Friday, August 31, 2007
The first rule.... (Warning: Possible Spoilers.)

... is that you do not talk about Book Club.

The second rule...

Okay, enough of that.

I just got an e-mail from a fan that went something like this:

Dear Mr. Rothfuss:

My book group have decided to read your book for our September meeting. Besides your wonderful storytelling ability and use of language, are there any themes or questions that would be good to use as our discussion guide? Thank you for one of the best fantasy books I have read this year.

(A follow up e-mail revealed that these questions would be asked during the club meeting itself, after the people had finished the book. So there's no need to worry about asking spoiler-free questions.)

While I'm tickled at the thought of a group of people getting together and talking about my book, I have to admit that I'm totally at a loss as to what sort of questions I could offer them.

The main problem is that I've never in my life been in a book group, so I don't know the sort of questions that usually get asked.

So I'm going to throw this open to you, my brilliant, articulate readership. What questions do you think would lead to an interesting discussion in a book club?

Now before y'all get comment-y. I'm going to lay down some rules for today's blog because I'd like to eventually link to this thread in my FAQ.

First: Let's keep this particular set of comments tight and on-topic. Questions only. No answers. We'll save those discussions for later blogs, or, preferably, when we get a forum up and running.

Second: Please proof your questions before submitting. Capitol letters and puntuation marks are your friends, folks.

Third: Please read the other questions before asking your own. Related or follow-up questions are fine, but let's try to avoid duplicates.

Alright. Let's see if we can help our flagship book group out with some good questions. I'm curious to see what y'all come up with....

Thrill me,


posted by Pat at


Blogger Greg said...

I went to my mom's reading group once (I had read the book they were reading - Ishmael - previously), and found the discussion is very similar to the discussion you get in a college literature class, though not necessarily at the same level. The great thing about the first book in a series is that you can ask plenty of questions about what the reader thinks will happen in future

1. What is the importance/result of Kvothe telling the story himself as opposed to a third person narrator?

2. What do you think is the cause of Kvothe's loss of power?

That's all I can think of right now. Work is taking most of my attention.

PS. misspelling "capital" in your comment about proofreading comments is rather amusing.

August 31, 2007 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Sengei Tawn said...

Hmm. Just attended a Cryptobiology class (giant squids, dragons, and lake monsters) last night where we discussed a book. We asked questions such as: Why should you care about this character? What virtues are espoused by each character? Does the character have integrity? Does this matter? What does the character believe in? What experiences color his/her beliefs?

I suspect these folks are asking you because they assume you intended certain plots for people to work out. Oh. Plot is another subject. Pacing is another.

Well, maybe that's a writer's group question, more than a book club question. Cheers!

August 31, 2007 5:45 AM  
Blogger Cory said...

Some of mine are pretty basic and I am sure will be answer in the two subsequent books.

1) What is Bast's story and how did he come to be a "student" under Kvothe?

2) What is the story(ies) behind Denna?

3) Why have the stories of the Chandrian been so supressed, such that most are childrens stories?

August 31, 2007 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Keith R. Watson said...

1)What do you feel Rothfuss (I refer to you as Rothfuss, as I feel it lends whimsy and credibility simultaneously) is trying to illustrate with his choice of names?
2) What do you think of gender roles within the scope of The Name of The Wind?
3)Which chapter could have benefited from a talking goat most?

There, a question for the three sides of my literary self: Over-Analytical, Feminist, Jerk

August 31, 2007 8:35 AM  
Blogger Robert Crandall said...

1. What do you feel is Kvothe's greatest accomplishment in the stories he's told so far? Which would Kvothe see as his greatest accomplishment? If different, why the difference?

2. Same about regrets - what do you feel is his biggest mistake, and what would Kvothe regret the most?

3. Has Kvothe revealed his greatest tale/accomplishment (either brought up in #1 or #2) to build credibility for his next stories, or is he laying foundation in his first day's stories for even greater accomplishments?

