When I began this blog I wasn’t much of a reader. Not for lack of interest in reading on my part, but more due towards not having enough time in my day to give towards a book. And then I discovered Patrick Rothfuss’ 2007 debut, The Name of the Wind, bringing me full tilt back into the world of fantasy and wonder and adventure that I’d been so sorely lacking since my youth. It was a little after I began Geekritique actually. And if I’m to be honest with myself, I didn’t “read” it. I still don’t have time for that. Instead I settled with an audiobook recording, and since then I’ve devoured most of the books I’ve reviewed on the blog through the audiobook medium. I do occasionally read books though. When I learned about Patrick Rothfuss’ all new novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, detailing a week in the life of Auri, I knew this would be one of the few I’d dedicate to sitting down and reading. And on a rainy day like today, it couldn’t have been a better companion.
For those of you who haven’t read The Name of the Wind or its sequel The Wise Man’s Fear, I really can’t stress the fact that I hold them in the highest regard. I’ve read stronger books since. Longer books. Shorter books. But none that quite have the awesome beautiful staying power as the world Rothfuss’ created in his Kingkiller Chronicle. That world we learn (in passing I’ll add) is named Temerant according to Auri in this short 150 page novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things. No spoilers in this review, but inferences based on the text are touched upon, including theories.
This… the novella. It really isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before. In some ways it’s incredible. In others insightful. In some ways the book skips over certain explanations I would’ve found necessary. But in others it explained situations and emotions to me as simple as a child would have. And the book is very very much a story about Auri, one of the most beautiful and shattered characters I’ve ever come across. So shattered that she sees the world differently. Experiences and lives life for different reasons, and does things perspectively nonsensical because she knows it’s the proper way of things. Throughout the book there isn’t a single passage where Auri or another character actually speaks aloud. In fact, Auri is the only character, unless you count the innumerable inanimate objects scattered about the Underthing that she gives homes to, learns the names of, and easily relates. And throughout it all there’s the underlying theme that she know’s “he’s” coming in seven days. That “he” is never expressly named, but it is never written in a way as to be confused with someone else. She awaits the return of Kvothe, to exchange gifts in the moonlight.
We do not know how she knew he would be there in a week, but Auri knew and understood a great many things. It’s a strange thing how Rothfuss did it. This mysterious character we all love, but seldom wonder about in our readings of The Kingkiller Chronicle. Auri is broken, yes, but why? Somewhere around a quarter of the way in it hit me (and this may be a minor spoiler), but it hit me with such fluid force it shattered my perception of her and blew up my respect for Rothfuss’ writing even more. Auri knows the names of all things. Her understanding of not only inanimate objects, the knowledge of Kvothe returning on such and such a time, and the knowing of the world as a whole lead me to assume it is obvious. In many ways she is even more eccentric than the Master Namer, Elodin himself. But I wonder if she doesn’t have an even grander purpose in Temerant than meets the eye. The quote below, along with a smattering of other clues throughout the text, including her incessant need to fix things, seem to indicate something entirely more.
“Because honestly, there were days she felt rubbed raw. She was so tired of being all herself. The only one that tended to the proper turning of the world.“
The Slow Regard of Silent Things has 31 illustrations scattered about its 150 pages. And not one of these is a map. Seriously! No map. And that’s a shame. The Underthing. The vast elaborate labyrinth underneath the University. It would have been so much easier to follow Auri from room to room if we just had a map. That’s not to say that the illustrations by Nate Taylor weren’t lovely themselves. They turned a book, who’s targeted age and audience is up for serious discussion, into a picture book. A picture book that also befits adults. It’s been so long since I’ve read a picture book. But this was great.
If you haven’t read The Name of the Wind, I’m sorry. This novella, as short and quaint as it is, just isn’t for you. You won’t get it. This serves only to expand a world teeming with possibility and wonder and explanation and names. I loved it. It’s a masterpiece, yes. It’s also a purposely flawed piece. And it pretty much sums up the character of Auri. It’s something only Patrick Rothfuss can accomplish, and something only he can get away with selling. There’s even a chapter that spans the length of 6 words, and it says so much. For those that are wondering, this book does hint heavily towards events that will take place in Rothfuss third and highly anticipated novel, The Doors of Stone. Currently the only physical copy available is in hardcover for almost $20. As much as I love Auri, this is severely overpriced. Amazingly though, Rothfuss’ world will sell out shelves, so more power to him.
Amazon is selling it cheap for $11.37! Grab it now!