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”.
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.
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
DEEP IN THE UNDERTHING, stones warm beneath her feet, Auri heard a faint, sweet strain of music.
I… guess that’s it.
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.
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.