REVIEW: The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Patrick Rothfuss

Source: Patrick Rothfuss blog.
Source: Patrick Rothfuss blog.

I think any book that starts and ends with an apology (of sorts) doesn’t bode well.  I will save people time here too.  If the “disclaimer” Mr Rothfuss puts in the beginning of the novella isn’t enough, then let me say – if you have not read his previous works in the series then you will be left confused by this story – providing you can even finish it.

I was confused by this story, but for vastly different reasons to someone who has not read Mr Rothfuss’s previous work.  I was confused as to the point of what it was trying to achieve, but I’ll explain that view shortly.

I know what the author says about this work, but I couldn’t help but feel this book on Auri seemed more something that was originally a couple of chapters in “A wise mans fear” and cut out from the final release as it did nothing to progress the novel.

And it does nothing to progress the Auri story either. I think readers of “A wise mans fear” would have already got the fact Auri suffered with a form of OCD. I think readers already worked out she had a soft spot for Kvothe. We didn’t (in my opinion) need a “week in the life of Auri” to tell us these things.

The very least this story could have done (and I knew from the outset it would not further the main storyline) would have been to explain why Auri ended up living in the Underthing, instead of that we are subjected to a few hundred (well written) words reinforcing that which we had already guessed.

If you want a definition of “fan boy” or “fan girl” look to the people who jump upon those critical of this work. Whilst “early reviewers” and people unfortunate enough to have waited a long time for more material might sing the praises of this, I cannot.  This brings me to another point, how impartial are early reviews?  I’d hope in the case of many they are completely, but I can’t help feeling, if you are a big fan of the author you’ve received the early review title for, the resulting opinion is not going to be as “honest” as someone who has gone out on release date and bought the title.  When you look at the almost hero worship some have of Mr Rothfuss, you are left wondering whether what you have read is indeed an opinion or a homage to their literary deity.

As much as I loved the other two books (and don’t mind the long wait for the third) I cannot love this. I cannot love this because it isn’t a story in my view, its a reinforcement of a character which we had already worked out, its a sequence of happenings leading up to a planned meeting with Kvothe which only serve to spend a few hundred pages describing to us that which I would have thought most readers had already concluded.

There’s so much scope for a standalone Auri novel, this to me is I’m afraid, “The Wise Mans fear – the lost chapters”

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ian says:

    While I fully admit my own biases, I do think you missed the point of this novella. It’s not the type of story that goes from point A to B, it’s a story that’s about the story. I’d argue its fascinating and wonderful and confusing and that’s all okay. It doesn’t fit my expectations for other stories but I think it deserves respect for that rather than criticism. I understand your criticisms but I’d advise you reread it🙂

    1. openbytes says:

      “While I fully admit my own biases” And they are?

      “I do think you missed the point of this novella. It’s not the type of story that goes from point A to B, it’s a story that’s about the story” – No, respectfully I don’t think I did. Are you telling me that after reading “The wise mans fear” you hadn’t worked out that Auri had OCD brought about presumably by the experiences at the University? Are you telling me you didn’t work out that she had a soft spot for Kvothe? If so, fair enough, but the discussions I’ve had with readers of these books seem to have already known those things about Auri before the book came out.

      “I’d argue its fascinating and wonderful and confusing and that’s all okay” – No its not confusing. I’m confused as to its purpose, I’m not confused as to the book itself. The descriptions of Auri’s OCD have facets we can all relate to either directly or indirectly, even if the behaviours appear to have no logical sense.

      “It doesn’t fit my expectations for other stories but I think it deserves respect for that rather than criticism. ” Respect? This is a book, its a piece of litrature which is sold to a market to entertain. Would you respect movies in the same way? Just because its the written word does not make it above criticism and to remove such criticism is censorship. I’m not going to “respect” it because I don’t feel it adds anything to either Auri or the world in which Pat sets his tale. Forget that it doesn’t progress Kvothe or the main tale, we already knew that, every person reading the lead up to the release did. Like I say to start off with (then end) with an apology of sorts, to me suggests he knew exactly what the reaction of those who are not bessotted with him in a strange sort of “literary messiah” way.

