So, I went to Berlin to see Patrick Rothfuss

22 Apr

(Šeit ir pieejams arī šī raksta tulkojums latviešu valodā.)

Foto: Spīgana
It started as a bit of a joke. In his blog I read that Rothfuss is going to Germany for a reading and Q&A tour so I jokingly told myself- well, Germany isn`t that far from Latvia, why don`t you just go and get your book signed by your favourite writer? About an hour and half later I had my bus tickets to Berlin and a shadow of suspicion that 20 hours on the bus isn`t all that comfortable. But anyway- it felt like awesome idea.

And then it somehow escalated to an epic thing that stole me at least a weeks worth of sleep (my brain simply wouldn`t shut up because of all the excitement). Because I managed to arrange a meeting with His Wordship (twitter joke, moving on) and I had a chance to interview Patrick Rothfuss!

Of course, everything was going on so great that I was quite sure- I`ll mess up something. And I did. The first half of the interview wasn`t properly recorded, it wasn`t recorded at all. This is when I understood the meaning of an emotional rollercoaster. Imagine this- I`ve just had one of the most awesome conversations in my life and I`m totally going to own that on my blog and then I realize that half of that conversation is not recorded. Damn.

But it`s lucky that I checked the recording right away, so I just wrote down everything I remembered Patrick saying immediately after that and in the end I think I didn`t butcher that interview as much as I`d feared. Also, Patrick was kind enough to edit the interview I had written down and now it`s all proper and beautiful stuff.

So, this is a longish story in three parts. First one is the interview. In the second part I retell the interesting bits from that evening`s Q&A. Third part is me generally blabbering all over the place about how amazing the whole thing was.

Part 1. The Interview.

Foto: Spīgana

Can you tell a secret- how did you persuade Auri to let you into her world?

I have an access to that world, you know.

But it`s actually harder with Auri than with Kvothe. Kvothe is telling us his story, he’s showing us things. But that’s not the case with Auri, she doesn’t know she’s in a story, we’re peeking into her private world in this new book.

Do you have a favorite place in Temerant? Maybe somewhere you go when you`re tired of this world?

I think I`d go to the Eolian. Sometimes I`ve even thought about building Eolian in this world, that would be fun. But on the other hand, even though I`d like to visit it, I don`t think I would go there often. Generally speaking, I’d prefer someplace quieter, like the Waystone Inn.

When I read your books, I was thinking how liberal the magic is- basically everybody who wants to learn and have the means to pay can learn the magic. But still there are people who scoff at the University. Why is that so?

In this world or in my world?

In Temerant.

There is more than one reason, I think.

First, going to the University is a huge luxury and not everybody can afford that. Basically the nobility have this privilege to go and study, and that means that the University, for the most part, is full of rich kids. And a lot of times those folks end up spoiled and entitled, not the nicest guys. Like Ambrose, for example.

Second, going to the University isn’t seen as being particularly practical. If you train to be a carpenter, everyone can see how they can make useful things. They build houses and tables and chairs. But some kid who spends years and years in University learning history? People don`t really see the practical point for it. It seems frivolous.

Of course, it would be nice if everybody could afford to have the education and I don`t see any reason why a carpenter shouldn`t learn sympathy or drafting to make his work better. But mostly the University is seen as expensive and unpractical luxury for idle rich kids.

Think of it from the carpenter’s point of view: with the time and money they would spend going to the University, they could build three houses. And that person wouldn’t be wrong. The truth is, we need both carpenters and historians. But I think it’s a shame to think everything in the world fits into two camps: Either practical things or the arts. The truth is, these things are often complementary.

But Kvothe does make practical things in the University.


Do you plan to write more books that tell us about characters other than Kvothe- like you did with Auri? Maybe Bast or Felurian?

There is a story about Bast – „The Lightning Tree”. It`s the one I wrote for the anthology.

It`s fun to write those smaller stories – I don’t have to worry about orchestrating a huge, complex plot. So yes, I think I`ll do more of these.

Maybe one for Elodin. There’s a lot about him that nobody knows. And Denna, there’s a lot of her story that nobody sees.

Oh, we would like to know her better. Actually, she is one of my favorites.

It`s nice to hear that. You say „we would like to know more”, but some people wouldn`t, some people really, really don`t like Denna.

Yes, I`ve seen that a lot and that makes me wonder- why?

Honestly? I think it happens for different reasons.

