I am a fan of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, yet I was disappointed by this 150-page novella. I knew it wasn’t a regular book of the series, and from Patrick’s blog I gathered that this was going to be a poetic novella that doesn’t have action or a clear story. I did hope the book would deliver something more than it actually does. People new to Rothfuss definitely shouldn’t start with The Slow Regard of Silent Things.
First things first, this book is beautifully written. Rothfuss’ mastery of language and imagery really shines through, and actually is the only thing that kept me reading, since otherwise, the book is boring. Atmospheric, dreamlike, a bit mysterious, yes, but still boring. I struggled to finish it, and if it would have been longer, I wouldn’t have.
One could say due to the nature of Auri’s character that it’s more of a children’s story, but children too would struggle, since the vocabulary is often too difficult for a kid, and the story lacks a clear focus. The illustrations, the abundance of very short sentences and the use of repetition nevertheless all enhance the feeling that this is a children’s book (that isn’t a children’s book).
The thing is: Auri is a bit of a nutjob, understandably, living secluded in the Underthing. Like an interior decorator, she thinks objects and rooms have a kind of personality and that there is “a way of things”. That might very well be the case, but after about 40 pages of that, you get it. Nothing much is added, the 150-pages just dabble in that same theme. There’s no character development. Nothing emotional happens. No interesting psychological insights. Not even new insights in the fictional world Kvothe inhabits – except its name.
Approach this as a dreamlike prose-poem, an exercise in poetic form from an otherwise great storytelling author, and it might give you some merit, but don’t expect too much from that direction too, since, well, it’s not really a poem either.
It’s different and special, yes, but not different and special enough for my likings. It sits somewhere in between, and, well, that’s not the right place for things…
originally written on the 16th of November, 2014