Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Chapter 1 (once more)



Okay, the illustrations are seriously messing up the formatting on the kindle app, which means I keep thinking I’m at the end of a chapter but I’ve actually just gotten to the next full-page illustration. To be honest the chapters are so long I might have to just split them anyway.

Last time: Auri found a cog.

It was full of true answers and love and hearthlight.



So the illustration for this scene makes the cog look kind of wheel-like. Wasn’t there something about the hammer dude binding someone (Haliax, or something?) to an iron wheel? And Kvothe used a wheel to kill the stoned dragon back in the first book. Rothfuss’ sole method of plot advancement seems to be to throw out tons of seemingly random hints that may or may not become important later on, which makes me super over-analytical about everything.

Auri smiled and heaved up half a stomachful of water on the stones.

Yeah that…. doesn’t sound healthy. Remember, last time she came up for air her lips were blue.

It looked like a piece of sun she’d brought up from the deep.

Hey that’s actually pretty good.

Auri dropped Foxen’s bottle during the ascent and considers going back for him, but can’t as she believed for some reason that she can only go into the water three times. It turns out not to matter though because the bottle comes bobbing back anyway.

Next up we have the somewhat intriguing question of how Auri dries herself before succumbing to hypothermia. We don’t get an answer to that second part (after swimming in freezing cold water she swims in more freezing cold water to wash herself, then runs around soaking wet and nekkid naked for a while) but for the first part, the radiant heat from underground steam pipes. That’s plausible, I guess.

Auri spun in a slow circle to keep any part of her tender altogether from getting roasted

I don’t even know what the fuck that means. At least we’re not hearing about her nethers anymore.

Anyway Auri wonders whether the belt buckle she found would make a nice gift for “him” (Kvothe) but decides she needs to find him a gift that suits his hidden tangled nature or whatever the fuck, words don’t mean anything anymore. We’re adrift on a churning tide of emptiness, meaningless symbols floating in the


He was emberant. Incarnadine.

Incarnadine is a real word, but emberant appears to be highly cromulent. This just reinforces my earlier notion that this novella’s sole purpose is for Rothfuss to play with language. Which, hey, fair enough, whatever floats your boat, but I question whether such a self-indulgent exercise really warrants a full-priced commercial release.

Auri runs around arranging things and putting things in places some more, then tries to find the door that the key she found belongs to, using ~whismy~. It’s not very interesting. Auri’s viewpoint is starting to seriously annoy me, such that reading this feels akin to attempting to gouge my own teeth out with a spoon.

While nothing interesting is happening: why does no one ever come down to the Underthing? It houses what appear to be steam or gas pipes and rainwater drains, all of which are important pieces of infrastructure that need to be maintained. There should be University staff down here all the time doing repairs. And even if the copper pipes are somehow enchanted to make them last forever, the rooms Auri passes through contain all sorts of interesting shit like frescoes and the foundations of ancient buildings; in a school full of wizard scientists and wizard scholars would no one ever think to undertake an archaeological or historical survey? Or hell, what about basic security concerns? Kvothe found a secret route into the archives, the whole University could be like swiss cheese for all anyone knows.

Anyway Auri goes to a place with twelve doors, three of which she’s opened before. She also finds a piece of crystal from a chandelier (why is there a chandelier deep underground? Multi-year excavations have been launched over far less than this). All of this is conveyed with the absolute maximum level of quirkiness and whimsy. Here’s a sample:

Skipping close, she saw a crystal had fallen from the chandelier to lay unbroken on the floor. It was a lucky thing, and brave . She picked it up and put it in the pocket that didn’t have the key inside. They would only fuss if they were put together.

Just to be clear, the entire book appears to be written like this. I’m just not bothering to point out the vast majority of it. This is the kind of style that could maybe sustain itself over an extremely short period- a picture book, say- but not a novella, where it very quickly becomes annoying.

Auri opens one of he doors with the mystery key, which reveals a nicely furnished room (underground, behind a locked door, nope nothing interesting here let’s just ignore it). The room is whatever, because it’s a white day, and that makes things that otherwise wouldn’t have been whatever more whatever, or something.

