The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a novella about Auri, a mysterious secondary character in Rothfuss’ ongoing trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle. Auri is a strange, interesting young woman who lives in the tunnels and passages beneath the University. She is nervous and frightened of most people, but is befriended by the main character of The Kingkiller Chronicle, Kvothe. The Slow Regard of Silent Things follows Auri over the course of a week as she hunts for treasures and sets things to right in her dark, subterranean world. It is highly recommended that one read the first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle before delving into this beautiful novella.
Auri is a timid, selfless woman who sees life in everything. Every inanimate object that she encounters exhibits feelings and emotions. The doors along a certain passageway are often shy and easily offended. Her most recent discovery, a large gear, is brazen and bold. Every chamber and tunnel and crevice of the Underthing where Auri dwells has a personality of its own. It is her self-proclaimed duty to set right everything in her world, to make sure that all of her trinkets and possessions are content and happy and in balance. In this, the reader can clearly see how utterly broken Auri truly is. In the author’s note, Rothfuss says of her, “Auri knows she isn’t quite proper true inside, and this makes her feel very much alone.”
The Slow Regard of Silent Things isn’t so much about the story as it is about the telling. The language that Rothfuss uses to convey Auri’s connection to lifeless items is heartbreaking and wonderful. Because of Auri’s tender care, the readers will find themselves more connected to a bottle of peas than they ever thought possible. Rothfuss manipulates words and meanings in a way that is bizarre and alien and breathtaking. He often invents words that just fit into place, much in the same way that Auri finds a proper place for all her treasures. The tale of broken, beautiful Auri is sprawling and dark and terrifying and exciting — a perfect replica of the Underthing where she lives.
I will be straightforward: The Slow Regard of Silent Things is certainly not for everyone. It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of language Rothfuss employs. There are those who will put it down and wonder if I’ve lost my mind, the way I’m raving about this crazy and strange story. There are others who will completely agree with everything I’ve said and wonder how anyone could feel differently. This is one of those books. Whether you read it more than once or leave it unfinished out of frustration, The Slow Regard of Silent Things deserves your attention. It is completely unlike anything you’ve read before.