Kvothe (kəˈvōTH) is the main character in The Kingkiller Chronicle. Much of what is known about him is self-reported to accomplished scrivener, Devan Lochees, and may not be fully reliable. While he has proven to be quick of wit and sharp of memory, he also admits at times in his telling of his tale that his mind was not always "fully awake," or to have been under the influence of mind-altering chemicals, and some of his alterations to his story may be intentional.
Kvothe has pale skin and green eyes, though the intensity of this color is often noted as changing throughout the series. His eyes are similar to the description of his mother's eyes. He has extremely red hair, which is often compared to a flame. He is exceptionally intelligent, quick-witted, sharp-tongued and clever, as well as a talented musician. He is also very curious, a quality that often gets him into trouble. He has a nasty, flash-pan temper and acts recklessly when emotional.
Kvothe is a skilled arcanist in sympathy and sygaldry, often outstripping his peers. He quickly picks up many new things to the amazement of those who have mastered it, from methods of shorthand-writing such as that by Devan Lochees, the entire ballad of "The Lay of Sir Savien Traliard" from hearing it sparingly, or the entirety of basic sygaldry. It is this proficiency for learning that convinces his early tutor Abenthy that Kvothe will grow to be great at whatever he does, comparing Kvothe to Illien and Taborlin the Great.
In his youth, Kvothe meets an elderly arcanist named Abenthy and witnesses him call the name of the wind to frighten off town officials who are pestering him, sparking Kvothe's interest in naming. Soon after, Abenthy is invited to join the troupe in traveling in exchange for his services as an arcanist.
This encounter is pivotal for Kvothe's life, as Abenthy recognizes that Kvothe is extremely intelligent and agrees to educate him. Kvothe receives education in Sympathy, Chemistry, Rhetoric, and Arithmetic in preparation for admittance to the University. Abenthy instructs him in several useful mental tools, such as the "Heart of Stone" to be able to think without emotional attachment, and the "Alar," faith powerful enough to influence the physical world. Abenthy serves not only as an instructor but a close friend of Kvothe. Abenthy eventually leaves the troupe, to Kvothe's dismay, but not before gifting a copy of Rhetoric and Logic, the only book in Abenthy's possession that Kvothe did not read cover-to-cover.
Kvothe, Defend yourself well at the University. Make me proud. Remember your father’s song. Be wary of folly. Your friend, Abenthy
After Abenthy's departure, Kvothe is left depressed. His fellow troupe members attempt to broaden his education to distract him, teaching him the skills of acting and the stage. One night, while Kvothe is away in the woods playing, the troupe is brutally murdered by the Chandrian. Kvothe comes upon the eerie scene in shock, hardly believing what he is seeing. He has a brief encounter in which he witnesses several supposed signs of the Chandrian to include wood rotting, iron rusting, and blue flame. Young Kvothe comes face to face with the Chandrian, chiefly Cinder who mocks and antagonizes him, and Haliax who rebukes Cinder.
Traumatized by the experience of finding his troupe and family dead, Kvothe flees with his father's lute into the woods. Kvothe describes his mentality at this point and, for some time later, as being "not fully awake." Using skills taught to him by Abenthy and the troupe, he manages to survive in the wild. It is during this time he learns to play the lute so well he can conjure up specific feelings and images with the notes. He learns to play his lute with fewer and fewer strings as they break, until so many break that he is forced to leave the forest, walking with the intent to find a town to buy new strings. He meets a humble farmer named Seth, who takes him the rest of the way to Tarbean.
In Tarbean, Kvothe lives for three years as a beggar and thief on the streets of Tarbean. On his first day, he is assaulted by an older boy named Pike, who becomes his long-time enemy. Pike breaks his father's lute and beats Kvothe senseless. Kvothe slowly learns the ways of the street and is helped along the way with food and medicine by a kind older man by the name of Trapis who runs a homeless shelter for children. He becomes accomplished in lock-picking, climbing, thieving, and urban survival. Eventually, Kvothe hears Skarpi tell the story of Lanre. This reawakens his mind, pushing him towards the University.