Everything was almost.

I’m just…. not even going to comment on that.

After poking around a bit more Auri finds a new area to explore, and pokes around some more.

There was a door, but it was terribly bashful, so Auri politely pretended not to see it.


Okay let’s zoom through this: nothing much happens for the rest of the chapter, Auri just wanders around and looks at stuff and makes quirky, completely nonsensical observations or ascribes emotions to inanimate objects because she’s such a carefree whimsical ray of special sunshine.

She brought Foxen with, of course.

She “brought Foxen with”? What? First nekkid and now this. Is this supposed to sound like a teenager’s narrative voice? Then why the fuck does Kvothe not talk like that when he’s younger than Auri.

Guys, having reached the end of the first chapter (for real this time) I am utterly baffled. What is this? What is the point of it, why did Rothfuss write it, why did anyone think it was worth publishing it? Hell I made fun of him in the first post for describing it as weird, but I have to take that back now- it is weird, but not in a pleasant, surprising way, in a “what the fuck am I reading” way.

The constant infantalization of Auri and the general feeling that I’m being given a far more intimate tour of the author’s mind than I wanted has left me feeling honestly slightly disturbed by the whole thing. And is this is just the first chapter. What’s going to happen in the rest of them, assuming anything happens at all?

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40 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Chapter 1 (once more)

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things ch. 2 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. braak

    Name me one woman on the top ten right now who isn’t absolutely smoking hot.

    Dang, Rothfuss. It’s weird that you’d say 85% of music, but then imply that it’s only women who are successful superstars because of how hot they are.

    1. braak

      Also, Pink? Britney Spears? Did you stop listening to music in 2003, Pat? Do you even know who’s ON the Top Ten, or are you just parrotting some hipster attitude about the Decline of Music in These Modern Dayes?

  3. redsilkphoenix

    “It was full of true answers and love and hearthlight.


    HearTlight or HearTHlight? 🙂

    If the later, obviously it’s the light from a fireplace/hearth.

    If the former, there is a Neal Diamond song from the 1980’s that’s called Heartlight (I think that’s the full title). It was ‘inspired’ by the movie E.T. the Extraterrestrial (with said alien actually having a ‘heartlight’ as part of his physical abilities), to the point that Steven Spielberg successfully sued Diamond over it. (It’s been years since I last heard the details, so I don’t recall what exactly the suit was about.) The song gets regular airplay even today, so I think Spielberg gets a cut of the royalties from it.

    So yeah, heartlight does have a bit of history behind it that gas nothing to do with Rothruss.

    And as an aside, Auri sounds more to me like she took some bad LSD at some point, and all this talk of bashful doors and things are her slighty hallucinating, because she can’t get the LSD totally out of her system. Or some sort of drug, anyway. Given the chemical/magical stuff a wizard school would likely have on hand, a determined student could mix up some damn dangerous stuff to get high on fairly easily….

  4. literarymoses

    And somehow this crap gets all these rave reviews?seriously these quotes, barring the nekked stuff, sound like they belong in a picture book. And there’s nothing wrong with a children’s picture book – some of them are very deserving of high praise (“Love You Forever”), but those are not 150 page novellas, and they also are consistent in their desired audience with both language and content.
    Once you start talking about your “nekkid” parts you kinda lose that child audience the language seems to lean towards.
    Also who the hell says nekkid seriously Pat should be skewered replacing naked with nekkid does not make you a wordsmith.
    Gawd he makes me mad.
    Good luck getting through this and the rest of Rothfusses worlds, Ronan. I will be with your Let’s Reads for the rest of the way!

  5. Signatus

    I understand the need to experiment with words. I have dozens of short works done solely to experiment with different parts of language and narrative, but they are not publishable nor avaliable to the public. This… thing, it doesn’t make sense it is published, nor at full market price at least. Auri’s POV is terrible, but it may have been more bearable if something was actually happening, but nothing is happening at all. We’re just seeing her walk through the tunnels doing quirky things.

