Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Fantasy, companion piece to The Kingkiller Chronicles
Synopsis: Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own.
I’m typically not a short story or novella girl, and I was lukewarm on NAME OF THE WIND (though I did like Auri), so when a friend recommended THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.
Luckily, the story entranced me from the outset. The writing is downright gorgeous: lyrical and rhythmic and infused with life. Pat Rothfuss chooses each word with a pristine care that makes book nerds like me weep tears of joy for the perfection of such moments. (Seriously, this happened more than once)
Auri herself is wonderful! She is mysterious, ethereal and a little bit broken. She’s genuine, thoughtful, troublesome and troubling. You can’t help but feel for her, and as someone who—ahem—still occasionally names inanimate objects, I couldn’t help but relate to her on some deeper level as well. Her world is small, lonely and well-ordered (the girl is OCD to say the least)…and yet, in her eyes, it’s also vibrant, full of inert friends who need her care, and warm in its familiarity.
I’ve seen some mention of the book as insight into mental illness, and while I think there are elements of that, for me the story rose to a higher, more profound and touching level. It is the simplicity and goodness of wrapping a warm sweater about yourself on a cold winter’s day and plopping in front of a fire. SLOW REGARD is one of those rare books that leaves readers looking at the world with new eyes. There are passages that made me feel like a kid again, delighting with Auri in a new discovery or treasure, and passages that were so stunningly poignant my breath caught.
Many people say this book lacks a plot—and it does in the traditional sense, so be forewarned—but I thought it had a beautiful plot: Auri’s search for the perfect gift for Kvothe. Yes, it’s scaled to Auri’s narrow world and intensely personal for her (since she is essentially the only character). And she gets distracted from it. A lot. But the point in her meandering action is that there IS a point and a connectedness to even the smallest action.
Each motion has purpose and leads her toward what’s right and proper and good in her eyes. It takes immense skill on Rothfuss’s part to maintain any sort of drive or plot momentum in Auri’s voice, and he carries it off well.
This is a book I want to share with anyone and everyone who’s a writer, reader or language fan, because it’s such a remarkable example of the power of woven words. Perhaps the highest praise I can give it is this: I’ve never actually bought a stand-alone novella before. I will be buying this one.