A Baker’s Dozen

Dependable as Bread.

‘The cost of a loaf is a simple thing and so a loaf is often sought. But some things are past valuing laughter, land and love are never bought.

Count Threpe thought Teccam wrote that, Kvothe thinks it was attributed to Gregan the Lessar, but regardless of the author, it is accurate in it’s assesment of how things are.

The cost of a loaf is also the title of chapter 68 in book II. This chapter has a few nice allusions to our verse as the story focuses on one of Denna’s disapearing acts, she too is ‘often sought’. Kvothe is struck down with a bad case of writers block while his muse is away but manages to buy some time from the maer without losing face regarding his lack of progress concerning his real task, Meluan’s courtship. Courting a woman by plying her with gifts, songs and compliments is common practice in matters of love, yet our poem tells us ‘love is never bought’ and so a brief hiatus is actually exactly what is required. Just like my work on this project. I occasionally need to step back from important matters and focus on the simple things in life from time to time, such as bread.

I have notebooks stuffed with references to all manner of things, and if you think about it then bread is a constant prop throughout our books. Aristocratic Sovoy declares himself too good to eat barley bread, ‘Gods all around us, a man is meant to eat wheat!’ Kvothe is just glad to have any. He first discovers Trapis through the lure of flat brown bread, indeed the church will often give bread to the poor, although they may be trying to buy your soul with a loaf there. Kvothe usually eats the cheaper brown barley bread and he shares a loaf with Auri who approves but also comments that she likes white bread. Simple folk in the Commonwealth, such as the kindly squash farmers on the road to Tarbean, eat brown bread every day and are happy to do so. Among Vintish high society it is considered improper to eat the entirity of a piece of bread…or the rind of the small cheese for that matter, some should always be left on the plate and generally more than the crust. At supper, the Viceroy of Bannis bickers with his wife over whether peasants could make bread from acorns. Bread is another word for money indeed the ear shaped Aturan penance piece, a small brass coin issued by the Tehlin priests, is exchangable for a fist of bread at any church in Atur. There is a definite sliding scale between social standing and the colour of your bread across the four corners and beyond, the Adem offer both equally and don’t make any bones about it. Most interestingly is Felurian who eats fine white bread with Kvothe although he cannot imagine her baking her own. She also gives us a line regarding wise (mortal) farmers wives who ‘know the rules of games we play and give us bread to keep away’.

From white through to brown we can clearly see a relation between the colour of your bread and your social background. Best of all, my dictionary gives me a specific name to fit the definition ‘wholemeal bread, intermediate between white and brown.’ It is called Ravel bread.

Which finally brings me to the only really useful question we might ask from the information above.

Where does Auri fit in to the social order of things?

There is a time when Kvothe is visiting her with Mola…

I bought you a feather with the spring wind in it, but since you were late…’ she looked at me gravely, ‘you get a coin instead. It will keep you safe at night. As much as anything can, that is.’

It was shaped like an Aturan penance piece, but it gleamed silver in the moonlight. I’d never seen a coin like it.

So wearing a tin foil bakers hat, the trail of breadcrumbs have led us to this half-baked theory. If this silver coin is directly related to the Tehlin church’s brass tokens, would production of this coin mark you as a white bread person. A sign that the bearer is a special case and to be treated accordingly perhaps, such as if they ever fall foul of the iron law of Atur. Is this a token used to invoke a church trial showing that the bearer has ‘friends in the church’? A physical form of the hempen verse?

A token that was once given to Auri as a member of a select group of Temerant’s upper crust, or should that be Well Bred.