Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things [End]

Slow-Regard-Front-Cover-edited

It’s time for another installment of let’s get through this bullshit quickly so I don’t have to read it any more!

Chapter Whatever: The Hidden Heart Of Things

So what’s happening again? Nothing, right? Oh no wait Kvothe is coming and Auri needs a present, so she gets some things that I guess were described in the previous chapter but I didn’t bother reading it very carefully. She just keeps calling them “the threes”.

Threes-7

I guess someone dropped their phone into the Underthing or something.

Oh wait they’re the pieces of the gear that broke? Maybe? I could go back like two pages and check but I don’t care enough.

Seeing how it ought to be, Auri took the first bright three straight back to Tumbrel. Through Wains with its altogether men, and circle-perfect Annulet, then Ninewise, all nonchalant with its new-namedness.

If you want to know what reading this book is like: it’s this, for pages and pages and pages. Just Auri moving back and forth and back and forth through quirkily named rooms and ascribing random personality traits to doorknobs.

The main point of this chapter is that Auri is making up a bed for Kvothe to sleep in, which leads to lots of blushing and shit because, do you see, she’s thinking about sex or something. The idea of Kvothe and Auri actually bumping uglies fills me with a deep existential terror and causes the rushing sound of a bleak wind to fill my ears. Is that happening to anyone else? Leave a comment if that’s happening to you.

And just like that, she had a gift for him: a safe place he could stay.

Don’t worry Auri, as of the end of Wise Man’s Fear Kvothe’s money problems are finally over. In fact he should probably be getting you a place to stay.

It was a different way of thinking. Even though she was not wanting for herself, she knew this sort of thing was dangerous.

There have been multiple bits like this, where Auri thinks about how wanting things is dangerous or wrong in some way. I’m not really sure what to make of it, except that it ties into the fact that Auri has no existence outside of Kvothe. He gave her her name, which seems to be the only concrete facet of her identity, he provides her with a lot of her food and other necessary items, he’s the only person whose company she wants. Instead of taking things or doing things she faffs about in her magical quirky whimsy-realm until Kvothe brings them to her. Instead of wanting things for herself she wants them for Kvothe. I would not be at all surprised if in the last book the culmination of Auri’s story arc (assuming she has one at all) is to sacrifice herself in some way for Kvothe.

Later in the chapter Auri uses what is quite clearly a fully modern bunsen burner (the illustration supports this), a piece of apparatus that was invented in the mid-19th century. Some people have commented before that with all the advanced plumbing and engineering in the Underthing it’s difficult to remember that many other parts of Kvotheland have a renaissance or even medieval level of technology. I guess it’s just the “civilizing influence” of wizard school that causes it to have technology centuries ahead of anyone else, technology that somehow never percolates to the outside world.

It’s also highly selective technology; they have bunsen burners, but they don’t have gas lighting or steam-driven engines or trains, they have knowledge of advanced chemical and physical theories but haven’t applied any of them practically, they’re accomplished in many forms of engineering but are still building wooden-frame houses. For a book series that’s so often praised for its world-building this all feels extremely shoddy and piecemeal, as though the technology level of the world changes depending on the whim of the author.

Auri set the jar of laurel fruit atop the workbench. She was a small thing. Urchin small. Most things did not fit her. Most tables were too tall.

Because she’s TINY YOU GUYS

GUYS DO YOU GET HOW TINY AND DELICATE AND SPINDLY AND WAIF-LIKE SHE IS

IF YOU BREATHED ON HER SHE’D PROBABLY SNAP IN HALF THAT’S HOW TINY SHE IS

SHE’S SO TINY YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE HER WITHOUT A MICROSCOPE

NO FUCK THAT SHE’S SO TINY SHE FALLS INTO THE SPACES BETWEEN ATOMS AND GETS LOST IN THERE

So yeah Auri goes into a lab that apparently used to belong her to make Kvothe a candle. Her persona as a magical pixie fairy moon-waif has been so relentlessly hammered into my head I am having extreme difficulty picturing her as an actual human being.