Some people who don’t like Denna are women that have a little bit of a crush on Kvothe: They think: “I wouldn’t treat him like that! I’d be better for Kvothe him than she is.” They`re kinda jealous. Either that or they`re like an over protective big sister, sure that no woman is good enough for him.

But that’s just a narrow slice of readership. I think the main reason is much bigger than that.

The truth is, our culture has a huge problem about how we view women. They are not treated well, and they are not thought of in healthy ways. This is certainly true in the US, and I’m pretty sure there are similar things happening in most western countries.

This affects Denna because stories are a reflection of our culture, and traditionally, our culture teaches us that the purpose of a woman is to be… well… kind of a reward for a man. She’s something he strives for, like the princess you save at the end of the video game. She’s the damsel in distress in the folk tale. If you save my kingdom, you shall have my daughter’s hand in marriage.

A lot of stories, especially fantasy stories, treat women like treasure. Their primary purpose in many stories is to be objects of affection for the hero.

So along comes Kvothe, and he’s adventurous and proud, and he loves this woman and she does not immediately fall at his feet, she does not go out of her way to adore him. She doesn’t bend over backwards to make herself available to him. I think people resent that, because some part of them has come to believe this thing they’ve heard in stories again and again and again. They think a woman should make herself available to a man just because the man wants her.

And that is a very unfortunate thing, and it`s a very creepy thing. It`s bad enough when a man feels that way, but it scares me when a woman feels that way. When a woman hates another woman, even a fictional woman, for not making herself available to a man just because he wants her- that shows me something very dangerous is happening in society.

Well, but maybe in some way Kvothe isn`t worthy of Denna, the foolish boy he is and the way he doesn`t get any clues when they are in plain sight.

Oh, he`s a very foolish boy. He doesn’t know what to do and he doesn’t think he’s good enough for her. He’s sure of it. He doesn`t see that she’s infatuated with him too, and that’s a shame. But it`s nice that you (and other readers) see that.

And have you ever gone chasing the name of the wind?

I spent 10 years in college as an undergraduate. That’s mostly what I did there.

Foto: Spīgana

Part 2. Q&A in the evening.

Rothfuss is great at playing his audience- we`ve seen and enjoyed that in his books, but it was great to see him doing that live. The Q&A was fun and I`m surprised for the amount of details we got to know there.

Of course, this is by no means a detailed retelling of every single question and answer. First, unfortunately I don`t possess the Chronicler`s ability to write everything down at incredible speed. Second, much of what was said demands the context of intonation and expressions. Here I just wrote down the interesting bits (not that Rothfuss might say anything that I didn`t find interesting…) and arranged them in an order that would make sense without actually being there and hearing it on your own. I also mixed there the *official* questions and the questions from the audience.

Foto: Spīgana

I know you are a control freak and especially so when it comes to the language. How does it feel to have your books translated and out of your control?

I had to let go, because I had no choice. Besides I`m fluent only in English so I can`t actually read the translations and see how bad they are.

Most of my writing can`t be translated in a literal way and some of it can`t be translated at all. I like to flirt with language and I do that to the border of pretentious bullshit. Usually I have to keep my desires in reins so that the playing with language doesn`t interfere with the plot, but with „The Slow Regard of Silent Things” I went completely crazy.

Anyway- I have a forum for my translators and they can ask me what in the hell was I thinking when I wrote that.

What is a difference between you and someone who writes bad female characters?

I hope there is a difference.

I think about that a lot and I`m careful when I write from female perspective. Unless you are a blind, stupid creature you know that our culture has problems with women and because I`m part of this culture I accidentally absorb those things and I must be really careful not to let that unhealthy way of looking at women in my writing.

(Here Patrick again told his thoughts on why people sometimes hate Denna, I won`t repeat those again, just add the more powerful things he said there). Denna doesn`t do what is culturally expected of woman, it`s her job to love him back. She doesn`t, people get pissed. “If you don`t give him what he deserves, you are a horrible whore.” And just to clarify- it`s a horrible way of thinking.

Denna is also the woman who simply leaves the abusive relationship and that makes me proud.

Auri on the other hand is easier to love- she is always there for Kvothe. So am I contributing to the culture where female revolves around protagonist with Auri? I think not, because Auri is a fond friend of Kvothe, it`s not a case of subservience.

In “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” I`ve had a deeper affection for a piece of soap than characters in other novels. But is this a story of a broken girl?

In my writing I like to leave space for reader to enjoy the story in a way they`d like.