    Like I said in earlier comments, her life before she ended up like that, or maybe Denna’s life before Qvothe would have been more interesting. To make matters worse, we still have to cope with him, showing Rothfuss’ characters revolve around his protagonists, not giving them space to expand and grow by themselves.

    1. Austin H. Williams

      Maybe the entire Kingkiller Chronicles are an experiment in extreme solipsism – what makes Kvothe so incredibly special is the fact that the entire world only comes into being as it interacts with him. His presence is the very breath of God, putting life and animation into the world by virtue of its being.

      1. Austin H. Williams

        This will of course be ultimately revealed in the fourth afterword, explaining Kvothe’s final showdown with the Hammer Bro. deity of this world.

        “It was always you, Kvothe. Everything was for you!”

        Kvothe has a tear in his eye.

        Denna kisses him.

        He walks into the light as the music rises.

      2. Signatus

        I can almost picture that ending. It would be sooo him. XD

        funny thing is, what you propose, is not a terrible idea in the hands of someone more capable. Rothfuss is not that someone.

      1. steamysalt

        In his defense, that was just a name he used to refer to his son as while his wife was pregnant and before they found out the gender. I believe he still refers to his son as that online. For some reason he keeps his real name a closely guarded secret.

  6. steamysalt

    I understand the desire to play with language, but the level Rothfuss does it here is nothing more than masturbation. I have a theory that Rothfuss is so infatuated with his own writing that it seriously impairs his judgement, overwhelmed with the desire to prove how great a wordsmith he is at the expense of a coherent narrative.

    What makes it even more disturbing is that in an interview, he was asked what he thought his greatest strength as a writer was. And I kind you not, he said Brevity, and then in the same interview criticized Lord of the Rings for having a slow pace.

    1. Emily

      The thing is, I don’t think he’s even that much of a wordsmith. Stringing together obscure words does not good prose make.

      Good prose stylists (like, say, George Saunders) have a deliberate effect that they’re attempting to create with language. Not just the words they pick, but how they’re phrased, how they create a rhythm. Rothfuss here is just playing “Dictionary Word Of The Day” and assuming that somehow makes him a prose stylist.

      1. Signatus

        Agreed. Paolini also falls into this “amateur’s trap”, where there is the ongoing idea that throwing in big words makes you a good writer.

      1. Reveen

        What in the…

        – Both music and acting are integral aspects of Kvothe’s character, and his story. Are you a big film buff and did/do you have a passion for music?

        Roff: Whoo boy. Modern music and movies have so little to do with music and acting.

        85% of modern music doesn’t have a damn thing to do with music. It has to do with looking good. Name me one woman on the top ten right now who isn’t absolutely smoking hot. You think that’s a coincidence?

        Now don’t get me wrong. There are a few folks up there who are brilliant. Pink writes awesome stuff, but if she wasn’t hot, you bet your ass she wouldn’t be on MTV. For every Tracy Chapman out there you’ve got fifty spice girls.

        And forget instruments. Did you know they have machines that take your voice and modulate it sounds like you’re in key? It’s called a pitchshifter. So now you don’t even have to be able to carry a tune. If you have perky tits and can dance, congratulations, you’re a music superstar.

        Now don’t get me wrong, I know that performance and music are inexorably tied together. And hell, I’ll watch Brittany’s Toxic music video all day. But there’s a difference between that and listening to Leo Kottke play guitar. One is entertainment. The other is Music.

        Also interesting.

