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Literature / The Slow Regard of Silent Things

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"Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.

Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries."

A companion novella to The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things follows a week in the life of the mysterious Auri, who lives in a network of abandoned rooms underneath The University and is eagerly awaiting a very special visitor.

The slow regard of silent tropes:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Auri clearly has some sort of mental illness. Her obsession with doing seemingly illogical tasks in a specific way that only makes sense to herself seems to be loosely based on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and she is also highly delusional.
  • Ascended Extra: Auri is a very minor character in the original series, but this novella is all about her.
  • Barefoot Loon: Auri is perpetually barefoot, which serves as indication that she's not quite right in her head.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The Underthing seems to be the result of centuries of building and expansion. Only Auri seems to know her way around down there.
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  • Broken Bird: Something very bad happened in Auri's past, and it seems to be tied to a particular person, but that's not even her biggest problem.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Auri. She treats everything as sapient, and is preoccupied with putting everything in its correct place. Her goal appears to be making the entire Underthing into a place where everything fits perfectly.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Describes Auri's.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Auri spends the entire novel barefoot.
  • Forgets to Eat: Auri will occasionally feel lightheaded or woozy. It takes her a moment to realize that she hasn't eaten in a day or more.
  • Hidden Depths: Auri is a highly skilled chemist and alchemist, claiming to be more skilled than her former teacher and the University's Master Alchemist, Mandrag.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's established in The Kingkiller Chronicle that people who practice Naming tend to go mad (to a greater or lesser degree) from getting a more vividly detailed view of reality than a mortal mind can handle. Whether Auri's behavioural quirks are a sign of preternatural insight into the true nature of the world or just the delusions of an insane Broken Bird is left as an exercise to the reader. As is whether she warps reality to finish making Kvothe's gift at the end.
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  • Mood Whiplash: "On the third day, Auri wept." That's it. That's the whole chapter.
  • Minimalist Cast: Other than Auri, only one other human is spotted in the whole narrative, a girl briefly glanced in a window at a distance.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Auri attributes identity, intent, and significance to almost everything she encounters, so this bleeds into the smallest elements of her day-to-day life. The closest thing the novella has to an action sequence is a lengthy and thoughtful description of her making soap.
  • Mysterious Waif: The novel doesn't clear a whole lot up about Auri's past. It delves into her present... but doesn't really clear things up there, either. Everything is presented from Auri's perspective, and she gives us as much explanation as she feels like giving to herself.
  • Older Than She Looks: Auri is a shy, tiny waif who is outsized by her voluminous hair, making it very easy to forget that she is actually older than Kvothe. Her estimated age is twenty.
  • The Ophelia: Auri, completely.
  • Title Drop: Occurs part-way through the novel.
  • Setting as a Character: Part of Auri's unique point of view is treating everything in the Underthing is a character, from the rooms to an old belt buckle. These are really the only characters in the novella apart from Auri herself.
  • Shrinking Violet: Auri.
  • Spin-Off: Of The Kingkiller Chronicle
  • Super OCD: Auri. Things have to be in exactly the right spot, and she has specific rituals she follows. This is most obvious in her description of her routines, and in the candle-making scene. Her OCD traits aren't the only thing she's got going on in her head, however.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Auri is the first person to admit that she's not quite right in the head, but that doesn't stop her from being too afraid of her own butter to eat it.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Auri does not like moonless nights. Justified by The Wise Man's Fear: on those nights, mortals are in danger of falling into the Land of Faerie, which usually leaves them as good as dead.