Okay, so I really like the idea of how people’s chosen names represent them in the Winding Circle books, and I especially like the idea that a lot of these people chose their names as like twenty somethings or younger when they dedicate themselves to the temple/become an accredited mage and examining where they would have been at that time that prompted them to pick the name, and what might have changed (or not.) So here’s some meta meandering about the names that kids’ teachers picked. And Crane just because I have an inordinate amount of love for his character.
Frostpine – He actually says something about this to Daja, in Cold Fire I think, when she asks him why he chose the name Frostpine when he hates cold so much, to the effect of “I thought Frostpines must be beautiful trees.” While it’s easy to laugh this off as him being young and picking a name without thinking, I think he’s being deliberately flippant to avoid having to discuss it seriously. Trees are symbolic of longevity, and they evoke images of peace, shelter, patience, and deep roots. Although he’s prone to temper flares, Frostpine is kind, patient, and sheltering when he teaches Daja. He may be fire-natured, but he strives to embody tree virtues. Pines in particular, being evergreens, symbolize resilience and a desire to thrive in harsh conditions. After discovering how his magic was sold without his permission, and the harm it did him, maybe Frostpine wanted to focus on his ability to be resilient and weather whatever hardships life threw at him. And, given the way he’d probably still cut off all contact with his family when he became a dedicate (he says it took him a long time just to reconnect with his sister) maybe he wanted a name that completely disassociated him from his home and the unpleasant memories there.
Lark – Larks are common birds, but their songs are famous for their beauty and cheer. Lark too comes from humble origins, and remained humble enough not to take a grand and serious name, but one that reminds her how she performed for people and made them happy. Larks are unassuming little brown birds, and looking at them you wouldn’t know how lovely their song is. Lark’s magic too takes an unassuming form, in the cloth and thread and weaving that most people take for granted, and her status as a great mage is something she keeps so quiet that none of the kids knew she was one until they were told. A bird name also represents a free and playful spirit, that soars unbounded. Lark is still active and playful, even when she’s settled down in Discipline. Also, just saying, you know where larks like hanging out? Gardens.
Rosethorn - People tend to focus on the second half of her name. She’s sharp as a thorn, and likely to draw blood, but I don’t think the “Rose” was just tacked on to make her name longer or distinguish a particular type of thorn. Rosethorn is sharp and prickly at first, but once you get to know her, she has a caring, even gentle, side. Most people are too put off by her sharp words to ever get to see it though. Her name is a silent challenge to people. If they can’t deal with her thorns, then they’ll never enjoy the beauty and sweetness she has to offer. (I think that’s a reason Lark calls her Rosie beyond it being a cute nickname.) In addition, it’s hinted that Rosethorn had an abusive father, and abuse victims can often have self worth issues. Maybe she picked her name to help remind herself that she’s both a woman with the power to defend herself if anyone tries to hurt her like that again, but also someone beautiful and valuable and worthy of care.
Niko – When Niko introduced himself to Sandry (or maybe Tris? I’m a little fuzzy), he called himself a treasure hunter. We later learn that he’s actually a great seer who can find or see nearly anything with his powers. But I think, in his own way, that’s what he really considers himself, and the knowledge and people (like the kids!) he finds with his magic are what he values as treasure. I think he chose Goldeye not as a boast to emphasize the value of his own eyes (although I don’t doubt it amuses him when people misinterpret it that way) but to emphasize the value of what he finds, that in his eyes, it’s gold.
Crane – Now this one’s interesting, because it’s a bird name, but unlike Lark’s it doesn’t evoke images of flight, freedom, or song, the things we usually associate with birds. Cranes look like sober, serious birds, standing in the water on long legs, exactly the sort of image tall, lean Crane might want to evoke for himself. (I bet he was gawky as a kid, maybe he was teased for it and emphasizing it as a positive trait now is kind of “so there.”) Cranes are also known for their elaborate mating dances (someone might be a secret romantic) that reminds me of his and Rosethorn’s competitive courtship, an elaborate dance of trying to outwit and one-up each other. Cranes are also patient watchful predators, who will stand absolutely still in the water a fish comes by, then strike out and seize it. Crane too is patient and methodical, and quick to strike and seize when what he wants comes into view, be it the cure to a disease, or a thief in his greenhouse. Cranes are sometimes considered good luck, and it’s your own judgment whether he wanted to evoke that out of arrogance, or hope of attracting it. And last, but not least, there’s a group of flowers commonly known as cranesbills. And wouldn’t someone like him just love to be able to whip out that little fact and look down his nose at the less educated people who ask why he has a bird name when he has plant magic?