Naming is a field of study at The University.
Of the subjects studied at the University, naming is possibly the one least capable of being described as a science, and most resembling what people generally think of as magic. It is a discipline where one perceives the true name of a person, place or thing, and through that understanding gains absolute control over the subject. This power can be used by the Namer in a variety of ways. For example, natural forces like the wind can be called upon to do the Namer's bidding, solid rock can be commanded to crumble into dust, and living beings and people can be forced to do whatever the Namer desires.
Master Elodin describes a subject's true name as being comprised of everything that has gone into its shaping since its creation. He uses the example of a small stone, citing the numerous forces and materials that have shaped it over the centuries. The amount of knowledge and information necessary to perceive and understand such things is too much for what Elodin calls the "waking mind," and thus a true name can only be perceived by the subconscious "sleeping mind."
In the contemporary Four Corners naming is exceptionally rare; even trained arcanists generally know only one or two Names, if any. Some of the more commonly known Names are those of stone, fire, and iron. If an arcanist learns the name of one of these it is customary for them to use their skill to fashion a ring of that substance which serves as both a testament to their skill and a warning of their power.
In The Chronicle
Naming features quite prominently in the pre-historical myths and stories of the Chronicle, seeming to have been far more common in earlier eras of the world. Characters such as Lyra were said to be able to perceive the Name of anything in creation, allowing her to bring people back from the dead. Taborlin the Great is another folkloric figure believed to know many names, a skill that is revered in legends throughout the Four Corners.
In the first novel, Kvothe develops an interest in naming after he witnesses the arcanist Abenthy call the name of the wind to aid him when accosted by a town constable. Abenthy subsequently joins Kvothe's troupe of Edema Ruh performers and takes the young man on as his student, directly resulting in Kvothe's acceptance into the University years later. It is at the University that Kvothe meets Master Elodin, the Master Namer of the institution. Though Elodin expresses no interest in taking him on as a student, Kvothe still manages to call upon the name of the wind in the end of the first days narrative.
In The Wise Man's Fear, Elodin's mind is enigmatically changed after he finds Kvothe visiting with Auri on the rooftops of the University. During this incident Elodin discovers the young student has re-named the girl and subsequently invites him to participate in his naming class. Though the class is considered to be a general bust, Elodin does succeed in helping Fela to call the name of stone, an ability she displays before the class by calling the name to create a ring of stone she then wears on her left hand. Towards the end of The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe is also able to defeat the fae creature Felurian in a battle of wills by calling her true name.
During the events of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, it is revealed that Auri is also a skillled namer. This is likely at least part of the reason the character's state of mind is particularly fragile and peculiar. In the end of the novella Auri displays an extreme awareness of the inner-workings of alchemy, using her ability to go beyond the skill of naming to shape a candle she later gifts Kvothe. It is also at this time that Auri prepares a new name for the character, as she perceives that he will likely need it in the future.
It is revealed during the frame story that the legendary figure Kvothe is believed to have worn many rings, possibly signifying an immense aptitude in the skill of naming. During a conversation with Aaron, Kote recites the below poem about himself.
- "On his first hand he wore rings of stone,
Iron, amber, wood, and bone.
There were rings unseen on his second hand.
One was blood in a flowing band.
One of air all whisper thin,
And the ring of ice had a flaw within.
Full faintly shone the ring of flame,
And the final ring was without name."
- ―Song about Kvothe
- Devan Lochees
- Elxa Dal
- Taborlin the Great
|Positions||Chancellor ▪ Master Archivist ▪ Master Artificer ▪ Master Sympathist ▪ Master Rhetorician ▪ Master Namer ▪ Master Alchemist ▪ Master Physicker ▪ Master Arithmetician ▪ Giller ▪ Scriv|
|Arcanum ranks||E'lir ▪ Re'lar ▪ El'the ▪ Arcanist|
|Fields of study||History ▪ Advanced Mathematics ▪ Sympathy ▪ Sygaldry ▪ Naming ▪ Medicine ▪ Languages ▪ Alchemy ▪ Chemistry|
|Staff members||Arthur Herma ▪ Lorren ▪ Kilvin ▪ Elxa Dal ▪ Jasom Hemme ▪ Elodin ▪ Mandrag ▪ Arwyl ▪ Brandeur ▪ Viari ▪ Anisat ▪ Cammar ▪ Jamison ▪ Alder Whin (former) ▪ Riem|
|Students||Kvothe ▪ Wilem ▪ Simmon ▪ Fela ▪ Ambrose ▪ Mola ▪ Basil ▪ Manet ▪ Puppet (former) ▪ Devi (former) ▪ Sleat (former) ▪ Auri (former)|
|Locations||Medica ▪ The Archives ▪ The Artificery ▪ Mews ▪ Mains ▪ Haven ▪ The Crucible ▪ Hollows|