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(Spoilers for book two.)

I think we have been given enough hints to establish that

Kvothe’s mother is the eloped Lackless sister.

However, I’m still unclear about her first name. The only mention seems to be in the badly metred mock poem Kvothe’s father writes about her (and as a note of interest, the father’s name is mentioned repeatedly: Arliden):

Dark Laurian, Arliden's wife,
Has a face like a blade of a knife
Has a voice like a prickledown burr
But can tally a sum like a moneylender.
My sweet Tally cannot cook.
But she keeps a tidy ledger-book
For all her faults I do confess
It's worth my life
To make my wife
Not tally a lot less

So what’s it? Laurian (first line) or Tally (fifth line)?

Someone remarked that the last two lines sound a lot like “To make my wife Netalia Lackless” and given what we know about her, that seems too much of a coincidence, and Tally could be short for Netalia.

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  • 3
    Oh. I didn't notice that. Interesting!
    – Jonas
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 0:56
  • 1
    "Mrs Kvothe"...
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 18:08

3 Answers 3

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I'm pretty sure the implication here is that Kvothe's mother changed her name when she ran off with his father. Her name, as everyone in the traveling troupe knew her, was Laurian, but she was also originally named

Natalia Lockless

which is where the nickname in the 5th line of the song comes from. By the end of Wise Man's Fear, I think this is supposed to be pretty obvious to us, if not to anyone else in the story.

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    Apparently the old name is even explicitly mentioned in TWMF, as “Natelia” (rather than the spelling “Natalia”). Nevertheless, I couldn’t remember ever having read the name Laurian except in the above mentioned poem. But since that name seems to be established canon (at least according to the wiki) I’m assuming that I just missed it. Be that as it may, the change of name is slightly odd but not unheard of (cough Denna cough). Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:10
  • I think that should be "Netalia", not "Natelia".
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:21
  • @Mike Yes – typo. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:23
  • @KonradRudolph Kvothe calls his mother Laurian directly before reciting the poem as well.
    – sevvack
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 18:52
  • Not only does the nickname in the 5th line hint to this, the very last line of the poem rhymes with "Netalia Lockless", which is probably why Kvothe's father had to sleep under the wagon.
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 10:31
4

I don't have the book on me at the moment, but I believe in TWMF when Kvothe is recovering from the Plum bob and is visited by Auri he says his Mothers name is 'Laurian' and that it is the first time he has said his mothers name since the slaughter

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  • Aaah, I vaguely remember that, yes. Damn, if only I had the leisure to reread the books. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 14:43
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As mentioned in another answer, his mother's name is

Netalia Lockless. She is the sister of Meluan Lockless, who fell in love with Kvothe's father and ran away with him.

Here are some of the hints we are given throughout the books. Spoilers ahead!

In "The Name of the Wind", Kvothe sings an unflattering song about the Lackless family, and her mother has an unusal reaction to it:

But my mother heard me and came over to stand by the fire. "What were you just saying, sweet?" Her tone wasn't angry, but I could tell she wasn't pleased either.

They then discuss why it's not nice to sing that song about the Lackless family:

"The difference is between saying somthing to a person, and saying somthing about a person. The first might be rude, but the second is always gossip". [...] "Lady Lackless is a real person, with feelings that can be hurt." She looked up at me. [...] "I imagine you could make it up both to Lady Lackless and myself if you found some sweet nettle for the pot tonight."

During my first reading, I found her reaction odd. Surely, it's not uncommon to at least hear unflattering songs about nobility? Yet, this mostly harmless song is what somehow rubbed her the wrong way.

In the context of her true identity it makes more sense that she does not want her son to sing an unflattering song about herself (and, given the contents of the song, presumably how she treated her husband)

This quote comes from the very end of Chapter 11: "The binding of iron". Chapter 12 is called "Puzzle Pieces Fitting", and contains the following exchange between Kvothe's parents:

She swatted at him playfully, and a thoughtful look crossed her face. "Come to think of it, ther ewas a night, about a dozen years ago, a man came to me. He bound me with kisses and cords of chorded song. He robbed me of my virtue and stole me away."

