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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 Manda (new)

Manda | 115 comments I think Master Hemme underestimated Kvothe. He didn't oppose his Alar because he was confident Kvothe would fail. This is actually supported in the text. "Confident of my ignorance, he was willing to let the charade continue. I would never have gotten away with it if not for two of Hemme's numerous flaws. First, his general stupidity in not believing what I had told him the day before. Second, his desire to see me embarrassed as thoroughly as possible." Hemme assumed Kvothe would embarrass himself in front of the class. He could have opposed Kvothe's Alar but why bother? He thought Kvothe would fail on his own. No one expected him to be able to perform a double binding. (They even promoted him to E'lir for it.) If Kvothe hadn't been able to do a double binding, Hemme wouldn't have been hurt.

Regarding Kvothe's prowess at sympathy, it all seems to come down to Alar. A lot of it is mathematical. They have to know how much heat they can safely draw from their own blood and how much energy they can expect to get from a link, but Alar seems to be the variable factor. And Kvothe has mega-super-awesome Alar. He only loses to the other students when he is under severe mental and/or physical distress. But it's a good question. Can Alar make a link more efficient or allow someone to draw more energy from a particular source? It seems like the latter is true but the slippage may harm you. "Every year or so some careless sympathist with a strong Alar channeled enough heat through a bad link to spike his body temperature and drive himself fever-mad." So why doesn't this ever happen to Kvothe?


message 3: by Eva (new)

Eva | 3 comments I think Manda is right, Hemme simply underestimated Kvothe. After all, it was just the second class in sympathy, the other students had had nearly no experience with it before. Hemme is very arrogant and would never admit to himself that a young boy could do this. And, seriously, I'm sure Hemme wasn't blistered at all, but he wanted Kvothe expelled, so he had to exaggerate and claim that Kvothe had done something potentially harmful. That's why the other masters were so astonished: they knew it wasn't possible.

And I think that Kvothe can suffer from slippage just like everybody else, but he's really good, so he doesn't. (He does suffer from binders chill, though.)


message 4: by Joel (new)

Joel | 13 comments The only problem I have with that explanation is that I don't believe the masters would punish Kvothe without someone inspecting the wound. It seems highly unlike what they did in Kvothe's other experiences on the horns. If Kvothe did actually burn Hemme bad enough for blisters to be verified by the masters, it seems that Hemme would've had plenty of time to oppose his will, even if he had no expectation of Kvothe's expense.


message 5: by Manda (new)

Manda | 115 comments I think it's safe to assume Arwyl or someone at the Medica saw the wound. However, a burn that blisters doesn't necessarily take longer to inflict than one that simply leaves a red mark. We wouldn't see many second degree burns if that were the case. People don't just sit there while something hot burns them. They jerk away as soon as it touches their skin.


message 6: by Manda (new)

Manda | 115 comments I'm really thinking about what you said about slippage though. How exactly does slippage work? Can it be controlled? Master Kilvin says you can protect against it with a gram so that implies it can be manipulated in some way...


message 7: by Eva (new)

Eva | 3 comments The masters went into that trial without any preparation. When Kvothe tells them that he gave a presentation in front of the whole class, they are surprised ("The masters stirred in their seats, puzzled"), and that wasn't some kind of secret, about 30-40 people had witnessed it so it would be easy to find out. So, I don't think they looked at his leg. (By the way, even if they had: they would have to lie about it. Think about the political implications: The masters are always concerned about the reputation of the university, so how would it make them look like if a master lied about his student?)

And I don't think that Hemme had time to do anything against Kvothe. It all happened very fast, Kvothe didn't hold the doll into the candle flame long, just for one second maybe, so there wasn't enough time to react. One more thing: After Hemme's foot was supposed to be badly burned, he "stormed onto the stage." I don't think you could walk if you were hurt that badly, so I definitely think Hemme was exaggerating. Kvothe later says: "It was supposed to be a bit of a hotfoot to make you jump." I'm pretty sure he is telling the truth here. After all, we know that Kvothe excels at sympathy, so he has really good control over how much of a foot he blisters.


message 8: by Joel (new)

Joel | 13 comments @Manda, I would agree if not for the fact that Hemme said he was blistered "To the knee." Kvothe was using a candle on the mommet. To be exact he says

"I casually moved the foot of the wax doll into the space about an inch above the candle’s wick, which is actually the hottest part of the flame.
There was a startled exclamation from where Hemme was sitting. Without looking in his direction I continued speaking to the class in the driest of tones. “And it appears that this time we are successful.” The class laughed.
I blew out the candle. “This is also a good example of the power that a clever sympathist commands. Imagine what would happen if I were to throw this doll into the fire itself?” I held it over the brazier.
As if on cue, Hemme stormed onto the stage. It may have been my imagination, but it seemed to me that he was favoring his left leg slightly."

Have you ever burn yourself with a cigarette accidentally? Or with a candle? It's a very small area of your skin that gets affected. Kvothe doesn't rotate and turn the mommet so that the fire would burn any part of Hemme but his foot. Obviously the candle would have affected a larger area than normal, as Kvothe's sympathetic link was a proportionally accurate but smaller version of Hemme. Even so, it would not have blistered Hemme all the way to the knee.