      As it happens I did read it twice. I was particularly interested to see if I’d missed another reference to the “he” who visited her as part of my criticism was that nothing new was learned of Auri in my view so I wanted to double check.

      So should I re-read until my thought processes follow yours? How many times does that take? If I’ve said nothing unfair or wrong, how can I “respect” this work? If I am indeed missing something or have said something incorrect, please let me know.

      We all knew this wasnt a “story” in the sense of the direction of the novels, what wasn’t made clear was that it wasn’t really a story at all and was infact a ponderous journey through a week in the life of Auri. It’s OCD and behavioural depictions of Auri are paper thin ones in comparison to other works, so for me it even failed in that respect.

      This work is akin to Raymond E Feist writing a novella about a week in the life of Pug planning a weeks worth of lesson notes for the Sorcerers Isle…there are some things the reader doesn’t need to be spoon fed and I also felt with the Auri book that Pat believed his readers to slow to already grasp what she was about.

      I stand by that this could easily have been a couple of chapters snipped from Wise Mans Fear and whilst I know what Pat said in regards to its creation, I still think that this fits better into a “authors cut” version of Wise Mans Fear, similar to what Raymond E Feist did with the Magician novel.

      1. Ian says:

        Hey your opinions are your own and it sounds as if you’re passionately disappointed. I happen to disagree and voiced where I think your opinion could agree with mine because that’s the goal of an argument. You don’t have to agree with me, and I don’t have to agree with you. I would like to point out that you’re point about the goal of the book being to entertain is poorly expressed. I was entertained by the book, other readers were too. That suggests it wasn’t an absolute failure as you seem to think it should be.
        Honestly it sounds like it wasn’t your style of book and and that’s fine. You should aim to prevent people with the similar appreciation for stories from reading it for their and your benefits. You should not trash the book for everyone, that’s an absolute argument which is inherently flawed.

        Also my biases are that I love Rothfuss’ narrative style and was predisposed to like the book.

  2. openbytes says:

    “Hey your opinions are your own and it sounds as if you’re passionately disappointed.”
    Not passionately dissapointed, the book was not unreadable, the text was not unreadable nor was it badly written. The book merely sat in the “what was the point, we gathered all this already” box.

    ” I happen to disagree and voiced where I think your opinion could agree with mine”

    Sorry I missed where you highlighted the possitives of the book. Did you think it was well written? You didn’t make any positives clear. The closest you came to making things clear about your views were the line “I’d argue its fascinating and wonderful and confusing and that’s all okay.”. What was wonderful? The depiction of Auri’s life? the way the book depicted OCD? The description of the Underthing? What was wonderful? What was fascinating? The whole thing? Why? – And this is the issue I’ve seen with the “positive” comments. They say its great but are rather vague on the why. Ask me if I thought the other two books were great and I’d say yes and be able to give multiple examples of why. You also mention that you make your personal bias’s clear….but then don’t ellaborate when I ask. What are your personal bias’s?

    ” I would like to point out that you’re point about the goal of the book being to entertain is poorly expressed.” – No its not. The book is not a lesson on OCD (as I say far better books for that) and as a piece of entertainment it failed for me. How is that poorly expressed or was Pat’s intention not to entertain and merely cash in on the series? I was not entertained, I assume Pat wanted to entertain. That’s the fail right there. I’ve given the reasons why I wasn’t entertain.

    “Also my biases are that I love Rothfuss’ narrative style and was predisposed to like the book”

    And that in a nutshell makes my point. I won’t take anything for granted or give anything the thumbs up at the beginning no matter how much I like the author’s work previously. For an author to me, they are as good as their current work and here is where fandom becomes a problem. If you were an early reviewer, I’d suggest your review would be artificially higher than a paying reader and that makes much difference. The positive comments I see are from people who see Pat in such a light that he could release a book on a wet toilet roll and they would praise it.
    This is not just about if you liked the book, you did, great. This is about how fandom can create an artificially high score for a book.

    “That suggests it wasn’t an absolute failure as you seem to think it should be.”

