'The Kingkiller Chronicle' Book 3 Theories and Predictions: What Is Patrick Rothfuss Planning for 'The Doors of Stone'?

A look at the thrice-locked chest and other mysteries from 'The Kingkiller Chronicle' Book 3

Early in The Name of the Wind, first volume in Patrick Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle, Kvothe introduces himself, describing some of the remarkable events that lead him to be called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane and Kvothe Kingkiller. It serves as a handy map to some of what readers expect from The Kingkiller Chronicle:

"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep."

This list just scratches the surface of what's in store for the highly anticipated Book 3 of The Kingkiller Chronicle, because the first two books of the series set up a dizzying array of plot threads, prophecies and promises. While some of Kvothe's many great deeds were covered in the first two volumes, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, there's still an alarming amount of plot left for Book 3, titled The Doors of Stone. We know Kvothe has not yet stolen a princess from a barrow king. Relatedly, he's yet to earn the name Kingkiller. It's also unclear if Kvothe has spoken with any gods, though he's certainly interacted with some powerful immortals.

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The first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, "The Name of the Wind" and "The Wise Man's Fear." DAW / Penguin Group

In the opening of Rothfuss' debut novel, The Name of the Wind, first published in 2007, Kvothe is in hiding, living as the taciturn innkeeper Kote. Nevertheless, he agrees to tell a famous scrivener, The Chronicler, his life story—the loss of his parents, his time as an orphan in Tarbean and as a student at the University, his adventures on the road and how he wound up in the backwater town of Newarre, running an inn under an alias. That last part of the story has yet to be told. Each of the three books in The Kingkiller Chronicle cover one day of Kvothe's retelling, with The Wise Man's Fear, published in 2011, relaying the second of three days.

While series like George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire have had enduring mysteries, such as the truth of Jon Snow's birth (encapsulated in the handy fan theory formula L+R=J), Westeros's unanswered questions—often concerned with relations between immense families, geopolitics and ancient history—are of a categorically different type than the mysteries of The Kingkiller Chronicle. Where A Song of Ice and Fire is concrete, Kingkiller is allusive, with answers and clues relayed in wordplay and inference. Not only is Kvothe himself a potentially unreliable (and definitely conniving) narrator, but so much of the Chronicle's reality is shared and obscured in song, poetry and the multiple meanings inherent to its more lyrical, subjective approach to storytelling. So while there are many theories, there's little certainty to be had, at least until we get our hands on The Doors of Stone and hear Kvothe tell the rest of his tale.

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"Kingkiller Chronicle" author Patrick Rothfuss. Kyle Cassidy / CC BY-SA 3.0

Our guide to various theories and predictions for The Doors of Stone gives the barest glimpse of the complexity of Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle. Everything is interlocked in Rothfuss' world of Temerant. For anyone who hasn't read the series, the following will probably sound like another language, but it may impart a bit of the rich storytelling that makes The Kingkiller Chronicle such an essential fantasy series. While the Chronicle is not a series that hinges on big reveals, it's probably best to avoid the section on the Chandrian and the doors of stone if you haven't already read both The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear.

Kingkiller Chronicle Theories: Who are the Chandrian Hiding From?

The Chandrian, a group of seven powerful magic beings, killed Kvothe's parents and their entire traveling troupe after his father Arliden composes a song about them. Kvothe's revenge on the Chandrians is the backbone of The Kingkiller Chronicle, but despite being the main antagonists of the series, we know surprisingly little about them. Until the slaughter of Kvothe's Edema Ruh troupe, they were mostly regarded as ancient myth. The Chandrian liked it that way; there's even some evidence they need it that way.

Since his parents death, Kvothe has chased the Chandrian, but only once encountered any one of them, when he came upon a Chandrian named Cinder leading a group of bandits in the Eld Forest. Kvothe doesn't learn until later that the bandit leader who survived his attacks was, in truth, the same being who killed his parents.

While Kvothe will likely get his chance to confront Cinder, Haliax, Cyphus, Stercus, Usnea, Dalcenti and Alenta in The Doors of Stone, he might have some competition. One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Chandrian (and consequently one of biggest source for theories and speculation) is why the Chandrian are hiding from the world, going so far as to murder an entire wedding party to cover up a piece of pottery with their image.

The night Kvothe's parents are killed provides some hints when he overhears a conversation between Cinder and Haliax. "Who keeps you safe from the Amyr? The Singers? The Sithe? From all that would harm you in the world?" Haliax asks Cinder. "Whose purpose do you serve?"

"You, Lord Haliax," Cinder responds. "Your purpose, Lord Haliax."