The second part of your argument only enhances the question of how Kvothe was capable of burning Hemme to the knee with what Kvothe says should've only been a 10% transference for barely a moment. Personally I still think that Hemme was capable of opposing Kvothe's will after he started burning him, and I personally would've (as insurance) automatically been opposing the will of anyone trying to simultaneously burn me and make a fool of me in my own classroom. That being said, I really hope Hemme and I are nothing alike, so maybe he wouldn't take that precaution.



@Eva They didn't know Kvothe gave a presentation because Hemme kept that information from them. They wouldn't have spoken to random students about what happened, they took Hemme at his word. When Kvothe breaks Ambrose's arm they had both parties tell their side of the story. In the case of the master accusing Kvothe, they did the same. This implies that Hemme's word was not being taken as law. I am certain that they would have looked at his leg if they were unsure of the accuracy of his testimony.

As for them lying about Hemme's leg, I think you're completely wrong about that. Elodin burned down Hemme's rooms. He hates Hemme. I am completely certain that if given the chance he would out Hemme whether the other masters asked him to keep quiet or not. Kilvin, Arwyl, and Lorren would certainly speak up as well. I don't think it's in their personalities to expel a student based on a lie. For that matter, The Chancellor would most certainly not allow it either. I don't think there would be any worse an effect on the University's reputation if Hemme wasn't burned than would be caused by the whole school finding out one of the masters was made an idiot by a student.

To your second point, look at the excerpt above. It specifically says Hemme favored his leg as he stormed to the stage. The other problem with this theory is that Hemme isn't an idiot. If you're trying to craft a believable lie you use believable details. Hemme would know what transference Kvothe should get. He would know the other masters would understand that burns up to the knee shouldn't have happened with the sympathy Kvothe used. If he were lying it would've made more sense for him to say that one spot on his foot received severe burns that went past blisters. It would show severity, but could be explained by a prolonged low heat (which could be caused by the amount of transference Kvothe should've gotten) being applied to a specific area. The fact that Hemme chooses something out of the ordinary basically rules out the possibility that he was lying about the severity of his burns. And this all hinges on the thought that Arwyl wouldn't have treated Hemme for the burn, which I find impossible to believe. Even if Hemme didn't show the others, Arwyl or one of his El'the would've had to treat the burn. There'd be no way Hemme could keep it quiet if he lied.

@Manda again: When Kvothe refers to the gram preventing slippage he says it stops "outside affinities". That would imply that slippage is enacted unconsciously or without purpose. Kilvin responds that Kvothe could just be a careful cautious student and he wouldn't have to worry about slippage. It stands to reason that if one could stop their slippage, they would have more powerful sympathetic links because they're losing less energy. And who knows how big a portion of energy is usually lost to slippage.


message 9: by Chris, Master Artificer (new)

Chris (chris300) | 387 comments Mod
Again, for the first part. It can be easily explained by the fact that Hemme is extremely arrogant so just didn't believe that Kvothe could actually utilise the basic principles of sympathy and was therefore shocked when he could. Also, it is strongly implied if not stated that Hemme was vastly over-exaggerating the burn over his hatred of Kvothe and him embarrassing him. If he allowed his foot to be inspected and he had really been burnt to the knee, Kvothe would almost certainly have been expelled for Malfeasance. As it stand, he denied it being looked at so it was all speculation.

As for the leg inspection. He is a Master facing a yet untried student. And they had a load of witnesses to the act - 50 students - who could have declared the facts. For the Elodin matter, he rarely interferes with any matters except for the rare moments of lucidity (see: making K a Re'lar). It's possible that Elodin adding his argument to the matter would reduce Kvothe's credibility, not increase it.

Really. Any sort of attack like Kvothe's against Hemme's is malfeasance and that is why it is brought against the Masters. Even a slight burn would show them that Kvothe employed sympathy against Hemme and breaking the most cardinal law of the University. And that's most likely the reason he brought it up.

The way I see Grams working is that they are a sort of voodoo substitute for the users body. If someone directs malfeasance at them, it gets drawn into the Gram. Same with unacceptable levels of thaumic slippage. A persons A'lir depends on how many divisions of their mind they can separate, see Devi V Kvothe's fight. And the calculations in place (See that guy who tried to lift a horse cart and miscalculate the slippage).

I have rambled on and lost my train of thought :3

Love that you started this with 'Quick Question' lol.


message 10: by Manda (new)

Manda | 115 comments I still think Hemme could have been blistered to the knee. We don't know the size of the flame relative to the simulacra. We have clues but no exact descriptions. It says he moved the foot of the mommet into the hottest part of the flame, an inch above the wick. When you stick something in a fire, the flame often licks up the side of the object. If the leg of the mommet was two inches long, the flame might have affected half the leg. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Sorry for the late response. I was out of town. :)


message 11: by Chris, Master Artificer (new)

Chris (chris300) | 387 comments Mod
Manda wrote: "I still think Hemme could have been blistered to the knee. We don't know the size of the flame relative to the simulacra. We have clues but no exact descriptions. It says he moved the foot of the m..."

