Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Chapter 1 (lol nope)

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[whoops! The formatting on my kindle version is slightly odd and it looks like I did not in fact read the entire first chapter, there’s still plenty more to go. I’ll do the next in a followup post]

IT’S ROTHFUSS TIME Y’ALL

Unfortunately this isn’t Book 3 in the Saga of Kvothe, it’s just a 150-ish page novella. And that means we’re going to squeeze every last drop of blog-scrutiny we can out of it, starting with the cover:

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This is the European US cover. It has some stairs in it, and a church or something that I guess is supposed to be wizard school. It’s not very interesting.

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And here’s the more visually interesting US European cover, which depicts Auri as looking about eight years old. In keeping with how these books usually treat her, then.

Looking over the early fan reactions I’m seeing a lot of negativity, not necessarily to the book itself but because some people are mad as hell about Doors of Stone not coming out sooner. This raises the always-fascinating question of whether authors have some sort of obligation to their fans to finish new books on time (see also George RR Martin). On one hand I can understand people’s frustration, and Rothfuss himself didn’t really help by announcing way back in 2007 that the entire trilogy was more or less finished, but on the other hand a lot of weird assumptions tend to go into these attitudes. I think people forget how much control the publisher has over a book’s release- Rothfuss can decide a book is almost ready to go all he wants, but if his editor disagrees then it’s not coming out yet. He’s already said in the past that The Name of The Wind required substantial editing, so I’d wager those “almost finished” second and third books turned out to not be quite as almost finished as he thought.

A lot of fans are also castigating the guy for running fundraisers and giving interviews. Hey, news flash: authors do like to have a life outside of writing, and publicizing yourself and your books is part of the business.

Anyway, the book itself is prefaced with a somewhat odd author’s note that comes across as both defensive and self-aggrandizing. In it Rothfuss warns potential readers off of buying it because it’s “a strange story” and “doesn’t do a lot of things a classic story is supposed to do”, both of which are the equivalent of saying that people hate your protagonist because they’re too cool and interesting.

The marketing people aren’t going to like this. My editor is going to have a fit.

If that was true I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been published.

On the other hand , if you’d like to learn more about Auri, this story has a lot to offer. If you love words and mysteries and secrets. If you’re curious about the Underthing and alchemy. If you want to know more about the hidden turnings of my world. . . .

Boy do I ever!

Chapter 1: The Far Below Bottom of Things

Christ these chapter titles

We open with Auri in the Underthing, which if you’ve forgotten is the network of hidden tunnels below Wizard School that no one seems to actually use for anything. She’s preparing for a visit from (I’m guessing) Kvothe in seven days. Everything is very twee and whimsical.

It was a white day, then. A deep day. A finding day.

[…]

Then Auri looked around. She saw her perfect bed. Just her size. Just so. She checked her sitting chair. Her cedar box. Her tiny silver cup.

If I point out all of the twee and whimsy we’re going to be here till the sun explodes, but basically the entire book appears to be written like this. It’s not quite as bad as Auri’s actual dialogue from the previous two books- I have yet to come across any walnuts made out of secrets or whatever the fuck- but still pretty grating.

And above that was the mantelpiece : her yellow leaf, her box of stone,

I wonder if this is any way plot-relevant, Mystery Boxes being a big thing in this world.

Nothing was nothing else. Nothing was anything it shouldn’t be.

So back in the previous two let’s reads I complained that Auri appeared to be a horrendously poorly written stab at depicting mental illness. I stand by that, but in the interest of fairness I should point out that while preparing for these posts I came across several Rothfuss fans who said that Auri’s apparent OCD spoke to their own struggles with the condition. Hell, maybe Rothfuss is writing from personal experience with that aspect.

Auri has some sort of alchemical…. thing called Foxen, which she activates using drops of a mysterious liquid.

Still more his brightness grew till he was all-over tremulant with shine. Then he sat proudly in his dish, looking like a blue-green ember slightly larger than a coin.

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Now I’m just picturing this thing having a Calcifer-style googly-eyed face.

There were three ways out of Mantle. There was a hallway, and a doorway, and a door. The last of these was not for her.

Mystery Doors are also a big thing in Kvotheland, of course.

Auri twees and whimsies about some more, looking at various random objects that she’s ferreted away in her hiding place. Among these are holly branches, which we previously learned ward off fairies. Eventually she unwraps some linen from a pipe.

Wheeeee.

I get the feeling this was mainly written so Rothfuss could have fun playing with language. Which is fine, the dude can be genuinely inventive at times, but my problem is that often him playing with language consists of meaningless nonsense like this:

The Twelve was one of the rare changing places of the Underthing. It was wise enough to know itself, and brave enough to be itself, and wild enough to change itself while somehow staying altogether true.

I also wish that he’d occasionally remember to tell a story while he was at it.