--Possibly not worded right, but the intent is: what will we see in A Wise Man's Fear and final novel? Will we see Kvothe take on the king singlehandedly (which is believable, since he also took on a dragon thing singlehandedly), or will he take on the king's army or Chandrian singlehandedly (which is unbelievable, unless you have a strong foundation of what Kvothe has done)?

August 31, 2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Orion Bühler said...

Some questions from a fellow who also has never been in a book club:

1. What are some ways in which foreshadowing was used?

2. What are some story elements or plot twists that caught you by surprise? (plus a link to Q. 1: Were they actually foreshadowed, and you just missed it?)

3. Was there anything you thought was going to happen, but either didn't happen at all or happened differently than expected?

3. There are a few clues to future events in the story. For example, as Chronicler was on his way to meet someone named Skarpi, chances are high that the old storyteller made it through the scrape that helped motivate Kvothe to leave Tarbean. What are some other clues to the next books' events you can recall?

August 31, 2007 8:55 AM  
Blogger Robert Crandall said...

4. The sequel is named The Wise Man's Fear. Who is The Wise Man?

August 31, 2007 8:56 AM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

1. What archetypes are represented in The Name of the Wind? What clichés?

2. Is the author making a statement about modern drug use and addiction by writing about ophalum (denner resin) and the sweet-eaters?

3. How does the conflict between Kvothe and Ambrose contribute to the plot? What facets of Kvothe’s personality are illustrated by it?

4. Do any of Auri’s gifts foreshadow events? What about Kvothe's gifts to Auri?

August 31, 2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I really, really need to read a second time to get some more coherency into these questions, I suspect. (And I'm not in a book club, either.) But here's what I would love to discuss with a circle of readers who have finished the book:

* The music -- the music! Everything from standard literary interpretation (what purpose does the music serve?) to the more urgent issue of, where is the music now?! How can such a musician forbid himself even to hum?!

* Folly. Is the first use of "folly" tied to the second use of "folly"? and discussion of theme.

* Denna: for or against, or indifferent, and why.

* Discuss the incidental Naming found throughout.

On an academic bent:
* Discuss the use of the frame story to lend imminentness to the narrative. How would the story be different if it weren't within the frame?

* Discuss the use of the religious state in modern fantasy (norms, reasoning, cultural bias, etc.).

On a plot-y, speculative bent:
* How does Kvothe get from "here" to "there"? (The word "Kingkiller" has certain, er, implications....)

* Ye gads, what went wrong? How did the world reach this state, and why does Kvothe feel responsible?

On a "just found myself sitting beside Kvothe on the plane and we're chatting to fill time" bent:
* So, what would you do with money if you had it?

* Tell me a funny story about that Bast; I'm sure there are several!

* Could I have your phone number? ;-)

August 31, 2007 9:40 AM  
Blogger Mr Pudifoot said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 31, 2007 10:17 AM  
Blogger King Sheep said...

What insights do we get into old Kvothe’s (Kote’s) self-worth based on the story details he chooses to leave out? How is he different from his younger self?

In what ways does NOTW differ from the fantasy literature that came before it? What aspects of NOTW would you like to see echoed by other fantasy writers?

Why does Kvothe end his first day of storytelling without a clear break from the University? Is Kvothe’s unwillingness to move on related to the author’s 9 years as an student at UWSP?

August 31, 2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

This post has been removed by the author.

August 31, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

>> Unless I am having complete brain failure, Kvothe was sent by Skarpi. He is on his way to meet someone else. Skarpi is the blind (i think) story teller Kvothe meets in the City. I believe we haven't seen the last of him, and he would likely be the subject of a good question. <<

(We need reply-to-comment features!)

Chronicler was indeed sent by Skarpi. There's no mention of Skarpi being blind, at least not when we meet him in the tavern. /grin/

I waited the entire novel for Skarpi to come back, but he didn't. Still waiting for him, though....

Questions to open discussion of Skarpi:
* Who are his friends in the church?
* Why does he know the single great story?
* Why is a Namer of his skill sitting in a dockside bar telling tales for half-pennies?

