Kvothe - chosen one?

  1. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    this is coming from a thread about cliches I was involved in elsewhere. Reading NOTW and, especially, BMF, I felt Kvothe was clearly of the chosen one ilk. I felt he was born to complete some sort of task, and that his skills etc lent themselves to thag trope. Others, however, felt there was no element of being the chosen one because he had to make his own way through the story and because he does not appear to have been born to inherit.

    Thoughts?
     
    Sep 27, 2014
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  2. Chris Guillory

    Chris Guillory www.chrismguillory.com

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    I almost feel that when a character such as Kvothe is set apart from others due to their extraordinary abilities, they almost become the chosen one by default.

    Sort of like Ender. He was born into a family with one brother who failed battle school, and didn't become the chosen one due to anything related to him just simply being Ender Wiggin. He became the chosen one because he was a tactical genius who set him self apart.

    I guess in a way, this supports both arguments. There is a chosen one, however, they became so through their own abilities and set of circumstances.
     
    Sep 27, 2014
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  3. Boaz

    Boaz Thaphireth!

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    springs, I think we all read fantasy for heroes. The presentation can become formulaic, I agree. But what I really dislike is a prophecy concerning a teenager... that method has been abused. I usually feel insulted when an author makes fate and luck carry a callow child of prophecy through to victory while veteran and wise adults fail and die by the thousands.

    Your term "chosen one" sounds like the subject of prophecy to me. And I dislike that... I like the word "destiny" much better.

    Belgarion, Rand, Harry Potter, and Aragorn are all the beneficiaries of prophecy. I'd call them "chosen ones." They won't fail because they have a safety net.

    Kvothe, Druss, Conan, and Tyrion are all men of "destiny." They don't have a divine plan to bolster their efforts. They seem to rely upon their own abilities. Maybe the authors give them divine support, but it's very low key.

    By the way, I don't mind "chosen ones" in myth... that's just part of the story telling method. Aragorn, Achilles, Arthur, Aeneas, etc...

    I believe God is active in this world, but most authors manage divine intervention poorly... so I dislike it.

    Edit: Maybe the problem is that no one writes (or knows how to write) mythology anymore.
     
    Sep 28, 2014
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  4. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    Interesting replies. I use the chosen one trope (sort of, he's a very reluctant chosen one and he tries very hard, as does his protector, to avoid the fact) so it's interesting to hear the different takes on it.

    I think the mythology element is part of what Rothfuss is trying to do - show how a man becomes a myth. And I suspect most characters big enough to become myths were confident, able and probably unbearably smug....
     
    Sep 28, 2014
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  5. Boaz

    Boaz Thaphireth!

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    I don't believe that most authors are able to pull this off convincingly. Their chosen one is reluctant because he does not like the spotlight or because the quest seems extremely difficult. A real chosen one, in my opinion, is reluctant because he/she knows the price is the loss of everything.

    Tolkien has three chosen ones in The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn is the prophesied prince. His quest is to restore the kingdom and re-establish justice for the people. He is not reluctant to attempt the deed, only reluctant to ask people to join lay their lives on the line. Frodo is reluctant from the beginning to get involved in great matters. He does want to see Bilbo and maybe some elves, but that's as far as he wants to go. Frodo grows more reluctant because he sees the mounting cost of the mission... and he at the same time he becomes convinced of it's necessity! He decides to see to see it through knowing he'll never survive. But he did survive, though his physical health was ruined and his own people neglected his sacrifice. Gandalf was the third chosen one. He was supposed to be an assistant, but was forced into being the leader... to his own demise.

    Neither Frodo nor Gandalf really were able to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Aragorn was... but I never got the feeling that he did anything for glory.

    Agreed. I was surprised to realize that story opened with Kvothe waiting to die at the ripe old age of twenty-something...

    Absolutely. More often than not, today's media presents living basketball legends as possessing difficult personalities... Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe. I'd like to have really known Odysseus, Sir Tristram, Robin Hood, Shakespeare, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, the Duke of Marlborough, Elvis, Buster Keaton, Wilt Chamberlain, Knute Rockne, Doak Walker, and Paul the Apostle.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
    Sep 29, 2014
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  6. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    But can a chosen one refuse to be it? That's what we see in Kote, essentially, although it appears enforced for some reason. Does walking away from your destiny imply you've failed or merely chosen to reassign that destiny to your own needs?
     