For example, everybody believes Fela is incredibly beautiful, but I never actually describe her. She has long hair, that`s it. If I described her in great detail, I`d do 2 bad things- I would describe what beauty is and I would close the doors for you to do my job. When you engage in story, it becomes your own story. (I was mindblown by this. Like, I`ve always had this particularly detailed image of Fela and I believed- I`ve read it word for word in the books.)

And now back to Auri. Her story lets reader to decide what`s going on, her charm is in the mystery.

Yes, this is a story of a young woman who is a hot mess. 8 different colors of mental disorder. She has developed her own rituals to keep her safe and functioning in her psychosis. Or maybe she sees the world better than others. Some people perceive her as a holy person. And every one of those readings and all the shades in between are fair- holy, crazy or magical- I love them all.

Have you ever considered writing in other genres?

No. (Long pause for ovations to calm down)

I don`t see the point of it, everything I can do in other genres, I can do in fantasy. Plus elves. Fantasy is a flavour that makes everything better.

When is the third book coming out?

When I`ll know, I`ll tell you, I`m not keeping it a secret. I`m not an alien creature who feeds on human misery and it`s not like I need your tears to fuel my writing. I simply don`t know.

Let`s just say this- the third book is coming out in 2025 and if you get it sooner than that you get to be pleasantly surprised.

(I actually like this answer a lot. You know, it`s not like we are entitled to that book, it`s more of a gift to us and it`s very impolite to ask for a gift that is not yet ready for giving.)

You say that Denna gets out of abusive relationships. Are you saying that Denna gets rid of her patron in next book?

It`s a great question.

(An it`s a great answer, Pat.)

What is your worldbuilding process like?

Oh, so big question. If you want to build an interesting world, think about the things that excites you, what you feel passionately about. It makes a rich, deep and different world.

For me those things are religion, myth, anthropology. Psychology, sociology, chemistry. Economics, currency etc. Many others. It makes the world delicious.

Pick those things you are geek about and let it be the foundation.

How much personal experience did you put in Kvothe?

Beautiful game came from the life. I was hanging out in playground and watching kids play. They made a game where they were running across the bridge and the point was not to let the people below the bridge touch you. They didn`t sit down and discuss the game, the game simply happened. They also didn`t use the most obvious way- standing in a place where nobody can touch you.

If you play like me, you sit down and systematically destroy everybody, but children understand a thing that adults forget. It`s a desire for beauty of the game, not obsession to win.

So, years later I made tak, but this is a weird example.

Did the Lethani change you?

Fair question, but I think it goes the other way. Philosophy is fun to put in the book, but it doesn`t necessary infect me.

Great idea for displaying your signed books on a bookshelf.

Great idea for displaying your signed books on a bookshelf.

The amount of books (and other things) he had to sign is crazy and it went on for hours.

The amount of books (and other things) he had to sign is crazy and it went on for hours.

And this is what people look like with their books signed.

And this is what people look like with their books signed.

Part 3. I`m not crazy.

Meeting Rothfuss and listening to him was awesome by itself, but this adventure also had quite a nice frame. There is a bunch of my photos from Berlin on my photoblog.

There were those 20 hour rides to and from Berlin. In the end I spent more time on the bus than in Berlin, and a bus ride is quite bearable if you are accompanied by the right book. Of course, I made a mistake by thinking that this might be a good chance to reread “The Slow Regard of the Silent Things”. Auri was completely mad at me for bringing her at this brutal voyage of people, smells and daylight. So I ended up reading this amazingly detailed reread of Kingkillers Chronicle.

There was that moment when I slowly started to realize that Poland is infinite.

There was this Indian guy who befriended me in 5 minutes on the bus and then I ended up looking at his family pictures from his sister`s wedding.

There were all those people who complimented my outfit and thought I was cosplaying because of my long cloak and long green dress. It was fun to tell them that those are actually my everyday clothes and besides that I made them myself. Also- cloak is a genius creation of humanity. It`s warm, it`s cozy and comfortable. And on 20 hour bus rides it doubles for both the blanket and pillow. Amazing.

I also had to explain that I am not Denna, because of the hair colour – hers don`t match mine. I have quite a crush for Denna, but obviously, gingers are better. Sorry, not sorry.

There were also people who recognised me as “that girl form Rothfuss blog” (I had already left a comment there that I was going to Berlin by bus). That was a surprise.