I agree, it's possible. But also, not everything flames touch burns that quickly, if the tip of a flame 'lick' something, it's doubtful it will burn as it's far away from the hottest part. Like how you can put your hand through a flame quickly etc


message 12: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Johansen (Hayd) | 72 comments I agree Chris it doubtfully burned up to his knee. But sympathy works in an interesting way that it might be possible. Keep in mind Kvothe would have been angry as he does not act rashly after being underminded and would be ready to fully show Hemme he is serious about how skilled he actually is compared to other students his age along with his eagerness to be an arcanist. knowing this, a sympathist can direct the energy anywhere he wills it. Though the flame was touching the wax doll at the foot it doesn't really only effect where the flame is. The actual first binding is between the doll and the master. To show the significance of a second binding he would have to bind the heat of the brazier to the heat in the candle.

However, I believe he was surpassing what he was expected in hopes to shame the master and make a show of skill. I believe Kvothe made a third binding from the heat of the bind candle to the heat of the masters body temp(skin, blood).

Therefore, Kvothe actually can direct the heat of the flame itself to his entire body with minor linkage but still effective as his body is already near 100 degrees.

Whereas, the link between the master and the doll allows for a stronger second heat transfer from the doll to body.

Basically hes heating him twice over: heat of flame to heat of body and heat of doll to heat of body. So the likely ness of the heat spreading all the way past the knee is actually highly likely as his body temp would be rising and skin would blister easier.


message 13: by Joel (new)

Joel | 13 comments Hayden that's an interesting theory, but there's nothing to support that in the books. I think Kvothe would have mentioned it in his internal dialogue if he had added a third, complex binding.


message 14: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Johansen (Hayd) | 72 comments No doubt its pure theory, but it is typical behavior. Have you ever looked into Encanis? Iax stole the moon and is considered the enemy. Encanis during the winter pageantry was running from Tehlu with a green masked lady(lackless) and is an old tradition. Denna says steal me Kvothe then later Felurian calls Kvothe a moon follower, night walker and makes him a shade.

The only thing I can theorize is maybe this is the fallen hero origin that we hear about from Denna.

If the Gorse Court meddled in the Berentaltha between house of fine and the Tain Mael then maybe that's Felurian saying Iax stole lyra. Thus, the lackless running away with a ruh is now a thing.

House of Fine would be im guessing modeg bc every girl there is said beautiful beyond other women or at least thought of like that. The Tain Mael sounds like Atur Because Mael is an old Faction in the fae that is not dark side of fae but still connected with house of fine.

So Iax if iax is encanis and running from Tehlu, then it would make sense that Tehlins burned and tried to start a genocide against ruh travelers as Tehlu or someone in house of fine might have been the courtier to Lyra before she ran away. That or her father started it and the allegiance between the two houses required the other to follow up with the attack. Like Hemme and Branduer.


message 15: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Johansen (Hayd) | 72 comments and it would make sense that people would hear stories of IAX being great like Kvothe was and stories of him would grow, but maybe Lanre is his Adem name or something and since modeg is believed to be origins of Ademre then Selitos and pals would know him as Lanre and not IAX. This is definitely theory lol


message 16: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Johansen (Hayd) | 72 comments Plus, Iax grew up in a broken house. But houses are refered to as the world at the time, so if Iax became HalIax it wouldn't be that odd because just as Kvothe grew up in a broken house they might both crush under the pressure of losing their lady lackless and grow ever spiteful. PLus they both are refered to as growing up faster than they should have. And the flute Iax plays is green hinting he is connected to lackless.


message 17: by Manda (new)

Manda | 115 comments That's true, Chris. A quick flash of heat, especially from the edge of a fire, won't always burn you. But the heat from a brazier might melt wax, even if the flame doesn't come into direct contact with it. Since Kvothe bound the candle to the brazier, we can assume that flame had some significant heat coming off it. Does the melted wax on a mommet correspond to a blistered leg? I'm not sure. Just exploring possibilities.

Hayden, though I enjoy your enthusiasm for the books, your theories don't always make a lot of sense to me. The Berentaltha is "a sort of dance." How could that mean Iax stole Lyra? The Gorse, the Mael, the House of Fine... they are all part of the faen court and do not necessarily have any sort of counterpart in the human world. Modeg is believed to be the origins of Ademre? I need citation from the books for any of this to make sense. You're mashing a lot of stuff together and I just don't follow.


message 18: by Manda (new)

Manda | 115 comments Hayden, I'm afraid my response came off rather unfriendly. I apologize. It's been a really rough week and I'd just received some bad news before writing that last post. It's always my aim to open up conversation, not shut it down. Please feel free to expound upon any and all theories!


message 19: by Chris, Master Artificer (new)

Chris (chris300) | 387 comments Mod
Manda wrote: "That's true, Chris. A quick flash of heat, especially from the edge of a fire, won't always burn you. But the heat from a brazier might melt wax, even if the flame doesn't come into direct contact ..."

Good point Manda! Hadn't considered that the binding wasn't to the flame.

You're post wasn't rude, don't worry. We all write abrupt posts when we're in a rush :)


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