The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
It’s been a long time since I read The Wise Man’s Fear and I’m still eagerly awaiting the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. I had hoped that The Slow Regard of Silent Things would briefly sate my appetite before the next book, but this spin-off doesn’t really achieve that. It’s not really trying to though and Rothfuss states repeatedly in the introduction and the author’s note at the end that it isn’t trying to. Instead The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a novella length character study and a damn good one at that.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of Auri, the broken young woman Kvothe befriends at the University during the main series. She wakes up one morning in the Underthing, filled with the knowledge that ‘he’ will be visiting in seven days and she must find him a gift. The novella follows a week in Auri’s life in the Underthing as we gain some insights into how her unique and oddly beautiful mind works.
There’s not a whole lot of story to The Slow Regard of Silent Things. This is the kind of project that I might normally find self-indulgent and pretentious, but Rothfuss pulls it off. The closest thing to action is an eight page scene where (spoiler alert!) Auri makes some soap. It’s undeniably compelling though, with the connections to the wider Kingkiller Chronicle being fairly superfluous. This didn’t have to be a story in this world, although I’m glad it is. The writing is really lovely, probably Rothfuss’ best piece of pure prose yet which shows him as a writer who could really do anything.
Auri is the only character in the story and thankfully her brain is a lovely place to spend an hour or two reading. Although she’s clearly broken in some fundamental way, Rothfuss doesn’t present her as a victim. She may lead a lonely and troubled life, but several times throughout the novella she experiences moments of genuine and all-encompassing joy, for reasons that may make no sense to a ‘normal’ person. Auri is a character I liked in the Kingkiller books, but it took The Slow Regard of Silent Things to make her a character I loved.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is an odd little book and one which really doesn’t do what I was expecting, or even hoping, it would do. If you’re wanting something to hold you over until The Doors of Stone, this isn’t it. If you fancy learning a bit more about Auri and spending some time with a delightful character, give it a go.