There was also the fact that in the one evening in Berlin I had spoken to more people than I usually do in a week and all of those people were nice and I actually (gasp) enjoyed talking to them. I`m no people person, my sister got that trait, but on this occasion it was super nice and enjoyable.

Oh, and I got lost on my way back to hotel and it was a beautiful thing. Of course, you can`t get properly lost with GPS on your smartphone and an actual paper map in your bag, so it was the safe way of being lost. It was beautiful anyway.

And on my second (half)day in Berlin I had a charming walk in an old cemetery. It felt more like a beautiful park with birds singing like there had never been spring before than cemetery. Take away the sounds of the city and it would be an episode straight out of one of the books about Anne from the Green Gables.

There were also those people who told me that going to Berlin just to see my favourite writer is completely crazy, but in no way can I agree with them. Yes, it was an epic adventure and it felt awesome, and it`s actually one of the best things I`ve ever done in my life. But it wasn`t crazy. Lots of people told me that it might be kinda okay thing to do if I went by airplane instead of bus, but it wasn`t exactly possible for me on this occasion, and saying that doing an awesome thing in a not so comfortable way is crazy doesn`t sound sane at all, if you ask me. Just the fact that it was slightly uncomfortable doesn`t make this entire thing crazy. And also my love for books is in no way crazy or insane.

In the end I want to say thanks to Zvaigzne ABC (Rothfuss Latvian publishers) who contacted the right people and got me an e-mail address of Rothfuss agent, without that e-mail address I wouldn`t be able to get a chance to speak with Rothfuss and I wouldn`t have that interview.

  1. Kibrika

    24th March 2015 at 1:49 pm

    “[..] some people really, really don`t like Denna.”
    Wow, this is the first time I encounter the idea that Dena could be not liked. She’s wonderful, and by the end of the Wise mans fear, Kvothe doesn’t deserve her.

    “[..] everything I can do in other genres, I can do in fantasy. Plus elves.”
    I laughed out loud.

    “I also had to explain that I am not Denna, [..] I have quite a crush for Denna, but obviously, gingers are better.”
    So… you were cosplaying Kvothe?

    Thank you, now I’m having troubles continuing to listen to the book I’m on, as I want to re-listen to something of Rotfuses again…

    And did Rotfus pronounce Auris name wrong in person too?

    • Spigana

      24th March 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Jesus, girl, behave yourself! He pronounces every word he gave his characters right, you know. 😛
      As for cosplaying- it wasn`t Kvothe either, I was cosplaying myself, as always.

  2. Dace

    24th March 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Rindkopu par Felu es pārlasīju vairākkārt ar ieplestām acīm. Tas ir tik burvīgi! Viņš ļauj lasītājam pašam Felā iemiesot savus skaistuma standartus, lai viņa ikvienam būtu neiedomājami skaista. I applaud you, Patrick Rothfuss.

    Starp citu, es esmu viens no cilvēkiem, kam Denna krīt uz nerviem, bet ne tādēļ, ka man šķiet – viņai vajadzētu atdoties Kvoutam. Es cerēju no Rotfusa sagaidīt citu izskaidrojumu, jo man tiešām likās, ka viņš apzināti ir izveidojis galvenā varoņa mīlas interesi kā ne pārāk patīkamu personu, un man šķita, ka tas ir visai ģeniāli. Tāpat kā galvenais varonis ir ļoti kaitinošs. Bet nu labi, Rotfusa ģenialitāti tas gan tikai pierāda vairāk, jo izrādās, ka viņa tēli ir dzīvi. Viņš nepasaka priekšā, kā lasītājam būtu jāuztver tēls, lasītājs pats izveido savu viedokli. Tie tēli, kas visiem patīk, patīk tāpēc, ka autors tā ir gribējis.

    Man toties šķita ļoti savādi, ka cilvēki tiešām uzskata Auri par vienkārši prātā jukušu. Manā skatījumā viņa tiešām ir svēta.

    “[..] everything I can do in other genres, I can do in fantasy. Plus elves.” – es arī smējos. Perfekti!

    Katrā ziņā tev ir izdevies panākt, ka es uz Rotfusu vairs neskatos kā uz “just another it-thing”. Viņš ir lielisks, un viņa grāmatās ir daudz vairāk darba ieguldīts nekā man šķita, viņas lasot. Paldies!