Kvothe buys passage on Roent’s caravan headed to Imre, the town next to the University. On this caravan, he meets Denna for the first time, though they part ways at Imre. Upon arrival at the University, Kvothe heads to the famed Archives, only to be turned away by Wilem, who directs him to admissions. Kvothe applies and sneakily listens to other student’s questions. Using this advantage along with his own knowledge, he amazes the masters, and pleads with them successfully, convincing them into giving him three talents instead of requiring tuition. Quickly rising through the ranks of the University, he alienates many of his peers.
During one early lecture in basic sympathy, Master Hemme allows Kvothe to teach a portion of the lesson. Kvothe demonstrates by using sympathy to give Hemme a hot-foot with Hemme's approval, as the master did not believe Kvothe would succeed. When he does, Hemme is outraged and brings Kvothe to trial before the masters for malfeasance. While Kvothe's expulsion is withheld, as Hemme allowed him to commit the act, Kvothe is still sentenced to be whipped to discourage further malfeasance. Kvothe uses the charges to his advantage, as evidence of his worthiness in the Arcanum. Master Kilvin sponsors him to E'lir and encourages him to study artificing. When he is to be whipped Kvothe takes nalroot, a natural painkiller that also prevents bleeding, to prevent letting others see weakness. Already a spectacle for having been admitted at minus-three talents, the whipping of Kvothe draws a crowd. His supposed daring to take his shirt off, which would otherwise bear some of the pain (he doesn't have other shirts to spare), as well as his not crying out in pain, and lack of blood earn him the moniker "Kvothe the Bloodless." Master Arwyl takes him to the Medica for stitching. Seeing Kvothes handiwork in the self-stitched scars from his days in Tarbean, the Master offers him a place of study at the Medica, which Kvothe accepts.
Shortly after being released from the Medica, Kvothe takes advantage of being a part of the Arcanum and seeks to enter the Stacks.Ambrose Jakis, the son of a baron and a scriv, gets him banned from the Archives by tricking him into entering the Stacks with a candle, which Kvothe doesn't recognize as being a violation of the rules due to the side-effects of the nalroot he'd taken earlier.
Kvothe quickly narrows his main interests down to sympathy, medicine, and artificing. Because he is so poor, he spends nearly all of his free time in the Fishery. Almost every term, when he can’t get enough for tuition, he goes to Devi, a gaelet in Imre.
As the year progresses, Kvothe finds lodging at the White Hart, but Ambrose buys it to spite him, and Kvothe is forced to stay at the only inn that will accept him, Anker’s. Kvothe meets Auri and Alder Whin, two “cracked” students who have gone mad from the stress that arcanists put their minds under. Kvothe discovers the Eolian, where he plays music for nobility and occasionally finds Denna. He is tutored by Manet in the Fishery, where he learns sygaldry and artificing. Kvothe saves Fela from a fire in the Fishery, but misses a lunch with Denna when she meets her patron.
In the middle of Kvothe’s third term, he hears tell of a wedding destroyed by blue fire in the town of Trebon. Assuming it is the Chandrian, he desperately buys a horse and rides 80 miles in a day to learn more information. He finds Denna at the scene and that she was performing at the wedding at the behest of her new a patron, whom they come to call Master Ash, but does not know his name because he is extremely secretive. They commence a search of the surrounding area and meet a pig farmer, Schiem, who tells them there is a monster in the woods. Searching further, they encounter a draccus who is addicted to denner resin. Knowing it will eventually be deprived of the resin, which will send it into fits, they attempt to kill it using a massive amount of the deadly resin. Kvothe does not use enough to kill it immediately, and the resin sends it into a drug-induced rage and it begins to destroy the nearby town of Trebon. Kvothe manages to use his skill in sympathy, binding a lodenstone to a massive iron wheel of Tehlu affixed to the top of the church, attracting it to the draccus' iron scales, crushing the beast. Unfortunately, Kvothe is knocked unconscious in the process, as the front of the church is destroyed. The ignorant townspeople bury the extremely valuable body of the draccus, believing it to be a demon. After asking around, Kvothe meets Nina, who has seen the vase and confirms that it shows the Chandrian and their signs. She is scared that she will be hunted and killed, so Kvothe gives her a “charm” (an inscribed disk for a sympathy lamp). This comforts her greatly, to which Kvothe attributes his future heroic nature.