    Where do I say I think that? “Seem” to think? No I don’t “seem to think” anything. It failed for me, it didn’t for others. I’ve suggested early reviewers and the fanboy/girl group would artificially raise the ratings of this, but I can only make assumptions based on comments I’ve read and people I’ve talked too. Absolute failure? For me, well no, if it had been I would not have finished it. I didn’t like it and thats my opinion. An absolute failure? No not all, what is interesting though is the Goodreads rating is dropping. It went from 4.60 (I think) and now it stands at 4.13 in a matter of days. Could this be the early review and diehard fans rating are now being balanced by readers who are purchasing the book and/or ones that do not hold the author in some sort of hero light? Time will tell.

    “You should not trash the book for everyone, that’s an absolute argument which is inherently flawed.”

    And if you suggesting I’ve done that then you are telling lies. I’ve made it very clear that the views are mine, And its not a flawed argument because, unlike you I’ve made it very clear why I didn’t like this book. All we have heard from you was that it was wonderful and fascinated (no examples why) and you were predisposed to like it. Who’s argument is flawed? So I can’t say I don’t like something? If I voice a dislike of a PRODUCT then I’m trashing it? Will other people enjoy this? Who knows on a case per case basis. I didn’t, I said so. I’ve made reference to comments on Goodreads (which anyone can look at themselves) and I’ve made reference to people I’ve spoken with. Does that mean someone will definitely not like this book? No of course not. This is my opinion. Others may differ. What’s flawed about the argument in your view? The fact I didn’t like it? My comment that OCD is covered in other books better? The fact the reader (after paying money) is not given anything to further their knowledge of Auri since I’d suggest Pat’s readers are an intelligence bunch who already worked out Auri from the last book.

    BTW for full disclosure here, were you the receiver of an early review copy? or are, as you state, merely a fan predisposed to like his work?

    And finally before you start making comments about me “trashing” things for everyone, let me give you a reminder to what you should have read more carefully:

    “There’s so much scope for a standalone Auri novel, this to me is I’m afraid, “The Wise Mans fear – the lost chapters””

    Keywords here “this to me” and additionally throughout the text I’ve made it very clear its my opinion.

    1. Ian says:

      In my defense I’ve been commenting from a cell phone in snippets of free time so I agree, I haven’t presented my case with numerous examples. In fact, I’m not an early reviewer and I actually wasn’t sure if I even wanted to buy the book because I wasn’t sure if Id like it. Your point about not liking the OCD nature of it is interesting to me because that was one of the things I found most interesting. It was a day in the life of an OCD person and that’s foreign to me. I’ve never read a book like that and it was very unique. I’m sure there are other books that do it better, Rothfuss isn’t god and like many fans, I am a bit tired of waiting for book 3.

      The other parts of the book that I enjoyed were the various phrases that (again, commenting from a cell phone so i apologize that I can’t look any up and quote them) anthropomorphize her surroundings. Its a story with one character but her interpretation of her surroundings went beyond OCD I think.

      The last point I will try and make here in this post is that the flow of the sentences and the narrative style were excellent in my opinion. Its strange and different than even the kingkiller books but i appreciate that he went in a different direction. It isn’t my top book of all time by any means but its better than I think you’re giving it credit for. I’ve read a review that said if you think of it as more of a poem than a novel, it flows much better and id agree with that. I’d love to keep this discussion going when I’m by a computer next so I can actually support my argument more effectively!

  3. openbytes says:

    “. Your point about not liking the OCD nature of it is interesting to me because that was one of the things I found most interesting.”

    I didn’t say I didn’t like the OCD nature. What I said was OCD has been covered by other literature and better. If we are assessing the Auri book on the basis of its OCD coverage, then I’d say it was paper thin.

    “but her interpretation of her surroundings went beyond OCD I think.” Quite agree, but then it was based up a “storyline” of a preplanned meeting with Kvothe.

    “The last point I will try and make here in this post is that the flow of the sentences and the narrative style were excellent in my opinion. ”

    And I agree completely. That to me in itself does not make an entertaining and/or interesting book though.

    I can’t knock the writing at all.It was very good What I can say is that I wasn’t entertained, wasn’t enlightened.

    “. I’ve read a review that said if you think of it as more of a poem than a novel, it flows much better and id agree with that.”

    That’s probably a reasonable statement. Or maybe instead of a standalone, a better idea would have been my idea of “authors version” and re-release Wise Mans fear with extra chapters….

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