    • Spigana

      24th March 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Yup, par Felu es joprojām nevaru pārstāt domāt.
      Un kurā vietā Denna ir nepatīkams cilvēks?! Nē, nu tas, ka gan Kvouts, gan Denna ir pilnīgi dumji attiecībā viens uz otru, ir skaidrs, bet neciešama?

      Es savukārt par Auri vienmēr domāju, ka viņa ir kādreiz pagātnē salūzusi, neticami veiksmīgi sevi salabojusi un tagad ir maģiska un visu apkārt redz skaidrāk, nekā citi.
      Un tas, ka Rotfusa varoņus var lasīt dažādi, man vienmēr ir ārprātīgi paticis.

    • Kibrika

      25th March 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Arī labs iebildums. Zinu cilvēkus, kam nepatīk Kvothe, kāpēc lai nebūtu cilvēki, kam nepatīk Dena, bet ne tik muļķīgu iemeslu, kā viņš piedāvā dēļ.

  3. Lasītāja

    24th March 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Kongratulācijas ar lieliski pavadīto laiku un patīkamām sarunām. Varbūt es arī sākšu apsvērt domu palasīt R., izklausās pēc sakarīga cilvēka. 😀 (Lai gan nē, tās grāmatas ir pārāk biezas un smagas.)

  4. glarion

    23rd April 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Amazing interview! :) I will be honest, I am a bit jealous, I hope one day I can meet him too. :)

    • Spigana

      23rd April 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you! It sure was an amazing experience.

  5. Guilherme Grunewald

    23rd April 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Hey beautiful ginger, great post with a good interview and realy (REALY) awesome pictures! Congrats!

    P.s: I don´t understand anything written in the other posts but is so “eye candy”. :)

    Best regards from Brazil.

    • Spigana

      23rd April 2015 at 4:43 pm

      *blushing ginger* Thank you!
      Other posts are in Latvian, since usually it makes more sense to write in Latvian.
      Oh, and there are more of my photos on my photoblog: Unfortunately no Rothfuss over there.

  6. Sara

    23rd April 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful interview and the recounting of some bits of the Q&A session – makes me kind of feel like I actually went there myself. When I found out that he was coming to Germany I was sososo excited – and then I looked at the dates, realised I would not be in Germany at the time and fell into despair (well, not really, but something very close to it ^^). So thanks again, I think your blog post is very well written and it makes me want to meet Rothfuss even more than I did before… :) Hopefully one day I will!
    Greetings from Germany, Sara

    • Spigana

      23rd April 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Nice to hear that! At first I didn`t think I would include the Q&A part, but sitting there I realised that those things are way too interesting and started taking notes. :)

  7. Kthaeh

    23rd April 2015 at 10:08 pm

    You should completely ignore anyone who tells you that taking off for a brief adventure to see your favorite author is anything besides a great idea. I mean, unless you or someone you need to feed is a few meals away from starving or not being able to pay rent, that bus ticket was money well spent. It’s not like Rothfuss is going to come to Europe every year, and look at all the enjoyment you got from making the trip. You seem like a young person without major responsibilities yet in life. So…very far from crazy in my opinion. You’ll remember this little adventure all your life. I’m glad you did it and shared it with everyone.

    • Spigana

      23rd April 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Exactly my thoughts! It was worth every cent I spent and I would definitely do that again.

  8. Bill Comway

    24th April 2015 at 1:14 am

    Going to Berlin,by bus,or to see your favorite author is a grand adventure.Going by plane would have cheapened it ! I hope next time the picture toting Indian is some where else !

    • Spigana

      24th April 2015 at 8:58 am

      Going by plane would have made that moro comfortable, but not cheaper – I did a thorough research and there was no other way that would work for me, just that bus thing.

  9. Mary

    24th April 2015 at 4:07 am

    I… kinda despise Denna.

    As much as I like Patrick Rothfuss as an author and as a person, his answer as to why people hate Denna… kind of infuriated me. I feel like all three categories come off as condescending and I feel very strongly that I don’t fit into any of them. More so, though, I think I was most annoyed by the implication that if I don’t like Denna I’m either a twitterpated fangirl or crazy female misogynist.

    I think Kvothe is an interesting, in-depth, flawed character and I feel enough empathy for him to be very interested in his story. However, I have to admit, I feel more like Chronicler. I am fascinated by his story and I even root for him but I am not emotionally attached to him. He is not even vaguely appealing to me romantically because I’ve gotten the impression that he is incapable of forming and keeping healthy relationships. Nor have I formed enough of an emotional attachment to him to be a “protective big sister.”

