Kvothe borrows from the gaelet "Demon" Devi on several occasions. Each time, she has a minimum amount that she's willing to lend, which is higher than what Kvothe needs.

Each time, Kvothe tries very hard to get her to lend him exactly what he needs, and nothing more.

Why does he do this?

I understand that she charges exorbitant interest rates, and that anything more he borrows from her increases how much it will cost him, but it seems like he's consistently in a position where he's using 99-100% of what she loans him for tuition, and he has nothing left over.

Given how poor he is, it would seem that having extra coin would be beneficial to him. His constant lack of even basic spending money seems to hinder his efforts to earn money.

For example, if he bought some spare outfits, he might be able to find some more respectable opportunities to play for nobles (even if Ambrose has ruined any chances of him finding an actual patron).

Surely there are other opportunities to earn interest on investments someone as smart as Kvothe is could come up with.

Is there a specific reason given for him trying to convince Devi to loan him less, besides trying to avoid incurring the extra interest?

2 Answers 2


Kvothe having extra "spending money" would not increase his opportunities for income in the slightest, and would only decrease his chances of paying off the loan.

This is the hard sort of practicality regarding money that one would learn having a long term career as a beggar. What would spending money do for Kvothe? Better clothing? Only useful on first impressions, like when he heads to University or when he meets the Maer. Those are exactly the only times he invests in clothing, the rest of the time he impresses with more reliable coin, like his wits. Making friends? He'd need a small hoard of coin just to buy his way into higher social circles, just to get some nebulous opportunity to invest in, for which he'd need more coin. Plenty of conmen ply that trade already. He has what friends he can make, and doesnt need more.

He is already investing in the biggest opportunity he will ever have, in his mind: The University. That is his already chosen means to his ends. Anything more would just give Devi more leverage on him later, something he is smart enough to avoid. The only other thing with enough pull on him is music - which does in fact pull him straight back to Devi, over his initial misgivings.


He knows, that she is trying to set loan so high, that eventually he will not be able to repay her, so he is careful.

About opportunities:

If Eolian Talent Pipes are not of use to him to be respected by him, new clothes won't help either. He has little time to try finding new opportunities, but he will actually make one and try to invest in inventions for Kilvin.

  • 5
    He actually didn't realize that she was deliberately pumping the prices up until very late in the second book. He has a sudden revelation when he tries to pay off his debt and Devi is reluctant to take it, that Devi was more interested in having people owe her favors due to not being able to repay loans than she was was in the money itself.
    – Beofett
    Jan 29, 2014 at 21:01

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