The Sithe, or The White Riders, are Fae warriors (the Fae is an alternate realm populated by non-human creatures) pledged to guard an ancient evil known as the Cthaeh. We don't yet know what the Chandrian have to fear from them. The Singers are similarly mysterious. But we have learned a bit about the Amyr in the first two volumes of The Kingkiller Chronicle.

Kingkiller Chronicle Theories: Who are the Amyr?

The leader of the Chandrian, Haliax, was once a legendary warrior named Lanre, who turned on his former allies, decimated the great Ergen Empire and assembled the Chandrian, all thousands of years before the events of The Kingkiller Chronicle. The Amyr were a Holy Order formed within the Tehlin Church to avenge the cities destroyed by Haliax. But while the Amyr were created to oppose the Chandrian, they began pursuing their own destructive course, which lead the church to disband the group 300 years before Kvothe was born. Or, at least, that's one version of the story.

There's some evidence—including the Chandrian's own fear of them—that the Amyr continue to exist. This has lead to many theories about characters we've met in The Kingkiller Chronicle who may be secret members of the Amyr, including the Master Archivist of the University (the one Kvothe was expelled from) and Skarpi, a storyteller in Tarbean, who likely has a big part to play in The Doors of Stone.

But here's where concocting theories about what will happen in The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 3 gets downright dangerous: Felurian—an immortal Fae who seduces mortal men and drives them insane—tells Kvothe a different story about the Amyr, insisting that they are not human at all, but a faction within the Fae realm. While the Chandrian are still mysterious going into The Doors of Stone, their enemies the Amyr are downright obscure.

'Kingkiller Chronicle' Book 3 Theories: What's in the thrice-locked chest?

We're still not sure the exact circumstances that have lead Kvothe to hide away from civilization at the Waystone Inn and live as Kote, but we do know he brought some of his mysteries along with him—few are as tantalizing as the "large, dark chest" at the foot of his bed, which his apprentice Bast calls the "thrice-locked chest."

The thrice-locked chest is introduced in the very first chapter of The Name of the Wind, making its secrets one of The Kingkiller Chronicle's enduring mysteries. Here's how it's described:

"It was made of roah, a rare, heavy wood, dark as coal and smooth as polished glass. Prized by perfumers and alchemists, a piece the size of your thumb was easily worth gold. To have a chest made of it went far beyond extravagance.

The chest was sealed three times. It had a lock of iron, a lock of copper, and a lock that could not be seen. Tonight the wood filled the room with the almost imperceptible aroma of citrus and quenching iron."

The chest has no hinges, weighs over 400 pounds (empty) and its secrets are hidden from Bast, just as they're hidden from us. Kvothe himself doesn't even know how to open it—he tries and fails at the end of The Wise Man's Fear.

Whatever's inside the thrice-locked chest, it brings Kvothe pain to think about it. Just looking at the chest fills Kvothe with "emptiness and ache" as "his face regained all the lines the simple pleasures of the day had slowly smoothed away."

There are two main theories or schools of thought when it comes to the contents of the thrice-locked chest. The first is simple: the chest contains an item or items. Popular candidates include Kvothe's beloved lute or his shaed—a magical, transforming, camouflaging, armoring cloak woven of moonlight and shadows for Kvothe by Felurian.

The other theory surmises that it's not an object, but Kvothe's name that's locked inside the thrice-locked chest. In Temerant, the world of The Kingkiller Chronicle, names are imbued with magical power. Uncover something's true name—the name that most embodies an object or person—and you can control it or them. The concept of naming is central to The Kingkiller Chronicle plot. Kvothe studied naming under Master Elodin at The University. Even the title of the first book, The Name of the Wind, alludes to this magical property imbued in the world.

In the second volume, The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe describes a king who keeps his true name "written in a book of glass, hidden in a box of copper. And that box is locked away in a great iron chest where nobody can touch it." Iron and copper—just like the thrice-locked chest. But why would Kvothe lock away his own name and adopt the alias Kote? Is it possible Kvothe would lock away his own name, even from himself? To fully understand why this theory is so compelling, you also need to understand a malevolent creature called the Cthaeh.

In The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe visits the non-human Fae realm as lover and guest of Felurian—an immortal Fae who seduces mortal men and drives them insane—but has his most dangerous encounter when he wanders off alone. Kvothe finds a "lone tree standing in a grassy field" with "powder-blue blossoms." At first it seems unremarkable, but it gets weirder when Kvothe finds thousands of dead butterflies at its base. Then something begins to talk. It's not the tree itself, but a voice that roves through its branches.

