A 30,000 word vignette with beautiful prose, but tasting strongly of love-it-or-hate-it
Revisado en el Reino Unido 🇬🇧 el 2 de noviembre de 2014
I thought I’d love this book. Unfortunately - and to my own surprise - I didn’t. I feel kinda guilty about that. Not least because I dismissed Pat’s warning from the foreword & Goodreads that “you might not want to buy this book”.
So, before I start reviewing, a strong word of advice: if you are not an existing fan of the Kingkiller Chronicles, don’t buy this. At least, not yet. Go out and buy The Name of the Wind. Right now. It is amazing. Then, read The Wise Man’s Fear, which is pretty good, too. And after that, if you’re addicted to Pat’s wonderfully musical way with words, maybe you’ll be the sort of fan to also enjoy The Slow Regard of Silent Things. Unfortunately, I was not that fan.
So, Auri. One of the most bewitching and adorable characters of the Kingkiller Chronicles - and perhaps the second craziest (after Master Elodin), this is a girl who lives in the tunnels, crypts and sewers beneath the magical university, an area which she calls The Underthing. She flits in and out of Kvothe’s story with great charisma and greater endearingness. An entire novella about her sounds like it should be AMAZING.
What is clear from Slow Regard of Silent Things is that Pat, like his readers, is in love with Auri. Who wouldn’t be? She’s the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl, only more manic, a huge dollop more pixie, and plenty dreamy, too. It’s also clear that Pat hasn’t lost his knack for beautiful, playful, musical prose-wizardry. Seriously, the man can write and enchant like no other. But, as Pat himself points out in the afterword (which is apologetic, full of anxiety and worries), he has not actually written a story. There is no plot here. He has written a 30,000 word vignette. And that takes some adjusting to.
If you think you’d enjoy a 30,000 word vignette with minimal plot about Auri, then you know what? Give it a try. You might love this book. Other reviews suggest that most fans of Pat’s work do. If you can buy it in a way that benefits Pat’s fantastic Worldbuilders efforts, you should.
But if you expect a story, you might not enjoy it. In some ways, it reads like a narrative account of an old fashioned point-and-click adventure game of the past. You know the sort of thing: characters move about picking up objects, interacting with them, combining them, and working their way through a linear story. Auri's everyday life is *exactly* like that (with a bit of crazy and cutesiness thrown in).
And if you expect this novella to shed clearer light on Auri... you might be disappointed, too. I know many people love this book, but for me, Auri felt less real and more cartoon-like after I read it than she did beforehand. I think that's what disappointed me the most - Kingkiller Chronicles is all about adventures on a huge scale, but with monsters that are a bit understated and more authentic. In that, it's like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, only for epic fantasy. In this series, a dragon is a creature somewhere between a Komodo dragon and a cow, In the series, characters spend years learning - and struggling to make ends meet while they attend university. So when Slow Regard of Silent Things was announced, I expected Auri to stay true to her endearingness and her craziness, but have a story, and something more to her personality than what Kvothe has already seen. Instead, this novella is a vignette without story, and, by showing that her life really is strangely simple, it erodes away at the believability of Auri - at least, for me.
That said, the vignette clearly resonates with many people, and many find their hearts warmed. Many readers have great affection not just for Auri, but also for this book. So, if you are one of Pat Rothfuss's Legion of Fanatical Minions, and you are curious about this book, give it a try. It might surprise you. You may love it, or you may be disappointed. I suspect that this is one of those books which has little or no middle ground in reader reactions.
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