The Slow Regard of Silent Things
By Patrick Rothfuss
This book is not going to be for everyone. I don’t say that to take anything away from the author, Patrick Rothfuss—indeed, he’s quite aware of it, as he spent the entire afterword discussing his acute awareness of how “not for everyone” it was. To begin with, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a side story from Rothfuss’s best-selling (and as yet unfinished) trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle, and it requires familiarity with the main story to make any sense. The bigger obstacle, though, is that not much happens in this book. As Rothfuss himself admits, this is the type of book where he spends eight pages describing the protagonist making soap. Put those together and you have a bit of a problem, since my feeling is that most epic fantasy readers will expect a more plot-heavy story.
So, as I said, it’s not going to be for everyone. And yet, it certainly was for me. I loved it.
Slow Regard is a week in the life of one of the more eccentric—if that’s the right word—side characters in The Kingkiller Chronicle, Auri. Auri is a young (or perhaps young-seeming) woman who lives in the catacombs beneath the wizard school featured in the main trilogy. She’s an odd character, of the type you often see in epic fantasies: ostensibly insane (in a quirky, mostly benign way) but also possessed of a deep wisdom, as though she sees truths about the world to which mundane folk are blind.
Now, a character like that makes for an interesting foil to a typical protagonist, and, indeed, that’s how she’s used in Rothfuss’s main novels. Here, though, she is the focus of the story. Showing things from her perspective is tricky, and requires a light touch. Too weird and you lose the audience, but too normal and you lose the magic and mystery that made her interesting to start with. I think Rothfuss strikes just the right balance, his lyrical prose and tight viewpoint making her both relatable and alien.
Not a whole lot happens, it’s true, but Slow Regard is compelling and beautiful nonetheless. Hauntingly so. Rothfuss somehow manages to make cleaning a room and making soap into something like poetry, all the while hinting at both the events of the trilogy and Auri’s own past. It’s really quite a remarkable book.
I don’t know whether or not you will enjoy this book. But I absolutely loved it.
Started: 1/15/2015 | Finished: 1/19/2015