The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
This is going to be a slightly different and maybe somewhat unusual review but one that I think is perfectly fitting for a very unconventional little book.
I was very excited to pick up the Slow Regard of Silent Things. Firstly, it’s by Rothfuss. Secondly, it’s about one of the characters from the Kingkiller Chronicles that I thought I would enjoy reading about. And, thirdly, and very fickle of me, its an absolutely gorgeous little book, beautifully written and beautifully illustrated – which again seems perfectly fitting for a tale about Auri. Check it out:
I won’t elaborate on the plot – I say this quite often in my reviews but in this case I’m not going to elaborate further because, to be frank, there isn’t a plot. This is a snippet of time from Auri’s life. Not even a full week. Literally six days, during which we follow in the footsteps of Auri as she moves purposefully along the ancient passageways of Underthing, collecting, making and depositing things along the way.
In terms of characters – well, if you’re expecting a robust cast you’ll surely be disappointed. This is the Auri show. Nobody else makes an appearance and there is no dialogue or conversation, no witty repartee! Again though, I felt like this fitted with the story as the places that Auri takes us to almost have a reverential feel to them, or a scary one when seen through her eyes, so much so that lots of dialogue would feel a little like shouting through a megaphone whilst in a library! Auri is an unusual girl. Waiflike and alone. Not lonely though. She sees things differently. Some things frighten her and others make her unspeakably happy. To Auri, there’s a place for everything and everything has to be in it’s place. The inanimate objects around her seem to almost have feelings and personalities. It’s a very unusual world!
The setting is Underneath – a labyrinth of passages that run beneath the University where Auri was once a student. This is a very strange and fascinating place indeed and perhaps one of the only criticisms I have is that I would have quite liked, in fact I would have loved, an illustration of the layout, but that’s just a personal whim. I was fascinated with Auri’s world. It feels like an enormous place with twisting tunnels and secret rooms. I couldn’t help thinking of the Phantom of the Opera – don’t even ask my why, it’s just a strange fancy that I had when reading. I’d love to know what the dressing room was for example!
Anyway, to the crux of the review. The writing. The writing is beautiful. It’s lyrical and whimsical and a little bit sad and Rothfuss is undoubtedly a master of words. If Kvothe knows the name of the Wind then Rothfuss know the name of Prose! I can’t deny that I adore writing like this – it’s one of the reasons why I love writers such as Gaiman and Valente. The words are magical and the imagery they depict is captivating.
Okay, if you’re expecting a start, a middle and a conclusion to the story then get ready for disappointment. This isn’t that type of story. If you’re expecting to find out a little of Auri’s history or what happened to drive her into this strange and self imposed solitude – again this isn’t the right book – in fact, I think if we’re going to find out about Auri it’s more likely to be through others telling her tale. Other things you can forget about: this doesn’t take the Chronicles forward in any way whatsoever, we don’t meet up with Kvothe or any of the others, it’s not epic, dramatic or adventurous. It’s unconventional and Rothfuss is plainly aware of this as he states in the foreword ‘You might not want to buy this book’. Again, unusual to say the least and probably enough to give any publicist palpitations!
I really enjoyed it though. If you’re keen for a glimpse into the world of Auri then this is for you. It’s a bittersweet insight that leaves you frankly wanting more and also makes you feel strangely protective of this ethereal girl! I think the clue is in the title really – ‘the slow regard of silent things’ it’s basically what you’re doing here as a reader. You’re having a little peep into this unusual, slow paced and very silent world.
Recommended with the provisos pointed out by the good author himself!