Struck in the Skull with a House of Worship

I woke in a bed. In a room. In an inn. More than that was not immediately clear to me. It felt exactly like someone had hit me in the head with a church.

This is the character Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind after a day of danger and derring-do. Let me tell you why I love this quote, and let me do it backward.

The obvious part is the idea of a church, an enormous structure, metaphorically striking someone in the head. That’s loaded with symbolism, of course; the implications of the force of a religious institution, the thought of what kind of person might warrant being struck by a house of worship, etc. There’s also the architectural traits of churches, usually large, perhaps ornate, with many presumably painful things jutting out of them like crosses, minarets, or gargoyles. Lots of pain there.

I also love that the metaphor is not that he was hit in the head with a church just by happenstance, but that someone hit him in the head with a church. A fellow sentient being with agency decided to go to the herculean effort of actually wielding a building to bludgeon someone. And a church, no less. That’s a great deal of intention, and specificity of weapon choice.

Finally, it doesn’t just kind of feel like being hit in the head with a church, it feels exactly like that. Kvothe doesn’t express his pain as though it has a hint or the suggestion of being struck by a church, it doesn’t somewhat recall being hit with a church, it in fact matches that experience precicely.

Now that’s a damn fine bit of writing.

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