We delve into the curious depths of Auri’s mind in Patrick Rothfuss’ intriguing novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things. Taking us back into the stunningly well-realised world of the Kingkiller Chronicle, Rothfuss delivers an unusual story from the point of view of Auri – one of the most compelling and mysterious minor characters in the epic fantasy franchise. The Slow Regard is a risk, something Rothfuss happily acknowledges, but does it pay off?
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is not really a story. Well, OK, it’s a story, but it’s not a story story. It doesn’t really do what stories are supposed to do. There isn’t a plot, per se, or more than one character, per se. Things don’t really happen and there isn’t really anything said or done. And yet, it really is a fantastic read. A long note from the author acknowledges these oddities along with the fact that it might not be for everyone. This is true. If you haven’t read The Name of the Wind or the Wise Man’s Fear, you may want to turn elsewhere. The prose is beautiful, as ever from Rothfuss, and there is much to be said for the character development and the quirky, yet touching story, but you won’t get the full effect of what is being said, of Auri and of the world, without the Kingkiller Chronicle as a basis. The book also has to be read in a certain way. It isn’t one to keep you on the edge of your seat, desperate to know what will happen next. It isn’t a non-stop action fest and it doesn’t probe deeply into the magical lore and world building of the novels. What it is, is a character study. It is a gorgeous piece of extended prose and a lovingly told look at a wonderfully realised character. It is a book to be taken slowly, to be contemplated and relished; a fine meal for your delectation rather than the frantic, adrenaline-rush of a ride on a roller coaster.
It was a risk to write this story; it shouldn’t really work, but it does. The bigger risk for me, though, far greater than the irregular nature of the book’s structure, was taking us into Auri’s mind at all. Much of her allure as a character (and she is one of my favourites) came from her mystique, her unknown, and to put us in her head and reveal her thoughts is to remove some of that from her. It was a hell of a gambit and, in the hands of a lesser author, it could have failed spectacularly, but Rothfuss handles it with expert care. I came away from the story having learned much about Auri, knowing her that much better, feeling for her that much more, but with so many questions still tumbling around my head. It has turned Auri from one of my favourite characters to, quite possibly, my favourite, and yet the mysteries remain – who is she? What happened to her? How did she become what she is? I can only hope that The Doors of Stone holds the answers, to this and much more, and personally, I can’t wait to find out. In the meantime, The Slow regard of Silent Things is a fine companion piece for any fan of The Kingkiller Chronicle.
By Chris Wright.
‘On Reading’ is a new feature on Sentient Ink and one the other writers and I are excited about. We will be bringing you more short, but hopefully helpful, reviews very soon.
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Or if you want to read one of our own short, emotive character-driven fantasy pieces, check out THE WALK OF SHADOWS – FOOTSTEPS.