    I can relate to Kvothe, I admire his cleverness, and I want him to succeed but I do not hate Denna because I feel he is “entitled” to her. In fact, their relationship bores me to tears.

    I hate Denna because she is a compulsive liar. I hate her because she makes her living manipulating people into giving her free stuff. What’s worse, she makes her living manipulating they’re romantic emotions. She uses men and leads them on until there is no more to be gained or until they ask for greater commitment, then she flees. Essentially, she makes her living giving emotional blue balls.

    (And don’t give me any crap about how this is me being sexist for thinking those men were “entitled” to her affection. SHE WAS PURPOSEFULLY AND KNOWINGLY LEADING MEN ON AND USING THEM FOR THEIR MONEY. The only people who would find something like that noble are man-haters.)

    I hate her because she changes her entire identity based off what someone else wants her to be. I hate her because she fakes her whole personality based off who she wants to impress most at the time. I hate her because she’s fake.

    I hate her because every time she pops up I feel like the story slams on the breaks. Kvothe can be working on the most interesting thing in the world and then drops everything because Denna might be in town. His obsession with her and their pseudo courtship is so boring and banal compared to everything else in that incredible world Rothfuss has created. I understand that at this point in the story he’s a teenage boy and that teenagers can get a little obsessive with their crushes but come on. Go back and make some more magicky stuff. Go learn how to be epic with a sword. Go hunting for the magical evil men that killed your parents. I’m bored of watching you drool over a girl that can’t decide if she’s using you or not. Get back to the fun stuff.

    I also hate Denna because Patrick Rothfuss treats her like she’s some empowered woman when she’s the weakest, flattest, least interesting character in the book. Devi is a great example of a strong female character. Fela is a good, strong female character. Mola. Hespe. Felurian. Every female in Ademre. Even Auri, who appears weak and broken is a much stronger woman than Denna.

    I hate Denna because Kvothe puts her on a pedestal and there is nothing more dehumanizing for women than to be compared to a deified version of themselves.

    I hate Denna because of how often she says, “I’m a city girl, remember?” This just feels like a cheap way for Rothfuss to put in all the clever stuff he knows about survival and put in an infodump disguised as dialogue. With how much time she spends traveling, she would have to be an absolute fool to have not picked up some of this stuff and would have had to actively made an attempt not to learn it.

    I hate Denna because the whole abusive patron subplot feels like Rothfuss is trying too hard to make her into a martyr. If she’s so good at getting out of relationships when things get scary, why the hell is she still hanging out with a man that broke her ribs? I’m not sold on her actually believing he’s her one shot as becoming a professional musician. She prides herself on getting men to hang on her every word. There’s no way she wouldn’t consider finding a different patron. Besides, again, I’m bored of hearing about poor, put-upon, headstrong Denna. There are five million more interesting things the story could be talking about and exploring in the paragraphs wasted by this flat, uninteresting friend-zone courtship thing she and Kvothe have going on.

    (Now, I recognize that part of that is probably Rothfuss’ attempt to show that even strong women can end up in abusive relationships and that it doesn’t make them weak, which is commendable. Had it been executed well, that could have been really interesting and thought provoking. The problem is, I never got the impression that Denna was a strong woman even before the abuser came into question. To me, she’s just always been an easily manipulated manipulator.)

    So, in short, I do not hate Denna because I dislike strong women. I do not hate Denna because she breaks gender roles. I do not hate Denna because she refuses to enter into a romantic relationship with Kvothe (which really is just because he’s broke and she wouldn’t be able to get anything out of it).

    I hate Denna because she is an uninteresting character who is manipulative and belittling toward men and unable to form relationships with other women because she’s faker than Snooki’s tan.

    End rant.

    • Spigana

      24th April 2015 at 9:18 am

      I kinda can understand this way of thinking and I get that lots of people really hate Denna, but I have some counterpoints to this:

      1. Rothfuss doesn`t say these are the only reasons for disliking Denna. Most likely he chose those so he would have an opening to speak about the ways we treat woman and I love this – I wish more people would realize that when I interview them, I`m not the one who knows which stuff is going to be interesting, they do. So I really enjoy those interviews where person being interviewed takes lead and makes best of questions asked.