"I am no tree. No more than is a man a chair. I am the Cthaeh. You are fortunate to find me," the Cthaeh tells Kvothe. The Cthaeh knows everything about Kvothe's adventures and provides cryptic responses to Kvothe's questions about the Chandrian and the Amyr Order. The scene is sinister, but its full import is only revealed later.

"The Cthaeh can see the future. Not in some vague, oracular way. It sees all the future. Clearly. Perfectly. Everything that can possibly come to pass, branching out endlessly from the current moment," Bast explains to Kvothe. "And it is purely, perfectly malicious."

The Cthaeh uses its precognition to say whatever will create the worst outcome. It has caused wars and famines. As Bast says, "Anyone influenced by the Cthaeh is like a plague ship sailing for a harbor."

For now, the nature of the Cthaeh's grand design are mysterious, but the malevolent entity whispering poison in Kvothe's ear may explain why Kvothe is in hiding. We don't know how or why yet, but the world has gotten worse as a result of Kvothe's adventures. "All of this is my fault," he says. "The scrael, the war. All my fault." It may also be the working of the Cthaeh.

That depends, in part, on the Cthaeh's true identity, which may give us some insight into its motives. There are several characters from the history of Temerant who may have become the Cthaeh, including a mysterious Tinker who played a role in precipitating the Creation War Lanre fought and died in.

But does Kvothe have a plan to outsmart the Cthaeh? If the thrice-locked chest contains Kvothe's true name, it may be part of a larger plan to thwart the Cthaeh's design by adopting a new personality and shedding his original fate.

While there are compelling reasons to believe the thrice-locked chest hides elements of Kvothe's former identity, it's also possible the thrice-locked chest is somehow related to another mysterious vessel…

Kingkiller Chronicle Book 3 Theories: What's in the Lackless Box?

In The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 2, The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe searches for a patron to support him as a musician. At the famous musical tavern the Eolian, Kvothe befriends Count Dennais Threpe, who won't patronize Kvothe directly, but instead offers him an introduction to Maer Alveron, a powerful noble in the country of Vintas.

Alveron asks for Kvothe's help wooing a rich woman named Meluan Lackless. Thanks to Kvothe's songs and poems, the two wed. They also share with Kvothe a tantalizing mystery: the Lackless Box that's been in Meluan's family for thousands of years (its name evolved with the Lackless family name, so it's also known as the Loeclos Box).

Described as a "piece of dark wood the size of a thick book," the Lackless Box is "unnaturally heavy" and "smooth as polished stone," except for the pattern of subtle carvings (so subtle most people can't feel it) all over its surface, which may be Yllish story knots. Made of a different wood than the thrice-locked chest, the Lackless Box smells faintly of "something almost like lemon." No one living knows how to open it.

Kvothe speculates that something glass or stone is hidden away inside, perhaps even something dangerous that couldn't be destroyed. It also reminds him of the lyrics to a folk song, which he recounts while handling the box: "In a box, no lid or locks / Lackless keeps her husband's rocks."

But while the Lackless Box remain a mystery (at least until Book 3 comes out), there are a number of theories about its contents, beginning with a rock that is both stone and glass: obsidian.

Explaining why that's important will take a little more context for the Creation War that seems to have set the stage for so many of The Kingkiller Chronicle's deepest mysteries.

Thousands of years before The Kingkiller Chronicle, there was the Creation War. The war had many heroes, including Lanre, who died winning the war. His wife Lyra, a powerful namer, brought him back from the dead, in the process cursing him to a sleepless immortality without her. Lanre became the leader of the wicked Chandrian and changed his name to Haliax, but not before trying to recruit Selitos, a powerful namer, to his cause. Haliax asked Selitos to join him in destroying the cities of the Ergen Empire, but Selitos refused and cut out his eye with a piece of obsidian in defiance. Selitos would go on to form the Order Amyr, the organization of knights allied against the Chandrian.

It could be an artifact belonging to Selitos One-Eye inside the Lackless Box, such as the bloodied obsidian.

That's not the only theory that directly connects the contents of the Lackless Box with the Chandrian. A Vintish mercenary tells Kvothe a story about a box containing the partial name of the moon, which may also figure into the Chandrian's plans. Since the Creation War, it's only been possible to travel to the Fae during a full moon, but if the Chandrian learned the moon's true name they could destroy the division between the worlds, once again reuniting the mortal and Fae realms.

But that "something almost like lemon" scent may point to a different, but equally dangerous connection. Earlier in The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe describes a magical tree, hidden in the Fae realms, which smells like "smoke and spice and leather and lemon." Imprisoned in that tree is the Cthaeh. While Kvothe doesn't make the connection explicit, he does describe the smell of the Lackless Box as "maddeningly familiar." It's likely that the Lackless Box is made of the same wood imprisoning the Cthaeh.

