In 2007, Patrick Rothfuss released to the world his debut novel and the first in the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Name of the Wind. Instantly a soaring success, Rothfuss probably wasn’t ready for the onslaught of fandom that would soon follow. He released the second volume, A Wise Man’s Fear in 2011, just four years after the initial book. Four years between books isn’t bad for a fantasy series right? One wouldn’t rightfully think so, but there are legions of fans that would argue differently. If you type Rothfuss into Google, one of the first results will be his name, followed by book 3. Fans are chomping at the bit for the third volume of this fantastic, massive series. But some fans aren’t also the nicest about it. During interviews and Ask Me Anything threads on Reddit, Rothfuss is constantly badgered about when book three will be released, despite staying consistent with his answer of “when it’s finished.” To keep the hungry fans happy in the meantime, Rothfuss released a short novella about one of the the more mysterious characters in the series named Auri. What started as a short story, quickly ran on to almost 180 pages, giving fans a glimpse into the life of the girl who lives in the Underthing.
The center of The Slow Regard of Silent Things is Auri, the mysterious girl that Kvothe discovers living underneath the University. Obviously shy, Kvothe struggles to strike contact with her during the main story in the Kingkiller Chronicles. When they do, they have a tender, warm friendship. In her solo story however, Auri wakes up with seven days before something serious and momentous happens. The reader isn’t privy to what that something is, but we know by Auri’s actions that it’s probably quite important. Slow Regard essentially follows Auri around The Underthing, to her various named rooms where she keeps her randomly collectioned possessions. We see her go back and forth, collecting, rearranging and playing feng shui. She carries a light around with her as she goes fishing for artifacts. Sneaking out of the Underthing, Auri keeps to herself as much as possible while foraging for food. The rooms in which she scampers about are many; the names for them are completely fitting. The driving force for her is what will happen in seven days. This momentous occasion pushes her to stay active, preparing for the end of her week.
When Auri’s novella was announced, it was clearly stated that this was not going to be volume three. This didn’t sit well with the fans. Once it was revealed that it was to be a solo book about Auri with no appearance from Kvothe/Kote, fans mellowed out a bit, only to complain that the third books still was not out. Once Slow Regard was released however, the opinions were quite mixed. Fans of the series had a serious love/hate relationship with it. Some were just happy to get another taste of the Four Corners world, some where angry that they had just spent a few hours reading a book about Auri practicing feng shui in the Underthing. Regardless of opinion, the readers take on Slow Regard is going to be what they get out of the book. Going into it, one should know that none of the main characters appear. In that respect, knowing it’s not possible for the Kingkiller Chronicles to progress any, there is some relief to be had. On the other hand, as previously said, there were many who did not like the minimalist plot to this novella. In the end however, it’s extremely likely that Rothfuss intended for this to be a piece of standalone art. Art that portrays the beauty of Auri and the less chaotic world beneath the University.
Rating – 7 out of 10: The Slow Regard of Silent Things does a wondrous job showing the beauty of Rothfuss’ prose, but does little for fans pining for more Kingkiller. On it’s stand alone merits however, it is a beautifully pieced together piece of art.