        1. Chackludwig

          Okay NOW my Jimmies are in maximum over-rustle, good fucking god how does this man’s ego even fit under his fedora? He can’t even read sheet music and doesn’t know anything about the creative process of music-making, he just has a vague, culturally groomed sense of “patrician taste” and thousands of brown-nosers applauding his every word, that’s it. He knows even less about music than I do, and he’s proud of it too. If he thought about his oh so clever arguments for just one millisecond before he lets them out of his neckbeard, he wouldn’t (for example) blame “hot women” for a decline in musical quality that isn’t even happening.
          And it’s Britney, not “Brittany”

          1. neremworld

            Late, but I sure as hell noticed that his comment boiled down to “Women musicians aren’t musicians but entertainment, male musicians play real music”

      2. literarymoses

        This is just further proof that Pat knows literally nothing about anything he talks about and speaks his ignorance confidently.
        “Do you have a passion for music”
        How is it acceptable to derail the question by answering “modern music isn’t about music.” I think Pat honestly knows nothing about music and because he wants people to think he’s passionate about it, rather than answer the question honestly he spews the first critical opinion he probably learned somewhere on the internet.
        first off – he’s a seriously deluded man if he thinks that top 40s pop songs is the only music being composed in the modern day. It’s literally the tiniest sliver of “modern music”, albeit the most popular, but it is not representational of all music ever written in the modern times.
        second off – if music is only about the popular songs that have famous personalities singing them, then music has never been about music since like the 1700s (not quite goo with my historical dates here, may have been a century after perhaps), but whenever music became more popular outside of the church and then instrumental music and then opera, even back then there was “pop music” which composers of “serious music” considered to be not music at all, so, historically, music has for a long time been divided between “real” music and “not” music. (on the note of personalities, the whole opera scene was largely focused on prima donnas, which were essentially the beyonce’s and the rihanna’s of the classical and romantic periods).
        SO both the division between real and non real music and there being super famous, basically pop stars, goes to show tht what pat’s saying has NOTHING TO EVEN DO WITH MODERN MUSIC, IT’S BEEN A CONSTANT FUCKING THING ACROSS HISTORY.
        And not to mention that modern music has had the widest variety of musical styles (as is logical) in all of history, so saying that pop music is all of modern music is just insulting.
        He’s trying to set up a veneer of being cultured and intelligent and shit, and I’m sure his fans are eating it all up and thinking him a better person with every word he says, but his ignorance is just intolerable and it pains me that he gets away with it.

      3. Signatus

        Even so, the scariest thing is how he says music is all about appearance nowadays, and then goes on about how WOMEN (because we didn’t have enough shit to cope with since the fiasco with Eve and Pandora) are the main culprits of this happening. I’m not going to say the entertainment industry doesn’t focus on image, but it’s funny how the critics always center around women as examples of this. Apparently the guy who starred in Thor (too lazy to look up his name) or Captain America (something Evans?) were chosen because of their mastery of interpretation. *rolls eyes*

      4. Signatus

        I actually do like Chris Evans, and I don’t think he’s a bad actor. But my point was something like, when they picked Leonardo diCaprio for Jack’s role in Titanic. It wasn’t because of his skills, it was because he had a childish pretty face and could do something close to acting. He has shown to be a talented actor in the end, but it is true the industry does give importance to image, and not only in women (which I frankly believe it’s pretty sad, since we’ve passed from using women as pretty objects to look at, to using both genders as pretty objects to look at).

  7. Reveen

    So this is basically a China Mieville book slightly high on amphetamines and without those things called “ideas” and “content”.

    I can see why an entire wall of text of this would be enough to make someone go cross-eyed.

  8. Number27

    “I don’t even know what the fuck that means. At least we’re not hearing about her nethers anymore.”

    “In the altogether” is a euphemism for “nekkid” so we kind of are.

    I read both Rothfuss’ books and actually enjoyed them (I have an extremely high tolerance for boring fantasy) even while noticing how shitty WMF was getting. This thing I’d probably have thrown across the room within a couple of pages.

  9. Chackludwig

    Also, Rothfuss doesn’t know how academia works, so of course nobody’s ever gonna check on the archeological treasure trove right under their feet

    1. Tom James (@TACJ)

      Late to the party, as ever, but the quoted text has it as ‘hearthlight’, rather than ‘heartlight’; as in, light coming from a hearth, or fireplace, which does actually sort of make sense. Rothfuss is trying to evoke the warm, cosy domesticity of a hearth.

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

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