      2. It`s in plain sight that Dennas life has been at least as terrible as Kvothes and she is a deeply broken person. Where Kvothe has advantage – being schooled from early years, it`s un believable that Denna has had such opportunities, so she makes her living the way she can, the way that makes her free to go as she wishes. It looks like we have different ways how we think about strong people – for me she is super strong because despite being broken and injured, she still manages to go on with her life and she possess freedom others can only dream about. For me strong person isn`t necessarily the one that leads exemplary life, but one who goes on despite everything. And Denna does exactly that – even though she believes herself unworthy of anything, she always goes on, and it takes incredible willpower that can`t be given, you have to possess that and it makes you really strong.

      3. As for different masks – ok, well, I never had problem with literary characters that others would deem immoral to some account, but I disagree that wearing different masks to different occasions in life makes her fake. Everybody does that to some extent, it`s just that in Dennas case we see that extremely clearly. It`s just a way of coping with life for me, nothing to scoff on.

      4. The question about Dennas mentor bothers me a bit, but I think we are in for a surprise in third book on this. Rothfuss never puts on his books anything that won`t be important later on, so Dennas mentor being the asshole he is, definitely will have a meaning in later plot.

      5. If Kvothe would just go on with his learning and fighting, as you suggest, and wouldn`t have any love interest, it would make those books extremely unbelievable. Kvothe already is kinda unbelievable character since this book is not his biography, but Kvothe making a legend about Kvothe (that`s the main reason I love those books so much – Rothfuss here explores and shows his readers the mechanisms of legend making and wearing them like armor). Denna finally makes Kvothe vulnerable and human and that`s an excellent thing.

      To say that Denna is weakest, flattest, least interesting character in the book is to say that only people with exemplary lives, only people without any flaws can be strong, but that`s clearly not the case. Denna is a strong woman in her own way and anyway there is no one right way to lead ones life. Yes, she can be annoying and there are things to dislike about her, but she is definitely not weakling.

      • MikeMM

        14th August 2015 at 8:48 pm

        “The truth is, our culture has a huge problem about how we view women. They are not treated well, and they are not thought of in healthy ways. This is certainly true in the US, and I’m pretty sure there are similar things happening in most western countries.”
        1. The funny thing is that it is Pat who described Denna to us a courtesan and as a person who tolerates abusive relationship. Pat showed Kote as a person who mourns the loss of his great love. I didn’t see great love between those too. Pat himself admitted that Denna doesn’t love Kvothe she is merely infatuated with him. Therefore I find is strange when Pat says that people get upset with Denna that she doent love him back when Pat himself made us belive that Kote lost the love of his life.
        2. We don’t know that happened to her. So its all assumptions. Besides being strong is different from likeable. Im sure Ambrose had had his own problems in childhood. Should we like Ambrose too?
        3. Denna keeps hurting not only Kvothe but all the people who court her. Why should we like her for that?
        4. He beats her and she tolerates this?
        5. Yes she is weakest female character imho. Devi, Fela, Auri are much more likeable characters despite the fact that Pat didn’t give them as much space in the book as to Denna. Denna is coldest and less emotional person of those four.

        P.S. Thanks for the interview. So It was you who made Pat say that release will be in 2025? :(

  10. David Talon

    25th April 2015 at 3:08 am

    You are never crazy to travel – that’s just another part of the adventure, although your comment about Poland made me remember a cross-country trip, California to Chicago, in a pickup that kept dying if I left it off too long. So I drove the whole 3 days without sleep (what a long, strange trip that was).

    I hope to meet Patrick this October at the Geekcon: stories event in Minnesota – I’m looking forward to a con just devoted to stories

  11. John

    27th January 2017 at 5:14 am

    Denna and Kvothe is the most … addictive… relationship I have ever read. I love reading them. I re read all of their parts every other month. I have no idea how people can find her shallow or simple. It’s like they judge the pond only by its surface.

    To me, the entire books are about Kvothe and Denna. I cannot wait to read more about the two of them because I feel like they are almost the same. I love how Pat has made their relationship. I know some do not. We each look at love, relationships and people differently so fair enough. But to me the two of them are linked and in the same spiral.. Shaped by their past, in the search of impossible answers. I also believe that they are each on the other side of a war.

    Pat… Please make a Ender’s Shadow for Denna. I freaking beg you.

  12. Jason B.

    25th September 2018 at 1:00 pm

    I can’t stand Dena. All she does is wander round going from guy to guy expecting to have everything in her life paid for her without returning anything but for looking pretty. And people wonder why so many of us hate Dena? LoL. Buy a clue the next time you’re at the store.