THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS

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BOOK REVIEW: THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS / AUTHOR: PATRICK ROTHFUSS / PUBLISHER: DAW BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss is best known for his two volumes of The Kingkiller Chronicles, a pair of vast tomes that could hold back any door. His latest, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, is a novella set in the same world; one that, at only 150 pages, is easily read in one sitting. It’s also a bit of an experiment.

In his introduction, Rothfuss warns us that we might not want to buy this book. It’s not the best introduction to his world, nor is it a rollercoaster ride of a story. Much the opposite; there’s no dialogue, and it features only one character, the mysterious Auri, who dwells in a network of passages under the heart of a city. With regard to story, it’s essentially a telling of what happens over a few days of Auri’s life. One of the longest scenes is about the making of soap, so that should give any prospective readers an idea of how action-packed it isn’t.

In theory, a story about a girl wandering around tunnels, encountering nothing but rooms filled with objects, shouldn’t work. Frankly, it sounds incredibly dull, if not self-indulgent on Rothfuss’ part. Yet, he’s a bestselling author for a reason, and this book shows it. Auri’s story may not be exciting, but what it lacks in thrills it more than makes up for with its warmth. It’s not a gripping read, but it is completely charming, a tale that captivates the reader from start to finish. There’s something of the fey about Auri – the way she drifts from place to place, moving objects around that she feels aren’t ‘true’ – and despite spending every page with her, she remains an alluring mystery. It’s telling that in the pictures of her, we can never make out all of her face.

It’s a brave move by Rothfuss and his publishers to release this book, as it’s likely to divide his fans. It’s no vast epic like his previous works, but it is wonderfully written, the prose verging on poetic in places as the author plays with words. There’s a sense that Rothfuss has chosen every one of those words with great care and precision, using them to tell a story that’s lyrical, heart-felt and unique.
 

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