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"This almost isn’t a story [...] It’s the record of some incidents, told charmingly, almost artlessly, but without any narrative urgency, or even all that much narrative. There’s a thin thread of connection, and everything happens in one afternoon. It’s charming, Bast’s charming and loveable and only a tiny bit scary, and the trick he plays is clever and effective, I think I’d like it and be drawn in and want more."
Jo Walton

The Lightning Tree is a novella and one of the companion tales in the The Kingkiller Chronicle series by American author Patrick Rothfuss. The novella was first published in the anthology Rogues on June 17, 2014 by Bantam Spectra in the United States.

Plot summary

The narrative takes place within perhaps a month[note 1] before the first events of the frame story in The Name of the Wind. It's centered on Bast during a single day in Newarre. Bast's charming and alien nature is made apparent as he manipulates and helps several of the villagers children, often by using Fae magic. It particularly focuses on his assistance of the child Rike, whom he helps rid of an abusive father, despite the fact he has broken Bast's rules of conduct, quoted below:

"No one taller than the stone.
Come to blacktree, come alone.
Tell no adult what’s been said,
lest the lightning strike you dead."
Viette Lant reciting the rules

Kote is present, but a minor character in the story.

Background and publication

After The Name of the Wind published, George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, co-editors of a series of cross-genre anthologies, invited Rothfuss to be in their anthology Star-Crossed Lovers. Rothfuss turned down the offer to focus on The Wise Man's Fear.[1] The Martin-Dozois anthology was eventually published as Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love.

Realising that turning-down work was detrimental to his writing process, Rothfuss accepted their second invitation to an anthology, called Rogues.

Rothfuss initially planned to contribute a story about Auri, as he thought the character was a different sort of rogue than the traditional type the book would be filled with, but the story took a different turn and eventually reached 15,000 words.[2] He abandoned the project for a different approach.

A meeting with author Sam Sykes inspired him to have "fun." On his fourth attempt at a story, Rothfuss took Sykes' advice to heart, writing The Lightning Tree in under two weeks.[3]

The Auri story eventually resulted in The Slow Regard of Silent Things.[4]

Notes

  1. Bast complains at the beginning of the frame story in The Name of the Wind that Kote has been harping on him to read Celum Tinture for nearly a month. The book appears in The Lightning Tree, so it is likely the story of The Lightning Tree takes place not much earlier than the beginning of the frame story in the trilogy. However Bast also seems to get his idea for the memoir in The Lightning Tree from his bartering with Kostrel which occurs 'months' before the events of The Name of the Wind ["I tried something similar a couple of months ago. I got him to start a memoir."]

References