Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Well, after that she would do her best.  That was the only way.  You did not want things for yourself.  That made you small.  That kept you safe.  That meant you could move smoothly through the world without upsetting every applecart you came across.  And if you were careful, if you were a proper part of things, then you could help.  You mended what was cracked.  You tended to the things you found askew.  And you trusted that the world in turn would brush you up against the chance to eat.  It was the only graceful way to move.  All else was vanity and pride.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is novella from the perspective of one of the secondary characters' in Rothfuss's series The Kingkiller Chronicle.  I devoured the first two books in the series last year over my honeymoon and was excited when I saw Rothfuss was giving his readers a little morsel to tide us over while we wait for the final installment in the series (which, unlike ASOIAF, I'm pretty sure will be completed eventually).  This story gives us an insight into Auri, the mysterious girl that Kvothe (the protagonist of the series) occasionally encounters.

We don't learn much about Auri's backstory in this selection, save for a quick allusion to a possibly violent and traumatic experience, but we do get immersed into how her mind works, which is what made the novella stand out to me.  We knew Auri was a little off in the first two books, but here we see how strange and beautiful the way she experiences the world is.  Auri lives in the tunnels and caverns underneath the school of magic that Kvothe attends and seems to have a little bit of magical ability herself, and to her, every room and object is alive, with moods and personalities that she must encounter and react to.  A bottle might be lonely on a shelf, so Auri must find the perfect leaf to put next to it to keep it company, or she sense that a room is angry and full of screaming, so she must avoid it for the day.  Her life's work is to tend to all of the items and spaces of her world and make sure they are all settled, and most of the novella describes her efforts.  She alludes to preparing for "his" visit several days hence (I assume this means Kvothe, but I'm not sure, and he has not arrived by the end of the story), but for the most part there isn't much plot.  It seems like this would be weird or boring or just too strange, but what I liked about the story was that by the end I was reading along thinking "Of course she can't use the laurel berries in the soap, they have too much anger in them," totally bought into her mindset.  It's one thing to create a world, which Rothfuss does admirably in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, but it's another to create a worldview that is unfamiliar but then still make it seem so natural.

This wasn't what I expected, but it was a nice interlude, and I anxiously await the last of the series.

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