Stuff We Love: Patrick Rothfuss’ mysterious novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things

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A few years ago, Patrick Rothfuss released a novella titled The Slow Regard of Silent Things. Part of The Kingkiller Chronicle world (being adapted by Lionsgate), it focuses on Auri, who the main character of the fantasy series, Kvothe, first meets in book one, The Name of the Wind. Through that and the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, we don’t learn much about Auri or her past, and only get to know her through her interactions with Kvothe. In this 159-page novella, we don't really get any answers about Auri, but it does translate her view of the world into a fascinating tale that's one of the most unique shorter stories I've ever read.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things follows Auri’s life in the tunnels and rooms below the University, known as the Underthing, over the course of a few days. Readers are given a glimpse into what Auri might get up to on a daily basis, what her thought process is like, and the various places in which she lives. While it helps us get to know Auri and how she sees the world, and shows us what's happening in the strange environment under the University, there’s no clear-cut information shared about anything. That’s part of why I loved the book though. It’s as distinctive as Auri and her chosen home! The novella’s story and how it’s written is unlike anything I've read before, which makes perfect sense, considering the mystery around her character and the Underthing. Rothfuss himself describes the book in its foreword as “a bit of a strange story” that “doesn’t do a lot of things a classic story is supposed to do.” That style completely works. The novella will leave you thinking about a lot of new questions, yet it’s not disappointing that we don’t receive answers. Nate Taylor's beautiful black and white illustrations throughout the book also help set this enigmatic tone.

In the endnote, Rothfuss talks about how many people have told him they “empathize with Auri,” which he wasn’t expecting, and makes him wonder how many people are out there feeling alone and slightly broken. He says this novella is for all those “slightly broken people out there.” That’s another part of the beauty of this short piece of work. I think after you read it you’ll find, perhaps by surprise, that while there's still this air of mystery, you feel a connection to Auri and this world by the end. Rothfuss also recommends in the foreword not starting with his work by reading this book, and I have to agree. Without knowing about Auri and the Underthing to begin with, I think it would be confusing to new readers unfamiliar with the world already (though you can play catch up in the vid below). That being said, it’s a short, fun, mysterious book, and a quick read that anyone who's read Rothfuss' series should definitely pick up!