    Sep 29, 2014
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  7. HareBrain

    HareBrain Bunny of Wonder Staff Member

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    When you say "born to", do you mean his birth was somehow influenced by a supernatural power? (I haven't read the books, so it might be obvious to other readers, but I'm interested.) To my mind, a "chosen one" would have to be selected by something with intent. Otherwise they're just in the right place at the right time.

    Frodo was a "chosen one", or so Gandalf seemed to think (from what he says in ch2 of LOTR). But I wouldn't count Gandalf or Aragorn as chosen ones. Aragorn's role was implicit because of who his parents were. And Gandalf's role was part of a task he was set by others, but it was part of his job. To call him a chosen one is like saying Joe Bloggs is the "chosen one" because I've picked him out of the Yellow Pages to point my chimney.
     
    Sep 29, 2014
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  8. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    It's complicated because we don't have the whole story yet, but it would appear there is something in his mother's lineage which is important (and in his Ruh heritage, maybe). Not supernatural, but heriditary in some way.

    I'd have Aragorn very much as a chosen one, btw by birthright. Gandalf, no.
     
    Sep 29, 2014
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  9. HareBrain

    HareBrain Bunny of Wonder Staff Member

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    This might be veering OT, but I'd have thought "chosen one" would be defined as being selected for some vital task because of qualities that are apparent to the selector but not the selectee. So birthright might apply if, say, the parents' genes carried some dormant genetic quality, or the real father had been an incognito king or something, but I'm not sure Aragorn could have been a chosen one if he always knew who his parents were and what his birthright was.

    (Though I suppose there's the prophecy thing -- I forget the details. If so, then I guess he is a chosen one, but more because of selection by "fate" than because of who he was born. Splitting hares, I know.;))
     
    Sep 29, 2014
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  10. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    I wonder if I'd been better posting a wider thread topic - this is throwing up lots of good thinking.
     
    Sep 29, 2014
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  11. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    In Bujold's Chalion books, the gods can only act through humans. They may choose several different people for a specific task. Some decide not to try, some never manage to arrive, some fail even if they do. The heroes are the ones who get there and get it done.

    In Tolkien's mythology, there are countless individuals that didn't take up the "assigned" task, and the result was always tragedy. LOTR is a story about a time when everyone did what was given them to do, and had to trust that other people would do their part, even though no one (but Iluvatar and maybe the Valar) could see how it all fit together. When Aragorn has to decide whether to go after Frodo or try to rescue Merry and Pippin, that's a moment when everything hangs by a thread. He knows enough to recognize that, too, even though he can't see clearly which is the right decision. There is always that tension throughout Tolkien's mythos, between doing the right thing and exercising free will (the absence of which Tolkien considered as one of the worst evils.)

    So I guess it depends to what extent the writer of a given book has created a world where even a chosen one has free will. Either way, the journey may not be a straight line.
     
    Sep 30, 2014
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  12. Boaz

    Boaz Thaphireth!

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    Teresa, I like The Curse of Chalion.

    I agree.

    I agree.

    I agree. A quality not readily apparent to the selectee (and everyone else) may be his receptiveness to suggestions from the selector.

    So it's about who is choosing. We cannot compare our selection of servicemen to divine appointments of heroes. Are the Valar a high enough authority in Tolkien's world to appoint a hero? Olorin (Gandalf) was a Maia of Manwe and Varda... and Manwe knew more of the mind of Eru than any other created being... so I believe Manwe's directive to Olorin was divinely inspired. And yet, they chose Curumo (Saruman) to lead Olorin and the three other Istari. After his resurrection, Gandalf told the three hunters, "Yes, I am white now. Indeed I am Saruman, one might almost say, Saruman as he should have been." I'd say that not only was Gandalf a chosen one of the Valar, but he was, in fact, chosen twice!

    I think Saruman is one of the examples of a person shirking their assigned task. Saruman was seduced by Sauron into becoming an enemy of the Children of Illuvatar, just as Sauron himself followed Melkor... the original shirker.

    Sorry for splitting hares. I just wanted to hijack the thread further by defending my statement regarding Gandalf.
     
