Unpacking Kvothe’s dream in Chapter 18
In Chapter 18 of Name of the Wind, Kvothe has a dream. He tells us when he wakes that it is a dream of two parts. “I thought very little of the other matter of the dream. Ben had never taught me sailors’ knots. My father had never finished his song.” He didn’t want to think about the second part, but as readers we should. These few paragraphs are absolutely stuffed with multiple layers of imagery we know to be very important to the story. But even more, I believe this short sequence… is the story. It is the author and Kvothe’s sleeping mind telling us what is to come.
I want to unpack what we see in this sequence, and then come back around to the idea that it is the story.
The sequence begins with Laclith (whose name suggests he is a Lockless per WMF Chapter 62) showing Kvothe how to set a snare for a rabbit… and how to choose to leave the rabbit alive. I believe that one of our masterminds playing the long game in Temerant set up Kvothe’s father and troupe as bait for the Chandrian. A Chandrian calls Kvothe a rabbit just the chapter before. The Cthaeh calls Kvothe a rabbit. There is (what people seem to agree is ) a rabbit caught by the hawk in the Death Calamities card. This sequence tells us: some hand chose to set a trap that would leave Kvothe alive.
Next, Ben is teaching Kvothe about knots and bindings, with “an impossibly complex pattern spread between his fingers.” “Any questions?” This is a Yllish story knot. This is a binding, one that will be made weak by the type of closure (the Lackless family) its maker chose to keep it closed. This is a question, a riddle, that a son who bears the blood cannot resist unraveling. This is still the snare, it is an impossibly complex web someone has woven to trap that son.
Next, Arliden is preparing to play his song. He leans against a greystone as he and Ben tell Kvothe about waystones. “They marked old roads.” The questions led us to this waystone. The Edema Ruh, Kvothe’s family, have traditions related to these stones. These roads can lead to dangerous places. An Edema Ruh is finally going to play his song for his Lackless family at the greystone. They have been waiting so long. Only a fool would deny there is power in the stones.
Last, we are before double circle of waystones. We know from DAS that an intact waystone circle is only a single circle and 3 stones forming a gateway. This one is special; it is a double circle. There is “thick shadow” through the gateway. Kvothe reaches for it…
So, to summarize:
The chapter before, trees across the road slowed the troupe until the Chandrian could catch up with them, lured by songs played on Arliden’s lute ( a stringed instrument). Kvothe tells us what happens next “is the hinge upon which the story pivots like an opening door. …this is where the story begins.”
Now, the second half of the dream sequence begins with a trap to catch a rabbit, but not kill it, made of nothing but “a sapling and string.” The trap leaves Kvothe in a complex web (and a meticulously woven story). In this story there is an important binding, and Ben began Kvothe’s teachings about these bindings. (Kote asked that we “not hold it against him. He meant well.“) Kvothe always has questions, which will lead him down old roads (not meant for traveling?) to a special stone door that holds (the flood?) darkness and shadow. And Kvothe will reach for it.
I wonder what other hints are in this sequence that will only make sense after book 3….