August 31, 2007 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Just a couple here, but i'm sure they'll fit in all the same.

-How does Kvothe differ from other Fantasy Heroes?

-Why do you think the chief characters have so many different names? What is the significance?

-What hidden truths about character and history do you think Rothfuss may have portrayed in "The Name of the Wind?"

There we are. Just a few things i look for in my own reading.

August 31, 2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Mr Pudifoot said...

Why is Kvothe, a hero of many stories, running a bar in the middle of nowhere? Is he hiding from fame, or waiting for the right moment to act?

What is behind the ominous door in the library?

Why are the scrael (the demonic spider-like things) on the move again?

August 31, 2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger Hob Gammidge said...

Kvothe has a great knowledge of most things medicinal, animal, vegetable, and mineral. Why does he not take a more proactive approach to disguising himself besides changing his name, abandoning music, and pretending to be a simple innkeeper? Why not dye his hair some nondescript color or hide in a larger city? Wouldn't one think that the only way to hide successfully is move where there are too many people to remember them all by name?

August 31, 2007 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Nic Johnson said...

So many readers have described Name of the Wind as "new", "refreshing", "unique"... why is that? What is it specifically about Pat's writing, story-telling, pace, etc. that just makes us say, "Grrrr, why can't I write like this?!"

August 31, 2007 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible that in choosing the Pseudonym Kote in the inn that Kvothe is calling himself a disaster?{reference to the unkown word in kilvins office after fire}
How will ambrose finally drive our hero from the university? or will it be that tuition is raised so high Kvothe cannot afford because the masters are unhappy with his actions?

September 1, 2007 1:00 PM  
Blogger Aviva said...

How do you feel about Kvothe's sneaking in to the University admissions test to preview questions? Was it the right (i.e., clever) or wrong (i.e., cheating) thing to do?

September 1, 2007 10:44 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

The story contains a number of characters who appear but briefly and yet are given names and treated in the narrative as significant players in Kvothe's story. Do you think the author intends for us to meet them again later in the series? If so, which ones? Or is this more of a reflection of Kvothe's amazing memory and his attitude towards the people he meets, particularly the people who help him?

September 1, 2007 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. Garside said...

Three possible points for discussion:

The role of women. Rothfuss seems to have a more open role for women in his work than most fantasy authors. Agree or disagree?

Religion. I think Mr. Rothfuss's use (or even inclusion) of religion is also a departure for the genre. Is this an asset, or do you find it unnecessary?

'Telhu' is one letter away from being an anagram of 'Luther'. This from a mid-Western writer with a German surname. Is this deliberate?

September 2, 2007 4:46 PM  
Blogger Aviva said...

Compare the stories the bar patrons tell about Kvothe to those specific instances in the narrative as Kvothe tells them. What do the changes (and similarities) tell us about the evolution of stories themselves?

September 3, 2007 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...


Where did the scrael come from, and what stupid thing did Kvothe do to unleash them on the world (if he did)?

AKA- ask about expectations for the future. or talespin a bit

September 3, 2007 6:48 PM  
Blogger L33t said...

Describe how Kvothe grew and matured through the novel and what are the effects of this maturation?

September 4, 2007 4:10 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

Oddly enough after reading this book, (which I loved by the way) I can not think of a question that hasn't been asked. Also, seeing as this is the beginning of a series how do you ask a question of theme and intent about the character? at best I would say leave it to open ended questions.

ie> Why do you think Bast is so protective of Kovthe?

September 6, 2007 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Questions about the book:

1. Who is Master Ash, really, and what was his agenda at the wedding? Or was the agenda Denna's?

2. One of the reasons this book is so much better than many fantasy novels is because the world it's set in feels so real and complete. What are some specific techniques the author uses to create that feeling of completeness?

3. How many of the stories behind the names in the "My name is Kvothe..." passage are told in this first book? Are the stories behind the others foreshadowed, and if so, how?