It's even been theorized that Selitos One-Eye is the Cthaeh's true identity, tying together the Lackless Box, Haliax and the Cthaeh. According to this theory, it was Haliax's conversation with Selitos that set the Chandrian down their dark path. But this doesn't make much sense from a character perspective: why would Selitos nudge Haliax toward destroying his beloved hometown, Myr Tariniel?

Whether the name of the moon or the bloody stone Selitos used to gouge out his eye, the contents of the Lackless Box are likely tied to both the Chandrian and the Cthaeh. Together, the Lackless Box and the thrice-locked chest contain two opposite, but equally important, secrets. One likely contains something important to Kvothe's life, the other an artifact that could change the world.

Kingkiller Chronicle Book 3 Theories: What are the Doors of Stone and what's behind them?

Just like the several possible candidates for the two titular towers in The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien considered a few answers before settling on Minas Morgul and Orthanc in an epilogue to The Fellowship of the Ring), we don't yet know which of the many doors in The Kingkiller Chronicle are the actual doors of stone from the Book 3 title.

There are endless unlikely candidates, including the many waystones found alongside roads throughout Temerant which can act as portals to the Faen realm. Kvothe even dreams of a "double circle" of standing stones surrounding him. "One stone was set across the top of two others, forming a huge arch with thick shadows underneath. I reached out to touch it… And awoke." Is this a dream of the doors of stone?

There's one candidate many theories propose that doesn't quite match up with Kvothe's dream: the four-plate door found deep in the Archives of the University. It's described in The Name of the Wind as "made of a solid piece of grey stone the same color as the surrounding walls," with no hinges, no handle, adorned only with four copper plates and the word "valaritas" chiseled in its center. However, it's more likely the four-plate door has something to do with the Order Amyr.

There's only one great candidate. Explaining it takes us all the way back to the Creation War in which Lanre (later Haliax) fought and died, precipitating his formation of the Chandrian. The war was fought between two powerful factions of naming magic users, the Knowers and the Shapers, each with a different approach to naming magic. Felurian describes the Knowers to Kvothe as living in harmony with nature. "They knew the fox and they knew the hare, and they knew the space in between the two," Felurian tells him. The Shapers instead worked changes in the world. It was the Shapers who separated the Faen realm from the mundane world.

The Creation War started when a Shaper named Iax (or Jax) stole the moon, pulling it into Fae. After Lanre won the final battle of Drossen Tor ("More people died at Drossen Tor than there are living in the world today," Skarpi tells Kvothe) "the enemy was set beyond the doors of stone." The most likely explanation behind the title The Doors of Stone is a reference to the imprisoned Iax.

Could Kvothe, somehow set loose this ancient enemy on the world in The Doors of Stone? It's easy to see how this possibility could inform Book 3 in The Kingkiller Chronicle. Perhaps Kvothe, hungry for revenge against the Chandrian, unleashes Haliax's ancient enemy.

While we don't yet know where or what the doors of stone are exactly, we do have an idea of how Kvothe will find them in Book 3 of The Kingkiller Chronicle. Would you believe it has something to do with the Cthaeh?

"The Maer, however, is quite the extraordinary man. He's already come close to them, though he doesn't realize it. Stick by the Maer and he will lead you to their door," the Cthaeh tells Kvothe (more on the Maer below). One possible explanation for the state of the world in The Kingkiller Chronicle frame story is the Cthaeh's manipulation of Kvothe leading to the name of the moon and the dissolution of the boundaries between the Fae and the mortal realm.

Kingkiller Chronicle Book 3 Theories: What king does Kvothe kill?

It's promised right there in the title: Kvothe becomes a kingslayer. But so far we haven't even met any kings in The Kingkiller Chronicle. Still, we have a few hints, most notably a nickname for Kvothe's sword, Caesura. As Kote tells Kvothe's story to the Chronicler, the local regulars begin sharing their own stories they've heard about the famous kingkiller. One calls his sword "Kaysera, the poet-killer." While it's possible Kvothe also has a famous poet to kill in The Doors of Stone, the more likely explanation is that the king who dies by Kvothe's hand is also known for his poetry. That narrows down the possible candidates.

King Roderic

Roderic Calanthis is the king of Vintas. But while the title fits the bill, King Roderic hasn't had much of a role to play in The Kingkiller Chronicle so far. Maybe he writes poetry, but we haven't heard any of it. There are other, better candidates.

