me on theory 2 as far as Ferule and thrall of iron.