4. What plot developments do you most eagerly await in the next books?

Questions more befitting my own book club experience:

1. So did you read the whole book?

2. How did you make this hummus, it's great!?

3. Are you two still going out?

4. Are there any more M&Ms?

September 6, 2007 10:43 PM  
Blogger Arevanye said...

Lorren recognizes the name of Arliden when Kvothe gives it at admissions and asks what troupe he performed in. Speculate as to why Lorren might be asking this question.

Later, he discourages Kvothe from researching the Chandrian and then is unrelenting in his banning Kvothe from the Archives.

What or whom do you think Lorren is protecting and why?

September 7, 2007 8:33 PM  
Blogger Caleddie said...

Besides all of the above questions abour Lorren, Bast, Denna, Mr. Ash, the sword - Folly, Auri's gifts,the stone door -Valaritas-in the Archives, I would like to know what was contained in the black wood trunk in Kvothe's room and why was one scar on his body not smooth and silver. What are the seven words that will make a person love you and the ten words that will break a man's will.

October 7, 2007 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

To do with the current plot[with Kvothe, Chronicler and Bast in the inn].
1. How does the current plotline affect the story as Kvothe tells it?
2. What do you think the war is about? Do you think it has anything to do with Kvothe?
3. What do you think about the mercenary who came into Kvothe's inn in chapter 88[Interlude - Looking]? What do you think he was looking for? What language was he speaking?
4. By the end of the trilogy, do you think Kvothe will be able to use magic again?
5. Will he start playing music again?
6. In fact, will he have come to grips with what has happened to him? Will he stop waiting to die?

To do with the story [Kvothe's story, duh].
1. Do you think Skarpi will be reintroduced later? Will we learn more about him? ie. How does he know people in the church? Where/how did he learn his story?
2. How do you think Trapis came to his arrangement with the street kids? Do you think he was a Tehlin priest once? If so, why did he leave the church?
3. Do you think Ben[Abenthy] will come into the story again somehow?
4. Do you think Auri will start to come out of hiding? Will the ring that she gave Kvothe be special in any way, or do you think it was just an ordinary ring?

I'm not at all sure if these questions are any good. I wrote a bit more than I'd intended to. I'm only in year 10, but I like this sort of thing, and I love the book! I can't wait for the forum!

October 7, 2007 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Stormy said...

1. If the Underthing's passages lead up into the Archives, could there possibly be a way to get into the Valeritus door in there from the Underthing? Could this possibly have anything to do with Kvothe's impending expulsion?

2. What is the author trying to illustrate by the story of Tehlu? Is it just a wish to explain more about the God in his story, or is there more to it? Is there any purposeful correlation of the story of Tehlu holding down Encanis on the iron wheel in the fire and the later event where Kvothe drops the iron wheel on the draccus and then falls into the collapsing, burning building? If so, what could this correlation be?

3. Is there a purpose to the deliberate casting of Encanis as the Good Samaritan when Kvothe is beaten while on the streets?

4. Why is Bast seemingly stronger than most of the Folk when it comes to the touch/binding with iron?

5. Will Kvothe find a way to turn his upcoming (alluded to) expulsion from the University against Ambrose as well as himself?

6. Kvothe tells us many times that he is not good at being with/snaring women, that he is out of his element when it comes to this particular subject. Yet he is instinctually careful when it comes to Denna, and seems to attract the ladies. Is this his "greatness at everything" being expressed in yet another fashion, or is it merely his youthful innocence that makes him attractive?

7. When the story of the Amyr is told by Skarpi, he makes a point of naming all of the Amyr and describing them. If we assume that the Amyr are the angels referred to at the beginning of the story when Chronicler is spouting off rumors and mentions the killing of an angel, which of these angels did Kvothe kill?

8. How will Kvothe come by the sword Folly? If he doesn't want to be found, why does he keep such a noticeable thing hanging in his front room?

May 21, 2008 8:42 AM  

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