The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Reviewed by Adrian Collins
Hachette Australia provided Grimdark Magazine with The Slow Regard of Silent things as an Advanced Reader Copy.
I consider Rothfuss to be a bit of a borderline grimdarker and one of the finest purveyors of prose currently publishing in fantasy/sci-fi (and probably a fair few other genres, as well). However, this book is definitely not a Grimdark book. Not even remotely. The author points it out in both a blog post and a preface within the hardcover I was provided with (something I didn't check in the excitement of thinking I'd found Rothfuss' third novel-length instalment before requesting this ARC from Hachette in the name of this website).
The story of Auri is an odd one. It's a story of loneliness and making the best of your situation. It's of imagination and perhaps a screw or two loose. It's about doing things the right way, even if it's the long way.
The novella isn't a standard read, purposefully omitting big punchy twists and the like that Rothfuss delivers so well in The Name of The Wind and A Wise Mans Fear. It's more a story of a week in the life of the faerie-like girl who lives in the Underthing, all leading up to a meeting with Kvothe -- Rothfuss' protagonist in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. She tends the underground chambers, hidden gardens, rooftops and all the odd assortments of forgotten rooms and tunnels in between, much in the way that a caring gardener would look after her lawn, roses and trees.
I enjoyed the view into Auri's world. I'm not her biggest fan as a character, though I enjoy the part she plays in the Kingkiller Chronicles and wonder what part she might play thereafter, but her view of the world was a light and enjoyable read. As usual, you can expect Rothfuss' pure, clean prose as he guides you through the Underthing from Auri's perspective. You can expect imagination, odd things and beauty seen in simplicity.
It's a difficult read to explain and critique, but I kind of liked it as a change of pace. My only complaint is that it wasn't what I was expecting (#3 in the Kingkiller Chronicles). But, hey, that's my own stupid fault, isn't it?
As this book doesn't qualify for our genre, I haven't given in a Grimdark Lords rating. However, in my personal opinion, it was worth the short read for the change of pace and to see something quite different to what we're used to seeing. However, if you're hell bent on something in line with Rothfuss' first two novel-length offerings, or something grittier/bloodier, then you shouldn't read this book.