Susan
Susan asked:

Why is Denna so shittily written? In fact why is this thing full of wish fulfillment cardboard-cutouts? Also, why do women only have a decorative function in it?

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Lucy Hattersley I liked it right up to the point where he had "Legend Sex With Queen Of Teh Faries" and was "Best At Sex Evah" from that point on.

The spell was broken and I just sniggered through the rest. It read like a 16-year-old Reddit wank fantasy from that point on.
Marlowe I actually think Denna is quite well written. When I was a teenager, I had a friend who was in an abusive relationship, and it was so frustrating and heartbreaking to watch. Like Kvothe, I wanted to be able to snap her out of it, or maybe even to be her rescuer, but it just doesn't work that way. You can't save someone from their own choices.

Instead, I had to learn - just like Kvothe - that all I could do was be there for her. I could be her respite, and I could be a reminder of what she could have in a romantic relationship. And, in the end, she did leave the guy, and I was the one she came to for support, and she's now doing very well. But there were many bridges burned with other friends and her family when they tried to rescue her and broke contact with them.

So for me, I'm really enjoying Denna's character because she reads so real. Even better, she isn't just a woman in an abusive relationship - she's also a musician, one who is very talented when she has the opportunity to learn. She's funny, she's smart, she knows how to blend in with many different cultures and social classes, etc. Yes, like Kvothe, she seems to have a touch of Best-At-Everything-itis, but it seems only fair if he's going to have such a bad case of it.

As for the other women... I don't know. It's rather frustrating, though. It's been a while since I read Name of the Wind, but I feel like it's worse here - especially in the last 1/3 of the book where Kvothe gets to be The Best At Sex. I found that whole bit read so much like a 16 year old boy's fanfics.

But other than that, I do think the female characters are reasonably well written when they are actually present. The world does seem to have a rather pronounced gender imbalance, but I like the fact that all the secondary character women (as opposed to background characters) would be perfectly fine if Kvothe didn't exist. Even the ones he thinks needs him to save him, like Denna and Auri, do perfectly well taking care of themselves when he isn't around. In particular, I'm thinking of the way he gets food and clothes for Auri out of concern that she'd starve and freeze to death without him - then he's gone for the better part of the year and returns to find her totally fine, just like she was before he met her.
Sandy Morley The day Auri can be described as "wish fulfillment cardboard-cutout…decorative [in] function" is the day books take on a higher form and fly off to heaven where their grace is better contained.

Have you even read the books? His adversary is probably the closest thing to a cardboard cut-out, (classic rich-boy despises poor-boy) and he's hardly a female.
Mel Rothfuss himself speaks to the difficulty of writing Denna in an interview linked on his page. He says that she is particularly challenging because we see her through Kvothe's eyes, and she is the one person that Kvothe can't see objectively.

Furthermore, we have to understand the narrative structure of Kingkiller Chronicles. Kvothe is our narrator, and he had significant relationships within his troupe. But he is broken when his troupe is killed, and depth within relationships--any relationship--is difficult for Kvothe to form because he sees any relationship as one that could be lost. (Look how easily he leaves the University, or doesn't realize the need to write to assure his friends of his safety.) In order to get that depth, we would need to see the story from someone else's eyes--or from an omniscient narrator. Kvothe is many things, but omniscient he's not.

And really, connecting with women in any relationship was challenging for Kvothe--remember, he's a teenager who's still trapped by the loss of his family. Women are a mystery, and besides, he's driven by the need to find the Chandrian, not develop lasting roots and relationships.

Above all, we have to remember he's not telling this story to show his relationships--his goal is to tell the story--the unvarnished story--of Kvothe; he's not spending time on the relationships he has because that's not the purpose. Instead, he's a solitary wanderer, searching for the answers anywhere the wind takes him. Even as an innkeeper, he's still solitary, separated from the society in which he lives--somewhat because of the secrets he holds and somewhat because of the role he's adopted within the community.
Dawnstream Uh, almost all the female characters in this series are powerhouses. Denna has lung problems, no trade or any marketable skills (which is discussed in detail early in this book), and previous trauma. She spends her life on the edge of desperation, and Kvothe is drawn to help her, though she claims she doesn't need it. Kvothe has his useful friends (Fela, Devi, Mola, Marie, Vashet, Felurian, etc.), and his friends that make him feel useful (Denna and Auri). Your question makes it obvious that you didn't read the book, so maybe that's a good place to start.
Valentine Decorative is not how I would put it. But they're definitely an excuse to show Kvothe's heroism. Like when he slaughters the fake troupe because they are evil rapists... This is just so boringly common in pop culture. All about how the man is so enraged that there are monsters who would do that, and how it justifies his bloody vengeance.
After the heroic rescue, one of the girls says she hates men (she's just been raped repeatedly) and Kvothe literally goes "notallmen" on her.

And it's not just that one time, it shows a lot in the book - how some men are so disgusting (like Ambrose) but not Kvothe of course, who is a sex-god and great defender of the vaginas.

Denna, I don't know, I thought she was annoying the first time I read the book, but now I jut reread it, it's mostly how Kvothe sees her that's really annoying... And I think that's intentional, so it's pretty well done.

Despite all that, I still love the books and reread them several time hehe
Katoo Deziel Yeahhh the women could be written better. There is so much good about these books that this flaw is terribly obvious.
Avaminn F'nett What about Fela? Auri? Devi? Mola? Penthe? Celean?

Denna is the ONLY female character like that in the book. There are plenty of others that are useful and interesting.
Nathan Hunt
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Georgie I will agree that the women and girls in the book are seen through a young mans eyes. That's as it should be,in my opinion. The characters are young. The writing of the whole series has been a delight. Unusual people that you don't often see realized in a novel are treated with respect and compassion and kindness. What's wrong with seeing someone hurt confused mistreated with real feelings, acting out? The Slow Regard of Silent Things I see a story about an amazing damaged young women.
Ken Hulse I agree and why does he keep following her around like a maudlin child. Most of us would have moved on and not wasted the years. It is the one part of the book I don't like. I am not sure that women have a decorative function though. The women fighters are certainly not decorative. Quite the opposite. I think he wrote one book after about the character who lives under the school. Maybe that would give you a better idea of his use of female characters?
Artelion Funny thing is Patrick is neoliberal and you can see that in his books but still feminist aren't satisfied. They are never satisfied. You should stop being so obsessed with female representation and care more about the male one which is almost non existent in modern books
Heidi Did you miss the Adem portion of the book? Where women are far and away superior to men?
Taylor I love every aspect of these books except the female characters. They're so poorly written, unfortunately. In their character development, actions, interactions with male characters - I totally agree they serve an extremely decorative function. The female representation (through characters and authors) in this male dominated genre is already problematic. It's not an excuse that they're written through the perspective of a male and a young male at that - do better.
Conway I feel Denna was quite realistic, having encounter more than one such character in my life. The lady who has had a broken relationship with their parents, especially the father. I guess we are shitty in some parts of our lives, or maybe I'm just speaking for myself.
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by Patrick Rothfuss (Goodreads Author)
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