Honey and laurel might have been enough if this were a simple poet’s candle. But he was no mere poet.

I really want to know what Rothfuss’ beef with poets is all about.

While she’s making the candle Auri thinks about the great secret at the heart of the world that has something to do with alchemy, or something. I’m not entirely sure how much of this is even supposed to make sense.

Auri nodded to herself. Her tiny face was grave.

cell-size-visualization-540x306

Anyway Auri uses magic to do candle. I guess she knows a ton of name magic or whatever. This would be a surprising revelation in a more interesting character.

Incidentally we’re at like 93% of the way through this thing so I’m guessing this shoooooocking twist was the whole point of the story. Auri’s third gift for Kvothe is a stone figure of an Amyr, so yay remember those guys?

It was a tiny Ciridae. Of course. Of course it was. It would hardly be a proper present for him otherwise.

Way back in the stone age Auri implied that there’s some connection between Kvothe and the Ciridae (the high ranking Amyr or whatever). I wonder when we’ll get some sort of pay-off on that, considering it’s being brought up again?

She washed her face and hands and feet.

GOD FUCKING DAMN IT

Auri returned to Mantle. She washed her face and hands and feet.

THERE ARE NO WORDS

Auri finagles up some lipstick for herself and is apparently going to make a place for Kvothe to live, then “make a name for him” when he’s emotionally vulnerable. The way it’s worded makes it seriously sound like some sort of Nice Guy thing where she’s going to bone him.

But I guess we still have one more chapter to go, so

CODA

DEEP IN THE UNDERTHING, stones warm beneath her feet, Auri heard a faint, sweet strain of music.

Oh.

I… guess that’s it.

Huh.

Oh no wait, there’s a second author’s note!

LET ME TELL you a story about a story. Because that’s what I do.

Well actually you’re supposed to tell us stories, not about stories. But actually if you don’t know the difference that would explain a lot.

The rest of the author’s note is an incredibly self-aggrandizing anecdote about how Rothfuss told someone people would hate this book because it “doesn’t do the things a story is supposed to do” and she told him that actually it’s super awesome. In assessing the flaws of this novella he seems not to have realized that they’re more or less the exact same flaws that exist in the full size Kvothe books, and people fucking love those things for some reason so I’d say he’s on pretty safe ground.

Then Vi said something I will always remember. “Fuck those people,” she said. “Those people have stories written for them

all the time. What about me? Where’s the story for people like me?” Her voice was passionate and hard and slightly angry . She might have slammed her hand down on the table at this point. I like to think she slammed her hand down on the table. Let’s say she did. “Let those other people have their normal stories ,” Vi said. “This story isn’t for them. This is my story. This story is for people like me.”

Well, good for Vi that the story speaks to her. However, “this story isn’t for you” is an incredibly childish response to criticism. Let’s remember that the things making this book strange and bewildering and not like other stories isn’t that it’s transgressive or challenges the reader’s preconceptions or gives a voice to the experiences of people who are usually excluded in our culture; it just ignores common plot structures and expectations so the author can endlessly indulge his love of wordplay. But then, that’s also true of this entire series as a whole.

If you’re one of the people who found this story disconcerting, off-putting, or confusing, I apologize. The truth is, it probably just wasn’t for you.

Fuck off.

This story is for all the slightly broken people out there. I am one of you. You are not alone. You are all beautiful to me.

No seriously, fuck off.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a wildly self indulgent, neigh masturbatory waste of time. It’s meaningless verbiage devoted to a paper-thin character who the author is clearly so in love with that he thinks every quirky thought in her head is fascinating.

So we’re at the end of this thing at last, but we’ve got one more exciting surprise! Looks like our very own Patrick Rothfuss is holding an AMA on the r/fantasy subreddit. If anyone wants to ask questions and report back on any answers they receive, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it. Just remember to be nice!

I don’t currently have plans to start a new Let’s Read at the moment; if I do another one it will be after the new year. Until then watch out for some reviews.

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22 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things [End]

  1. illuminatedwax

    Rothfuss strikes me as the kind of guy that really wanted to be the Robin Williams character from Dead Poets’ Society.

