Patrick Rothfuss warns us in the prologue to “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” ($18.95, DAW) that fans of the Kingkiller Chronicles may want to skip this novella. If they do, though, they’re missing out.
True, this slim volume doesn’t really move Rothfuss’ story along, and it certainly gave people waiting impatiently on the third book something to gripe about. But it does have a certain charm and shows a slightly different side of the writer.
The story, more a novel-length vignette if such a thing can exist, follows Auri as she goes about her day-to-day life in the Underthing below the university, preparing for a visitor. The book follows her for several days as she gets things in order, and while she does have adventures, they’re certainly not of the kind that Kvothe is involved in above the ground. Though, as we see early on when she dives for treasures, they can be just as dangerous.
“The Slow Regard of Silent Things” gives the reader a chance to learn more about Auri, this strange obsessive-compulsive creature that lives in the abandoned tunnels beneath the university. It also gives us a chance to more fully explore the Underthing, which also gives clues about the broader world of Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles.
As much as it’s about Auri and the Underthing, though, “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” is a celebration of words and language. Rothfuss delivers the tale in elegant prose that’s a bit more flamboyant and poetic than what you might find in one of the series novels. He makes interesting and playful word choices throughout that enhance the wispy and wonderful nature of Auri and her home. I’ll even admit that I had to look up a few of them, and I love it when that happens.
No, “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” probably won’t satisfy fans champing at the bit for the long-awaited “The Doors of Stone.” But those who might write it off as just something to attempt to appease fans as they wait are missing a magical glimpse into a portion of Kvothe’s world that hasn’t been fully explored, not to mention a marvelous piece of writing.