In The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, when Kvothe is in Tarbean towards the end of the book, he's in a bar when suddenly a couple comes in seeking help. Kvothe rushes in and helps, calling the wind to give the woman a breath. We then find out that the woman was Denna.

I am completely confused as to what was wrong with Denna. Why was she out of breath?

4 Answers 4


Denna earlier tells Kvothe that she has problems with her lungs. He makes a gift of some herbs or tea to help with it, while she's staying at an inn in Imre.

While its questionable how much Denna tells the truth, the scene where she can't breathe sounds a lot like some kind of asthma attack. So what's wrong with her lungs in general we may not know, but this should answer your question.

  • 2
    yes the story leads you to believe that she either has asthma, or under developed lungs/lung scar tissue, as she mentions she got sick when she was young and they have been bad since i believe.
    – Himarm
    Jan 22, 2015 at 14:03

While drugged out of her gourd on denner resin, Denna tells kvothe that she has a problem with her lungs (possibly scar tissue, as others have pointed out).

However, the reason that she has an attack that particular day is that the streets were extra dusty, as Kvothe notes when he first returns to Tarbean that morning.

  • 1
    streets were extra dusty - I completely missed that. This is yet another wonderfully subtle detail that makes re-reading Rothfuss' books really engaging.
    – Dragomok
    Sep 20, 2017 at 17:25

I don't believe an answer is given for that in the text. Denna's date is clearly bewildered "I don't know what's the matter!... We were just walking and then she couldn't breathe!" and Kvothe at no point that I've been able to find comments on what was the matter with her.


This was probably an Asthma Bronchiale attack, I agree. The attack is almost a stand alone episode as far our witnessing goes. Dust could have been the factor that led to the event .

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