It’s amazing how time flies, isn’t it? My last post, which was in July, was written from my room in Oakland, California. Now, it’s late November, and I’ve quit my job, moved to Seattle, and completely neglected my book reviews, though I’ve still been reading with a voraciousappetite. (I managed to clear 30 books this year! Pretty proud of that.)
Recently, I picked up Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things, being a novella set in the world of his magnificent Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy, of which I have read the first two, and deprived you, dear readers, of my lofty praises for his outstanding creativity and skill. The third (and final) installment of the Kingkiller Chronicles is forthcoming, and Mr. Rothfuss can take all the time he wants in producing a sequel, as far as I’m concerned. Many genre fiction fans are afroth with impatience, for more than just Mr. Rothfuss’ work, and I hope to stand in contrast to those masses and say “hey man, take your time. You’re great, and I love your work.”
The world of the Kingkiller Chronicles is so well built, so believable, and so beautiful that it completely consumed me. It is Harry Potter meeting Ender’s Shadow, in some ways, and so much more. It stands out as completely unique, too. It is really, really fantastic.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is told not from the perspective of Kvothe, the protag for Kingkiller, but from an odd girl he meets, Auri, who lives in the catacombs beneath the University, and who is more than a bit eccentric. When we meet her in Kingkiller, she strikes us as odd, lonely, and maybe a little sad, but simultaneously bursting with life, sharp awareness, and a quirkily skewed view of the world. She is a sweet, fascinating thing, and she impacts Kvothe in a powerful way.
In Slow Regard we learn more about her, and the Underthing (her name for her home beneath the university.) Seeing through her eyes can be a bit difficult at times, as she has a peculiar way of understanding the world, but she is delicate, charming, and incredibly caring of the balance she maintains with her surroundings. She is highly intelligent, attentive, superstitious, clever, and creative; all of which play into the story at one time or another. We know for a fact that she studied at the university, and that, most likely, something that happened to her there drove her away from her studies and into the Underthing.
For Auri, the world is bursting with personality and attitude, and she is hyper-aware of how things are “meant to be.” She can become overstimulated, and is at risk of major collapse if she slips even slightly along the knife-edge she walks. There is a moment in the story during which she begins to break, and it is raw, intense, and very moving.
The writing in Slow Regard can be a bit tough to digest at times, because from Auri’s perspective things that are basic to us have entirely different qualities. It leads me to a better understanding of the story’s title. In the slow and careful observation of the world around us, and the inanimate, we may find ourselves learning that the rock, or gear, or copper tube before us has a personality and voice all its own. Auri exists in a state of constant awareness of the balance and personality of the world before her, which forms that edge along which she walks. Interacting with other humans, and their obvious flouting of that balance, would destroy her. So she lives alone, in the Underthing.
In Slow Regard, Rothfuss is trying something completely different, and I really respect that about this story. It feels like it really came from the heart, and that his heart is as complicated a place as Auri’s Underthing. In a heartfelt post-script, he admits that the book might not be for everyone, and talks honestly about his trepidation in releasing it to the public, but I liked it, and am glad to have had the opportunity to read it. Thanks, Pat Rothfuss, for letting this one see the light of day.