The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss: Book Review

the slow regard of silent things patrick rothfuss book reviewGollancz / Wikicommons

Patrick Rothfuss is one of my favorite authors. Auri is one of my favorite characters in literature. It goes without saying then, that I was excited when I heard that a novella about Auri was going to be published. I remember pre-ordering The Slow Regard of Silent Things as soon as the option was available back in 2014. The day the book arrived, I skimmed through it, admiring Nate Taylor’s beautiful pictures, and waiting for the day that I would get the chance to read it. Three years later, and I finally got around to it.

When the book came out, I was so busy with college that I put off reading it. I decided that I had to re-read Rothfuss’ earlier works, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, even though I had read them countless times. Even though they were not required to read Auri’s story. As such, I made it a goal to re-read everything in early 2017. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But, six months later, I finally got around to reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things and I loved it.

This review contains spoilers and quotes from the book.

To begin, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is not the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series. If that is what you are expecting, you will be severely disappointed. If, however, you are open to a story that is a bit different, then you will find yourself pleasantly surprised, especially if you have a fondness for Auri.

Auri is a delicate character. In fact, the best way to describe her would be to say that she is a flower. Beautiful and mysterious, Auri lives within the depths of the University, underground in the aptly named Underthing, where there are rooms of all different types that have been left behind and forgotten. Little is known about Auri, other than the fact that she was once a student at the University that somehow cracked under the pressure of study. Rothfuss’ remedies this a bit in the novella by introducing Auri’s day to day life. In this regard, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is very different from many other stories out there.

Although the events that unfold in The Slow Regard of Silent Things span over the period of a week, not much happens. As such, the novella is very much about language and meaning. Rothfuss does not establish a normal plot. Instead, the reader is given a very detailed account of Auri’s life in the Underthing. We learn first hand about Auri’s rituals and compulsive actions, such as her need to wash her face and hands and feet multiple times a day. We uncover the hidden secrets and workings of the Underthing and learn about Auri’s thought process, which is very particular. Each day has a purpose. Everything has a proper place, which changes from day to day, depending on the environment. The numbers three and seven have meaning.

The majority of the story is dedicated to the movement of items in the search for their proper place. If it wasn’t clear that Auri was a bit broken, these scenes make it incredibly clear in a beautiful way. One of the wonderful things about the Kingkiller Chronicle is the relationship between Kvothe and Auri, which is innocent and whimsical. Kvothe and Auri often exchange items that have hidden secrets and meanings. These moments are tender and beautiful. They speak volumes about Auri. They also touch on the meaning of language, the beauty of the world, and the importance of names. Although Kvothe is only alluded to in The Slow Regard of Silent Things, the beauty that comes with finding a perfect object to give as a gift remains. The whimsical nature behind Auri’s actions becomes clear. While Auri is definitely a beautiful and unique character, she is also incredibly broken.

Auri sat for a moment in the dark. It had been like this before sometimes. Not for a long time now, but she remembered. She had been sitting like this, empty as eggshell. Hollow and chest- heavy in the angry dark when she’d first heard him playing. Back before he’d given her her sweet new perfect name. A piece of the sun that never left her. A flower in her heart.

— excerpt from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Throughout the course of the novella, Auri’s moods and actions change from day to day, revealing her true nature. Although her actions are rather limited, and include bathing, creating soap, scavenging for food, and finding the perfect place for things, her moods are incredibly clear. Some days Auri is joyful and busy. Although she lives underneath the University and has next to nothing, she finds joy in simple actions such as finding a new place hidden under the depths of the University, uncovering the perfect place for a newfound item, and eating a simple meal. There are days, however, where Auri is plagued with fear and anxiety. Tricks of light, shadows, and changes in the air all alert her to the potential danger of being found.

Auri’s story is one that is incredibly relatable. While she has good days, she also has bad days –days where anything and everything goes wrong; days where she wakes up knowing that the day will be terrible. As you uncover more about Auri and watch her struggle, the pain is incredibly real. Although full of light-hearted moments, The Slow Regard of Silent Things touches on what it means to be lost, lonely, and broken.

Auri merely stood there for a long moment. She thought that she might cry, but when she felt around inside herself she found she had no crying left. She was full of broken glass and burrs. She was weary and disappointed with all of everything. And her hand hurt.

— excerpt from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things

While Auri’s story is not traditional in any sense, it’s incredibly beautiful. At first glance, it is a story about the wanderings of a broken girl, but upon closer inspection, it is a whimsical look at life. Instead of writing a story that focuses on a complex plot, Rothfuss wrote a story that touches on the intricacies of language and the human mind, and it’s a wonderful thing.

If that isn’t good enough for you, the images are a brilliant touch that adds to the story. There are quite a few stunning representations of Auri that are included in the novella, along with a handful of small images that bring the Underthing, and its many hidden secrets, to life.

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Melissa Ratcliff
the authorMelissa Ratcliff
Senior Staff Writer
Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.