In Kvothe's first term at the University, he's banned from the Archives. It would appear that this ban applies to both tomes and stacks.

Books cannot leave the Archives, so his friends can't borrow books for him.

How can Kvothe get access to the materials he needs for his studies? No one appears surprised when Master Hemme assigns a research paper to a tardy student on the first day, so it doesn't seem likely that the lectures themselves cover the entirety of the material students are required to study. Kvothe is essentially broke, so it's unlikely he'd be able to purchase books.

1 Answer 1


Largely he doesn't.

His entry through Admissions he gets through on Ben's teaching, nerve, and a healthy splash of cheating. His admission to the Arcanum, whipping, and subsequent banning from Archives is less than a span later; he spent less than two hours inside, most of that studying one curious bestiary. His second time through, he got help from friends:

Despite the long days I spent studying with Wil and Sim, admissions were difficult. I breezed through many of the questions, but Hemme was openly hostile, ... Chapter 49

After that, he pushes exhaustingly through his second term, and by the time he gets to the end of term and the next Admissions (right after his performance at the Eolian, which gave him some room to breathe moneywise)...

But as I turned back to the Mews, a thought occurred to me. How much preparation did I really need? More importantly, how much could I genuinely accomplish without access to the Archives?

Thinking it over, I raised my hand over my head with my middle finger and thumb extended, signaling that I had a slot five days from now that I was willing to sell. Chapter 60

After that point, he starts trading his slot for cash or favors, and his trade is brought up every time he has to go back through Admissions. He can't really study without access to the Archives, has to rely on his memory and talent (which he is lucky to have in spades) with whatever he has picked up in class, and the two best friends he relies on he is quickly outstripping, not to mention he wants them more as friends than as study crutches. There is only one other exception...

... when he is drugged right before his exam, and Fela gives up her slot to give him time to recover.

The Archives are pretty much it, as far as libraries go, aside from the Masters lectures and courses. If he had any real way to study any adequate source of knowledge, he wouldn't have spent so much time trying to find secret ways into the Archives.

You may also note that after his second-term burnout, and skipping most of the intro courses (which is where Hemme got to be vindictive with those essays), most of his courses he sticks to are practical and hands-on knowledge stuff - Artificing, Advanced Sympathy, and Medica. Also all of these are courses where a handful of friendly faces are present to help him out on occasion (Manet, Sovoy, and Mola, respectively).

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    For Admissions for his second term, though, he says that he's lucky to be assigned the very last day of Admissions for his examination, and he decides not to sell the slot because he needs the extra time to study. That would seem to explicitly invalidate your answer... :/ Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 19:39
  • @KyleStrand - quotes added.
    – Radhil
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 20:12
  • ....Huh. That actually makes it seem all the more weird: his first term he finds the study period very useful, but later he thinks he can't accomplish anything. And that still doesn't address my concern that there's almost certainly material not taught in lectures. He can't just study that with Wil and Sim except by reading notes that they take while in the Archives, but they're not even taking the same classes, and that requires Wil and Sim to take extraordinarily detailed notes about library books, which seems like a pretty big task. I think I'm going to have to consider this a plot hole. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 20:55
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    @KyleStrand - I think you have a point, but note that beyond Hemme's penalty box, there's no mention of "homework" anywhere, just studying to keep up. There is mention of a stack of books in Tombs that the Masters set up as a warning before Admissions, basically the "this is what we're pulling several questions from" stack, but Kvothe can't even use Tombs. Devi loans him a book or two, and later he has secret access to Stacks, and finally real access to Stacks, but the only book assignment I ever hear Kvothe get comes from Elodin, who is the one who gets him back into the Archives.
    – Radhil
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 21:42
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    Maybe the better question, then, would be "why is no one (e.g. Manet) concerned that Kvothe's banishment from the Archives might impede his studies?" Commented May 2, 2016 at 20:31

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