The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Maya Lapp

There are millions upon millions of books in this world, in hundreds of different languages, each placed under a carefully organized genre. Everyone, even people who don’t enjoy reading, have a few genres they like best, but what happens when a new book comes out that doesn’t fit nice and neatly into our prearranged categories? What happens when a book is like nothing else that’s ever been published before? When it’s a book that’s all its own? That’s what you get when you let an author like Patrick Rothfuss out without a leash.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is certainly listed under fiction, but after that it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. This novella written by Patrick Rothfuss was published as a companion to the award winning series The Kingkiller Chronicles. The first two books of the series, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, are not widely known books, but well-loved in the circle of fantasy, so perhaps that is the genre in which we should list his newest publication, but I say it isn’t quite appropriate.

The reason I say this is because, as I mentioned before, each genre has its fans. Some people are obsessed with books on vampires, others prefer scientific journals, and some, who on earth knows why, are interested in the thousand page histories. I say to each  his own. But this is why The Slow Regard can’t truly fall under fantasy. A fantasy book implies that there are incredible, even impossible event s that happen, and although magic is not absent from Rothfuss’s new writing, it also is not at all conventional magic, if there is such a thing.  Also, “fantasy” brings up images of conflict, of heroes, of, well… some sort of action. In fact, most fictional books have at least a viable plot. The Slow Regard… doesn’t. So if you’re a fantasy lover looking for more of what you’ve seen before, don’t even bother picking this book up. On the other hand, if you’re sick of having to wait for Bilbo to get back from killing the dragon so you can hear more about life in the Shire, maybe you should give this book a shot. If you’re like me and you’re looking for something… magical… well, this might be what you’ve been waiting for your entire life.

Comparing The Slow Regard of Silent Things to fantasy series like Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, or Eragon is like trying to compare Rock and Classical music. It isn’t that one is bad, they’re just different. In fact, that’s not even accurate. It’s like trying to compare music with sunshine or lemons. They’re different species. There is no way to say one is better than the other. It’s like comparing the pyramids with an earthquake. One is a miracle of human technology and art while the other is a natural phenomenon. You just don’t do it.

The best way to describe The Slow Regard is to say it tells the life of Auri, a minor character in The Kingkiller Chronicles. To go beyond that is to not give the story justice. Even calling this book a story is a misnomer; it is more of an account of what she does in six days. But that makes it sound boring, even pointless. To some, it probably is, but to others it’s anything but.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Generally, I’d agree, but when you get into a bookstore and you don’t start judging by covers you’ll be there all day trying to pick a single book, so I must admit that I don’t follow that suggestion. For this book I urge you to judge it by it title all you want. The only way you can get an inkling if you’ll like the book before you read it is if you contemplate how you react upon hearing the title. If you’re like me and your heart lifts at the first mention of those six words, I bet you’ll enjoy it like no other you’ve ever read. The beauty, the art of the writing will make you melt inside. It’s cliché to say, but I didn’t realize what my life was missing until I read this book. I literally went around feeling… happy for a few days, as though Auri’s words had changed something inside of me. I was even happy after swimming at six in the morning, for goodness sake! That’s just incomprehensible.

If the title is like any other thousand ones you’ve seen before feel free to try it out, but make sure you read the author’s note first, so you can’t say you weren’t warned.

But if you read the title and think, “What in God’s name was this man thinking when he named this book,” please just set it down and leave if for someone else. The magic just isn’t for you, and that’s fine. Some like coffee, some like tea. Don’t move it from its proper place.

If you’re the type to appreciate the details an author includes, this book might give you a little smile. But if you can read a book and forget that the world you enter is not real, maybe you will be the type that can truly appreciate Rothfuss’s new work of magic.