The Poet-King of the Small Kingdoms

Temerant's Four Corners of Civilization is divided into many kingdoms, including Vintas, The Aturan Empire, the Commonwealth (where Tarbean, the University and the Eolian are located) and a small region known as The Small Kingdoms. Kvothe passes through The Small Kingdoms, but we still learn very little about it in The Kingkiller Chronicle. On the far frontier of the Four Corners is the land of Ademre, where Kvothe learns how to swordfight and acquires Caesura. Ademre is famous for its mercenaries, including Kvothe's friend Vashet, who once served as the private bodyguard to an unnamed "poet-king." It's not much, but this could be the king we'll meet in The Doors of Stone.

Maer Alveron

The Maer, whose power rivals that of the royal family, is the nearest Kvothe has come to a king so far. At the end of The Wise Man's Fear, Alveron sends Kvothe back to the University and pays for his tuition. It's hard to see why Kvothe would kill Alveron, especially since he already saved the Maer's life. The political situation in Vintas could change, putting the Maer on the throne, but we can't yet see a clear motive for Kvothe to kill Alveron.

The theory that Kvothe kills Alveron is further complicated by the scant hints we have pointing to who's in charge during the frame story, when Kvothe is in hiding as Kote. Reference is made to the "Penitent King," whose troops happen to share colors with House Alveron. Whatever damage Kvothe has done to the world, it looks like the Maer may be one of the powers fighting over what's left.

Ambrose

Ambrose Jakis is a rich kid at the University and the fantasy equivalent of a preppy frat boy with a sweater knotted around his neck. Kvothe hates him, with good reason: Ambrose broke Kvothe's beloved lute and got him kicked out of the University. Consequently, Kingkiller Chronicle readers really want Kvothe to kill Ambrose. But will Ambrose become a king in Book 3?

As it stands, Ambrose is 12th in line for the throne, which means there will have to be a royal bloodbath before Ambrose can become the king killed in Kingkiller . It's definitely possible—people standing between Ambrose and the throne keep dying under mysterious circumstances, including a Prince Regent killed in a duel and a poisoned nobleman (whose death is averted by Kvothe). And what about this important data point: Ambrose writes poetry.

Sim

If Kvothe killing Ambrose would be so satisfying because it's more personal than political, with Kvothe triumphing over a series-long thorn in his side, than Sim would be the opposite: a deeply tragic path to Kvothe's Kingkiller sobriquet. Sim is one of Kvothe's best friends at the University. He also happens to be in line for the throne. And a poet.

Kingkiller Chronicle Book 3 Theories: Who is Denna's Patron?

Denna is a nomadic musician and, also like Kvothe, was the only survivor of a Chandrian attack. They've sung duets together at the Eolian. Kvothe has a massive crush on her. Denna is mysterious, often disappearing from Kvothe's life for months at a time. But far creepier is her patron, a mysterious figure known only as Master Ash. The Cthaeh reveals to Kvothe that Master Ash beats Denna with a walking stick.

"He wouldn't tell me his real name for more than a span," Denna tells Kvothe. "Even now I don't know if the name he's given me is real."

The true identity of Denna's patron is likely to be a major plot point in The Doors of Stone, particularly if theories about his identity are accurate. There's good reason to believe that Master Ash and the Chandrian Cinder, who killed Kvothe's parents, are one and the same. Like Cinder, Master Ash has white hair and seemingly inhuman attributes. He pops up often in the same regions as Denna.

But there's another possible identity for Master Ash: the Vintish nobleman Bredon, who befriends Kvothe in the court of Maer Alveron. His appearance also overlaps with Cinder and what Kvothe learns about Master Ash. Since Bredon is sometimes theorized to be Cinder in disguise, it's possible Master Ash is both Cinder and Bredon, manipulating Kvothe and Denna from all sides.

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The UK covers for the first two books in Patrick Rothfuss' "The Kingkiller Chronicle." Gollancz Books

When it comes to theorizing, The Kingkiller Chronicle offers limitless possibilities. With so much of Temerant's history relayed through song and poetry, everything in The Kingkiller Chronicle is subject to the whim of the artist. Different theories depend on the different interpretations we've been presented; just like real history, the truth of events long-past is open to endless interpretation and reinterpretation. Through the scattered fragments of old songs, burnt pottery and campfire stories, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear builds the edifice of an immense, millennia-spanning conspiracy. The connections between the Chandrian, the Amyr, the Fae realm, the Cthaeh and Kvothe can be faintly seen, but the grand design won't become clear until Book 3 in The Kingkiller Chronicle, The Doors of Stone. For now, we can only theorize.

'The Kingkiller Chronicle' Book 3 Theories and Predictions: What Is Patrick Rothfuss Planning for 'The Doors of Stone'? | Culture