    Reply
  2. zephyrean

    > I really want to know what Rothfuss’ beef with poets is all about.
    My money is on:
    Wrote poetry in his youth, got told it was crap, can’t get over it.

    Reply
  3. haroldsmithson

    “This story is for all the slightly broken people out there. I am one of you. You are not alone. You are all beautiful to me.”

    I grew up in Stevens Point so I’d heard from one of his friends that Rothfuss was an asshole and from his Goodreads reviews I guessed he was insecure but I didn’t realize he was this arrogant.

    I mean, what does this book offer anyone who is “slightly broken”? Is it deep? Is it insightful? No, it’s just style for its own sake, which is fine-if usually an awful direction to take your novel-but to suggest that this amalgamation of pointlessly obscure words, meaningless descriptions, and endless padding in lieu of a plot is in some way profound or meaningful is just downright insulting to people who have actually been traumatized and/or are mentally ill.

    I can practically imagine him sitting at his desk, thinking “I’m stuck in an insignificant, middle-of-nowhere town (which I am a respected member of) with no way out and I constantly worry that other writers are better than me. (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/895910546?book_show_action=true&page=1) So you know what? I’ll write a book about someone who is actually crippled and then associate myself with people kind of like my main character (namely the traumatized and/or mentally ill) because there’s no way their suffering is worse than mine. Now, what can I say that’s meaningful about trauma? Ah, who cares. I’ll just create a damaged character and describe her going about her daily routine. Sure, it won’t be structured, but it’ll be poignant and I’m sure something meaningful will shine through. NOW WHERE’S MY FUCKING THESAURUS?”

    In the words of Totalbiscuit: Disgusting behavior.

    Reply
  4. Elspeth Grey

    If I were charitably inclined, I would read Auri’s whole “not wanting for yourself” thing as a sort of Buddhist morality that might have to do with name magic.

    So what I’m saying is, my money’s on it being sexist bullshit.

    That void is really loud today isn’t it.

    Reply
  5. steamysalt

    “If you’re one of the people who found this story disconcerting, off-putting, or confusing, I apologize. The truth is, it probably just wasn’t for you”

    The same thing can be said for every book ever written. You’re book isn’t the special snowflake you think it is, RoFo. Seems like an excuse of his to wave off legitimate criticism. And I’m sure its been said before in the comments, but why the fuck does someone who is celebrated as writing unconventional, atypical stories feel the need to apologize for writing unconventional, atypical stories?

    “This story is for all the slightly broken people out there. I am one of you. You are not alone. You are all beautiful to me.”

    I agree. He can seriously go fuck himself. Having a mental disorder is not a fucking dainty walk through a fairy forest. With Auri, he seems to be constantly portraying whatever the hell she’s suffering from as cute, adorable, and childlike. Its disgusting on not just one level.

    Rothfuss here had the chance to flesh out a character whose life DOES NOT revolve around Kvothe and what he wants (probably the sex). He had the chance, and he flat out failed. I’m actually impressed. It would not have been difficult to give Auri her own agency and interests that don’t relate to Kvothe. Only proves just how infatuated Rothfuss is with his own self-insert.

    Congratulations on making out of this…story alive with your sanity intact (you seem to still retain proper cognitive function).

    Reply
  6. Chackludwig

    It is happening to me.

    Also “lol I’m so clever, I included a tumblr reference, I’m the King of Literary Fiction” Rothfuss

    Reply
  7. Reveen

    So this book is for slightly broken people? What about more than slightly broken people that might not like mental illness being treated like it turns people into sexy, cloudcuckoolander Christmas elves?

    Is that happening to anyone else? Leave a comment if that’s happening to you.

    Not me. My brain refused to even process it. I don’t even remember what I read half a second ago! Something about bumper cars?

    Reply
  8. andrea harris

    And…

    …all you slightly broken people out there…

    Hey, people with mental health issues don’t like boring old plots that move forwards, they like maundering garbage that patronizes them and treats them like twee little dolls! Criminy.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      I’m not even really sure what he means by “broken”. He compares himself and Auri but I don’t know if he’s alluding to something there or he just feels like they’re both quirky special snowflakes or what.