[Note: as I said previously, updates to this are going to be slower than normal due to all the interviews I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, so please have patience]

 Next Post ————> 

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23 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Chapter 1 (lol nope)

  1. neremworld

    Super late, but about your questioning why fans turned on Rothfuss for the book being so late and doing other things instead. It’s largely because he has more or less been pretty much a giant asshole to his fans and turned out to have lied repeatedly about the actual state of the books. Like his original thing was that the books were Completed Completely and only needed editting, so they were looking at a book a year. This is actually WHY his publishers picked him up.

    It turns out that he uh… lied hugely about the actual state of the books ,and would back off a little bit each time when called out about it until he basically admitted that what he had sold his publishers was a pack of lies. Book one WAS done and only needed editting. Book 2 was roughly “Harry Potter stuff at beginning, Vintas” and he added in a buncha short stories to pad it out and ‘complete’ it. and beyond the stuff he chopped out of Name of the Wind it was literally just “Chapter 145: Ambrose Does Something” style outline.

    Book three hadn’t been begun in any form, no outline even.

    And everything indicates he’s barely started it even now. And he reacts to people who are frustrated with this in a very unprofessional, assholish way. At one point he claimed people who want to read his third book ‘are ugly and smell of shit’.

    And his interactions with even adoring fans have largely left an impression that he really doesn’t have a clue what the third book is about and activately doesn’t want to write it. Stuff like having donation drive thing for his scam charity (it doesn’t do charity, it just takes money and passes most of it to another charity) and one of the donation goals was getting to watch him write the third book on stream. He didn’t even start that, and told people who donated for it to go fuck themselves and die and instead wandered off to play Fallout 4.

    Also there’s the whole thing with wandering into a Barnes and Noble and writing snide comments in random books mocking the authors. Like having the balls to mock Scott Lynch for taking 5 years to write his next book (when he’s been suffering depression that nearly ruined his career).

    Basically to sum it up from my observations: They feel like he’s decided to use his two books to springboard into doing things he WANTS to do like write stuff for video games and be famous and doesn’t actually care to finish the third book.

    Reply
  2. VonHelson

    I don’t quite understand everyone on this blog. You read the first book and didn’t like it so you then go ahead already knowing the writers style and read the second book and again, don’t like it. Following this the author releases a novella based upon a character you didn’t like so again you purchase and read this book at which point you come on here and just regurgitate your dis-like for a series of books you knew you didn’t like following the first instalment. It seems you’re a glutton for punishment. I like the books personally and Auri as a character is interesting. Looking beyond the tweeness of her personality which I believe she is using to cover her deep emotional issues she faced prior to her going mad. It’s an interesting read and does further increase your understanding for a character who may potentially become pivotal in the third book, hence this novella.

    Reply
  3. Signatus

    So far, I hate this book. I have to give him this, he seems to have gotten the hang of voicing her. That’s mainly what makes this book so unbearable, because the character itself is insufferable.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Chapter 1 (again) | Doing In The Wizard

  5. nikki @ book punks

    What bothered me about The Slow Regard was that even though it was supposed to be about Auri, her secrets, who she is, etc, her life was still depicted as almost completely revolving around Kvothe. What the fuck? Everything is all her counting down the days to his visit and getting shit done before he comes. I enjoyed it despite many problems, but man, come on. I was expecting her to be more…her, less “person waiting for Kvothe.” I did feel like the descriptions of her OCD (OR IS IT MAGIC WE’LL NEVER KNOW) were pretty spot on though.

    Reply
  6. DudeNextDoor

    I only recently came across your blog and I read your let’s reads of NOTW and WMF. They were amazing and having read NotW before finding your blog, I gotta say you articulated my own problems with it better than I ever could.
    And for that I love your blog.
    And damn am I excited for this let’s read.
    Keep it up. You’re an everyday hero to the people who actually care for good writing :’)

    Reply
    1. steamysalt

      This blog is an oasis. I’ve recently come across these let’s reads myself and your story is similar to mine, having dragged myself through the mess that was NotW. Ronan is a braver man than I for tackling the cesspit that was WMF.
      I too am excited to see what whimsy/twee nonsense transpires in this novella, and curious to see just how “strange/unconventional” Rothfuss claims this story to be, though, to be honest, not enough to actually read it myself.
      Have fun, Ronan. (^_^)

      Reply
    1. Reveen

      It’s kind of scary from an intellectual standpoint that an author lauded for doing unconventional things (or not) in his novels feels he has to pre-emptively apologize to readers for doing something unconventional.

      Reply
      1. literarymoses

        He’s being all quirky and saying “blasphemous” things for the sake of grabbing peoples attentions. I don’t think he’s actually sorry for messing with conventions, I think he’s trying to use it as a hook.
        I guess it worked because look what it did to the masses, but honestly it just seems like a desperate, pathetic attempt to be perceived as different and novel. It’s very hipster-esque, where he goes around vocalizing how different he is for attention but in the end he’s doing something that many other people have done.
        Good writers defy conventions all the time but they don’t call attention to it, because defying conventions is just one of the staples of modern literature.

        Reply
  7. Reveen

    I guess it was too much to ask that the Underthing was a Dark Souls style evil labyrinth and Auri has been killing monsters all this time while Kvothe was docking about in the woods.

    Reply

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