This can be read as a confirmation that Kvothe's mother wasn't originally of the Ruh.

Another piece of evidence for her identity comes from "The Wise Man's Fear", Chapter 36, "All This Knowing". (Side note: I think that the chapter titles directly hint at the contents they reveal, it can't just be a coincidence) This chapter contains the following passage:

I was quiet for a long moment. Then I said it. "Laurian".
It was the first time I'd said my mother's name in years. The first time since she'd been killed. It felt strange in my mouth.
Then, without really meaning to, I began to sing.

Dark Laurian, Arliden's wife,
Has a face like a blade of a knife
Has a voice like a prickledown burr
But can tally a sum like a moneylender.
My sweet Tally cannot cook.
But she keeps a tidy ledger-book
For all her faults I do confess
It's worth my life
To make my wife
Not tally a lot less

This song has been invented by Kvothe's fatther, and it holds two clues: The nickname "Tally" for "Netalia", and also the last three lines, which take a completely different meaning once you discover that the last line rhymes with "Netalia Lockless". This kind of double meaning also fits the kind of humor Kvothe's father has displayed throughout the book so far.

It is then explained that upon singing this song, Kvothe's father had to "sleep under the wagon", with the following explanation:

"It was the meter. She hated the awful meter."

This sounds like an explanation grown-ups give to kids for things beyond their understanding.

Of course, at this point in the books, we have never heard of Netalia Lockless. We learn about her in Chapter 74, "Rumors", where Kvothe learns the following:

I'd started a second bottle of wine by the time I read that young Netalia Lackless had run away with a troupe of traveling performers. Her partens had disowned her, of course, leaving Meluan the only heir to the Lackless lands.

This is the only time Netalia is name-dropped in the book so far. But we do meet her sister, Meluan, in Chapter 67: "Telling Faces". The sight of her is somehow surprising to Kvothe, enough for his stage training to kick in and save him:

But while I might have been prepared for the meal, I was not prepared for the sight of Meluan Lackless herself. Luckily, my stage training took hold and I moved smoothly through the ritual motion of smiling and offering my arm. [...] but as I helped her into her seat, her profile struck me with such a strong resemblance that I couldn't help myself but stare. I knew her, I was certain of it. But I couldn't for the life of me remember where we might have met... [...]
My eyes wandered over maddeningly familiar features. She was strikingly lovely, with a strong jaw and dark brown eyes.

Keep in mind that Kvothe normally describes women in his story in detail, praising their beauty - something he is even being called out for in the framing story. In this case, a woman catches him off-guard, he needs his stage training to recover, and all the judgement of her appearance we get is that Meluan is lovely? That would be odd even without the fact that she looks "maddingly familiar".

Meluan, by the way, has a strong aversion not only against any old "traveling performers", but specifically about the Edema Ruh, as her husband explains:

"My lady has had unfortunate dealings with the Ruh in the past", he said by the way of explanation. "You would do well to note."

(Chapter 139, Lockless)

To sum it up, we have:

  • A sort-of confirmation that his mother is not of the Edema Ruh
  • A mild overreaction to an unflattering song about Lady Lackless
  • A poem which rhymes with "Natelia Lackless" and which earned his father a night under the wagon
  • The rumor that Natelia Lackless ran away with a traveling performer
  • The confirmed hatred of Meluan Lackless against the Edema Ruh and the confirmation that she had "unfortunate dealings" with them in the past.
  • The fact that Meluan Lackless looks "maddingly familiar" to Kvothe, though he can't place it.
  • Several chapter titles which are rubbing these facts in our faces
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  • "Not tally a lot less" is more than just a rhyme; it practically turns her name into a portmanteau. "Not-tally-a Lot-less" -> "Ne-tali-a Lock-less" -> "Netalia Lockless". I love that clue! It's subtle enough that you'd never catch it on your first read-through, yet also blatant enough that there's no doubt about what it means once you see it.
    – Ajedi32
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 15:38

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