      Reply
      1. andrea harris

        It’s probably the “special snowflake” with an added fillip of “sees things more clearly than most other people, do thus is ‘broken’ by Seeing Too Much.” Usually the people who indulge most in this fantasy aren’t as artistically talented as they have been told they are. (Rothfuss has a way with words occasionally, but that ego of his is causing him to turn out bloatware.)

        Reply
  9. andrea harris

    The idea of Kvothe and Auri actually bumping uglies fills me with a deep existential terror and causes the rushing sound of a bleak wind to fill my ears. Is that happening to anyone else?

    Y..yes? *cri*

    Reply
  10. Signatus

    Well, that female specimen of a homo sapiens is right. There are books written for us, books that have a plot, have compelling, interesting characters, are actually capable of evoking emotions in the reader and through you into an unforgettable adventure.

    The “broken ones”, can keep their Rothfusses and their Goodkinds, and their Paolinis and their Meyers (as they are all in the same spectrum of terrible writing, uninteresting mary sues self inserts and authors with an ego so large it creates gravity). I’ll keep reading those “normal stories”, because those are the stories for me.

    BTW, I happen to know a dog trainer who is just like Rothfuss. He believes he has a gift and the rest of the world (aka, the rest of dog trainers and behaviorists in the whole damn world) are wrong. He uses the same sort of tactics, insulting those who dislike his “method” and inducing blame into potential clients (if you don’t call me, it’s because you don’t love your dog). Funny people that need to attack others to stand out.

    Ah, about that with Auri and Qvothe… to be honest I’d rather not think about it. She’s been infantilized so much I feel absolutely repulsed about the idea. It’s not even about her mental diseases, although I’m not sure how ethical it would be to take “advantage” of a person who lives in constant delusions. It’s about the way she’s portrayed, as a little girl living in her own reality (like all little kids). I will never understand why certain male authors feel the need to give grown up women child like traits in an attempt to make them more sexually desirable.

    Reply
    1. Austin H. Williams

      If I’m looking at sales figures on Rothfuss’s books versus books in the fantasy genre that don’t suck, it would seem the “broken people” are much more representative of the standard, common reader than those who aren’t.

      Congratulations, Rothfuss. You’re giving yourself a pat on the back for being daring and brave enough to cater to a mainstream audience.

      Reply
      1. Signatus

        You’re totally correct. That’s the reason writers like Stephenie Meyer, Terry Goodkind or Cristopher Paolini sell more books than, say, Arturo Perez Reverte, Gabriel García Marquez (RIP), Margaret Weiss or even Neil Gaiman. It seems like the common reader would rather read bad literature, with simplistic cardboard cutouts and simple stories, than compelling, interesting and complex stories.
        I’m not sure about Terry Pratchett, but most people I know have never heard about Diskworld, so I guess it might be around the same; literature for a very specific type of reader, not for the mainstream.

        BTW, Ronan, have you thought on what your NR will be about?

        Reply
        1. ronanwills Post author

          I have a few ideas I’m kicking around. It’s become apparent from the number of projects I’ve dropped that the Let’s Read format only works with very specific books.

          I might make a post before Christmas asking for suggestions

          Reply
      2. Signatus

        No, you didn’t misread it. It was me who wrote an N where there should be an L. *kicks herself*

        I was actually enjoying the Brandon Sanderson LR, maybe because I was actually enjoying the book (yeah, guilty pleasure, I do like the way he writes). The Dresden ones, not so much, not because I liked the books (like I said, I was enjoying the Sanderson books and I’m buying the next one), but because, I don’t know. Can’t really say what failed there for me.

        Will be waiting for your post. 🙂
        Might have some suggestions here and there. Maybe go for something traditionally bad? We could read The Host. 😄

        Reply
  11. Pingback: Let’s Read The Slow Regard of Silent Things: 7 + 8 | Doing In The Wizard

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