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message 1: by Joel (new)

Joel | 13 comments Alright, so quick question here. I was just reading through tNotW for like the 4th time and something occurred to me. When Kvothe was embarrassing Hemme in front of his class why didn't Hemme oppose Kvothe's A'lar? He specifically mentions to Brandeur that he wasn't wearing his guilder, but I didn't consider until recently that he could have just set his will against Kvothe's and prevented himself from being burned at all.

This leaves me with three possible conclusions. The first is that Hemme is an abysmal arcanist and his a'lar was insufficient to stop Kvothe's. I find this unlikely for several reasons, most important being that when Kvothe faced off against his fellow students in Advanced Sympathy he had difficulty beating some of them occasionally. Admittedly, he almost always won, but the thought that one of the Masters of the University would lose to a brand new recruit without the recruit even realizing there was a struggle? Highly improbable.

The second, and in my opinion more likely, option is that Hemme did oppose Kvothe's A'lar and was unharmed, but tried to get Kvothe expelled anyway for standing up to him in the class. This begs the question of why would he react at all when Kvothe attempted to burn him if he wasn't burned. Alternatively, he may have purposefully allowed himself to be burned so that Kvothe would be punished and expelled. If that's the case,what is Hemme's reason for wanting Kvothe out of the University at this stage?

It is worth noting that according to Hemme's story Kvothe gave him blisters up to his knee. The masters all seem surprised by this and make it clear that this is not a normal level of power for the link Kvothe used. This leads me to the conjecture that Kvothe is somehow better at sympathy than other characters. Considering that in most instances sympathy is described in mathematical terms-- thalms of heat, percentage of transferance due to link strength, etc-- I wondered how it could be possible that someone could be inherently better at it.

The only conclusion I've come to about that is that when using sympathy an arcanist channels the energy from their source through their body and into the link as if the link were the object they were affecting. This would also explain slippage in a bit more of a concrete way (more slippage would occur when an arcanist is poor at controlling the energy passing through their body. Perhaps Kvothe has no slippage?). It's possible I just didn't pay enough attention when Pat described the fundamentals of sympathy, but this was something I never got until I tried to explain it in my head.

If my above hypothesis is correct than that could mean Kvothe is somehow able to transfer a larger portion of energy through his body from the same source material than other arcanists (if Hemme actually was burned). How he does this would be a mystery, but his skill at using sources more efficiently than other arcanists is mentioned multiple times in the books.

The last and most depressing option for why Hemme wouldn't oppose Kvothe's A'lar when he was burnt is because our beloved Rothfuss has a plot hole in his books. This, sadly enough, seems most likely to me as Kvothe never brings up the topic when he learns that an arcanist can oppose the will of another arcanist.

Perhaps this topic has been covered before, I'm not sure. If so, I haven't seen it and I'm truly sorry for wasting your time.

message 2: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (lostoceans) | 8 comments I just assumed that Hemme was arrogant and over confident in Kvothes failure. A'lar and bindings are supposedly rather difficult concepts, I think I remember some of the Masters expressing surprise over Kvothes abilities, his double binding was the basis of his admission into the Arcanum.

Also Hemme teaches one of the not-so-magical subjects this may be because he is not particularly talented in this area, if it was Elxa Dal things might have been different. The other thing is Hemme expected Kvothe to fail and had no warning that Kvothes bindings had worked untill it was too late, I think Hemme was cause by surprise and was therefore offguard.

I do however like your idea on the slippage, it also fits in with the lightening in the bandit camp (I think from vauge memory which i will have to confirm later) that the slippage in that should have killed Kvothe (??). I think Will and Sim also mentioned something like it to Denna when they discussed magic? I will pay extra attention to slippage next re-read :)

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