    Sep 30, 2014
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  13. HareBrain

    HareBrain Bunny of Wonder Staff Member

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    You might be right, Boaz. My instinctive idea about the "chosen one" trope is that the chosen one's qualities should be a long way from obvious to himself (as the case with Bilbo and Frodo, for example) but I can easily see that isn't the case with all of them. I think I might be overly influenced by having owned the Kiss album "Music From The Elder" -- following which confession I shall of course quit this site for good and have all my posts destroyed.
     
    Sep 30, 2014
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  14. Boaz

    Boaz Thaphireth!

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    None of my friends know... but I've purchased Midnight Star's No Parking on the Dance Floor and Jon Secada's eponymous album because girlfriends introduced me to them. I always kept those albums hidden... like porn.
     
    Sep 30, 2014
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  15. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    Pulls back confessional panel.

    My sons, these are heinous sins. Banishment is the only way forward. :D
     
    Sep 30, 2014
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  16. Bob S

    Bob S Member

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    Some criticize Rothfuss for making Kvothe a paragon of perfection.
    But Rothfuss could be using the unreliable narrator to let Kvothe boast and grossly exaggerate,
    and the final book might switch narrators to expose Kvothe as nowhere near perfect (?).
     
    Jan 20, 2015
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  17. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    I think Kvothe is tongue in cheek sometimes, too. I think he buys into the great mythology thing - I'm just not sure why. The last scene of the second book is the one that continues to addle at me - he still has the Ketan, yet he couldn't fight the King's men. Somewhere, something unreliable is going on for sure. The waiting to find out will be long....
     
    Jan 20, 2015
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  18. Young stormlord

    Young stormlord Thousand eyes and one!

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    He is not the chosen one - he is an unknowing pawn of prophecy he didn't know about. To me at least, there is a small difference. As for why he had lost most of his abilities... I think the thing is fairly simple. When you're only just learning an ability, a new skill, some new knowledge, that skill is not a part of you. You have to concentrate to do it, you make mistakes. After a lot of trying and deliberate effort, it becomes a second nature to you. You do it without thinking (in fact, concentrating on the mechanics of it could make you do it worse, especially if the skill is walking on the wire!), it is a part of you. My theory is that when Kvothe became Kote, he changed his true name and he lost a part of himself. And those skills, Ketan, alchemy, true names of wind, stone, iron and fire ,Alar like steel... they're all part of him.
    In fact, he is that good that he doesn't think about them, they were like breathing to him, they are what make Kvothe, well, Kvothe! When he thinks about them, he can do them, because he is deliberately trying, but he is doing them like a fresh student who is still just starting to learn the skill. In the heat of battle, when there's so much working on instinct... he can't do those things any more. Because he doesn't have them like that any more.

    Also, becoming Kote means he has to stay Kote. Kote was always a barman in front of other people, with Kote being Kvothe only with Bast alone then that stopped too. All those failures were in front of other people, when Kvothe can't be badass, because that would mean "death" of Kote.
     
    May 19, 2015
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  19. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    Except that the failure to open the chest at the end of book two wasn't in front of anyone....?
     
    May 19, 2015
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  20. Young stormlord

    Young stormlord Thousand eyes and one!

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    True. It is not a perfect comparison. The better one would be this: Imagine that Kvothe is a world famous surgeon. He has a giant mole on the thumb of his left hand, but otherwise he looks like a hundred other people. That mole is his one recognizing characteristic. He is so good that he can attach his own thumb even with just his right hand; it is hard, very hard, but he is that good and with proper tools he can do it right after a lot of effort. So, Kvothe the surgeon needs to go into hiding. He cuts off the thumb of his left hand and puts it into deep magical ice, to preserve it.

    He is a really good surgeon, but he knows the skills are rusting if you're not using them. So, every two weeks he tries to reattach his thumb. He succeeds. Then, he cuts it off again. But, it's a bother. It takes a lot of time to attach the thumb and a lot of effort too. He starts to like being the other person, at least a little. So, the thumb attaching becomes rarer and rarer. First, once a month. Then, once every three months. Then he stops doing it at all. One day, he decides to try to do it and he realizes that he can't do it at all. There is still some shadow of his former skill, he can sew his finger on but he can't attach all the muscles and veins, he can't do it properly.

    What if opening the box requires a very, very skillful "surgeon" at the peak of his power? That means, at least to me, that Kvothe will have to train for quite a lot of time to regain what he once had.
     
    May 19, 2015
    #20
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