If you are looking for a reason for the man I would eventually become, if you are looking for a beginning, look there.
First Return to The University
Having lost Denna in Trebon, Kvothe returns to the University. One day, Ambrose steals Kvothe’s lute in front of him and begins to play it, aggravating Kvothe and refusing to give it back until he does so by tossing the lute haphazardly, breaking it on the ground. Kvothe inadvertently calls the name of the wind in a fit of rage, breaking Ambrose’s arm. While being brought up "on the horns" in front of the masters for malfeasance, the charges are dropped, Kvothe manages to have them force Ambrose to pay him back for the lute and his display of naming is enough to have him promoted to Re'lar.
Kvothe and Auri find the entrance to the Archives in the Underthing, and Kvothe convinces Fela to show him around, despite his ban, so that he can begin his studies in earnest. Before admissions, Ambrose poisons Kvothe with a plum bob, causing him to lose all inhibition. Fela again comes to his rescue and trades him her admissions tile, allowing for the plum bob to wear off. After talking with Elodin, the eccentric master intercedes on his behalf and has Lorren lift his Archive-ban on Kvothe, and he spends most of his free time researching the Chandrian and the Amyr in the archives. He begins taking Elodin’s class on naming but finds it a waste of time, though he continues to attend.
To get revenge on Ambrose, Kvothe attempts to get Denna’s ring back, but the blood he leaves on Ambrose’s window allows Ambrose to create a clay mommet of him. Ambrose commits malfeasance against Kvothe repeatedly, trying to sort out who it was who broke into his rooms, forcing Kvothe and his friends to thoroughly execute a search of the Archives for a schema of a gram. Kvothe incorrectly determines that it could not be Ambrose committing malfeasance, and instead confronts Devi. In her anger at being so insulted, Devi demands he pay his dues within two span and to never cross her path again.
Not happy that one of his Re'lar is continuing work with deck lamps and other simple artificery, Master Kilvin convinces Kvothe to work on a great invention. This gives Kvothe the excuse to work in a secluded room, where he can also work on his gram. Once the gram is complete, protecting Kvothe, he rests easier, but still desires to find out who was committing malfeasance against him, and they manage to prove that it was indeed Ambrose. Devi joins their endeavor, hearing that they are moving against Ambrose, Mola having interceded for Kvothe and explaining the whole story. Kvothe and his friends (Simmon, Wilem, Fela, Mola, and Devi) set fire to Ambrose’s rooms, then destroy the mommet. Kvothe also steals eight talents and the jeweler’s slip for Denna’s ring.
One day while Kvothe is working in the Fishery, he runs into Nina who gives him a drawing of the Chandrian standing with one of the Ciridae. Continuing his search for information about the Chandrian, Kvothe and Wilem find a discrepancy in two histories of the decree denouncing the Amyr (the Alpura Prolycia Amyr), reinforcing Kvothe’s suspicion that the Amyr still exist. Kvothe finally creates his master-work of artificery, Bloodless Device, along with schema for it to be reproduced.
The iron court of the Commonwealth, having finally heard of Kvothe calling the name of the wind, accuses Kvothe of Consortation with Demonic Powers and Malicious Use of Unnatural Arts. According to legend, Kvothe gets out of the trial by reading a verse in Tema. Even though he was not convicted, Kvothe is encouraged to leave the University by his friends, who say that he will receive a massive tuition, and this is reinforced by Master Elxa Dal, who says that he lacks practical knowledge. Count Threpe tells him of an opportunity to work for the Maer Alveron, in Severen, and Kvothe accepts.