Novella Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Untitled-14The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 2.5 of Kingkiller Chronicle

Publisher: DAW (October 28, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have so much to say about this novella, but to make a long story short: The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a gorgeously written novel, both haunting and whimsical at once if such a thing is possible, and an incredibly detailed exploration into one of the Kingkiller Chronicle series’ most fascinating and mysterious characters. And yet for all of that, I was disappointed and left feeling unsatisfied.

As a lot of reviewers and even the author himself have pointed out already, this book isn’t going to be for everyone. Rothfuss warns readers that without the context of the first two books of the series, you’re going to feel pretty lost. I’d carry that further to say that heck, even if you have read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, you might feel pretty lost. On the one hand, I really appreciate Rothfuss’s caveat – that this book is going to be strange, different, and not going to do things that a classic story is supposed to do – and I admire him a lot for being straight up with us. But on the other hand, I wish he hadn’t plastered both his foreword and endnote with all these “warnings” and “apologies”. This is why I often skip author content like this. I’m not going to deny that getting hit first thing with a line like “You might not want to buy this book” might have biased me somewhat against it right off the bat. It grated me a little, because you’d figure something like that should be my prerogative to decide for myself.

But anyway, that’s beside the point. For this review, I’m not going to attempt a description or summary of plot summary, because to be truthful, there really isn’t one. All you have to know is that the book is about Auri, a secondary character from the main Kingkiller Chronicle series. I’ll admit, she’s not my favorite, but I don’t think that had any effect on the experience at all. What did affect me was the story and its plodding pace and its total lack of variation. Auri’s unique way of viewing even the most mundane objects around her as special and magical was fun at the beginning, but like all magic, it starts to wear off after a while with nothing else to drive things along. It’s a silent and lonely world that, while not completely devoid of color or life, gets tedious.

I guess I’m just the kind of reader that the author’s warning “The truth is, it probably just wasn’t for you” describes. And that’s totally okay. I’m into characters, and even though this whole novella pretty much boils down an incredibly detailed account into a week of Auri’s life as she makes her way through the ancient and labyrinthine halls of the Underthing, it didn’t work for me. I had originally thought it would, based on some of Auri’s feelings and behaviors that I can certainly relate to. As someone who has struggled with obsessive-compulsiveness and the resulting endless sleepless nights, some of the descriptions of the abject fear, anger, and anxiety Auri experiences when she feels something is not where it belongs or “out of sync” rings uncomfortably true for me. While I suppose I might count as “slightly broken”, sorry, but this still just wasn’t my cup of tea.

That said, there’s just no way I can write this book off, simply because there’s a so much else to like. The writing was probably worth it alone. It’s exquisite, probably the best I’ve seen from Rothfuss to date. I might not have enjoyed the particular style of storytelling, but if bringing out this side of the author’s writing was the result, then who am I to complain that much, really?

To sum it up, this book reads very much like a love letter to Auri. We know that Rothfuss has a soft spot for her, so I see it as a pet project of sorts. If Auri is a character that intrigued you in the main series, you will find this novella very enlightening. Even as someone who didn’t really care for her, the writing and atmosphere in here took my breath away. Despite wishing I had enjoyed it more, personally speaking I didn’t think this was a waste of my time. The book has its merits, and no doubt has an audience. The opinions will range all over for this one, I’m sure. Whether or not you’ll enjoy it isn’t a question I can answer, though; either you’ll like it or you won’t. Regardless, I’m grateful to the author for sharing this one with us.


17 Comments on “Novella Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss”

  1. Its pretty cool that this novella has created some fantastic discussions from both sides. Im like yourself and found the “warnings” etc a little unnecessary. TSRoST could be likened to as kind of Fantasy-Jazz you either love it or dislike it, whilst at the same time appreciating its merits. I JUST WANT THE NEXT KINGKILLER BOOK!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m pretty torn on whether to buy this book. On the one hand- NEW Patrick Rothfuss stuff. On the other, I’m really not an Auri fan. On the other other hand (the third hand?) I like Patrick Rothfuss’ style. Eh, who am I kidding, I’ll probably buy it anyway…


    • I hope you’ll enjoy. It was definitely different and I’m afraid it wasn’t my cup of tea. But I don’t feel like I wasted my time, which is the most important part. I thought it was very well written, even though it had no story.


  3. I think after reading several reviews like this, I would go into it simply to bask in Rothfuss’s writing. It is glorious and I wish he published more frequently. Although that’s probably why it’s so beautiful – he takes his time to polish!


    • If basking in Rothfuss’s writing is your goal, then I actually think you’ll be quite happy with this. Regardless of having no plot of story, the writing itself is quite exquisite 🙂


  4. I really had hoped we would get to know her more as a character and why she is the way she is. I know the book hinted at it but there was nothing concrete. I liked it a bit more than you did, but I do agree with you that it really didn’t go anywhere.


  5. It’s a very unusual book. And also really quite sad. I liked it but I can completely see where people are coming from who didn’t enjoy it so much. It is so unusual to have no kind of plot and also there’s the whole silent thing. But I did bask in it – probably because it is such beautiful writing or maybe I’m just desperate for some more Rothfuss. I read some of the more negative reviews – and there are some quite strong ones – it does have a mixed opinion.
    Lynn 😀


    • Hmm, interesting – I guess I didn’t see it so much as sad, though I observed Auri to be a very lonely girl, but perhaps she prefers that. And i’ve seen the very negative reviews too. If I was rating it for the story alone, I may have given it a low rating as well, but I really thought the writing at least deserved a nod.


  6. I love companion shorts. Normally I like strange, but I don’t enjoy being confused. Sounds like it’s that the character is weird. It’s too bad that it gets old in the end. (Nice to find someone else who’s OCD, yeah this book would probibly be a bit too close to home for mee too.)


    • I’m sort of the opposite – given the chance to read a companion short of a full length novel of even another series, I’ll always choose the latter. I just feel more satisfied! There are some exceptions, of course.


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